Thanks to advances in reproductive medicine, doctors and couples have many treatment options for infertility. Your OB/GYN reproductive specialist can prescribe a strategy based on your age, general health and history, the cause, extent and predicted course of the condition, and your own preferences.
Conventional treatments, such as medications or surgery, are used in up to 90 percent of infertility cases.
Infertility Treatment Options for Women
A number of options are available to correct female infertility.
Medications help regulate ovulation and stimulate development of eggs, and help control hormone imbalances. Use of ovulation medications can result in two or more eggs being produced and released creating a higher potential for twins or other multiple fetuses. When considering this alternative, women should consult their doctor about the implications of a pregnancy involving multiple fetuses.
Intrauterine Insemination inserts sperm directly into the uterus. Ovulation medications may used in combination with this treatment.
Surgical Remedies can be applied to repair blocked fallopian tubes or treat endometriosis.
Laparoscopy, usually a diagnostic tool, uses a small lighted scope to be inserted into the abdomen to view internal organs. Some treatments for infertility can be performed with special tools inserted through the scope.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) includes a number of options when more extensive treatment is needed. Most types of ART involve combining the sperm and egg in a laboratory, then surgically implanting the embryo into the woman’s uterus. Despite the high expense of ART, most forms have proven to be very successful treatments.
- in vitro fertilization, typically used in the case of blocked fallopian tubes
- intracytoplasmic sperm injection, putting a single sperm directly into the egg
- gamete intrafallopian transfer places a fertilized egg into a healthy fallopian tube
- donor eggs from one woman are fertilized and placed in the woman experiencing infertility
- embryo cryopreservation freezes embryos when too many are created in the in vitro fertilization process so they can be implanted later if the first attempt is unsuccessful
Problems with male infertility can also be overcome with some of the ART treatments. In addition, drug therapy may be prescribed to treat a hormone imbalance that affects sperm development. Surgery may be used to correct physical issues that negatively affect sperm development and ejaculation.
Recent research shows that babies born through ART processes are at slightly higher risk for birth defects, but it is not yet know how or if the technology is the cause. ART has a relatively success rate – 42% among women younger than age 35 – so couples should consult with a qualified OB/Gyn reproductive specialist to determine the course of action best suited to their unique situation.