Deciding whether to undergo in vitro fertilization, and how to try if the first attempt is unsuccessful, is an incredibly complicated decision. The financial, physical, and emotional toll of this process can be difficult. Speak with your doctor extensively to determine what your best options are and if in vitro fertilization is the right path for you and your family. Seek a support group or counselor to help you and your partner through this process.
Twenty-eight days is the average length of a menstrual cycle, though anything between 21 and 35 days is considered normal. Fluctuating a little from month to month is one thing, but if your period is so irregular that you don’t even try to track it anymore, it could indicate a problem producing eggs, or ovulating. Ovulation disorders (meaning you ovulate infrequently or not at all) account for infertility in about 25 percent of infertile couples, according to the Mayo Clinic. One of the most common causes of female infertility is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)—a condition characterized by longer than normal stretches between periods, or even skipping cycles for months in a row. (Get the silent signs of PCOS here.) Irregular periods may also result from excessive physical or emotional stress, which can mess with the hormones responsible for stimulating ovulation each month; being too heavy or too thin, or gaining or losing a lot of weight quickly may also have the same effect. Talk to your doctor; he may be able to prescribe fertility drugs to help induce or stimulate ovulation.
Step on the scale. Have you put on some extra pounds since your last baby was on board? Or maybe you’ve lost a lot of weight (because after all, who has time to eat when you’re running after a little one)? Your weight can impact your fertility, so getting as close as possible to a healthy BMI can also help get you closer to that second pregnancy you’re hoping for.
The severity or complexity of infertility for you and your partner as a whole is also critical. Generally, patients are characterized as “subfertile” if there is only one infertility factor such as mild endometriosis, which can be improved through surgeries like laparoscopy. However, if both partners contribute infertility factors or one partner has multiple infertility factors, the chance of IVF success is significantly decreased.
Infertility is a medical condition, and a fertility specialist can help with thorough, focused examinations directed at discovering the underlying cause. For every couple that begins an evaluation, about 35% discover that there is an issue with the man which is contributing to the couple’s infertility. 50% is related to female factor while 5% is due to rare causes. The remaining 10% (1 in 5 couples) is due to unexplained infertility despite completing a full infertility work-up.(2)
In the US, up to 20% of infertile couples have unexplained infertility. In these cases abnormalities are likely to be present but not detected by current methods. Possible problems could be that the egg is not released at the optimum time for fertilization, that it may not enter the fallopian tube, sperm may not be able to reach the egg, fertilization may fail to occur, transport of the zygote may be disturbed, or implantation fails. It is increasingly recognized that egg quality is of critical importance and women of advanced maternal age have eggs of reduced capacity for normal and successful fertilization. Also, polymorphisms in folate pathway genes could be one reason for fertility complications in some women with unexplained infertility. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that epigenetic modifications in sperm may be partially responsible.
Have you considered the potential complications associated with using donor eggs, sperm or embryos, or a gestational carrier? A trained counselor with expertise in donor issues can help you understand the concerns, such as the legal rights of the donor. You may also need an attorney to file court papers to help you become legal parents of an implanted embryo.
^ Baker VL, Luke B, Brown MB, Alvero R, Frattarelli JL, Usadi R, et al. (September 2010). "Multivariate analysis of factors affecting probability of pregnancy and live birth with in vitro fertilization: an analysis of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinic Outcomes Reporting System". Fertility and Sterility. 94 (4): 1410–6. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2009.07.986. PMID 19740463.