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Fertility Treatments 101: Exploring Your Options

When you make a decision to seek fertility treatments, it can feel a little overwhelming. Not only are fertility issues usually accompanied by challenging emotions, you may also feel uncertain about your options and what could be best for you personally.

According to professionals, failure to conceive after a year of trying could be an indication that fertility treatments are needed. Even though you may feel a little overwhelmed, getting familiar with the different options can give you a clearer path of ideas for what is ahead. Below is an overview of what can cause fertility challenges, as well as the different types of fertility treatments that could work for you.

Understanding Fertility Challenges

One in every six or seven couples of reproductive age will face fertility issues. However, each individual can have their own set of factors generating issues. A few of the most common reasons for fertility challenges include:

  • Age – Women over the age of 30 have a 20% chance of conceiving during each monthly cycle. Sperm quality in men tends to decline beyond the age of 40 to 45. Therefore, age can play a major role in fertility.
  • Medical conditions – Numerous medical conditions can affect fertility in both males and females, such as cancer in men and endometriosis in women.
  • Hormonal imbalances – Hormones directly influence everything from sperm viability to ovulation and can interfere with the ability to get pregnant.
  • Environmental toxin exposure – Exposure to drugs, alcohol, and chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers can all have an effect on fertility.
  • Reproductive abnormalities – Abnormalities of the reproductive system, such as uterine abnormalities or undescended testicles can sometimes be the cause of fertility challenges.

Because fertility challenges can come along with a broad spectrum of underlying causes, a thorough, personalized evaluation by a fertility specialist is vital. In some cases, gaining an understanding of underlying infertility causes lays the foundation for determining which fertility treatments will be best.

Medication-Based Treatments

Medication-based treatments are often a good starting point for fertility treatments. Additionally, some patients can benefit from certain medications if they are struggling with standard reproductive issues, such as an abnormal menstrual cycle or difficulty sustaining pregnancy after conception. A few examples of medications that may be recommended could include:

  • Prenatal vitamins to balance nutritional deficiencies and support conception
  • Baby aspirin to enhance placental blood supply during early pregnancy
  • Femara or Clomid to support the release of extra follicle-stimulating hormones
  • Estrogen to support normal uterine functions
  • Progesterone to prepare uterine lining for embryo implantation

While medications may be used as an initial fertility treatment, they can also be used alongside other treatments. For example, Bravelle or Menopur may be prescribed to encourage the production of higher follicular production before IVF (in-vitro fertilization).

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)

Assisted reproductive technology, in general, is defined as a type of fertility treatment that involves the direct assistance of reproduction. IVF is perhaps the most common type of ART.

In-vitro fertilization is not just the most common type of ART, it is also considered the most effective. The general overview of IVF involves encouraging the creation of embryos outside the body, and then the embryos are transferred inside the uterus. If successful, the embryos implant, and pregnancy occurs.

The steps involved in IVF include:

  1. Stimulation – Fertility medications are given to stimulate egg production in preparation for the egg-retrieval procedure.
  2. Egg retrieval – Eggs are harvested from the female.
  3. Fertilization – Eggs are fertilized with sperm in a controlled environment to encourage healthy embryo development.
  4. Embryo transfer – Embryos are analyzed for health and viability and the best are transferred into the uterus.

Another type of ART is IUI or intrauterine insemination, which is also known as artificial insemination. IUI involves transferring sperm into the uterus directly during ovulation to encourage conception. IUI is a common option for couples that may have issues with sexual function or sperm is not as mobile as it should be to support fertility.

Third-Party Reproduction

Third-party reproduction is a type of fertility treatment that involves using a third-party donor for eggs, sperm, or embryos. Third-party reproduction is often recommended if one individual does not produce eggs or sperm viable enough for a healthy pregnancy. For example, donor eggs may be a good option if a female is no longer producing viable eggs. However, this type of treatment may also be recommended for same-sex female couples looking to have a family.

Donor programs are highly stringent. Individuals who want to donate eggs, sperm, or preserved embryos are carefully evaluated. Additionally, all donated eggs, sperm, and embryos are carefully screened for health and viability.

Fertility Preservation

Fertility preservation is all about preserving viable sperm, eggs, or embryos for later or future use. The sperm, eggs, or embryos are frozen for the long term to preserve their viability. While sperm can be frozen indefinitely and remain viable, eggs and embryos are typically only viable for around 5 to 10 years.

Fertility preservation is most often recommended as an option when an individual or couple wants to conceive at a later point. For example, if an individual is facing a medical diagnosis or treatment that could harm reproductive capabilities, they may seek fertility preservation. Likewise, preservation may be used during IVF. For instance, if a couple creates multiple viable embryos during IVF, they may choose to preserve additional embryos to use for future conception.

Non-Invasive Options

Non-invasive fertility options are often recommended as a starting point and adjunctively during fertility treatment. These non-invasive options are based on lifestyle changes that an individual can make to encourage fertility, such as:

  • Striving for better nutritional intake to better support reproductive processes
  • Exercising to maintain a healthy body weight and reproductive capability
  • Managing stress and anxiety associated with fertility or daily stress levels that can impede fertility
  • Tracking and monitoring ovulation through fertility apps, ovulation prediction kits, and monitoring basal body temperature
  • Seeking counseling to work on sexual intimacy issues that could affect fertility negatively

Financial Considerations

One main concern of those seeking fertility treatments is how they will navigate the associated costs. However, planning and budgeting can make fertility treatments more possible, and there are financial support options to consider.

Insurance does not always cover every aspect of fertility treatment. For example, medical insurance may cover something like fertility medications but not the IVF process. Thankfully, there are options that can help, including fertility-based grants and financing options offered by some fertility providers.

Additionally, some providers offer special programs, such as the IVF Refund Program offered at Fertility Center. With this program, eligible patients can pay for a lower-cost package that includes up to three IVF treatments. Normally, patients must pay for each IVF treatment separately, which can become costly because IVF may not always be successful during the first attempt.

Schedule a Visit with Fertility Center

Each person’s journey with fertility can be unique with various paths along the way. Options to help you conceive could involve everything from fertility medications and ART to third-party donation. As you make plans on what steps to take next, always seek the guidance of a professional team that can assist you and answer your questions along the way.

At Fertility Center, we provide the personalized care every patient needs to help them find the most ideal options. Reach out today to schedule a consultation in either our Chattanooga or Knoxville office.