How Can ART Help?
About 1 in 8 couples in the US have trouble getting or staying pregnant. Fortunately, there are treatment options for fertility. Assisted reproductive technology (ART) includes any fertility treatment that handles a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm. ART treatments typically involve removing eggs from the woman’s body and then combining the eggs with sperm to make an embryo. Here’s what to know about 3 of the most common ART treatments.
1. In vitro fertilization (IVF)
The most common reproductive treatment is in vitro fertilization (IVF). An IVF cycle typically starts with the female partner taking medications that stimulate ovulation. Then, a fertility specialist performs an egg retrieval during an office visit. Mature eggs are placed in a dish with sperm in hopes that the sperm will fertilize the egg and form an embryo. Then, during embryo transfer, the embryo is placed in the uterus.
2. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
Couples who have known male factor infertility may opt to add intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to the IVF cycle. In this procedure, the sperm is injected directly into the egg, instead of waiting for the sperm to fertilize the egg without assistance. In general, this can be helpful when poor sperm quality or motility is a factor.
In some cases, couples may opt to freeze embryos for future use. Many couples or individuals opt to delay having children. Some common reasons to choose cryopreservation might include going through chemotherapy or having one partner deployed in the military. In other cases, an individual may simply want to invest time focusing on growing a career before growing a family.
How successful is ART?
The success rate of fertility treatment depends on several factors, including the couple’s health and preexisting conditions. However, some data has shown that IVF can have a success rate of up to 42% in women under the age of 35. Over the age of 35, the rate does drop to around 30%. Still, for many women, this is a higher success rate than trying to get pregnant unassisted.
When to see a fertility specialist
Women under the age of 35 should consider seeing a fertility specialist after trying to conceive for 1 year without success. Women over 35 should seek help after 6 months. This is because women’s likelihood of getting pregnant decreases with age. For more information about ART and fertility treatment options, speak with a fertility specialist.