Have you been trying to get pregnant without success? You’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 7.3 million Americans are experiencing infertility. Upwards of 15% of couples will have difficulty conceiving during their lifetime.
Fortunately, couples experiencing infertility may be able to conceive with assistance through various treatments and testing.
Planning for a family is essential. In this blog, we’ll talk about safe and effective options for treating infertility.
What is Infertility?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) defines infertility as “not having become pregnant after 1 year of having regular sexual intercourse without the use of birth control.”
Reasons for Infertility
Many couples will experience difficulty conceiving. Below are some common causes of infertility in males and females:
Infertility in Women
- Problems with ovulation
- Issues with reproductive organs
- Hormone levels
Infertility in Men
- Issues with health
- Problems with testes
- Low sperm count
For both men and women, other factors like age and lifestyle can play a role in fertility. ACOG says, “By age 40 years, a woman’s chance of getting pregnant decreases to less than 10% per menstrual cycle.” While a man’s fertility will decrease with age, it is not as predictive as compared to women.
Various lifestyle factors can also contribute to infertility:
- Being underweight or overweight
- Exercising too much
- Drinking alcohol in excess
To increase likelihood of fertility, one can:
- Reduce consumption of harmful substances
- Optimize the timing of intercourse
- Monitor menstrual and ovulation cycles
- Get regular exercise
Treatment Options for Men and Women
There are many different treatment options available to couples experiencing infertility. While the best course of action depends on the cause of fertility issues, lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery are all potential options. Some treatments may be combined and may improve the chances of pregnancy.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), in 85% to 90% of cases, infertility can be treated with conventional medical therapies, such as medication or surgery.
Treatments for Men
- Medication: Specific medications may improve sperm counts by increasing the testicular function for sperm production and quality.
- Surgery: For specific infertility conditions, surgery may help with addressing sperm blockage or repairing a varicocele to improve chances of conceiving.
- Sperm Retrieval: Sperm retrieval is used to obtain sperm when sperm counts are low, or ejaculation is an issue.
Treatments for Women
- Medication: Fertility drugs are a standard treatment method and help regulate or induce ovulation to increase chances of conception.
- Surgery: Hysteroscopic surgery is used to restore fertility when problems like endometrial polyps, a uterine septum, or intrauterine scar tissues are present.
- Intrauterine Insemination: Insemination places healthy sperm in the uterus around the time a woman’s ovaries release an egg, which can help increase chances of conceiving.
Other treatments include assisted reproductive technology (ART). One of the most common ART procedures is in vitro fertilization (IVF). After stimulating and retrieving mature eggs from a woman’s ovaries, a lab technician will then fertilize those eggs with healthy sperm outside the womb in a lab setting. Afterward, the fertilized eggs are implanted back into the uterus.
Complications of these treatments may include multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.), ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, bleeding, or infections. Talk with your provider about which treatment options might be best for you and the risks associated with each.
Ways to Cope with Infertility
Because there are so many unknowns when it comes to infertility, coping with it can be extremely difficult. There are several steps you can take to help alleviate any uncertain feelings:
- Be Prepared: Treatments for infertility are not guaranteed to work, so understanding and being prepared for each step in the process is essential.
- Set a Limit: When deciding which treatment options are best for you, make sure you and your partner are emotionally and financially stable. Set limits for yourself ahead of time for how many attempts you’re willing and able to make before looking into other options.
- Establish Alternatives: There are many alternatives to treatment — using a donor’s sperm, egg, or embryo, adoption, surrogates, or deciding not to have children.
Infertility often brings up a lot of feelings. To help manage your emotional stress, learn to express your feelings to your partner and others who can support you, stay in touch with loved ones, and try to reduce stress. If the emotional toll becomes too much for you or your partner, seek professional help.
Consult Metro OBGYN
The first step in family planning and pregnancy is to have an evaluation. At Metro OBGYN, we understand this can be difficult, but we are here to support you and work with you throughout this process. And remember, if you or your partner are encountering infertility, you’re not alone.
Schedule an evaluation with a Metro OBGYN provider at one of our locations to discuss safe and effective treatment options as well as family planning. With a little assistance, pregnancy may be possible for you.