According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, about 6 percent of married women between 15 and 44 struggle with infertility. These women cannot become pregnant after 12 months of unprotected sex. They might seek other alternatives, such as assisted reproduction. If you have decided to pursue assisted reproduction options, either by yourself or with a partner, this brief overview can help you make informed decisions.
• Superovulation and Intrauterine Insemination. Superovulation and Intrauterine Insemination optimizes the woman’s chances of conception by stimulating the ovaries so that they release more than one egg each cycle. At the same time, the eggs are exposed to more sperm. This process can double or even triple the chances of conception and also increase the risk of a pregnancy with multiples. In
• Vitro Fertilization. First used in 1978, IVF involves egg fertilization that occurs outside of the body. These babies are sometimes called test-tube babies.
• Follicle stimulation and monitoring. The woman receives high doses of follicle-stimulating hormones in order to encourage the production of multiple eggs. She gives herself these shots for 10 days and sees the doctor every two to three days for monitoring in order to ensure that the optimal number of eggs develops.
• Egg Retrieval. A nurse retrieves anywhere from zero to 30 eggs or oocytes from the woman while she is sedated. The eggs are examined by the embryologist and then incubated until the sperm fertilize them.
• Fertilization and Incubation. The sperm and eggs are then incubated for a few days.
• Embryo Transfer Procedure. The doctor transfers the embryos to the uterus via a catheter. The mother should rest after the transfer to allow for the implant.
Cryopreservation. The couple might want to freeze the embryos for later use. When they decide to have more children, the lab thaws the embryos, then transferring them to the uterus.
• Testicular Sperm Extraction. In some cases, the man might not have any sperm in his ejaculate. However, sperm can still be removed from the testicle.
• Gestational Carrier. A woman might not be able to carry a baby in her uterus, even though her ovaries and eggs function properly. Once IVF is completed, the embryos are then placed in a gestational surrogate, who carries the baby. After birth, the baby belongs to the biological parents. Before hiring a surrogate, all parties should seek legal counsel from an experienced family law attorney.
• Donor Egg Program (DEP). If the woman cannot produce her own eggs, she might receive them from a donor. After IVF, the eggs undergo fertilization by either a sperm donor or her partner.
• Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). In this method, the lab injects a single sperm directly into a mature egg. The process can sometimes be more effective than traditional IVF methods.