Generally, the conception of a child is an easy and beautiful process for many couples. However, some couples face infertility problems. Infertility is a condition that affects the reproductive system and the inability to conceive after one year of trying with unprotected intercourse.
If you or someone you know is experiencing infertility problems, don’t worry! You are not alone in this. In fact, one in ten couples have problems with infertility for different reasons, whether it is older age or ovulation or sperm abnormalities.
Many infertility treatments are offered to couples after medical evaluation; many of which can be confusing and overwhelming to choose from. Treatments include oral medicines, ovulation and sperm treatments, prevention techniques or strategies, and surgical procedures.
Deciding between which treatment is right for you can be a simplified process once you know the reason why you and your significant other are having trouble conceiving.
After medical evaluation, you can consider the different types of treatment and how far you want to go with it. You may want to go try oral medicines before considering surgery and the cost of treatments. Some can cost a lot more than others, so you want to make sure of what your insurance covers and what it does not. The last thing you want during this decision time is financial stress!
Here are some treatments for both women and men.
Oral medicines and treatment for women with…
Ovulation abnormalities (oral medicines)
- Clomiphene– stimulates your ovaries to release more eggs
- Metformin– treats polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormones (GnRH)– increases body’s hormone production for eggs
- Bromocriptine and cabergoline– lowers abnormally high prolactin levels; high levels can prevent ovulation
Unknown cause of infertility
- Clomiphene– stimulates release of hormones needed for ovulation
- Hormone injections
- Gonadotropins– stimulates ovaries to produce mature eggs
- Insemination– thin tube that inserts sperm into the woman’s reproductive tract, to improve chances of pregnancy
Treatments for men include:
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormones (GnRH)– increases body’s hormone production for sperm count
- Bromocriptine and cabergoline– lowers abnormally high prolactin levels
- Insemination– sperm collected, then concentrated/multiplied to increase number of healthy sperm
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatments
When initial or simpler treatments aren’t effective, there are assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments. These are different, painless medical procedures that help increase the chances for a woman to become pregnant by psychically combining sperm and eggs and inserting it into a woman’s reproductive part.
The most common ART is in vitro fertilization (IVF) where eggs and sperm are mixed in a laboratory dish to fertilize together. Then, some of the fertilized eggs (zygotes) are transferred to the woman’s uterus.
- Click here to see more about other ART treatments
Tips to prevent infertility problems
Oftentimes, inability to conceive is related to lifestyle or health choices. Before or in addition to treatments, here are some tips to help or prevent infertility problems.
- Avoid using tobacco and marijuana
- Can reduce sperm counts
- Avoid chemical exposure
- Avoid excessive alcohol use
- Damages eggs and sperm
- Limit sex partners and use protection to reduce risks of STDs and STIs
- Untreated STIs can damage the reproductive system and cause infertility
- Maintain a healthy body weight ideal to your height
- Reduces hormone imbalances
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Try relaxation techniques
- Acupuncture can enhance IVF success rates
- Promptly go to doctor if any body abnormalities or concerns
- If you use any lubricants during sex, use one that isn’t harmful to sperm
Many times, couples choose surgical procedures for a higher and more prompt chance of conceiving or if oral or other initial medicines and treatments don’t work. However, there are many things to think about before going along with it.
Before considering surgical procedures, make sure to do a lot of research and ask your doctor questions about the procedure. Make sure you know the effects, the success rates, recovery time, costs, and any other concerns you may have.
- Varicocele repair– cut or bypass enlarged vein in the scrotum
- Vasectomy reversal– reconnect the vas deferens that were cut during a vasectomy
- Fallopian tube procedures (or tubal surgery)– to successfully connect passages of the egg to the sperm for blocked or damaged tubes
- Laparoscopic surgery– most common procedure to diagnose and remove endometriosis
- Myomectomy– removal of the fibroids (growth or tumors) from the uterus
- Laparoscopic ovarian drilling– triggers ovulation for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)