Fertility is a common problem experienced by many people. Fertility by definition is the inability to conceive after a year of trying naturally. If you feel you are experiencing a problem with infertility, it is wise to seek out an experienced fertility physician who can perform more in depth testing to determine what the problem is. Described below are some natural infertility treatments you can try at home as well as more advanced infertility treatments and testing which are offered by a reputable fertility clinic.
Reasons for Infertility
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Infertility can be cause by a number of things. In some cases it is the male, female or both partners causing the problem. In the male, may be due to the male having a low sperm count or poor sperm motility. A physical blockage within the male anatomy may also be the problem but typically male infertility is related to a low or abnormal sperm count.
Another reason for infertility may also be due to a physician problem or hormonal imbalance within the female. Problems such as an ovarian cyst, uterine polyp or blocked fallopian tube can prevent the woman from becoming pregnant naturally. In addition, she may have a low ovarian reserve or her eggs may be of poor quality. Ovulation dysfunction may also be the reason for infertility. Many women with infertility can benefit from hormone supplementation in order to increase the amount and quality of her eggs and stimulate ovulation.
The good news is, advancements in fertility testing can identify the reasons for infertility. Based on the findings of the fertility tests, many fertility treatment options are available.
How to Detect Infertility
Thorough fertility testing should be performed before any fertility treatments can be recommended. Fertility testing can include; hormone testing, semen analysis, ultrasound, hysterosalpingogram (checking the fallopian tubes) and possibly even laparoscopic surgery. Once the cause of infertility has been determined, treatment can then be started.
Natural Remedies for Increasing Fertility
Predicting ovulation is one of the lower cost options that you can try before seeking the help of a fertility doctor. It is relatively easy to do and low cost. Many websites will tell you that ovulation occurs around day 14 of the women’s menstrual cycle. This however may not be true for most women as women can ovulate anywhere between day 10 and day 21 of their cycle depending on several factors. Ovulation prediction test kits are sold over the counter and can be a great resource to predict ovulation without spending much money.
Cervical mucus monitoring is also something that can be performed at home. The cervical mucus must be the right consistency in order for the sperm to be able to travel to join with the egg. The mucus should be clear, stretchy and have a similar consistency to egg whites.
Dietary and lifestyle changes can also help increase fertility. Smoking and obesity are big factors which contribute to infertility. Obesity can cause normal ovulation to be disrupted. Exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains can assist with weight reduction. Smoking can decrease the egg quality in the woman and should be stopped 3 months before trying to conceive.
Professional Fertility Treatments
After at home methods have been tried with no success, the couple may wish to seek the help of an experienced fertility doctor who can perform fertility testing and offer treatments. It is important to check the physician’s credentials to ensure they have certifications in either infertility or reproductive endocrinology. Many people may ask for help with their OB/GYN, but a regular OB/GYN may not be qualified to treat problems with infertility.
Fertility medication is usually the first line of treatment a fertility specialist recommends as part of an Ovulation Induction (OI) regimen. These medications help increase egg growth and normal ovulation. The most common fertility medication that is used is called, Clomid. Clomid is a tablet taken orally which stimulates the hormones which are responsible for ovulation. After the woman takes the clomid tablets, she is monitored by ultrasound to visualize if any eggs are present within her ovaries. With this method, once the eggs have reached the correct size for ovulation to occur, the woman is instructed to have intercourse on certain days.
Another medication the specialist may recommend is fertility injections of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). This medication stimulates the hormones needed for egg growth and can cause an increase in the amount of eggs produced. (Normally a woman releases one egg with each ovulation.) Ultrasound monitoring is again used to determine that the eggs have reached the correct maturity. Once they have reached maturity, the woman is often given an injection of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) which will cause her to ovulate. Intercourse may be prescribed but this method is often combined with intra-uterine insemination also known as IUI to increase the chances of pregnancy.
Intrauterine Insemination is a procedure that is used in conjunction with Ovulation Induction with a fertility medication described above. Once the woman is given the injection of HCG she will ovulate 36 hours afterwards and the procedure for insemination is scheduled. The male will provide a semen specimen and then the sperm is extracted from the semen in the lab and concentrated into a small syringe. A thin catheter is then attached to the syringe and the sperm is injected directly into the women’s uterus. Intrauterine Insemination is not painful and feels similar to having a pap smear test performed.
Another fertility treatment that may be employed if the above methods have failed is called In Vitro Fertilization or IVF. With IVF treatment, the woman takes injections of FSH and is monitored with ultrasound similar to ovulation induction. Once the eggs are ready, an injection of HCG is given and the woman is scheduled for an egg retrieval procedure 35 hours later. During the egg retrieval procedure, a very thin needle is inserted through the vaginal wall and into each ovary and the eggs are extracted. Typically, IV sedatives are used so the woman does not feel any pain during the procedure. Some women have cramping and mild pain after the procedure.
Once the eggs are extracted successfully, the male provides a sperm specimen. The eggs and sperm are then mixed together in the lab and allowed to fertilize. After several days, embryos will develop and then the embryos are placed back into the woman’s uterus similar to an insemination procedure. Additional medications are used to increase the woman’s progesterone and estrogen levels which mimic what happens naturally during pregnancy.
After the procedure, the embryos will need to implant naturally in the uterus. The woman is scheduled for a blood test 12-15 days after the embryo transfer procedure to confirm if she is pregnant. The Success Rates for IVF can vary based on the woman’s age and diagnosis however the general success rate for IVF is around 30% each try.
If the woman does not produce any eggs at all, an egg donor may be used during the IVF process. The egg donor would take the medications and then the eggs would be extracted from the donor and mixed with the partner’s sperm. The fertilized embryos would then be placed into the recipient’s uterus. This procedure causes some controversy because the child is not genetically related to the woman carrying the child. Because this method can be costly, is it reserved for the most severe cases of female infertility.
How to Get Help For Infertility
When seeking fertility treatment, it is important to select a qualified fertility clinic and undergo thorough fertility testing before any treatments can begin. Finding an experienced fertility physician is recommended in order to receive the best treatment possible and in order to save time and money. You can do a local search online or ask around if anyone you know can recommend a fertility doctor.
Infertility can also be emotionally difficult if pregnancy is not achieved through several tries so it is important to understand that you are not alone and that help is available. In many cases, a pregnancy will eventually result so it is also important to stay positive during your treatment.