Infertility treatments can feel like a black hole that just keep sucking you in. With what feels like an infinite number of medications, treatments and approaches, today’s couples can quickly find themselves overwhelmed in options that go far beyond standing on your head after sex.
To properly treat infertility, your doctor will need to complete testing and find a cause of the infertility if possible. Keep in mind that about 40% of couples never find a reason for their pregnancy struggles and if you are one of this group, your doctor will still work with you but it may feel like a trial-and-error system.
Treating men usually involves boosting sperm and enhancing the chance that one will make it to the egg. Low sperm counts can be increased with surgery or hormones to ensure that all the plumbing is properly connected and going where it should. General sexual problems like premature ejaculation or erection problems can also be managed with medications and other techniques. Men should see a urologist for a full workup of their sexual issues.
Medications and injections for ovulation: There are many drugs on the market that send out hormones designed to regulate or start ovulation or the release of an egg for fertilization. These drugs tell the brain to send out more hormones to make eggs and stimulate the ovaries. The most popular of this class of drugs is Clomid or Serophene. The hormone human menopausal gonadotropin can also be injected by your doctor to help induce ovulation. These drugs work directly in the ovaries and bypass the brain’s signals. These hormones can be helpful for women whose brains do not tell their bodies to ovulate.
*These are not the only medications—there’s a whole host of others that we could list but you’ll be left thinking you fell into a bowl of alphabet soup if we go through them all. Your doctor will determine what medications you may try once a cause of your fertility problems is found.
Surgery: Clearing blockages in the fallopian tubes and removing endometriosis may be enough to help an egg and sperm meet. In vitro fertilization may also be used to join an egg and sperm in a laboratory and then the fertilized egg(s) are transferred into the uterus. Assisted reproductive technology (ART) includes in vitro fertilization among a variety of other advanced approaches to help couples achieve a pregnancy.
Risks and complications
The most common risk from infertility treatment is multiple pregnancies. I mean—we all saw John and Kate plus 8. Certainly carrying multiple babies carries risks to the mom and fetuses, so talk candidly with your doctor before moving forward. Babies born to mothers who have had fertility treatments have a higher rate of premature birth, low birth weight and birth defects compared to other babies too.