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Infertility can be caused by many different things and, in some cases, the exact cause is unknown. There are many infertility treatment options available at infertility clinics, from surgery or hormones, to egg or sperm donation. Alternative therapies may also have a place in infertility treatment, since herbs and other natural products have been used for centuries to treat a wide range of medical conditions.
Some alternative therapies that may be utilized to treat infertility include:
Ask your infertility doctor about alternative therapies to aid in treating your infertility, and work together to determine the best treatment plan to promote conception and a healthy baby.
For those unable to conceive a child, surrogacy is one infertility treatment option to consider, especially in cases where a woman is unable to carry a child due to an existing medical condition, such as hysterectomy, severe endometriosis or brittle diabetes.
In surrogacy situations, a woman, other than the would-be-mother, agrees to carry a child to term for the individual or couple. At birth, the surrogate relinquishes her parental rights to the child. This is normally conducted as a business agreement, and necessitates a lawyer to ensure that all State legal requirements are met.
A fertility clinic which offers surrogacy as an infertility treatment option will be familiar with the legalities of this type of treatment, since surrogacy is illegal in five (5) of the United States: Arizona, Michigan, New York, Utah and Washington, and there are strict laws and guidelines in other States.
Generally, surrogates meet certain criteria, which include, but not be limited to:
Since the law vary from state to state, and there is legal paperwork that must be completed related to this infertility treatment option, it is best to consult an Agency or lawyer who specializes in surrogacy, to ensure the rights of each party, and the best outcome for the child.
Generally, for a woman under the age of 35, infertility doctors recommend attempting natural conception with unprotected sex, for one year, before seeking infertility treatment. For women older than 35, they suggest 6 months as a guideline, since it becomes harder to achieve pregnancy as you age, and it can be more difficult to sustain a pregnancy in the face of infertility.
However, age is only one factor when considering infertility treatment. Other factors can include:
Each body system is capable of developing disease. There are physicians (specialists) who are specially trained in providing care for diseases of each system. These Specialists have all of the training of a general practitioner, then receive additional training and education in order to practice in their specialty. This is true for physicians who opt to become Infertility Doctors.
Even within some specialties, there are physicians who choose to select a very specific component of the disease or body system, on which they focus their education and skills. This is called a Sub-Specialty.
A Reproductive Endocrinologist (pronounced "en-doe-krin-all-oh-jist) is a sub-specialty of Infertility Doctor, which utilizes expert training specifically aimed at hormone-related infertility.
Since hormones play such a significant role in reproduction, from regulating ovulation to managing sperm production, the Reproductive Endocrinologist has the necessary expertise to assess and treat hormone-related conditions that can contribute to infertility.
Talk to your Fertility Clinic about a Reproductive Endocrinologist and how they may help you overcome infertility.
Sperm donation has become a very important part of infertility treatment, since the advent and advancement of In Vitro Fertilization (fertilizing an egg in a test tube and implanting it in a woman's uterus) and In Utero Fertilization (instilling sperm directly into the uterus). A fertility clinic relies on donated sperm to assist couples in whom the man is sterile or to assist single women to achieve conception.
Like Egg Donors, Sperm Donors are screened by the fertility clinic to ensure that healthy sperm will be collected, including testing for sexually transmitted diseases. A medical history is obtained, in addition to a physical exam, to provide information on the health of the donor.
Sperm donors generally meet certain criteria, including:
Sperm donors report to the fertility clinic and provide the ejaculate for use in donation. The sperm is then stored until used for fertilization. The process can be anonymous or you can have your identity released.
Since hormonal imbalance is one of the most common causes of infertility, in both men and women, hormones and fertility drugs are the first options chosen by fertility doctors, in treating infertility.
Use of fertility drugs is generally low risk and less expensive, when compared to other fertility treatments options, and they are easily administered and monitored.
The drugs primarily used to treat infertility include:
Men can also have structural problems within their reproductive organs which can contribute to infertility. One infertility treatment involves the use of surgery, to correct the structural problem. These procedures are performed by qualified infertility doctors and surgeons at a fertility clinic.
Some of the structural problems that can occur in men, include:
Talk to your infertility doctor about the surgical options for structural causes of infertility.
There are many ways to assist with conception, from fertility drugs to surgery. There are also several assistive reproductive technologies that a fertility clinic may use, such as In Vitro Fertilization and In Utero Fertilization.
In Utero Fertilization involves instillation of sperm into the uterus, at the appropriate time during the menstrual cycle. The sperm then swim into the fallopian tubes and fertilize an egg, resulting in conception and pregnancy.
This procedure works well for most women with infertility, except those in which there is poor egg production, blocked or severely damaged fallopian tubes, or in those who have undergone menopause.
The risks are limited to discomfort comparable to that of a pap smear. Since a thin flexible catheter is used to instill the sperm, risk of making a hole in the uterus is exceptionally small. Infection is also a possible complication, but is very rare.
Talk to a Fertility Clinic about In Utero Fertilization, to see if this might be the right treatment to help you conceive.
Just as there are speciality clinics for persons with heart disease, orthopedic injuries and neurological problems, there are also specialty treatment centers designed to treat infertility.
Infertility is a medical condition, which requires specialized evaluation and intervention. Since you would not go to a foot doctor to treat your asthma, it makes sense that you would also seek out a qualified professional in infertility medicine to treat your infertility.
Staff at fertilities clinics include:
gynecologist - specialist in treated conditions related to female reproduction
urologist - specialist in the urinary tract, including the urethra and prostate,
which can have conditions that may prohibit fertility in men
There are many cause of infertility from hormonal variations to underlying medical conditions. Some women are infertile due to structural problems within their reproductive organs. These problems may be congenital - present at birth - or acquired. Some of these anomalies include:
Talk to your fertility clinic, or an experienced infertility doctor, about your fertility concerns, and to have a complete evaluation to see if structural problems are at the root of your infertility
In Vitro Fertilization is the fertilization of an egg with sperm inside a test tube or petri dish. The fertilized egg is then implanted in a woman's uterus. Your infertility doctor will consider IVF after more conservative methods of treating infertility are not effective, or are not considered to be appropriate, based on the status and needs of the couple or woman seeking to conceive.
Traditionally, IVF involves several steps:
Talk with your fertility clinic, or infertility doctor about IVF and whether this is a viable option for treating your infertility.
For women who have gone through early menopause, who produce inadequate numbers of eggs, or who have failed IVF using their own eggs, egg donation is a viable option to assist them in achieving pregnancy.
According to fertility clinics, egg donation can be expensive. It can also be an emotional experience, and it has a variable success rate, however the pregnancy rate is better than that normally achieved using In Vitro Fertilization and the woman's own eggs.
The egg donation process usually includes:
As with any medical procedure, there are some risks. The risks of egg donations are similar to those associated with egg retrieval for In Vitro Fertilization: bleeding at the needle insertion site, pelvic or vaginal tenderness or ovarian cyst production. Infection, internal bleeding or puncture of the bowel may also occur, however these are very rare.
Talk to your fertility doctor, or contact a fertility clinic to obtain more information about Egg Donation.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|