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Most couples decide to start a family and assume they will get pregnant with no problem. Approximately one of every six couples in this country experiences infertility. If you are under 35 and have been trying for 12 months with no success, you should consult a reproductive endocrinologist (RE), a specialist in diagnosing and treating infertility. Women over 35 should see an infertility specialist after trying for six months with no luck.
To identify any issues, your reproductive endocrinologist will complete a full evaluation of you and your partner. These tests will likely include a sperm analysis, hormone level assessments, ultrasounds, and other evaluations as needed. Once your physician determines the cause of the problem, the doctor will recommend infertility treatment options that will help you achieve parenthood.
Common infertility treatments include:
When your hormones aren’t working properly or are in short supply, your doctor may suggest fertility medications to assist your reproductive system. If the cause of your infertility is unknown, your physician may start with ovulation induction. Medications like Clomid can stimulate ovulation and can be used with other procedures. In cases where oral medicine fails, injectables may be used.
If you have certain physical problems, such as tubal blockages, fibroids, or endometriosis, your RE may recommend surgery. By correcting the issue, your physician can increase your chances of conceiving.
The least complex of the assisted reproductive technologies (ART), intrauterine insemination involves preparing the sperm and then placing it directly into the uterus. With IUI, your physician can perform the procedure in the office, without anesthesia, inserting a catheter into the cervix and delivering the sperm to the correct location. There is less risk of multiples with this procedure, and IUI is less costly than other ART options.
When other methods fail or in cases where the patient is not a good candidate for ovulation induction or IUI, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a viable option. For IVF, the female partner’s eggs are fertilized by the male partner’s sperm in a laboratory. The resulting embryo, or embryos, is transferred to the uterus at the optimal time in the hopes of achieving a successful pregnancy.
For women who have had recurrent miscarriages or those with physical limitations that prevents them from carrying a child, using a gestational carrier can provide a path to parenthood. A gestational carrier is an individual with no biological connection to the fetus who carries the pregnancy to term. With a gestational carrier, the baby is genetically related to one or both partners.