Trouble getting pregnant?
Infertility is often defined as the inability to get pregnant after 1 year of unprotected sex. Roughly 15-20% of women cannot get pregnant for the first time. Infertility has many possible causes. In women, excessive alcohol use, smoking, being overweight or obese, or sudden changes in weight loss or weight gain can all contribute to infertility. In men, low sperm counts or abnormal sperm are also a cause of infertility. Men who smoke or have been exposed to radiation or environmental pollutants may have poor-quality sperm. The age of both men and women is also an important factor. Sometimes the culprit is bad timing, as there is a very narrow window of opportunity each month.
How to test for infertility
The doctor can evaluate both partners for possible causes of infertility. Women can be examined for uterine and fallopian tube abnormalities. Egg counts and hormone levels can also help make a diagnosis. For men, a semen analysis can determine if sperm counts, motility, and shape are normal or not.
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is an umbrella term for several medical procedures designed to help people get pregnant. These treatments include procedures involving eggs, sperm, or both. In cases where there are issues with eggs or sperm, some procedures can utilize healthy donor eggs or sperm. IVF is the most common type of ART and the most effective.
How does IVF work?
During IVF, fertilization occurs outside the body in a controlled laboratory environment. First, the doctor will administer hormone medications to stimulate egg production and ovulation. Healthy mature eggs are then removed from the ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a dish. Healthy embryos are then transferred to the uterus for implantation and development. Extra embryos can be frozen and stored indefinitely. A successful result in 9 months is a healthy baby.
Overcoming unexplained infertility
Many couples are frustrated by the inability to become pregnant. In some cases, doctors are unable to determine why this happens. In vitro fertilization is a helpful way to overcome the barriers presented by unexplained infertility. The IVF procedure has a long track record of success and may help achieve a successful and healthy pregnancy.