For those who wish to start a family, but are having trouble, many different methods of fertility treatment are available to help. People may seek out fertility treatment when they are experiencing delayed pregnancy. This means that they have actively tried to become pregnant for approximately one year without success.
Fertility treatment can be a long journey, as some methods do not work for everybody, and some people have a harder time becoming pregnant than others regardless of the treatment used. However, an increased number of methods have come available over the past years. There are many different types of fertility treatment options available for couples trying for a family:
1. Cycle monitoring
The least invasive form of fertility treatment is to monitor the woman’s menstrual cycle. A woman’s body will normally only release one egg for fertilization each month, which means timing is everything.
With cycle monitoring, the woman can learn exactly what her ovulation schedule is, and can plan intercourse according to that schedule. If everything is otherwise normal, simply matching up the timing may be enough to help the woman to become pregnant.
2. Intra uterine insemination (IUI)
This method takes fresh or frozen sperm – this can be either from the woman’s partner or from a donor – and basically forces it together with the egg. It is slightly more invasive than cycle monitoring, but the concept is similar.
The woman’s cycle is monitored until the egg is ready to be released. At that time, the woman is given a medication which triggers the egg to be released. Once this medication has been administered and given time to work, the sperm is injected into the uterus.
3. In vitro fertilization (IVF)
This method takes place over a number of steps. First the woman is given FSH medication, medication that stimulates the ovaries. This will allow for multiple eggs to grow. The woman’s eggs will be monitored until they are ready to be released, then the woman is given a medication to trigger the release of the eggs. Next, the eggs are harvested either through a transvaginal ultrasound or an abdominal surgery or laparoscopy.
Next the eggs are mixed with the sperm and monitored until they (hopefully) become an embryo that can be used in an embryo transfer. Ultimately, the embryo is transferred back into the woman’s uterus to complete gestation. However, if the embryo does not ultimately implant in the lining of the uterus, the IVF will be unsuccessful, and the woman will have to decide if she would like to try again or try another method.
4. Intra cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
This method is very similar to IVF, except instead of mixing the sperm with the eggs and hoping they will find each other, only one sperm is selected and is manually inserted into the egg. This process is significantly more controlled than other methods of fertility treatment, including IVF. It also does tend to have a higher success rate.
5. Laser assisted hatching (LAH)
This is an optional treatment that women can use on their embryos before the embryo transfer. LAH uses a laser to make a hole in the outer layer of the embryo which facilitates its hatching and implanting in the woman’s uterine lining.
If a woman has chosen to do IVF or ICSI treatment, she may decide to use the LAH to increase her chances of becoming pregnant. However, since the treatment is optional, she is not required to opt for the LAH treatment.
After any of these treatments, if it is successful the woman will proceed with her pregnancy as normal. If the treatment does not work, she will discuss with her doctor what her next options are.