Infertility is an emotionally trying condition. Those who are trying and failing to conceive often feel alone in their troubles, even though they comprise 12% of the population. But with all the modern treatments available, infertility is easier to address than ever before. In fact, when using the proper technique over half of infertile couples will become pregnant.
In order to decide among the available fertility treatments to pick the right one for you, do plenty of research. Various factors are economic considerations, the nature of your infertile condition, and also the general age and reproductive health of both partners.
Techniques that improve one’s fertility
If you are someone who doesn’t ovulate regularly, fertility drugs may be all that’s needed. These drugs boost egg production, encourage ovulation and increase the chance of embryo being implanted in the uterus. Up to 50% of child-bearers can successfully enter pregnancy using this technique.
Relatively noninvasive, this technique is the first choice for many. It can cost as little as $60 or as much as $6,000, and there are both pills and injection options available.
Fertility drugs aren’t for everyone. If your fallopian tubes are either damaged or scarred, then you will have to use another technique. There’s also plenty of uncomfortable side effects. Headaches are common, as is nausea. There can be a slight risk of multiple embryos developing. Ovarian cysts may result, and even premature delivery is a risk.
Another way to improve your fertility is via reproductive surgery. This technique corrects various anatomical abnormalities that hinder fertility, including scarring and blockages resulting from endometriosis.
Reproductive surgery may be fairly successful, in one case doubling the rate of pregnancy of treated women. It’s a pricier option than drugs, running from $1,700 to $5,000.
The risks are consistent with that of other surgeries. It’s possible for it to be done as an outpatient procedure, but sometimes it might require a short stay in a hospital. The recovery period could take substantial time if it’s a particularly invasive procedure.
For many people, it may be the case that either fertility drugs or surgery by themselves aren’t successful. In that case, there is a range of fertility treatment options that rely on manual fertilization.
Artificial insemination is one of the most well-known options out there. It involves preparing sperm and inserting it into the uterus via a catheter. It’s good in situations where one partner has less sperm per volume, where sperm has trouble implanting owing to antibodies produced in the vaginal canal. Also, mucus from the cervix can hinder the sperm’s movement.
The couple’s age and also the general health of their sperm can alter success. Pregnancy’s typically achieved at a 20% rate with each cycle. Interestingly enough, that chance increases to 70% once the 6th cycle is passed.
Costing $800 to $900 dollars on average, artificial insemination is affordable as far as fertility treatments go. A drawback is that multiple births might result.
In vitro fertilization is another famous treatment. The eggs from one partner are surgically removed. Then, in a laboratory setting, sperm from the other partner are mixed in so that fertilization occurs. The lab is where embryos will develop. Eventually, one of the cells is chosen for implantation. All the rest are stored away or disposed of.
Older people are strong candidates for this treatment, as are people whose fallopian tubes are damaged or whose sperm is of poor quality. Those for whom the other treatments have failed to work will gravitate to this procedure as well.
The child bearer’s age has a lot to do with its success. It ranges from 41% for people under 35, to a low of 23% with 40-year-olds. In vitro fertilization is relatively demanding physically, and it’s also costly. The base cost is $8,000, and then there’s extra expense in that fertility drugs are often required.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is an interesting variation on the above procedure. It’s primarily for when the primary trouble is with either the amount of sperm available or the health of the sperm. A single sperm cell, the most healthiest one available, is chosen by an embryologist, who then injects the little guy straight into an egg. The resultant embryo, once developed, is transferred back into the body via in vitro fertilization. The extra cost is generally no more than $2,000.
Some have moral, maybe religious objections to the use of in vitro fertilization, owing to the creation of unused embryos. If your fallopian tubes are of good health, then there are a couple great alternatives available. Gamete intrafallopian transfer is the name of a procedure where eggs along with sperm are merged within a petri dish and then inserted into the area of the fallopian tubes. Further development occurs within the human body.
Success will be the same as in vitro fertilization. An average of 30% of implantations results in a successful pregnancy. However, one cannot gauge immediately if fertilization happened, and there’s a much higher risk when it comes to births of twins, triplets and the like. Cost is higher too, ranging to a high of $20,000.
Similar to the above is zygote intrafallopian transfer. Again, fallopian tubes must be clear of blockage and healthy. Instead of implanting the egg right away, fertilization is confirmed before it goes into the child bearers body. This can greatly lower any risk of multiple embryos.
The success rate is a little better and costs a little lower than with the procedure above, at 36% and $8,000 to $13,000 respectively. These two methods are used only rarely because of the cost and because invasive laparoscopic surgery must be used in implantation.
Techniques using donor material
Fertility treatments involving donor material can be used in cases where a couple is completely infertile, that is, one or another partner lacks eggs or sperm. It’s also useful if a partner has a genetic disorder that they don’t want to pass on.
Donor sperm is commonly used for any situation in which sperm is not available, including women without a male partner and lesbian couples. Only 15% of people who are treated might achieve pregnancy on the first cycle, but that rate explodes to a high of 80% once 6 full cycles are passed. This procedure’s cost is quite attractive at $400 on average.
Donated eggs are another option, but this is a procedure that is much more costly and difficult. Both the donor of the egg and the final recipient must take very expensive drugs and endure uncomfortable side-effects in order to ensure the procedure’s success. This cost is also very high at 30,000. Much of this cost is due to a need to compensate the provider of the egg. However, the success rate is fairly good, at 55% for fresh eggs and 34% for frozen eggs.
In the case where neither partner can provide genetic material, donor embryos are a third option. These embryos are typically obtained from couples who have undergone in vitro fertilization and have extra unused embryos. This treatment tends to be more difficult to arrange since it’s necessary to find a couple that’s willing to pass along spare zygotes.
This procedure is itself otherwise similar to obtaining donated eggs by themselves, with the child-bearer being required to undergo the same drug treatment. The cost of this and also the success chance is the same as with donor eggs, as well.
One drawback one must be aware of for all fertility treatments that involve donors is that the partner who did not contribute genetic material may feel uncomfortable with the procedure. Therapy is recommended to address any feelings of distress that may arise from the use of these fertility treatments.
Arguably the most controversial, expensive and risky of available fertility treatments is surrogacy. Essentially, the surrogate donates her uterus to carry an embryo for another couple. It’s used in cases where one partner is unable to carry a fetus to term for whatever reason, or when neither partner has a uterus at all.
This procedure can involve many of the previous treatments discussed. Artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization will be used in order to implant the reproductive material. Donated eggs or donated sperm can be incorporated in addition.
This need for multiple procedures alone drives up the cost, but there are also many other expenses, such as fees that need to be paid to the surrogate agency and compensation for the surrogate. The entire procedure can come out to as high as $100,000.
There’s a variety of laws that regulate surrogacy in many states and countries. In some areas, it may be banned outright, as is the case in many European countries. Even in places where it is allowed, only non-commercial, or altruistic, surrogacy may be allowed, or surrogacy contracts are unenforceable. In this case, you may have no recourse if the surrogate mother decides not to give up the child after birth.
There’s also, of course, an ethics consideration. In countries where commercial surrogacy is legal, keep in mind the possibility that surrogates could be being economically coerced into the contract. Recently, India banned commercial surrogacy to combat this issue.
Needless to say, if pursuing this option you’ll definitely want to research what the local laws are and see if it’s possible to have the procedure done in a surrogacy-friendly area.
Since there is quite a variety of modern fertility treatment options available, it’s likely that anyone who struggles with conceiving can find a treatment right for their situation. The chances of success are already very high for many who embark on this path. It is sure to become even easier as more research is done into developing new procedures to solve infertility.