Upwards of 30% of couples seeking fertility care are labeled with unexplained infertility. Given that over 50% of couples’ infertility struggles are at least partially attributable to the male, understanding the source of male infertility could allow for improved care. The limited set of male tests can only detect the major causes of infertility (i.e., azoospermia) leaving the less obvious factors invisible.
If IVF were to involve the fertilisation of only a single egg, or at least only the number that will be implanted, then this would not be an issue. However, this has the chance of increasing costs dramatically as only a few eggs can be attempted at a time. As a result, the couple must decide what to do with these extra embryos. Depending on their view of the embryo's humanity or the chance the couple will want to try to have another child, the couple has multiple options for dealing with these extra embryos. Couples can choose to keep them frozen, donate them to other infertile couples, thaw them, or donate them to medical research.[90] Keeping them frozen costs money, donating them does not ensure they will survive, thawing them renders them immediately unviable, and medical research results in their termination. In the realm of medical research, the couple is not necessarily told what the embryos will be used for, and as a result, some can be used in stem cell research, a field perceived to have ethical issues.
The eggs are retrieved in a simple process which takes about 15-20 minutes and is carried out in the doctor’s office under light sedation. The ovaries are accessed through the vaginal cavity and each of the follicles containing an egg is punctured. The fluid containing the eggs is aspirated through a very fine needle. The patient rests for a brief time and can then go home with an escort. Usually, the patient feels back to normal the day after.
Most parents have a mental image of their ideal family, and if they find themselves unable to make that happen, it can be devastating. Infertility is heartbreaking and stressful, whether you have a child or not. In fact, being a parent adds a layer of complexity. For one thing, parents are immersed in the world of kids, so it's impossible to avoid all the babies and pregnant bellies that remind you of what you're missing. Plus, "parents with secondary infertility don't often get much sympathy, so they end up feeling as though they don't have a right to be sad," says Marie Davidson, Ph.D., a psychologist at Fertility Centers of Illinois. In fact, they're often told to appreciate the child they have (as if they don't). Finally, many parents feel guilt on two fronts: for not giving their child a sibling and for directing some of their focus and resources away from that child.
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.
In 2008, a California physician transferred 12 embryos to a woman who gave birth to octuplets (Suleman octuplets). This led to accusations that a doctor is willing to endanger the health and even life of women in order to gain money. Robert Winston, professor of fertility studies at Imperial College London, had called the industry "corrupt" and "greedy" stating that "one of the major problems facing us in healthcare is that IVF has become a massive commercial industry," and that "what has happened, of course, is that money is corrupting this whole technology", and accused authorities of failing to protect couples from exploitation: "The regulatory authority has done a consistently bad job. It's not prevented the exploitation of women, it's not put out very good information to couples, it's not limited the number of unscientific treatments people have access to".[101] The IVF industry has been described as a market-driven construction of health, medicine and the human body.[102]
Treatment with Clomid tablets plus IUI improves fertility rates. For unexplained infertility, studies have shown that for women under 35, monthly success rates for Clomid plus insemination are about 10% per cycle. This pregnancy rate holds up for about 3 tries and the success rate is considerably lower after that. More about success rates with IUIs is on the insemination page and on the Clomid for unexplained infertility page. The insemination component boosts fertility more than the Clomid does - but success rates are higher when both are used together.
For any woman or couple facing infertility, the task of deciding on your next steps can feel very daunting. Of course, there’s no substitute for the advice of a fertility specialist, but a general idea of what to expect can help give you confidence. You might be wondering what is the difference between In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and  IUI, or artificial insemination?
Injectable medication cycle with IUI: If pregnancy doesn't result from ovulation induction with oral medications, the next step is to use injectable medications. These medications stimulate the ovaries to produce two to four eggs; when combined with IUI, you have an increased possibility of conception. Essentially, the sperm is given more targets to hit. You will come into the office for four to eight monitoring appointments to track egg development and cycle timing.
Amongst these two patient populations (which we’ll refer to now as PCOS), IUI with clomid and letrozole generally shows no improvement versus when these drugs are taken without IUI. When IUI is coupled with gonadotropins, success rates reach 14 - 26% per cycle, which is higher than almost any other patient class, but still pales in comparison to IVF. It’s also worth noting that PCOS patients who are taking gonadotropins have a very high risk of multiples.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) have been the therapeutic mainstays for those with unexplained infertility. The former involves inserting sperm directly into the uterus, while the latter works by uniting the sperm and the egg cells in a laboratory dish. IVF is expensive, but has a higher success rate. However, some patients continue to struggle and suffer the associated financial burden of repeated cycles.


That’s about the time frame women between the ages of 35 and 40 should give themselves, before discussing fertility concerns with their doctor. For women under 35, experts recommend trying for about a year—really trying, as in unprotected, well-timed intercourse—before having any testing or treatment; women over 40 may want to consult an obstetrician/gynecologist right away. See your doctor sooner than later if you’ve suffered multiple miscarriages, have a history of pelvic inflammatory disease (a serious complication of some STDs), or experience any other symptoms of infertility. Meanwhile, learn these infertility myths you don’t have to worry about.

With the exception of severe male infertility, 70% of the oocytes will become fertilized. In the case of severe male infertility, ICSI (pronounced ick-see) may be used to fertilize the eggs, instead of simply placing them in a culture dish. With ICSI, the embryologist will choose a healthy-looking sperm and inseminate the oocyte with the sperm using a special thin needle.
During the second half of your menstrual cycle, the hormone progesterone kicks in to help prepare the lining of your uterus for a fertilized egg. If the egg isn't fertilized and doesn't implant, it disintegrates, progesterone levels fall, and about 12 to 16 days later, the egg -- along with blood and tissues from the lining of the uterus -- is shed from the body. That process is menstruation. It usually lasts 3 to 7 days.
Since most IVF cycles start with collecting a number of eggs after ovarian stimulation, you should have on average 12-15 eggs to use. This means that you do not need to use all of them for ICSI or conventional IVF. A Split-ICSI strategy incorporates both – some eggs are injected with selected sperms using ICSI, where the rest are incubated with sperm in the conventional way. Trying both provide a safety net against failed fertilization with either strategy.
Along with being physically demanding, fertility treatments can also spark a roller-coaster of emotions each month, including hope, anger, disappointment, sadness, and guilt. Just the sight of a pregnant woman can evoke strong negative and stressful feelings. During this time, those struggling with infertility may pull away from friends and family who remind them of their difficulty with reproduction; some of their closest relationships may suffer.

Success rates for IVF depend on a number of factors, including the reason for infertility, where you're having the procedure done, and your age. The CDC compiles national statistics for all assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures performed in the U.S., including IVF, GIFT, and ZIFT, although IVF is by far the most common; it accounts for 99% of the procedures. The most recent report from 2016 found:

The Fallopian tubes are the site for fertilization before the embryo makes its way to the uterine cavity for implantation. If the Fallopian tubes are damaged, fertilization may not occur. If one Fallopian tube is blocked, it may be due to inherent disease involving both Fallopian tubes; even if the other Fallopian tube is open, it may not be able to provide the appropriate nurturing environment for fertilization and early embryo growth to take place.
Many people have never heard the term "secondary infertility"; fewer understand it. I discovered it a year into my struggle to conceive a second child and fell on it, amazed. What I was undergoing had a name! I wrote it down and immediately felt better, as if the phrase exuded a talismanic power that might protect me from the likes of my neighbour.
For example, a deaf British couple, Tom and Paula Lichy, have petitioned to create a deaf baby using IVF.[99] Some medical ethicists have been very critical of this approach. Jacob M. Appel wrote that "intentionally culling out blind or deaf embryos might prevent considerable future suffering, while a policy that allowed deaf or blind parents to select for such traits intentionally would be far more troublesome."[100]
The percentage of cycles cancelled between egg retrieval and embryo transfer is an indication of failed fertilization. This figure is halved with ICSI as compared to conventional IVF, indicating that it can indeed improve fertilization when the sperm is at fault. However, there are no differences in pregnancy, miscarriage or live birth rates between conventional IVF and ICSI, indicating overall similar success rates1.
Obviously, if the same couple decides to have more children at age 38, the chances won't be 25% anymore; it is likely that they are about 10%, which translates into a reduced pregnancy chance. This does not mean the couple has become infertile. Since they weren't absolutely fertile at age 32, it is only logical that their pregnancy chances at 38 are so low.
In a bid to understand my chances of IVF success, I took a quick dive through the vast information available from these sources and came away thinking I had the information I needed. I skipped merrily along thinking things looked pretty promising after reading my chances of IVF working the first time was somewhere around the 40% mark. I naively thought that meant I had an 80% chance if I did two cycles, and that I’d definitely have a baby after three rounds at the most. Unfortunately as later reflection revealed, math and statistic just don’t work like this…
The cost of IVF rather reflects the costliness of the underlying healthcare system than the regulatory or funding environment,[168] and ranges, on average for a standard IVF cycle and in 2006 United States dollars, between $12,500 in the United States to $4,000 in Japan.[168] In Ireland, IVF costs around €4,000, with fertility drugs, if required, costing up to €3,000.[169] The cost per live birth is highest in the United States ($41,000[168]) and United Kingdom ($40,000[168]) and lowest in Scandinavia and Japan (both around $24,500[168]).
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]

The Fallopian tubes are the site for fertilization before the embryo makes its way to the uterine cavity for implantation. If the Fallopian tubes are damaged, fertilization may not occur. If one Fallopian tube is blocked, it may be due to inherent disease involving both Fallopian tubes; even if the other Fallopian tube is open, it may not be able to provide the appropriate nurturing environment for fertilization and early embryo growth to take place.

Infertility may have psychological effects. Partners may become more anxious to conceive, increasing sexual dysfunction.[17] Marital discord often develops, especially when they are under pressure to make medical decisions. Women trying to conceive often have depression rates similar to women who have heart disease or cancer.[18] Emotional stress and marital difficulties are greater in couples where the infertility lies with the man.[19]


Any embryos that you do not use in your first IVF attempt can be frozen for later use. This will save you money if you undergo IVF a second or third time. If you do not want your leftover embryos, you may donate them to another infertile couple, or you and your partner can ask the clinic to destroy the embryos. Both you and your partner must agree before the clinic will destroy or donate your embryos.
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