Sadly, some couples find conceiving a baby tough. This can become an emotionally traumatic experience putting undue stress and strain on a relationship. When couples are struggling to start a family, they experience a series of different emotions. Often they will feel guilty, blaming themselves or blaming their partner. Fortunately, there are steps that couples can take in their desperation for the female to become pregnant.
What Fertility Options Do I Have?
For many couples, IVF treatment is one of the last options available, and couples often try changing their lifestyle and diet to become more fertile first. Of course, taking this approach is often beneficial to overall health and will undoubtedly increase your chances of becoming pregnant. There are several supplements available which offer varying degrees of success. Popular supplements include folic acid and folate, CoQ10, magnesium and zinc. Unfortunately, if you aren’t reporting any progress after several months, you may be left with no alternative other than to seek professional guidance at a clinic.
Fertility Treatments Available in Hospitals and Clinics
Most maternity hospitals and fertility clinics offer a range of fertility treatments. A specially trained doctor will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment for you and your partner. Naturally, the doctor will be keen to learn more about both of your medical histories and you should expect some personal questions. These questions are to ascertain which treatment will give you the highest chance of success.
1) IVF Treatment
In Vitro Fertilisation, to give it its full name is an Assisted Reproductive Technique (ART) in which eggs and sperm are combined in a laboratory. The whole process is quite complex. The treatment involves both surgical procedures and courses of medication.
The first stage of the process involves consuming medication designed to make the body produce several eggs at the same time, which are all ready for fertilisation. Taking each egg individually, the doctor mixes it with sperm. Once the fertilised eggs have become embryos, one or more eggs will be returned to the uterus. More than one fertilised egg is commonly used to increase the chances of pregnancy, which occurs when the embryos become implanted in the uterus lining.
The entire process can take several months, and many couples need more than one round of IVF. The chances of becoming pregnant are undoubtedly increased with IVF, but it should be stressed that there are no guarantees. Hospitals and clinics should always prepare couples for the emotional rollercoaster which they will inevitably go through.
As with any medical procedure, there are some risks and possible side effects. Before commencing treatment, your doctor should explain the risks and answer any of your questions. Side effects that are frequently reported include:
- Changes in mood
2) ICSI Treatment
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection is an additional form of IVF when the male partner has a severely low sperm count or other fertility issues. Doctors will inject a single sperm into each egg using state-of-the-art micro-manipulation equipment. Most clinics will suggest that this additional form of treatment is only used in the most extreme of cases. Common problems that would require ICSI include low morphology or motility, low sperm count, or if the male has previously had a vasectomy.
Couples that require ICSI can expect their chances of success to increase to the same as those experienced by couples only requiring standard IVF treatment. It should be emphasised that there are no guarantees even after this additional treatment and to be prepared for more emotional turmoil. The male may benefit from counselling if this is unsuccessful.
Physiological Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (PICSI) sometimes referred to as HA-ICSI, mimics the natural binding of mature sperm to eggs using Hyaluron (HA). The sperm are prepared beforehand, isolated and then undergo a careful selection process before commencing regular ICSI.
The side effects that are frequently reported are similar to those experienced during regular IVF treatment.
3) IUI Treatment
Intrauterine Insemination, involves the sperm artificially inseminated inside the female’s uterus around the time that the female is ovulation to ensure that the sperm and egg are as close together as possible. Frequently, the female will take medication before the procedure takes places to stimulate ovulation. A concentrated amount of sperm will be inserted into the uterus after it has been collected from the male partner or donor.
It is one of the cheapest and simplest forms of fertility treatment and has high success rates. As always, there are no guarantees that this procedure will work and the female or couple should prepare themselves emotionally for this eventuality. The insemination process will take place in a doctor’s surgery or fertility clinic. No anaesthetic is required, and it is a relatively painless procedure that lasts in the region of 5-10 minutes.
The side effects that are most commonly reported include cramping and some mild soreness both during and after the procedure.
4) PGD Treatment
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis is a procedure used when then there is a higher than average chance of specific genetic defects or disorders. The process takes place before the embryos are inserted into the uterus. The embryos are created during the regular process of IVF.
The process is similar to standard IVF with regards to egg retrieval and fertilisation, although the embryos will be divided into multiple cells over the next 3-5 days. The DNA of each embryo is then analysed, and the embryos are frozen. The analysis takes approximately one week. Embryos that are free from any genetic disorders will be inserted back into the uterus.
The chances of success are similar to that with other forms of IVF treatment and couples should be made aware that there are no guarantees of success. The side effects of PGD Treatment are the same as those experienced during standard IVF treatment. Some of the main issues regarding this form of therapy relate to ethical issues connected to the artificial selection of life. If this is something that concerns you, you should consult your doctor or genetic counsellor.