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 consequences of infertility are manifold and can include societal repercussions and personal suffering. Advances in assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF, can offer hope to many couples where treatment is available, although barriers exist in terms of medical coverage and affordability. The medicalization of infertility has unwittingly led to a disregard for the emotional responses that couples experience, which include distress, loss of control, stigmatization, and a disruption in the developmental trajectory of adulthood. One of the main challenges in assessing the distress levels in women with infertility is the accuracy of self-report measures. It is possible that women “fake good” in order to appear mentally healthier than they are. It is also possible that women feel a sense of hopefulness/increased optimism prior to initiating infertility treatment, which is when most assessments of distress are collected. Some early studies concluded that infertile women did not report any significant differences in symptoms of anxiety and depression than fertile women. The further into treatment a patient goes, the more often they display symptoms of depression and anxiety. Patients with one treatment failure had significantly higher levels of anxiety, and patients with two failures experienced more depression when compared with those without a history of treatment. However, it has also been shown that the more depressed the infertile woman, the less likely she is to start infertility treatment and the more likely she is to drop out after only one cycle. Researchers have also shown that despite a good prognosis and having the finances available to pay for treatment, discontinuation is most often due to psychological reasons.
A doctor or WHNP takes a medical history and gives a physical examination. They can also carry out some basic tests on both partners to see if there is an identifiable reason for not having achieved a pregnancy. If necessary, they refer patients to a fertility clinic or local hospital for more specialized tests. The results of these tests help determine the best fertility treatment.
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.
Ovarian hyperstimulation also includes suppression of spontaneous ovulation, for which two main methods are available: Using a (usually longer) GnRH agonist protocol or a (usually shorter) GnRH antagonist protocol. In a standard long GnRH agonist protocol the day when hyperstimulation treatment is started and the expected day of later oocyte retrieval can be chosen to conform to personal choice, while in a GnRH antagonist protocol it must be adapted to the spontaneous onset of the previous menstruation. On the other hand, the GnRH antagonist protocol has a lower risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which is a life-threatening complication.
Unfortunately, a couple cannot look at the TMC from a semen analysis and know precisely where they fit into this rubrik. That is because the TMCs recorded above were measured after the man already had his sperm washed for IUI. A sperm wash can lower TMCs by roughly 30% and a credible rule of thumb for a general estimate would be to take the “pre-wash” TMC from a semen analysis, subtract a third, then presume that will be the “post-wash” TMC and apply it to the above charts.
Addressing lifestyle issues is not meant to be a quick fix, and typically does not lead to instant success. However, with unexplained infertility every little bit counts, so don’t fret or give up. Do not assume just because the cause of infertility is unexplained, it is untreatable or there is no pathway to parenthood. When a specific cause is not determined for women, and male infertility has also been ruled out, our fertility specialist may begin a course of treatment to improve the chances of conception and pregnancy. The speed with which interventions are offered depends on each individual’s own needs and desires as determined by age and other factors.
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.
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) occurs in 10% of women going through IVF treatment. For most women, symptoms will be mild, and they will recover easily. For a small percentage, OHSS can be more serious and may require hospitalization. Less than 1% of women going through egg retrieval will experience blood clots or kidney failure due to OHSS.
Egg retrieval and sperm collection – Egg retrieval happens 35 hours after the trigger shot. It is done under light anesthesia and takes just 5-10 minutes. During retrieval, a tiny hollow needle is pierced through the vaginal wall towards an ovary. At this point, the fluid that contains the developed eggs is drained from the follicles and immediately taken to the IVF laboratory, where they will be fertilized and developed. Sperm is collected the same day as the procedure by ejaculation into a sterile specimen container, frozen ahead of time, via a donor, or through more advanced sperm retrieval procedures. Next, the sperm is washed, placed in a solution similar to the fallopian tubes, and used for fertilization.
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:
In humans, infertility is the inability to become pregnant after one year of intercourse without contraception involving a male and female partner. There are many causes of infertility, including some that medical intervention can treat. Estimates from 1997 suggest that worldwide about five percent of all heterosexual couples have an unresolved problem with infertility. Many more couples, however, experience involuntary childlessness for at least one year: estimates range from 12% to 28%. Male infertility is responsible for 20–30% of infertility cases, while 20–35% are due to female infertility, and 25–40% are due to combined problems in both parts. In 10–20% of cases, no cause is found. The most common cause of female infertility is ovulatory problems, which generally manifest themselves by sparse or absent menstrual periods. Male infertility is most commonly due to deficiencies in the semen, and semen quality is used as a surrogate measure of male fecundity.
During an infertility workup, you and your partner will be asked questions about your current health and medical history. "We're looking to see what might have changed from previous pregnancies," says Dr. Tan. "If we find something we can fix—say, removing scar tissue—we'll start there." Also expect blood work and ultrasounds to determine whether you're ovulating and to check your egg supply, an X-ray to look for blocked fallopian tubes, and a semen analysis to measure sperm count and quality.
In the well-established fertility treatment of IVF, unlike IUI, the meeting of sperm and egg takes place outside the body, in the laboratory (in vitro). This gives fertility practitioners a lot more control over the selection of a genetically normal embryo that has the best chance of establishing a successful pregnancy. IVF is the fertility treatment with the highest likelihood of taking home a healthy baby. These are the stages involved in IVF:
Artificial insemination, including intracervical insemination and intrauterine insemination of semen. It requires that a woman ovulates, but is a relatively simple procedure, and can be used in the home for self-insemination without medical practitioner assistance. The beneficiaries of artificial insemination are women who desire to give birth to their own child who may be single, women who are in a lesbian relationship or women who are in a heterosexual relationship but with a male partner who is infertile or who has a physical impairment which prevents full intercourse from taking place.
When transferring more than one embryo, the risk of pregnancy and newborn complications also increases.1 Among IVF babies, twins are 12 times more likely than singletons to be delivered prematurely, 16 times more likely to be underweight and 5 times more likely to suffer from respiratory complications. Among IVF mothers, mothers of twins are 2.5 times more likely to have pre-eclampsia, over 8 times more likely to have premature preterm rupture of membranes and 4 times more likely to require a Caesarean section.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to infertility, and the path you take will be unique to your specific case, but there are some common starting points. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) are two of the most popular infertility treatments available today. Understanding what they are, who they are intended for, and what the success rates are for these two options will give you a place to begin your conversations with your fertility expert. Here’s what you need to know.
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.
Ovary stimulation. For eight to 14 days near the beginning of your menstrual cycle, you take a gonadotropin, a type of fertility drug that stimulates your ovaries to develop multiple mature eggs for fertilization (instead of just one). You also need to take a synthetic hormone like leuprolide or cetrorelix to keep your body from releasing the eggs too early.
Fertility tourism is the practice of traveling to another country for fertility treatments. It may be regarded as a form of medical tourism. The main reasons for fertility tourism are legal regulation of the sought procedure in the home country, or lower price. In-vitro fertilization and donor insemination are major procedures involved.
For most couples having difficulty achieving a pregnancy their chance of achieving a pregnancy is not zero, it is just lower than the average rate of conception—unless both Fallopian tubes are completely blocked, there is no sperm, or the woman never ovulates. Ovulation induction (or superovulation) with IUI helps patients to achieve pregnancy rates closer to the natural per cycle chance of pregnancy for women in their age group who do not have infertility (see fig 1).
The first step in finding the right treatment is to find out if there is an actual cause for unexplained infertility. Taking treatment helps to increase the chances of conceiving, and also makes it likelier that you will get pregnant sooner. The treatment of luteal-phase defects is as controversial as the diagnosis. They can be treated by using clomiphene, which may help by augmenting the secretion of FSH and thus improving the quality of the follicle (and therefore, the corpus luteum, which develops from it). Direct treatment with progesterone can also help luteal-phase abnormalities. Progesterone can be given either as injections or vaginal suppositories.
Spend quality time with your child. In the midst of your infertility problems, you may feel especially upset about shifting your focus from the child you already have to the child you’re longing to have in the future. You may even feel guilty about your inability to give your little one a sibling or about the sadness you are sure is spilling over into her life. The best thing you can do for your child in this situation is to keep life as normal as possible, and ideally, find some quality time to be together. Whether it’s a chat about her day before you tuck her into bed or an afternoon romp in the park, those rituals will go a long way toward keeping your tot’s world stable and happy — even if you sometimes feel your world is spinning out of control. (You might find that focusing on your child lets you live in the moment — at least for a little while — which can help you cope with secondary infertility.) If you’re in a particularly bad place and fear that you may have a hard time handling your true emotions in front of your child (say, your pregnancy test just came up negative for the zillionth time in a row), see if you can arrange to send her to a friend’s house, or enlist your partner or mother-in-law to take over for a bit. Allowing yourself the time to compose yourself can make it much easier to face your little pride and joy with a smile.
Nope, infertility is not only about you: about one-third of all infertility cases treated in the United States are caused by a male problem. Varicocele is one of them, and it’s when the veins that drain the testicle become enlarged, similar to the varicose veins you get in your leg. It may cause the scrotum to swell or form a weird, twisted mass on the surface (kind of like a small bag of worms). The condition may decrease the quality of sperm, as well as how much is produced—thus impacting fertility. The good news: varicocele can be surgically repaired, which may improve sperm numbers and function or cure the infertility.
Sunni Muslim nations generally allow IVF between married couples when conducted with their own respective sperm and eggs, but not with donor eggs from other couples. But Iran, which is Shi'a Muslim, has a more complex scheme. Iran bans sperm donation but allows donation of both fertilised and unfertilised eggs. Fertilised eggs are donated from married couples to other married couples, while unfertilised eggs are donated in the context of mut'ah or temporary marriage to the father.
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.