Infertility affects many couples (estimated to be around one in every 8) who are unable to conceive despite having regular unprotected sex. Although infertility can have a negative impact on one’s mental health, there is a silver lining. Thanks to advances in science and treatment, an increasing number of babies are being born with the assistance of modern medicine.
It is estimated that between 85 and 90 percent of infertile couples receive conventional treatment, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) (medication or surgery). In vitro fertilization and similar treatments account for less than 3% of all infertility services.
It is important to know what is causing your infertility in order to receive the most effective treatment. Continue reading to learn about the most common treatments for male and female infertility. In addition, we detail the benefits and drawbacks of each approach and their success rates, estimated costs, and more.
Drugs To Restore Fertility
Fertility drugs, which can be injected or taken as pills, release hormones that stimulate ovulation and make the uterus more receptive to embryo implantation. They’re frequently used to treat female infertility in women who don’t ovulate on a regular basis or have partners with poor sperm quality. Fertility drugs may also be prescribed to some men. If you have damaged or blocked fallopian tubes or scarring from endometriosis, you should avoid fertility drugs (these conditions usually require IVF).
Although success rates vary, 40 to 45 percent of women who take the pill and ovulate may conceive. The shots cause up to half of the women who ovulate to become pregnant.
Fertility drugs are often the first line of treatment for infertility because of their low cost and ease of use.
Bloating, headaches, hot flashes, and nausea are all possible side effects. With the shots, the risk of multiple births, premature delivery, and the formation of large ovarian cysts is increased.
In terms of costs, fertility drugs range in price from $60 to $6,000 per cycle, depending on whether the drug is taken as a pill or injected. Blood tests, ultrasounds, and doctor visits could all add to the cost.
Fertility Treatment Options
It all depends on the cause of infertility, your age, the length of time you’ve been infertile, and your personal preferences. As a result of its complexity, infertility calls for significant financial, physical, psychological, and time commitments on the part of both the patient and the caregiver.
Treatments can either try to restore fertility through medication or surgery, or they can assist you in getting pregnant using advanced techniques.
A number of surgical procedures can be used to correct or improve the reproductive health of women. However, due to the success of other methods, surgical treatments for infertility are becoming increasingly rare.
Below are the 5 most common medical procedures that couples can go through to have a child.
1. Intrauterine Insemination
A thin, flexible catheter is used to insert specially prepared (“washed”) sperm directly into the uterus during an intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedure. If you choose this method, your doctor may advise you to take fertility drugs to improve your chances of conceiving.
When men have slow-moving sperm, poor-quality sperm, or a low sperm count, IUI is frequently used. It may also benefit women who have antibodies to their partners’ sperm or whose cervical mucus is too thin, acidic, or thick to transport the sperm to the egg. Donor sperm can also be used to complete IUI.
Success rates are determined by the age of the mother and the quality of the sperm. In general, you have a 5 to 20% chance of conceiving each cycle, with your chances improving with each cycle.
The procedure is simple and can be done in a doctor’s office. However, IUI can lead to multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc.). The fertility drugs may also cause side effects in women.
If you don’t have insurance, IUI can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000 per cycle. More ultrasounds, donor sperm, blood work, and fertility drugs will be required.
2. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a multi-step procedure that involves extracting your eggs and fertilizing them with sperm in a laboratory. In order to form a pregnancy, the fertilized embryos are implanted into the uterus.
For older women, as well as those with blocked or severely damaged fallopian tubes or scarring from endometriosis, IVF is a common female infertility treatment. It may also be used if the man’s sperm quality is poor. Couples who are unable to conceive due to unexplained infertility may turn to IVF.
IVF success rates are determined by the maternal age. Most estimates say that 40 to 50 percent of IVF cycles will result in pregnancy if the woman is under 35 years old. As the mother’s age increases, the likelihood of success decreases.
Some couples choose to use other assisted technologies, such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection, to improve their chances of IVF success (ICSCI). ICSI is a procedure in which an embryologist selects a healthy-looking single sperm from the male’s sperm and injects it directly into the egg using a microscopic needle. IVF is used to transfer an embryo into the uterus after it has developed. It’s frequently used to treat low sperm count or sperm quality.
IVF allows couples with serious fertility issues to become parents. However, treatments are expensive and physically demanding, and they necessitate a strict fertility drug regimen prior to the start of each cycle.
IVF costs vary widely, as they do with any infertility treatment. You should budget around $12,000 per cycle, plus $3,000 to $5,000 for fertility medications.
See also Fertility Drugs for Women
3. Fertility/Reproductive Surgeries
Reproductive surgery can correct anatomical abnormalities in both men and women and remove scarring from conditions like endometriosis and clear blockages. While some surgeries require a hospital stay, others can be done as outpatient procedures.
Success Rates: The success of this infertility treatment is largely determined by the condition and severity of the condition and the patient’s age. More information about success rates for your specific type of surgery can be obtained from your healthcare provider.
Pros: Reproductive surgeries may increase the likelihood of pregnancy in addition to reducing any pain or discomfort associated with the health problem.
Cons: Some procedures are more invasive than others, increasing the risk, cost, and recovery time.
Costs: The cost of surgery is determined by the surgeon, health insurance coverage, and the procedures involved. Minor procedures can cost as little as $2,000, while more invasive surgeries can cost as much as $10,000 or more.
4. Donor Sperm or Eggs
This is one of the most common fertility treatment options for low sperm count.
Couples with male factor infertility may be unable to conceive using IUI or IVF. In some cases, they may use donor sperm, which comes from a man other than the intended father. Men with genetic disorders may opt for donor sperm to avoid passing their disease on to their children. It’s also popular among single women and couples of the same gender.
The success rate of donor sperm conception is highly dependent on the procedure used (IUI or IVF), the eggs and sperm quality, and other factors.
On the other hand, donor eggs are obtained from another woman’s ovaries. They’re usually fertilized with the recipient’s partner’s sperm, and the embryos are then transferred into the recipient’s uterus.
Around 50% of women who undergo IVF with fresh donor eggs will give birth. For frozen eggs, the number decreases. Donor eggs make it possible for older women and those with ovarian problems to have children. One downside is that the procedure is costly. The recipient must follow a strict drug regimen with numerous potential side effects, and some women who have no genetic ties to the donor eggs may be hesitant to use them.
In this procedure, one woman (known as a surrogate) carries a baby for someone else as part of this infertility treatment. IUI with the father’s sperm or IVF with the couple’s embryo allows the surrogate to become pregnant. It’s also possible to use donor eggs and sperm.
Surrogacy is ideal for women who are unable to carry a child due to illness, hysterectomy, or infertility. In rare cases, both partners are infertile, and surrogacy with donor sperm and/or eggs is a viable option.
Surrogacy success rates are determined by the quality of the eggs and sperm used. However, live birth rates range from 5 to 30% per cycle on average. The chances of having a child increase as the number of cycles increases.
Couples with untreatable fertility issues (for example, the woman may not have a uterus or may have a disease that makes carrying a pregnancy to term dangerous) can have children. One downside is that the price is prohibitive. Couples may feel cut off from the pregnancy and face a slew of state surrogacy laws and legal agreements.
See also Anabolic Steroids and Male Fertility