Infertility 101

Posted on: 26 April 2017

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If a couple finds they cannot conceive on their own, visiting a physician who specializes in infertility treatment is the next natural step. The woman's age can be a factor in which treatment is recommended. Women over the age of 35 naturally have a harder time conceiving, and this is also the age where the risk of birth defects increases. Underlying medical conditions in both the woman and man can also play a role. Here is what you need to know about your infertility options.

Treatment For Women

Sometimes it is the woman who has issues that may be preventing her from becoming pregnant. Here are few conditions that may make conceiving difficult.

Endometriosis: The lining of your uterus is called the endometrium. This tissue can grow outside of the uterus, such as on the Fallopian tubes and ovary. Residual scar tissue can impede conception. Laparoscopic surgery can be done for mild cases of endometriosis.

Damaged Tubes: Fallopian tubes, the tube that the egg travels down from the ovary to the uterus, can become blocked or damaged. Surgery can sometimes be done to repair the damage or blockage.

Ovulation Issues: If a woman is suspected to not be ovulating regularly, medications can help regulate this. Clomiphene is commonly used to stimulate the ovaries to release eggs. Another drug, Metformin, is used to treat polycystic ovary syndrome (POS), a condition that leads to a hormone imbalance and inhibits ovulation.

Treatment For Men

If a man's sperm count is found to be lower than normal, his sperm can be collected until there is a healthy amount of viable sperm to use for insemination.

Sometimes, no reason for infertility issues can be found. Hormone injections or medications like Clomiphene may be used to see if that will achieve the desired results. When none of these work, it's time for the couple to consider assisted reproductive technology (ART.) It's important to consider the financial implications associated with ART, as it often isn't covered by medical insurance, and the procedures can be cost-prohibitive for some couples.

The most common ART procedure is in vitro fertilization (IVF.) This is the so-called "test tube baby." The egg and the sperm are brought together in a laboratory dish. After the sperm fertilizes an egg, the embryo is implanted into the uterus. The eggs may be your own or from an egg donation center, just as the sperm may be from the man or from a sperm donor. Women who are advancing in age may opt for a donor egg to reduce the chance of birth defects.