Time To Consider IVF?
Some couples get pregnant immediately, while others try for years to have a child without success. Most think that in due time, pregnancy will happen, and this is true in some cases. However, for 19% of American adults who can’t get pregnant after a year, the issue is infertility. A reproductive endocrinologist will likely be the medical professional discussing this news with the couple. An infertility diagnosis can be difficult. However, doctors and patients can develop a clear action plan. This plan may involve assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment like in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Breaking down infertility
Infertility happens when a couple cannot conceive naturally after at least 12 months of trying. Some doctors believe infertility to be a symptom of an underlying reproductive concern. Others refer to infertility as a disease of the reproductive tract. Whatever the label, a reproductive endocrinologist or fertility specialist will first try to find the cause of infertility. Patients can consider asking the following questions during the process to learn more.
1. What’s causing my infertility?
Statistics show that men and women are equally infertile, so both parties will need a complete fertility workup. For women, the issue could be hormonal or physical. For example, underlying conditions like fibroids, endometriosis, or polycystic ovarian syndrome can cause infertility. Some of these conditions are associated with hormone imbalances that impact ovulation. For men, a physical issue with the testes, like varicocele, can cause infertility. However, most cases are due to low sperm count, problems with sperm mobility, or sperm motility. If there are no identifiable issues, infertility is unexplained. The infertility diagnosis will help decide the best course of action.
2. What are the treatment options?
There are several steps a reproductive endocrinologist can take to improve the chances of pregnancy. First, some patients can benefit from fertility medication to enhance egg or sperm quality. This regimen, along with timed intercourse, can improve pregnancy success rates. Some couples will also benefit from intrauterine insemination (IUI). A prepared sperm sample is manually inserted into the woman’s cervix, improving the chance of pregnancy. Most infertility cases, however, will see significant benefits from IVF. This procedure uses sperm and eggs extracted from the couple to create embryos in a laboratory. The best embryo is then surgically implanted in the woman’s uterus. IVF can also offer additional benefits like assisted hatching, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
3. What are the risks of infertility treatment?
Most infertility procedures come with minimal risk to the woman and future baby. However, IVF does have some possible risks that should be considered. A common concern is multiple births, which can happen with IVF. However, a single embryo transfer can reduce the risk of multiples. Another risk factor is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which causes swelling of the ovaries from fertility medication. Other possible complications include miscarriage, ectopic pregnancies, or premature births.
4. How can I improve my chances of pregnancy?
While ART procedures like IVF are effective, the results aren’t guaranteed. That said, there are steps patients can take to improve the outcome. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits like a proper diet and exercise can help. Regulating stress levels by incorporating massage, yoga, or acupuncture can improve outcomes. Quit smoking and alcohol use leading up to and during treatment. IVF is a mentally taxing, time-consuming, and often financially strenuous process. Therefore, a healthy body and mind can positively affect infertility treatment.
Working toward a future family
An infertility diagnosis can be heartbreaking for couples eager to start or grow families. Most couples think having children should come naturally, but this is not always the case. There are lifestyle and genetic factors that can impact both parties. Getting a clear understanding of infertility from a specialist can help. The reproductive endocrinologist can outline the best course of action, like IVF, to help build a beautiful family.