Problems in the quantity or quality of eggs: Women are born with a limited supply of eggs and are unable to create new eggs after birth. As women approach their 40s and beyond, the numbers of eggs left in their ovaries decrease, and the remaining eggs have a higher chance of having chromosomal problems. For women where age isn’t a concern, there are other reasons that they might have a low number of good quality eggs, including autoimmune or genetic conditions and prior surgery or radiation.
Our team here at the Center for Human Reproduction has recently developed an infographic explaining one of the most common causes of female infertility: unexplained infertility. This diagnosis is given to 30% of infertility cases and yet, we believe it really is a non-diagnosis. In our clinical experience, with proper testing, up to 90% of unexplained infertility diagnoses can be attributed to treatable causes.
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.
In the United States, expect to spend an average of $12,400 for one cycle of IVF if you're using your own eggs and your partner's sperm. The amount you'll pay depends on how much medicine you need, where you live, and whether your state mandates insurance coverage for fertility treatments. If your insurance doesn't cover them, you'll probably have to pay the entire cost up front.
^ Hozyasz, K (March 2001). "Coeliac disease and problems associated with reproduction". Ginekol Pol. 72 (3): 173–9. PMID 11398587. Coeliac men may have reversible infertility, and as in women, if gastrointestinal symptoms are mild or absent the diagnosis may be missed. It is important to make diagnosis because the giving of gluten free diet may result in conception and favourable outcome of pregnancy.
ART techniques generally start with stimulating the ovaries to increase egg production. After stimulation, the physician surgically extracts one or more eggs from the ovary, and unites them with sperm in a laboratory setting, with the intent of producing one or more embryos. Fertilization takes place outside the body, and the fertilized egg is reinserted into the woman's reproductive tract, in a procedure called embryo transfer.
If a physician believes infertility is a concern, a number of tests will be administered. For women, these may include ovulation testing, ovarian reserve testing, hormone testing, and hysterosalpingography (X-rays of the fallopian tubes) or other imaging tests. Assessing male infertility involves semen analysis, which examines the number of sperm, as well as their motility and morphology (shape). Other tests for men may include hormonal and genetic testing, testicular biopsy, and additional imaging.
An IUI procedure is the process of directly injecting sperm into the top of the uterus. This increases the odds of conception by reducing the distance the sperm must travel to meet the egg. That said, when most people talk about IUIs, they’re referring to the steps leading up to and after the actual procedure. An IUI treatment can be summarized into a few steps:
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.
Risk of ectopic pregnancy. Women who have difficulty getting pregnant have an increased risk for ectopic pregnancy, regardless of how they conceive. And all assisted reproductive technology treatments, including IVF, also make an ectopic pregnancy more likely. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo implants in a fallopian tube or the abdominal cavity rather than in the uterus. It's treated with the medication methotrexate or by surgically removing the embryo to prevent it from severely injuring the mother by continuing to grow.
In a lab, your eggs are mixed with sperm cells from your partner or a donor — this is called insemination. The eggs and sperm are stored together in a special container, and fertilization happens. For sperm that have lower motility (don’t swim as well), they may be injected directly into the eggs to promote fertilization. As the cells in the fertilized eggs divide and become embryos, people who work at the lab monitor the progress.
Anger, sadness, and anxiety are common among parents struggling to expand their family. "Having a child already doesn't make going through infertility any easier," says Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, in Waltham, Massachusetts, and author of Conquering Infertility. Meeting with a mental-health professional or seeking out blogs and online groups for secondary infertility can help. The website of the National Infertility Association, resolve.org, is a good place to start.
It is possible that a significant contributor to unexplained infertility can be attributed to changes in sperm epigenetics. Methylation patterns in sperm DNA which affect the expression of various genes may be the missing link for this unique patient population. By employing epigenetic analysis, we may be able to identify more causes of infertility and suggest the optimal course of therapy. Preliminary evidence even suggests that these epigenetic signatures influence the probability of conception, embryogenesis, and successful carrying of pregnancy to term. Future research on sperm epigenetics holds the promise of revolutionizing reproductive medicine and empowering patients in the process.
Low weight: Obesity is not the only way in which weight can impact fertility. Men who are underweight tend to have lower sperm concentrations than those who are at a normal BMI. For women, being underweight and having extremely low amounts of body fat are associated with ovarian dysfunction and infertility and they have a higher risk for preterm birth. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa are also associated with extremely low BMI. Although relatively uncommon, eating disorders can negatively affect menstruation, fertility, and maternal and fetal well-being.
Ovarian stimulation with hormonal medication is performed over a period of around 10-14 days. During this time, progress is monitored through ultrasound scans and blood tests. When enough oocytes (eggs) have developed in the ovaries, a final hormone injection triggers the maturing of the oocytes. Thirty-six hours later, egg retrieval is scheduled to take place in the fertility clinic.
Our specialized team of andrologists prepare each sperm sample with a procedure commonly known as "sperm washing" in one of our andrology laboratories. Sperm washing involves placing the sperm sample in a test tube and then a centrifuge, which results in the sperm collecting in a "pellet" at the bottom of the test tube. The andrologist removes the seminal fluid and places the fluid (media) above the sperm. The most active sperm will then swim up into the media. The final sample consists of the most active sperm concentrated in a small volume of media. A single IUI is usually performed when a patient is using fresh sperm. If a patient is using a frozen sperm sample, the clinician can likely perform one or two IUIs.
When weighing the options, the pros and cons of intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) will, of course, be explored fully in discussion with your physician. In general terms, you can expect IUI to be a simpler process, less invasive, and lower cost. Some fertility specialists recommend attempting one or more cycles of artificial insemination before moving to IVF but this does not apply to everyone. For example, for an older woman, to try artificial insemination first may take up valuable time and the recommendation could well be to move straight to IVF. But before you can compare the two treatments, you need to know what exactly you could expect from IVF.
Costs of IVF can be broken down into direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include the medical treatments themselves, including doctor consultations, medications, ultrasound scanning, laboratory tests, the actual IVF procedure, and any associated hospital charges and administrative costs. Indirect costs includes the cost of addressing any complications with treatments, patients' travel costs and lost hours of productivity. These costs can be exaggerated by the increasing age of the woman undergoing IVF treatment (particularly those over the age of 40), and the increase costs associated with multiple births. For instance, a pregnancy with twins can cost up to three times that of a singleton 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. 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.
The ultrasound is to check the size of your ovaries. Your doctor will also look for ovarian cysts. If there are cysts, your doctor will decide how to deal with them. Sometimes your doctor will just delay treatment for a week. Most cysts resolve on their own with time. In other cases, your doctor may aspirate the cyst (suck out the fluid) with a needle.
Most couples develop a willingness to conceive a child at some point in their life. Generally, couples conceive within the first year, and around 7% of couples conceive in the second year. The inability to conceive within 12 months is defined as infertility. It is recommended to seek help from a reproductive endocrinologist if you are unable to conceive within 12 months. Our modern technology in healthcare has opened a lot of options for women who are facing infertility issues.
Nonmedicated cycle with IUI: Also known as natural cycle IUI, a non-medicated cycle with IUI is often used by single women or same-sex female couples who are not directly experiencing infertility, but rather a lack of sperm. This treatment involves tracking the development of the egg that is naturally recruited during a menstrual cycle and then introducing the donated sperm. You will come into the office for two to four monitoring appointments to track egg development and cycle timing.