You are not alone
About 10% of women in the United States struggle with getting or staying pregnant. That’s about 6.1 million women. Additionally, up to 15% of couples are infertile, meaning the couple has tried unsuccessfully to get pregnant for a year or longer.
Infertility is accompanied by emotional, relational, and financial stressors that can be taxing for a couple. In fact, one study found that women who were struggling with infertility felt just as anxious and depressed as women with cancer, hypertension, or who were recovering from a heart attack. Men typically report less emotional turmoil than women do. However, when the male partner is diagnosed with infertility, they tend to feel more distress.
Hope still abounds
While it’s natural to feel some disappointment and frustration about infertility, couples shouldn’t lose hope. There are many assisted reproductive technology (ART) options for couples who have troubling getting pregnant naturally. The most common ART technique is in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF involves fertilizing eggs in a lab setting and then implanting the embryo into the uterus. During this process, couples have a whole team of physicians, psychologists, embryologists, nurses, and other health professionals who are dedicated to helping the couple have a baby.
It’s important to manage emotions in a healthy way during infertility treatment. For many people, expressing their anxieties to their partner, family, or friends can help. Couples may also benefit by joining a local infertility support group or seek counseling during treatment. Though the process can be hard to maintain healthy habits when stressed, exercising regularly can be a significant stress reducer.
You have more options
IVF can be used in conjunction with other ART techniques. For example, if a couple’s infertility is due to low sperm count or poor sperm quality, a couple may opt for IVF with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). During ICSI procedures, the sperm is injected directly into the egg, instead of near it.
Many couples opt to undergo IVF treatments using their own sperm and eggs. However, if there are known problems with a couple’s sperm or eggs, they can opt to use donor sperm or donor eggs. Women struggling with infertility may also choose to use a gestational carrier. In these cases, the embryo made from IVF is placed in the uterus of a carrier for pregnancy.
Success rates are increasing
Though infertility can be emotional, couples should still have hope. IVF can be an extremely effective way for infertile couples to get pregnant. In some groups of women, IVF has an almost 40% success rate, with this number increasing as doctors continue to refine and perfect IVF techniques. Couples should talk to their doctor about their best treatment options for infertility.
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