Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about women’s health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.
For some people, having a baby requires special support. If you want to become a parent but are having trouble getting pregnant, fertility treatments can help.
Surgery, medications, and assisted reproductive technology (ART) are some types of fertility treatments. Your course will depend on the cause of your concerns, and that path may change over time. Learn what your fertility treatment options are and how lifestyle decisions may have an impact when you're trying to conceive.
Treatments commonly performed in a fertility clinic include:
At-home fertility testing kits, available without a prescription, measure levels of hormones that play a role in conception. Some tell you how likely you are to have a fertility-limiting condition like poor ovarian reserves. At-home tests don't replace a professional diagnostic exam but can give you an idea of whether you should go see a fertility specialist for help.
Ovulation dysfunction affects 40% of females seeking fertility treatments. Having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), being overweight or underweight, or being older than 35 can disrupt ovulation. Other times, fertility troubles are the result of structural problems that make reproduction difficult, such as blocked fallopian tubes or endometriosis.
Male infertility is the cause or partial cause of 40% of infertility problems. The main issues linked to male fertility are testicular problems that affect the formation of sperm, blockages in reproductive system ducts, and hormonal imbalances. Older age, obesity, and smoking also reduce sperm count and quality.
If you don't get a period or go very long between periods, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to regulate your cycle and ovulate more often. A dietitian can design a healthy eating plan that may help if you are very overweight or underweight, both risk factors for ovulatory dysfunction. Take time for breakfast: if you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a common cause of irregular or absent periods, getting most of your calories in your first meal of the day may boost ovulation.
No. Fertility troubles are most often linked to complex biological or physiological factors, like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), structural problems in your reproductive system, or being over age 35. Some behaviors, notably smoking, contribute to infertility, but masturbation does not.
Don't smoke, and make sure your partner doesn't either. Smokers are twice as likely to have problems getting pregnant as non-smokers. Avoid drinking too much coffee, since having more than five cups a day ups your risk of fertility troubles. During sex, don't use certain lubricants, like K-Y Jelly, olive oil, and saliva, which hinder sperm's movement in the female reproductive tract.
Fertility supplements are vitamins or minerals that may increase your chances of getting pregnant, especially if you are deficient in certain nutrients. People who are trying to conceive often have low levels of folate and D and B vitamins, so talk with your doctor about taking folic acid, vitamin D, and vitamin B supplements, in particular. Male partners can consider supplementing with zinc, which is essential to sperm production and often low in men with fertility problems.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure in which a healthcare provider places a concentrated group of sperm cells (previously collected from your partner or a donor) directly into your uterus. For people with unexplained fertility, IUI doubles pregnancy odds.
Gonadotropins are ovarian-stimulating fertility drugs that mimic the hormones that prompt egg development. You learn from a fertility specialist how to inject them at home, usually between in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles. They increase your chances of conceiving but sometimes lead to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome—feelings of bloating and discomfort that are usually temporary.
Genetic screening reveals health risks you or your baby may face. A fertility doctor may recommend it if you have a family history of a genetic disease, bad luck with in vitro fertilization (IVF), or are using donated eggs to try to get pregnant. Screenings include karyotyping, a blood test to examine your chromosomes for abnormalities that might hinder pregnancy, and preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), in which potential embryos are evaluated before being inserted into the uterus.
Oocyte development is the growth of eggs inside follicles in your ovaries each menstrual cycle. Several oocytes (ova) may develop each cycle but usually, only one will fully mature and be released during ovulation. Ovarian hyperstimulation may boost the number of oocytes that develop during a cycle.
In artificial insemination procedures, semen cells are placed inside your reproductive tract to help them get closer to an egg and encourage conception. Common methods include intravaginal insemination, or IVI (sperm is put inside your vagina); intracervical insemination, or ICI (sperm is put close to your cervix); and intrauterine insemination, or IUI (sperm is put directly into your uterus).
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