Fertility Treatments Explained
If your doctor determines you’re not ovulating normally, fertility drugs can help. The most common choice is clomiphene citrate, better known by the brand names Clomid and Serophene. This drug is relatively inexpensive and effective. About half of women who take clomiphene will get pregnant, usually within three cycles. By causing the release of more than one egg at a time, Clomid increases the chances of multiple births.
If you don’t get pregnant after taking clomiphene for six months, your doctor may recommend injections of fertility hormones. A wide range of hormonal drugs are available, and they are highly effective in stimulating ovulation. Of those who ovulate, about half become pregnant. Like clomiphene, injectable hormones increase the chances of becoming pregnant with multiples.
Surgery for Blocked Fallopian Tubes
Some women have trouble getting pregnant because scar tissue prevents eggs from traveling down the fallopian tubes. This scarring can be caused by endometriosis, the overgrowth of tissue that lines the uterus, a history of pelvic infections, or previous surgeries. Laparoscopic surgery can remove scar tissue in the reproductive tract and boost the odds of getting pregnant for some women.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a popular option for a wide range of fertility problems. In this procedure, the sperm is placed directly into the woman’s uterus while she is ovulating. This reduces the distance the sperm must swim to reach the egg. IUI is often used in combination with drugs that stimulate ovulation. It is less expensive and less invasive than IVF, but pregnancy rates are approximately 15 per cent.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
There are many reasons why people need IVF – blocked fallopian tubes, severe endometriosis, PCOS, the woman’s age and unexplained infertility.
In an IVF cycle the woman takes fertility injections for a period of time to increase the number of eggs her ovaries produce within that cycle (average 10-12 follicles). Once the eggs are thought to be mature, they are collected and taken to the laboratory. The male partner produces a semen sample and that is processed and mixed with the eggs and allowed to fertilise in the incubator. After three to six days, one or two embryos are placed in the uterus.
Undergoing IVF can be unpleasant and expensive, with an average cycle costing €4,000. But success rates are growing every year. In 2007, pregnancy rates per IVF cycle ranged from 10% for women aged 43/44 to 46% for women under 35.
IVF With ICSI
When a man’s sperm count is extremely low or the sperm don’t move well, they may not be able to fertilize an egg without help. A procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can overcome this problem by inserting a single sperm directly into an egg. The resulting embryos are then transferred to the uterus through the normal IVF procedure. The majority of IVF cycles now use ICSI.