Impaired sperm production or function. Below-average sperm concentration, weak movement of sperm (poor mobility), or abnormalities in sperm size and shape can make it difficult for sperm to fertilize an egg. If semen abnormalities are found, your partner might need to see a specialist to determine if there are correctable problems or underlying health concerns.
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.
A review in 2013 came to the result that infants resulting from IVF (with or without ICSI) have a relative risk of birth defects of 1.32 (95% confidence interval 1.24–1.42) compared to naturally conceived infants.[48] In 2008, an analysis of the data of the National Birth Defects Study in the US found that certain birth defects were significantly more common in infants conceived through IVF, notably septal heart defects, cleft lip with or without cleft palate, esophageal atresia, and anorectal atresia; the mechanism of causality is unclear.[49] However, in a population-wide cohort study of 308,974 births (with 6,163 using assisted reproductive technology and following children from birth to age five) researchers found: "The increased risk of birth defects associated with IVF was no longer significant after adjustment for parental factors." [50] Parental factors included known independent risks for birth defects such as maternal age, smoking status, etc. Multivariate correction did not remove the significance of the association of birth defects and ICSI (corrected odds ratio 1.57), although the authors speculate that underlying male infertility factors (which would be associated with the use of ICSI) may contribute to this observation and were not able to correct for these confounders. The authors also found that a history of infertility elevated risk itself in the absence of any treatment (odds ratio 1.29), consistent with a Danish national registry study [51] and "implicates patient factors in this increased risk." The authors of the Danish national registry study speculate: "our results suggest that the reported increased prevalence of congenital malformations seen in singletons born after assisted reproductive technology is partly due to the underlying infertility or its determinants."
IUI is a procedure during which processed and concentrated motile sperm are inserted directly into a woman’s uterus. This procedure is timed according to a woman’s ovulation, and may be performed one to two times in the days immediately following the detection of ovulation. After ovulation a woman’s egg is picked up by the fallopian tube and waits there for the sperm. Since the IUI procedure deposits higher concentrations of good quality sperm close to where the egg is waiting, the chances that the egg and sperm will find one another are increased.
IUI Preparation – Before your IUI procedure, men and women can make changes to their diet, add beneficial supplements or medications, and utilize holistic therapies like acupuncture and massage to ensure the best possible outcome from IUI. Taking this time to focus on improving the quality of your eggs pays off exponentially because it’s something you have the power to change. Best results are seen if adopted for 90 days prior to treatment.
Bloating: Fertility medications can heavily impact how your body retains water, leading to the dreaded side effect of bloating. This is especially common in your midsection, where fluid can build up near the ovaries (creating abdominal tenderness, too). You can combat bloating by increasing your fluid intake and participating in light exercise such as walking.
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.

I found that I couldn't avoid the sense that we were not yet all here, that there was a person missing. In one of those strange confluences, I was, at the same time, writing a novel about a woman who had just given birth. I was spending my days at the fertility clinic and my evenings writing about the strange, shadowy world of early motherhood. My husband, coming into my study and finding me in tears again, laid his hand gently on the manuscript and said, "Do you ever think that writing this book might not be helping?" But you don't choose the books; they choose you. And if I couldn't bring a baby into being in real life, I was damn well going to do it in fiction.

The eggs are retrieved from the patient using a transvaginal technique called transvaginal oocyte retrieval, involving an ultrasound-guided needle piercing the vaginal wall to reach the ovaries. Through this needle follicles can be aspirated, and the follicular fluid is passed to an embryologist to identify ova. It is common to remove between ten and thirty eggs. The retrieval procedure usually takes between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on the number of mature follicles, and is usually done under conscious sedation or general anaesthesia.
Give in to the grief. While you probably feel incredibly disappointed and sad about your infertility problems, you may feel guilty giving in to those emotions. Parents facing secondary infertility often feel they don’t have the “right” to feel sad about their struggles because they should be grateful for the child they already have. But if you want more children and are having trouble getting pregnant again, you are just as entitled as anyone else to feel depressed or angry. The last thing you need when you’re coping with secondary infertility is to let guilt weigh you down even more.
IUI: An IUI can be done with no medications or a number of different medications to help develop and ovulate one or two eggs. Around day 14 of a woman’s cycle, the insemination takes place which deposits sperm inside the uterus. This greatly increases the number of sperm at the junction of the uterus and fallopian tubes, the distance they have to swim to meet the egg, and thus increases the chances of natural conception for many people.

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]


There is a risk of multiples, which includes twins, triplets, or more. Multiple pregnancies can be risky for both the babies and the mother. It's important to discuss with your doctor how many embryos to transfer, as transferring more than necessary will increase your risk of conceiving twins or more. When embryos have been tested with PGT, typically only a single embryo is transferred.
For five to six days following fertilization, the developing embryos are cultured in the laboratory until the blastocyst stage of development has been reached. This represents growth of about 200 cells. We at RMA culture embryos exclusively to the blastocyst stage, because published data demonstrates that extended embryo culture results in improved implantation rates and pregnancy outcomes. This means we will never do an embryo biopsy – or an embryo transfer – at three days, or anything less than the blastocyst stage.
IUI Preparation – Before your IUI procedure, men and women can make changes to their diet, add beneficial supplements or medications, and utilize holistic therapies like acupuncture and massage to ensure the best possible outcome from IUI. Taking this time to focus on improving the quality of your eggs pays off exponentially because it’s something you have the power to change. Best results are seen if adopted for 90 days prior to treatment.
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.
Psychological factors: Studies on infertile groups of men and women have produced contradictory findings of the importance of psychological factors in causing infertility. Emotional disturbances undoubtedly appear to have some significance. This is only reasonable if you realize that the whole hormonal cycle, with its delicate adjustments, is controlled from the brain. This is an area which needs further investigation.
First, consider where the information about the success rates is coming from. Generally speaking, IVF success rates in the United States comes from the clinics themselves or from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine both contribute to the CDC data.
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.
Talk it out. Once you realize you’re entitled to your emotions, find an outlet for them. Talking about your feelings and your struggles can be a huge release and allow you to receive the support you need. If your family or friends don’t understand your sadness (or you find it hard to contain your baby envy around friends with more than one child), seek out people in your same situation. Find a support group for people with secondary infertility — online or in your area. And consider joining WTE's Trying to Conceive group to find moms who are also coping with secondary infertility.
Once the medications take their effect, your doctor will use a transvaginal ultrasound to guide a needle through the back wall of your vagina, up to your ovaries. She will then use the needle to aspirate the follicle, or gently suck the fluid and oocyte from the follicle into the needle. There is one oocyte per follicle. These oocytes will be transferred to the embryology lab for fertilization.
PGS screens for numeral chromosomal abnormalities while PGD diagnosis the specific molecular defect of the inherited disease. In both PGS and PGD, individual cells from a pre-embryo, or preferably trophectoderm cells biopsied from a blastocyst, are analysed during the IVF process. Before the transfer of a pre-embryo back to a woman's uterus, one or two cells are removed from the pre-embryos (8-cell stage), or preferably from a blastocyst. These cells are then evaluated for normality. Typically within one to two days, following completion of the evaluation, only the normal pre-embryos are transferred back to the woman's uterus. Alternatively, a blastocyst can be cryopreserved via vitrification and transferred at a later date to the uterus. In addition, PGS can significantly reduce the risk of multiple pregnancies because fewer embryos, ideally just one, are needed for implantation.
Secondary infertility is similar to other types of infertility and shares many of the same signs. However, in secondary infertility you’re unable to conceive or carry a baby to full-term after having a previous successful pregnancy. Infertility can be caused by either the man or woman. Treatment options can include medications to induce ovulation, in vitro fertilization (IVF) or surgery.
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.[3] In 2018, it was estimated that eight million children had been born worldwide using IVF and other assisted reproduction techniques.[4] 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.[5]
• Women having irregular periods. Regular periods indicate that you are ovulating regularly. Eggs are produced through ovulation two weeks prior to the next period. Ovulation of the egg is essential for pregnancy, and any irregularity in this process leads to an inability to conceive. If you have irregular periods then it is better to get evaluated from a reproductive endocrinologist.
Treatment depends on the cause of infertility, but may include counselling, fertility treatments, which include in vitro fertilization. According to ESHRE recommendations, couples with an estimated live birth rate of 40% or higher per year are encouraged to continue aiming for a spontaneous pregnancy.[63] Treatment methods for infertility may be grouped as medical or complementary and alternative treatments. Some methods may be used in concert with other methods. Drugs used for both women and men[64] include clomiphene citrate, human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues, aromatase inhibitors, and metformin.

Ovarian stimulation – You’ll take stimulation medications to increases both the quantity and quality of eggs. This usually begins during days 2-4 of your cycle and continues for around ten days. You’ll be closely monitored during this time to track your uterine lining, follicular development, and hormone levels. Once the follicles are optimal size, a trigger medication is given to fully mature the eggs.

3. Painful Periods: We’re not talking about normal cramping here. But, severe pain that stops you in your tracks and even causes nausea or vomiting. Alone this may not be a sign of infertility, but combined with other symptoms like pain during intercourse, blood in the urine or during bowel movements, or irregular periods, can be signs of endometriosis–a condition that accounts for 20-40% of female infertility cases.
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.
While many cases of infertility remain unexplained, there may be answers in the epigenome. Unlike one’s genetic code, the epigenome is dynamic and can be modified by environmental factors and lifestyle choices. Fertility in many cases is a state which changes throughout one’s life. Given the lack of clear genetic or physiological causes of unexplained infertility, the epigenome is thought to be altered in this subset of patients. As a result, looking into the epigenetic basis of infertility can help clinicians inform treatment.
Ovulation induction (in the sense of medical treatment aiming for the development of one or two ovulatory follicles) is an alternative for women with anovulation or oligoovulation, since it is less expensive and more easy to control.[7] It generally involves antiestrogens such as clomifene citrate or letrozole, and is followed by natural or artificial insemination.
Laboratories have developed grading methods to judge ovocyte and embryo quality. In order to optimise pregnancy rates, there is significant evidence that a morphological scoring system is the best strategy for the selection of embryos.[72] Since 2009 where the first time-lapse microscopy system for IVF was approved for clinical use,[73] morphokinetic scoring systems has shown to improve to pregnancy rates further.[74] However, when all different types of time-lapse embryo imaging devices, with or without morphokinetic scoring systems, are compared against conventional embryo assessment for IVF, there is insufficient evidence of a difference in live-birth, pregnancy, stillbirth or miscarriage to choose between them.[75] Active efforts to develop a more accurate embryo selection analysis based on Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning are underway. Embryo Ranking Intelligent Classification Assistant (ERICA),[76] is a clear example. This Deep Learning software substitutes manual classifications with a ranking system based on an individual embryo's predicted genetic status in a non-invasive fashion.[77] Studies on this area are still pending and current feasibility studies support its potential.[78]
Alcoholism is a disease that includes alcohol craving and continued drinking despite repeated alcohol-related problems, such as losing a job or getting into trouble with the law. It can cause myriad health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver, birth defects, heart disease, stroke, psychological problems, and dementia. Counseling and a few medications can be effective for alcoholism treatment.
Vibratory stimulation or electric ejaculation: Vibratory stimulation is a painless and non-sedative procedure adapted to collect the sperms of men with spinal cord injuries who cannot experience natural ejaculation. Electric ejaculation is used for men who do not respond to vibratory stimulation process. The collected sperm is then transferred to the woman’s uterus for fertilization.

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]
Intercourse must take place frequently, particularly before and around the time of ovulation, and the couple must have been trying to conceive for at least one year (6 months if the woman is over 35 years old). Using these criteria, about 10-20% of all infertile couples have unexplained infertility. However, the percentage of couples classified as having unexplained infertility will depend upon the thoroughness of testing and the sophistication of medical technology. 
Life isn’t fair – there’s no doubt about it. That’s why it helps to have faith in God, to know He loves you and wants you to have the best possible life. My husband and I can’t have children, and it was the most disappointing discovery of my life. Trusting God when you can’t get pregnant is not easy – especially if you’ve been trying to conceive for months or even years.

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.
A study presented at the British Fertility Society Annual Conference and covered by The Guardian reported that transferring two embryos where one is of poor quality would reduce the chance of pregnancy by 27%. It is thought that a bad embryo is rejected by the endometrium, compromising the implantation of both embryos. Cumulative research has supported the notion that egg quality outweighs quantity.
^ Sher, KS; Jayanthi, V; Probert, CS; Stewart, CR; Mayberry, JF (1994). "Infertility, obstetric and gynaecological problems in coeliac sprue". Dig Dis. 12 (3): 186–90. doi:10.1159/000171452. PMID 7988065. There is now substantial evidence that coeliac sprue is associated with infertility both in men and women. (...) In men it can cause hypogonadism, immature secondary sex characteristics and reduce semen quality. (...) Hyperprolactinaemia is seen in 25% of coeliac patients, which causes impotence and loss of libido. Gluten withdrawal and correction of deficient dietary elements can lead to a return of fertility both in men and women.
Since each couple is unique in the cause of infertility, the answer as to whether ICSI or conventional IVF is more beneficial could vary. A retrospective cohort study published in 2015 is the most comprehensive study so far comparing the two strategies with different infertility factors, which will be the focus here1. A few other smaller-scale studies will also be discussed.
Many women spend much of their early adult lives trying not to get pregnant. But when you finally do want to start a family and it doesn’t happen right away, it can leave you feeling frustrated. Not to mention, trying to get pregnant month after month unsuccessfully can be emotionally taxing. You should know that you are not alone, and that unexplained infertility is exactly that– unexplained– so no finger pointing as to who is at fault!

Many people of sub-Saharan Africa choose to foster their children to infertile women. IVF enables these infertile women to have their own children, which imposes new ideals to a culture in which fostering children is seen as both natural and culturally important. Many infertile women are able to earn more respect in their society by taking care of the children of other mothers, and this may be lost if they choose to use IVF instead. As IVF is seen as unnatural, it may even hinder their societal position as opposed to making them equal with fertile women. It is also economically advantageous for infertile women to raise foster children as it gives these children greater ability to access resources that are important for their development and also aids the development of their society at large. If IVF becomes more popular without the birth rate decreasing, there could be more large family homes with fewer options to send their newborn children. This could result in an increase of orphaned children and/or a decrease in resources for the children of large families. This would ultimately stifle the children's and the community's growth.[134]

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.
While many cases of infertility remain unexplained, there may be answers in the epigenome. Unlike one’s genetic code, the epigenome is dynamic and can be modified by environmental factors and lifestyle choices. Fertility in many cases is a state which changes throughout one’s life. Given the lack of clear genetic or physiological causes of unexplained infertility, the epigenome is thought to be altered in this subset of patients. As a result, looking into the epigenetic basis of infertility can help clinicians inform treatment.
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.[171] 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.
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.
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