On your path to parenthood you may come across one of several health issues that can cause fertility concerns. It is vitally important that before you plan on getting pregnant that these fertility concerns are understood and that you are aware of the methods of overcoming them. We advise you to consult your doctor for accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Infertility is defined as failing to get pregnant after two years of regular unprotected sex byThe National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
Infertility is the most common reason for women aged 20 45 to see their GP, after pregnancy itself.
According to the HFEA, about one in six couples in the UK have difficulty conceiving. When a couple is unable to conceive a child it is the couple’s problem, with blame not placed with one partner or another. However, up to a quarter of people attending a fertility clinic have found that the causes of their infertility are unexplained, this is generally due to current testing techniques are unable to determine the real cause of their infertility.
When you are having problems conceiving, it can sometimes feel like you are the only one s not getting pregnant. You also become more aware of pregnancy announcements from family and friends, which can have the detrimental effect of making you and your partner feel like failures.
However in the UK over 3.3m couples have fertility issues, so please be assured you re not alone.
Assisted Conception or Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) procedures are increasing by over 5% each year with more and more couples using these methods as an effective way of improving their chances of getting pregnant. Below is a list of the most common fertility techniques to improve the chances of conception for women.
Clomid Clomifene Citrate:
Clomid is the brand name for the fertility drug clomiphene citrate. Clomiphene citrate may also be sold under the brand name Serophene. Whether you re taking the brand name Clomid, Serophene, or a generic version of clomiphene citrate, it s all the same drug. Think of Clomid in the same way that we use the word Hoover to refer to a vacuum cleaner, same horse different jockey.
How Does it Work:
Clomid is the most commonly used fertility drug. Around 25% of infertility issues affecting women comes as a result of problems with ovulation. If you are struggling to get pregnant because your menstrual cycle is unpredictable, your periods have stopped altogether or you suffer from anovulatory cycles (menstruation without ovulation), Clomid may be the treatment for you. It is less intrusive (as it comes as a pill) but most importantly it is inexpensive in comparison to other fertility drugs. Clomid is not suitable for all types of fertility issues but your doctor will discuss this with you and your partner to determine if Clomid is suitable in your case.
It works by jumpstarting ovulation in 80% of patients, and about 40% to 45% of women using Clomid will get pregnant within six months. Clomid is administered in pill form. You take one pill every day for five consecutive days each month. The pills trigger the production of certain hormones in your body which stimulate your ovaries into producing and releasing mature eggs, which, hopefully, will be fertilized by your partners’ sperm when you have sex.
For a more in depth look at the use of Clomid in fertility treatment.
IUI – Intrauterine Insemination:
IUI is a fertility treatment that uses a catheter to place a number of washed sperm directly into the uterus. The goal of IUI is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization.
How does it Work?
The IUI process involves inserting a very thin, flexible catheter into the woman s cervix in order to inject washed sperm into the uterus. The sperm used in IUI may be either that of the male partner or be donated by a sperm donor.
IUI should be performed within 6 hours either before the onset of ovulation or following the onset of ovulation, depending on the cause of infertility in the couple s case. If male infertility is causing problems getting pregnant, then IUI is performed following the onset of ovulation, as this is believed to increase the chance of getting pregnant.
In order to increase IUI success, fertility drugs are administered at the onset of the menstrual cycle. This is because fertility drugs stimulate the ovaries in order to produce mature eggs for fertilization.
For a more in depth look at IUI please go to: www.fertilityroad.com
IVF – In Vitro Fertilization
IVF is simply the uniting of egg and sperm in vitro (in the lab). It is a major treatment in infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The embryos created in the lab are transferred into the uterus through the cervix and pregnancy is allowed to begin. The process is done in conjunction with ovulation induction through drugs, monitoring of hormone levels and follicle scans with ultrasound.
How does it Work?
IVF treatment can be broken down into three separate phases:
– The stimulation of the development of several eggs
– The collection of the eggs and their fertilisation in the laboratory by your partner s sperm
– The transfer of the resulting embryos into your uterus
In a typical IVF procedure, a woman is first treated with fertility drugs to stimulate the production of numerous mature eggs. Once these eggs have matured, a needle is inserted through the vagina to remove the eggs. The eggs are then placed in a specially-prepared laboratory dish.
After a process called sperm washing, sperm are mixed with the retrieved eggs. This can be achieved by using another needle to inject the sperm into the nucleus of an egg or the sperm can be placed with the eggs in the special laboratory dish. A sign that fertilization has occurred is when the eggs begin to cleave, or divide, into multiple cells. Embryos need to be placed in the uterus approximately 72 hours after fertilization.
For the embryo transfer procedure, a flexible tube, called a catheter, is inserted into the vagina, through the cervix and into the uterus. The embryos are placed in the uterus via the catheter.
ICSI – Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection:
In a normal IVF procedure, many sperm are placed together with an egg, in hopes that one of the sperm will enter and fertilize the egg. With ICSI, the embryologist takes a single sperm and injects it directly into an egg.
How does it Work?
As in a routine IVF procedure, the woman must take fertility medications to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple mature eggs. The eggs are removed from her ovaries and placed in a Petri dish for fertilization. If a man’s semen does not contain enough motile sperm, the doctor can extract sperm from a testicle with a needle. If a sperm sample reveals too few sperm, a biopsy can be taken from testicular tissue in hopes that there will be sperm attached. Similar to the egg retrieval procedure in women, this procedure can be quite painful, so it may require anaesthesia.
Next, a single sperm is injected directly into each individual egg. The next day the eggs are checked to see if fertilization was successful. The fertilized eggs will remain in the Petri dish for a few days as they continue to divide and become early embryos. Using a thin catheter, the doctor then places the embryos into the uterus.
The full IVF cycle takes about six weeks to complete — from the first day of treatment until embryo transfer. In a third of ICSI pregnancies, more than one embryo implants, which can lead to a multiple pregnancy.
If there are extra embryos, they can be frozen for future fertilization attempts if the initial procedure is unsuccessful.