When you are ready to get pregnant and your body doesn't comply, it's natural to get frustrated. For some couples, it's just a matter of timing - and staying patient. For others, medical treatment for infertility may be the answer. Follow the links below to learn more.
When to See a Doctor About Infertility
If you've tried to conceive for a few months and aren't pregnant yet, don't fret. Most couples should try - that means frequent unprotected sex - for 12 months before being evaluated for infertility. If you are older than 35, however, you should consider talking to your doctor after six months of trying to conceive.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, infertility affects about 6.1 million Americans. And remember, it can affect both men and women, so both partners should see a doctor when fertility is a question.
Your doctor will likely ask you questions such as:
- When did you stop using birth control?
- How long have you been trying to get pregnant?
- How often do you have sex?
- Do you smoke?
- Have you conceived a child with a previous partner?
- Are you using an ovulation kit?
He or she may recommend you change certain habits and continue trying before undergoing medical testing. Testing commonly involves analyzing a man's semen to check for infection as well as sperm abnormalities. Meanwhile, tests for a woman can ensure she's ovulating, her fallopian tubes aren't blocked and her uterus is healthy.
Infertility Treatment Options
There are a variety of treatment options for infertility. Depending on the results of tests, your doctor may suggest medication, surgery or assisted reproductive technologies (ART).
Medication. For women who aren't ovulating, a clomiphene citrate pill is commonly prescribed to induce ovulation. If that doesn't work, injectable drugs called gonadotropins may be prescribed to stimulate the eggs to develop. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, most women who take ovulation-inducting medications will begin to ovulate regularly, and more than half of them will get pregnant within six treatment cycles.
Surgery. Sometimes surgery can repair a blocked fallopian tube, remove polyps, fibroids or scar tissue, or treat endometriosis. Surgery also may be used to treat problems with a man's sperm.
Artificial insemination. This option involves treating sperm in a lab then placing it into the woman's uterus when she's ovulating. The sperm may be from the woman's husband or a donor.
Assisted reproductive technologies (ART). In vitro fertilization, in which eggs are fertilized in a lab and placed in the woman's uterus, accounts for 99 percent of ART procedures. The success rate of this procedure varies depending on the woman's age and the reason for infertility. If you want to learn more, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reports on the success rates.
Fertility Services at Parker Adventist Hospital
Women who need infertility services can get everything they need through specialists affiliated with Parker Hospital. Working with your primary obstetrician, these specialists will develop treatment plan that is unique to your medical history, physical condition, diagnosis, age and personal situation.
Infertility services available include basic infertility measures such as ovulation induction and insemination, as well as evaluation and management for recurrent miscarriage. For patients who require advanced treatment, assisted reproductive technologies including In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), oocyte donation, embryo cryopreservation, intracytoplasmic sperm injections (ICSI), and preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) are available.
Once a patient becomes pregnant, she returns to her obstetrician for continued care and delivery. She also may be referred to Parker Hospital's perinatal services if needed.
The Chances of Multiple Babies
For couples trying infertility treatment, the thought of getting pregnant is exciting. But the thought of having more than one baby may be a bit daunting. Rest easy. Although the chances of conceiving multiples is higher using infertility treatment than when conceiving naturally, it is not a significant risk. And the likelihood of having more than twins is very low, says says Deborah Smith, M.D., a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at Parker Adventist Hospital.
The chances of conceiving twins while using infertility treatments ranges from 5 percent to 28 percent, compared with just over 1 percent when conceiving naturally. But the chances of having three or more babies using in vitro fertilization is just 1.5 percent, according to the American Society of Reproductive Technology.
To help prevent multiple births, the ASRM and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology created guidelines in 1996 that limit the number of embryos that are implanted. Generally, a physician will implant only two or three embryos in a woman who is 35 or younger, Smith says.