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?
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. 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". Prices paid by the NHS in England varied between under £3,000 to more than £6,000 in 2014/5. 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.
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.
Insemination – This is done as close to the day of ovulation as possible. During insemination, washed and concentrated sperm is injected into the top of your uterus through a small catheter inserted through the vagina and cervix. Once injected, the catheter is removed. You can expect the insemination to take just a few minutes. It is possible to experience mild cramping post-procedure. The sperm used in your IUI can usually be collected at the office performing the IUI (preferred if possible), frozen and shipped to the center, collected fresh at your home and shipped to our centers using our sperm shipping kits (not advised), or ordered and sent to our office from a donor agency. Fresh semen samples are prepared in our laboratory to obtain a concentration of active sperm.
Nowadays, there are several treatments (still in experimentation) related to stem cell therapy. It is a new opportunity, not only for partners with lack of gametes, but also for homosexuals and single people who want to have offspring. Theoretically, with this therapy, we can get artificial gametes in vitro. There are different studies for both women and men.
Cancer. Although some early studies suggested there may be a link between certain medications used to stimulate egg growth and the development of a specific type of ovarian tumor, more-recent studies do not support these findings. There does not appear to be a significantly increased risk of breast, endometrial, cervical or ovarian cancer after IVF.
The sperm and the egg are incubated together at a ratio of about 75,000:1 in a culture media in order for the actual fertilisation to take place. A review in 2013 came to the result that a duration of this co-incubation of about 1 to 4 hours results in significantly higher pregnancy rates than 16 to 24 hours. In most cases, the egg will be fertilised during co-incubation and will show two pronuclei. In certain situations, such as low sperm count or motility, a single sperm may be injected directly into the egg using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The fertilised egg is passed to a special growth medium and left for about 48 hours until the egg consists of six to eight cells.
In the United States, overall availability of IVF in 2005 was 2.5 IVF physicians per 100,000 population, and utilisation was 236 IVF cycles per 100,000. 126 procedures are performed per million people per year. Utilisation highly increases with availability and IVF insurance coverage, and to a significant extent also with percentage of single persons and median income. In the US, an average cycle, from egg retrieval to embryo implantation, costs $12,400, and insurance companies that do cover treatment, even partially, usually cap the number of cycles they pay for. As of 2015, more than 1 million babies had been born utilising IVF technologies.
Acknowledge your feelings. When dealing with secondary infertility, it’s very common to feel shock or denial. After all, making one baby might have been a piece of cake for you, so you probably assumed that having a second one would be easy, too. Your friends and even your doctor may also downplay your current infertility problems (telling you not to take it so hard or to “just keep trying”) since you had no trouble before. But secondary infertility is much more common than most people realize. So allow yourself the chance to accept the idea that you may be battling secondary infertility — because once you do, you can tackle the problem head-on.
Regarding potential spread of HIV/AIDS, Japan's government prohibited the use of IVF procedures for couples in which both partners are infected with HIV. Despite the fact that the ethics committees previously allowed the Ogikubo, Tokyo Hospital, located in Tokyo, to use IVF for couples with HIV, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan decided to block the practice. Hideji Hanabusa, the vice president of the Ogikubo Hospital, states that together with his colleagues, he managed to develop a method through which scientists are able to remove HIV from sperm.
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.
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a process of fertilisation where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in vitro ("in glass"). The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman's ovulatory process, removing an ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman's ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a liquid in a laboratory. After the fertilised egg (zygote) undergoes embryo culture for 2–6 days, it is implanted in the same or another woman's uterus, with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy.
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.
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. 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.
Next, we’ll look at data that compares PCOS patients who took clomid alone or clomid accompanied by IUI (no studies use letrozole, so we are forced to use a study with clomid). Clomid alone produced a 17% live birth rate after 3 cycles, while clomid plus IUI produced a 19% live birth rate. Investigators concluded there was no statistically significant difference.
IVF: During IVF, medications are usually taken for around 10 days to grow a large number of eggs. Once many eggs have developed, a procedure takes place where the eggs are removed from the ovaries. The eggs are then fertilized outside of the body in a lab. After growing for a few days in the lab, an embryo is transferred back into the woman’s uterus.
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.
If you're using your partner's sperm, he'll provide a semen sample at your doctor's office or a clinic through masturbation the morning of egg retrieval. Other methods, such as testicular aspiration — the use of a needle or surgical procedure to extract sperm directly from the testicle — are sometimes required. Donor sperm also can be used. Sperm are separated from the semen fluid in the lab.
In order to have a successful IVF pregnancy, the first few weeks need special care. When you undergo IVF, you will be continuously monitored throughout the process by skilled doctors. Constant supervision reduces the complications associated with pregnancy. By understanding the IVF process and following your doctor’s instructions, you can enjoy the journey of your healthy 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.
According to the data collected for 2014, these are the IVF success rates nationally, when using non-donor eggs, per egg retrieval. (These are not per cycle. In other words, these are the odds of a live birth after one egg retrieval, which may mean conception with fresh eggs/embryos in the cycle of the egg retrieval or after a frozen embryo transfer cycle in the following months.)
The number to be transferred depends on the number available, the age of the woman and other health and diagnostic factors. In countries such as Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, a maximum of two embryos are transferred except in unusual circumstances. In the UK and according to HFEA regulations, a woman over 40 may have up to three embryos transferred, whereas in the US, there is no legal limit on the number of embryos which may be transferred, although medical associations have provided practice guidelines. Most clinics and country regulatory bodies seek to minimise the risk of multiple pregnancy, as it is not uncommon for multiple embryos to implant if multiple embryos are transferred. Embryos are transferred to the patient's uterus through a thin, plastic catheter, which goes through her vagina and cervix. Several embryos may be passed into the uterus to improve chances of implantation and pregnancy.
For healthy couples in their 20s or early 30s, the chance that a woman will get pregnant is about 25 to 30 percent in any single menstrual cycle. This percentage starts to decline in a woman’s early 30s. By age 40, a woman’s chance of getting pregnant drops to less than 10 percent per menstrual cycle. A man’s fertility also declines with age, but not as predictably.
The AMIGOS study suggested that clomid provided the best balance of a high pregnancy rate with a reasonably low multiple rate among couples with unexplained infertility. However, the authors of the Huang study concluded that on balance letrozole was better. From our vantage point, given that clomid more commonly causes multiple eggs to be ovulated, it seems like the slightly better option between the two because the whole point of treatment in unexplained infertility patients is to increase the odds of delivery by increasing the number of eggs ovulated.
Kym Campbell is a Health Coach and PCOS expert with a strong passion for using evidence-based lifestyle interventions to manage this disorder. Kym combines rigorous scientific analysis with the advice from leading clinicians to disseminate the most helpful PCOS patient-centric information you can find online. You can read more about Kym and her team here.
Today, with assisted-reproductive technology, the chance of successful treatment is very good. Intrauterine insemination with superovulation is the simplest approach since it increases the chances of the egg and sperm meeting, but some patients may also need GIFT and IVF. IVF can be helpful because it provides information about the sperm's fertilizing ability; GIFT, on the other hand, has a higher pregnancy rate and is applicable in these patients since they have normal fallopian tubes.
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.