The NHS recommends that, after trying and failing to get pregnant for a year, you should see your doctor; if you are over 35, you should go after six months. Help is out there, if you want it, and takes many forms. West stresses the importance of investigating both the women and the men, "even if they have previously had a healthy sperm analysis because situations and lifestyles can change". There is also the alternative therapy route: acupuncture, hypnotherapy, reflexology, meditation. Or, if all else fails, you could, like me, go for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
For women, problems with fertilisation arise mainly from either structural problems in the Fallopian tube or uterus or problems releasing eggs. Infertility may be caused by blockage of the Fallopian tube due to malformations, infections such as chlamydia or scar tissue. For example, endometriosis can cause infertility with the growth of endometrial tissue in the Fallopian tubes or around the ovaries. Endometriosis is usually more common in women in their mid-twenties and older, especially when postponed childbirth has taken place.[55]

Secondary infertility is a secret club and one, I've discovered, with permanent membership. I was in a supermarket the other day and ahead of me in the cereal aisle was a woman with a boy of about nine and twin babies in the trolley. As I passed, she turned and looked at us. I saw her clocking my children and their age-gap and she saw I was doing the same with hers. We looked at each other for a moment; she smiled and I smiled back and then we walked on.


I conceived my first child, a son, with no trouble at all. When he was two, we thought we might have another. A year or so later, when nothing had happened, we saw a fertility specialist, who gave us every test there was. We passed each one, as the consultant put it, "with flying colours". Which left us relieved but also confounded. All I had was a new adjective to add to my diagnosis: Unexplained Secondary Infertility.

Availability of IVF in England is determined by Clinical commissioning groups. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends up to 3 cycles of treatment for women under 40 years old with minimal success conceiving after 2 years of unprotected sex. Cycles will not be continued for women who are older than 40 years old.[156] CCGs in Essex, Bedfordshire and Somerset have reduced funding to one cycle, or none, and it is expected that reductions will become more widespread. Funding may be available in "exceptional circumstances" – for example if a male partner has a transmittable infection or one partner is affected by cancer treatment. According to the campaign group Fertility Fairness at the end of 2014 every CCG in England was funding at least one cycle of IVF".[157] Prices paid by the NHS in England varied between under £3,000 to more than £6,000 in 2014/5.[158] In February 2013, the cost of implementing the NICE guidelines for IVF along with other treatments for infertility was projected to be £236,000 per year per 100,000 members of the population.[159]


In order for pregnancy to happen, sperm has to meet the egg. This normally takes place at the end of the fallopian tube, and this is called fertilization. There are a number of obstacles that can prevent this from happening, and the process itself even in healthy young fertile women is very complex- hence the low pregnancy rate each month. Obstacles such as cycle timing, low sperm count, poor sperm motility, blocked fallopian tubes, or endometriosis must be overcome to achieve a pregnancy. Timing is often the most common obstacle to conception. What does it mean for you when common causes of infertility are ruled out and you’re told you have unexplained infertility? It should mean a time of hope. 

IVF is complicated and, while we wish we could say that it's possible to absorb all the details during the 5 - 30 minute visits with your doctor, that's really not the case. This comprehensive guide to IVF boils down every major issue you'll encounter -- a high level overview of the IVF process, a deeper dive into the IVF process, IVF success rates and how they differ depending on diagnosis and age, the medication protocols that can be used during IVF, the choice of inseminating eggs either using ICSI fertilization or conventional insemination, the pros and cons of growing embryos to Day 3 cleavage stage or Day 5 blastocyst stage, the decisions around genetic screening of embryos, deciding which embryo to transfer, deciding how many embryos to transfer at once, the ways the IVF laboratory can impact your odds of success and the things you need to know up front to avoid going to the wrong lab for you, the risks of IVF, and the costs of IVF. We're always sure to provide details about how data might be different depending on different unique types of patients -- because in the world of fertility, it's really not one-size-fits-all. We truly believe this guide is the foundation every fertility patient should start with when they're navigating the world of treatments.
We also care about not only your physical well being, but also your emotional health. In fact, these issues as important enough to us that one of our core team members is a psychologist. Julianne Zweifel is an expert in addressing the mental aspects of secondary (and primary) infertility and she can promote emotional well being in a way that few others have the training or experience to do. If you should feel you do not wish to talk a specialist, but are struggling emotionally, please at least let other team members know-the more we hear from you, the easier it is for us to help.  
Problems with your periods or menstrual cycle is a sign of ovulation problems – and if you aren’t ovulating, you won’t get pregnant. Menstrual problems are the most obvious sign of infertility in women – but they don’t necessarily mean you’re infertile. Most women have some type of problem with their period: light flow, heavy flow, clotting, irregularity caused by stress or weight fluctuations, hormonal changes, etc.

Your doctor will also monitor whether or not the treatment led to a multiple pregnancy. IVF has a higher risk of conceiving multiples, and a multiple pregnancy carries risks for both the mother and the babies. Risks of a multiple pregnancy include premature labor and delivery, maternal hemorrhage, C-section delivery, pregnancy induced high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes.


The major complication of IVF is the risk of multiple births. This is directly related to the practice of transferring multiple embryos at embryo transfer. Multiple births are related to increased risk of pregnancy loss, obstetrical complications, prematurity, and neonatal morbidity with the potential for long term damage. Strict limits on the number of embryos that may be transferred have been enacted in some countries (e.g. Britain, Belgium) to reduce the risk of high-order multiples (triplets or more), but are not universally followed or accepted. Spontaneous splitting of embryos in the womb after transfer can occur, but this is rare and would lead to identical twins. A double blind, randomised study followed IVF pregnancies that resulted in 73 infants (33 boys and 40 girls) and reported that 8.7% of singleton infants and 54.2% of twins had a birth weight of less than 2,500 grams (5.5 lb).[35]
A 2013 review and meta analysis of randomised controlled trials of acupuncture as an adjuvant therapy in IVF found no overall benefit, and concluded that an apparent benefit detected in a subset of published trials where the control group (those not using acupuncture) experienced a lower than average rate of pregnancy requires further study, due to the possibility of publication bias and other factors.[34]
Only 30 percent of patients who receive 100 mg of Clomiphene a day will produce more than three follicles. Patients that produce less than than three follicles have about half the chance of getting pregnant than those that produce greater than three follicles. Patients that receive fertility medications but do not do an insemination have only half the success rates compared to those who do.
Using the information that you enter below, this tool allows you to estimate your chance of having a live birth using in vitro fertilization (IVF)—the most common type of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). This information is calculated based on the experiences of women and couples with similar characteristics. The estimates are based on the data we have available and may not be representative of your specific experience. Additionally, this IVF success estimator does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please speak with your doctor about your specific treatment plan and potential for success.
From the patient experience perspective, IVF is a more time-consuming process overall, although the length of time before pregnancy is achieved varies greatly according to how many cycles are necessary. However, because IVF is a more direct and effective route to pregnancy than IUI, it is often a less time-consuming process. For example, a patient could spend many months trying to succeed at IUI, only to succeed during the first cycle of IVF. While many patients opt for IUI at the start of their fertility journey because it is less invasive and more affordable, success rates for IVF are considerably higher.
The industry has been accused of making unscientific claims, and distorting facts relating to infertility, in particular through widely exaggerated claims about how common infertility is in society, in an attempt to get as many couples as possible and as soon as possible to try treatments (rather than trying to conceive naturally for a longer time). This risks removing infertility from its social context and reducing the experience to a simple biological malfunction, which not only can be treated through bio-medical procedures, but should be treated by them.[104][105] Indeed, there are serious concerns about the overuse of treatments, for instance Dr Sami David, a fertility specialist, has expressed disappointment over the current state of the industry, and said many procedures are unnecessary; he said: "It's being the first choice of treatment rather than the last choice. When it was first opening up in late 1970s, early 80s, it was meant to be the last resort. Now it's a first resort. I think that it can harm women in the long run."[106] IVF thus raises ethical issues concerning the abuse of bio-medical facts to 'sell' corrective procedures and treatments for conditions that deviate from a constructed ideal of the 'healthy' or 'normal' body i.e., fertile females and males with reproductive systems capable of co-producing offspring.
Sit down with your partner and make a "fertility road map" that outlines what you're willing to try and for approximately how long, suggests Dr. Davidson. "Would you do in vitro fertilization? Would you consider an egg donor? How much money can you spend on treatment? Then build in a timeline," she says. "When you at least loosely define a time frame, dealing with infertility doesn't feel like an endless void."
The cost of an IUI is almost certainly less on a per cycle basis, but because IVF has much higher success rates and IUI is a poor option for some, the higher per cycle cost of IVF can actually be more affordable in the long run – in terms of the cost to bring home a baby.  Because most successful IUIs happen in the first three or four-cycle, it eventually becomes very expensive to bring home a baby with an IUI.
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.

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.
The live birth rate is the percentage of all IVF cycles that lead to a live birth. This rate does not include miscarriage or stillbirth; multiple-order births, such as twins and triplets, are counted as one pregnancy. A 2017 summary compiled by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) which reports the average IVF success rates in the United States per age group using non-donor eggs compiled the following data:[10]
Only 30 percent of patients who receive 100 mg of Clomiphene a day will produce more than three follicles. Patients that produce less than than three follicles have about half the chance of getting pregnant than those that produce greater than three follicles. Patients that receive fertility medications but do not do an insemination have only half the success rates compared to those who do.
When Sarah Bozinovich and her husband, Joe, decided to start a family, they were amazed by how quickly they were on the road to parenthood. "I went off birth control in April and was pregnant in May," says Bozinovich, of Mokena, Illinois. About a year and a half after their daughter's arrival, the couple was ready to expand their family. But they'd try for more than two years and endure many medical tests and fertility treatments to have the second child they so badly wanted. Like many other parents, they struggled with secondary infertility, the inability to conceive or carry a baby to term after having one or more children. Says Bozinovich, who was 27 when her problems began, "It's so surprising because no one could tell me why I couldn't get pregnant, when I got pregnant so easily before."
Some research has found that IVF may raise the risk of some very rare birth defects, but the risk is still relatively low. Research has also found that the use of ICSI with IVF, in certain cases of male infertility, may increase the risk of infertility and some sexual birth defects for male children. This risk, however, is very low (less than 1%).

Secondary infertility (SI) is defined by doctors as the inability to conceive or carry to term a second or subsequent child. You may not have heard of it but you probably soon will, because it's on the increase. A US study revealed that, in 1995, 1.8 million women suffered from secondary infertility; in 2006, it was 3.3 million. SI now accounts for six out of 10 infertility cases.
Headaches and mood swings: Headaches and mood swings are common IVF treatment side effects. Over-the-counter medications can ease headaches, and while no medication can help with mood swings, knowing that they’re a normal part of IVF treatment helps. If you find mood swings are disrupting your day, be sure to seek out self-care practices such as enjoying alone time, reading a book, taking a nice bath, or sharing feelings with a friend or loved one.
This information is designed as an educational aid to patients and sets forth current information and opinions related to women’s health. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care, nor does it comprise all proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for a treating clinician’s independent professional judgment. Read ACOG’s complete disclaimer.
The number to be transferred depends on the number available, the age of the woman and other health and diagnostic factors. In countries such as Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, a maximum of two embryos are transferred except in unusual circumstances. In the UK and according to HFEA regulations, a woman over 40 may have up to three embryos transferred, whereas in the US, there is no legal limit on the number of embryos which may be transferred, although medical associations have provided practice guidelines. Most clinics and country regulatory bodies seek to minimise the risk of multiple pregnancy, as it is not uncommon for multiple embryos to implant if multiple embryos are transferred. Embryos are transferred to the patient's uterus through a thin, plastic catheter, which goes through her vagina and cervix. Several embryos may be passed into the uterus to improve chances of implantation and pregnancy.
A recent controversy in California focused on the question of whether physicians opposed to same-sex relationships should be required to perform IVF for a lesbian couple. Guadalupe T. Benitez, a lesbian medical assistant from San Diego, sued doctors Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton of the North Coast Women's Care Medical Group after Brody told her that she had "religious-based objections to treating her and homosexuals in general to help them conceive children by artificial insemination," and Fenton refused to authorise a refill of her prescription for the fertility drug Clomid on the same grounds.[111][112] The California Medical Association had initially sided with Brody and Fenton, but the case, North Coast Women's Care Medical Group v. Superior Court, was decided unanimously by the California State Supreme Court in favour of Benitez on 19 August 2008.[113][114]
Generally, the best chance of pregnancy is when sex happens 1-2 days before ovulation. If you have a regular 28-day cycle, count back 14 days from when you expect your next period to start. Plan on having sex every other day around that time -- say, days 12 and 14.  Keep in mind that having sex every day may lower a man's sperm count. Your cycle may be longer or shorter, so an online ovulation calculator may help you figure out the likely day.
Very slight elements of risk are associated with any medical intervention but for IVF the most notable risk in the past has been multiple births. The impact of multiple births on birth weight, premature delivery, and post-natal complications is well known. This is largely due to the practice over the past 30 years of transferring two or more embryos during IVF. Thanks to PGT-A testing and Single Embryo Transfer (SET), however, doctors can now feel confident about transferring just one normal embryo. At RMA, we have established SET as the standard of care going forward. With SET, the risk of multiple births is drastically reduced.
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