Infertility can have a profound impact on one’s mental health. When men and women find out that they can’t conceive, they may experience the same painful emotions as anyone coping with grief or profound loss. Common reactions include shock, frustration, grief, anger, decreased self-esteem, anxiety, and depression, but feelings about infertility can vary greatly depending on the source of the problems. Men, in particular, find it far easier to deal with a partner’s infertility than with their own.
Although menopause is a natural barrier to further conception, IVF has allowed women to be pregnant in their fifties and sixties. Women whose uteruses have been appropriately prepared receive embryos that originated from an egg of an egg donor. Therefore, although these women do not have a genetic link with the child, they have a physical link through pregnancy and childbirth. In many cases the genetic father of the child is the woman's partner. Even after menopause the uterus is fully capable of carrying out a pregnancy.
We don't know what causes most cases of secondary infertility, says Jamie Grifo, M.D., Ph.D., program director of the New York University Fertility Center, in New York City. "The majority of the time, though, it reflects the fact that you're older now, so it's simply more difficult to get pregnant." The reality is that for women, fertility peaks at age 25 and drops by half between ages 30 and 40. As we age, egg quality declines and we're more likely to develop fibroids and endometriosis, which contribute to infertility. Other factors such as adding extra weight, taking new meds, or having surgery since your last pregnancy can be an issue. It may also be that your partner's sperm quality or production is now poor.
For many years, intrauterine insemination (IUI) was felt to be the best first choice of treatment in patients who have unexplained infertility or mild problems with the fallopian tubes or sperm. Arizona Reproductive Medicine (ARMS) has made significant advances in the cost effectiveness of in vitro fertilization (IVF) through higher IVF success rates and innovations in treatment medications and efficiency. IVF now far exceeds IUI as the best first choice of treatment for all age groups.
Wondering if it’s time to seek fertility help from a specialist? Your age can help clue you in to the answer. If you’re younger than 35, it’s perfectly normal for it to take six months to a year to conceive. If, after a year, you haven’t accomplished your conception goal, you’ll want to talk with your practitioner and/or get a referral to a fertility specialist. If you’re older than 35, experts recommend that you seek help from a fertility specialist after six months of regularly trying to conceive without birth control — and you may even want to go after three months. If you’re over 40, you’ll probably want to start off your quest for a second pregnancy with a fertility evaluation from your doctor. Ditto if your partner is over 40, since 35 to 40 percent of fertility problems can be traced back to the man, and a guy’s age affects the quality of his sperm.
At the same time, in older women, the IVF success rates can vary dramatically, and that’s why it’s so important to focus only on live births. For example, a clinic may have a very high pregnancy rate among older women, but a low live birth rate. Or, the rates may be quite high – 40% or even 50% – but only after four or five rounds. That makes a very big difference, especially in the overall cost of treatment!
Mild IVF is a method where a small dose of ovarian stimulating drugs are used for a short duration during a woman's natural cycle aimed at producing 2–7 eggs and creating healthy embryos. This method appears to be an advance in the field to reduce complications and side-effects for women and it is aimed at quality, and not quantity of eggs and embryos. One study comparing a mild treatment (mild ovarian stimulation with GnRH antagonist co-treatment combined with single embryo transfer) to a standard treatment (stimulation with a GnRH agonist long-protocol and transfer of two embryos) came to the result that the proportions of cumulative pregnancies that resulted in term live birth after 1 year were 43.4% with mild treatment and 44.7% with standard treatment. Mild IVF can be cheaper than conventional IVF and with a significantly reduced risk of multiple gestation and OHSS.
Dr. Gorka Barrenetxea provides us with a practical case of secondary infertility that occurs more commonly than one may think. A couple, throughout their lifetime, can have children with 20, 25, 30 and 35 years, but when they decide to have a second or third child, they may encounter trouble conceiving due to the passage of time itself, Dr. Barrenetxea states.
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.
^ Manheimer E, van der Windt D, Cheng K, Stafford K, Liu J, Tierney J, Lao L, Berman BM, Langenberg P, Bouter LM (2013). "The effects of acupuncture on rates of clinical pregnancy among women undergoing in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis". Human Reproduction Update. 19 (6): 696–713. doi:10.1093/humupd/dmt026. PMC 3796945. PMID 23814102.
Couples experiencing infertility have a range of treatment options. Women can take fertility drugs to stimulate ovulation, or undergo certain surgeries and procedures, like intrauterine insemination, which carefully places healthy sperm in the uterus right before an egg is released to increase the chances of fertilization. Men can also take fertility medication or undergo surgery to increase the chances of conception.
iui versus ivf : While approaching an IVF specialist in order to conceive baby, infertile couples come across several options through which they can achieve their goal. These include IUI, IVF and surrogacy. People wishing to carry their child and avoid using a surrogate get to choose between IVF and IUI. But here comes the big dilemma which procedure to choose?
Another major cause of infertility in women may be the inability to ovulate. Malformation of the eggs themselves may complicate conception. For example, polycystic ovarian syndrome is when the eggs only partially develop within the ovary and there is an excess of male hormones. Some women are infertile because their ovaries do not mature and release eggs. In this case synthetic FSH by injection or Clomid (Clomiphene citrate) via a pill can be given to stimulate follicles to mature in the ovaries.
Stay positive. Search for success stories — there are so many out there. Look within your personal network or support groups to find other women who have similar experiences with infertility. Connect with them and share your stories. Learn what they have done, what doctors they have worked with, and what contributed to their successful pregnancies.
Disclaimer: The information you enter is not stored by CDC and is only used to estimate your chances of success. The IVF success estimator does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. These estimates may not reflect your actual rates of success during ART treatment and are only being provided for informational purposes. Estimates are less reliable at certain ranges/values of age, weight, height, and previous pregnancy and ART experiences. Please see your doctor and/or healthcare provider for a personalized treatment plan that is best for you.
Consider your health status. Have you started any medications that might be interfering with conception? What about a change in your health status (a new chronic condition that’s cropped up since your first baby was born, for instance)? Any changes to your health could be putting a dent in your conception plans. Perhaps some simple health modifications — like switching to a more fertility-friendly medication, for instance, or getting your chronic condition under control — could bring you closer to the second baby of your dreams.
The common thing that happens once learning about the unexplained infertility diagnosis is shifting blame or incurring guilt. You may feel a sense of individual responsibility for the news, and be concerned about the effects that this will have on your relationship and your current partner. Perhaps you feel like you waited too long to start a family or have anxiety finding the right parenting partner that you associate now with your infertility. Remember, it’s no one’s fault.
Intrauterine insemination is less successful if the cause of infertility involves decreased egg quality, diseased Fallopian tubes, or endometriosis. IUI treatment cannot improve the quality of the eggs within the ovaries or repair damaged anatomical structure. As with advanced age, it may be advisable to move to IVF earlier in the treatment timeline with these diagnoses.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect Before You’re Expecting. Health information on this site is based on peer-reviewed medical journals and highly respected health organizations and institutions including ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), as well as the What to Expect books by Heidi Murkoff.
People who have suffered primary infertility tell me that the only way they can get by is to avoid everything and anything to do with babies. But for the secondary infertility sufferer, this is not an option. You are confronted on a daily basis at the school gates by pregnant women, people with babies, large families squashed into multiple buggies. School drop-off becomes a terrible tableau of everything you want but cannot have.
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.
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.
With egg donation and IVF, women who are past their reproductive years, have infertile male partners, have idiopathic female-fertility issues, or have reached menopause can still become pregnant. After the IVF treatment, some couples get pregnant without any fertility treatments. In 2018, it was estimated that eight million children had been born worldwide using IVF and other assisted reproduction techniques. However, a recent study that explores 10 adjuncts with IVF (screening hysteroscopy, DHEA, testosterone, GH, aspirin, heparin, antioxidants in males and females, seminal plasma, and PRP) suggests that until more evidence is done to show that these adjuncts are safe and effective, they should be avoided.
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.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): This procedure involves direct injection of a single sperm of the male partner into the eggs of the female for fertilization. Just like IVF procedure, in ICSI, the sperm and egg are collected from both the partners. The only difference is the fertilization process as in IVF the sperms and egg are mixed naturally, and in ICSI the sperms are injected into the egg using a needle.