Risk of multiples. IUI with fertility medication carries a significant risk of multiple pregnancies, including higher-order multiples (triplets or more). A good clinic will carefully monitor your follicles to make sure that only a safe number are mature before the IUI, but they cannot entirely eliminate the risk. Recent advances in IVF (including blastocyst transfer) mean that most modern fertility clinics now transfer only one or two embryos per IVF cycle. As a result, the risk of multiple pregnancies for IVF patients is much lower than it used to be.
In the laboratory, for ICSI treatments, the identified eggs are stripped of surrounding cells (also known as cumulus cells) and prepared for fertilisation. An oocyte selection may be performed prior to fertilisation to select eggs that can be fertilized, as it is required they are in metaphase II. There are cases in which if oocytes are in the metaphase I stage, they can be kept being cultured so as to undergo a posterior sperm injection. In the meantime, semen is prepared for fertilisation by removing inactive cells and seminal fluid in a process called sperm washing. If semen is being provided by a sperm donor, it will usually have been prepared for treatment before being frozen and quarantined, and it will be thawed ready for use.

Once the semen sample is ready, it'll be put through a special washing process, which separates the sperm from the other stuff that is found in semen. The embryologist will choose the “best-looking sperm," placing about 10,000 sperm in each culture dish with an oocyte. The culture dishes are kept in a special incubator, and after 12 to 24 hours, they are inspected for signs of fertilization.


In the natural process of conception without treatment, a woman’s ovaries produce a mature egg each month, which leaves the ovary and travels along the fallopian tube towards the uterus. Sperm that has been deposited in the vagina through intercourse travels through the cervix through the uterus and up the fallopian tube toward the egg. Millions of sperm are lost in the cervix and do not travel to the fallopian tube. When the two meet, they join to form the early stage of an embryo which then travels down the fallopian tube into the uterus. If all goes well, it will implant in the lining of the womb and pregnancy begins.
Antiphospholipid syndrome (phospholipid antibody syndrome or Hughes syndrome) is an immune system disorder with symptoms that include: excessive blood clotting, miscarriages unexplained fetal death, or premature birth. In antiphospholipid syndrome, these symptoms are accompanied by the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies (cardiolipin or lupus anticoagulant antibodies) in the blood. Treatment focuses on preventing clotting by thinning the blood with the use of anticoagulants and aspirin.
The cost of IVF rather reflects the costliness of the underlying healthcare system than the regulatory or funding environment,[168] and ranges, on average for a standard IVF cycle and in 2006 United States dollars, between $12,500 in the United States to $4,000 in Japan.[168] In Ireland, IVF costs around €4,000, with fertility drugs, if required, costing up to €3,000.[169] The cost per live birth is highest in the United States ($41,000[168]) and United Kingdom ($40,000[168]) and lowest in Scandinavia and Japan (both around $24,500[168]).
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.  

Fertility expert Zita West has noticed this increase at her London clinic. "The main reason," she explains, "is age. Women are having babies later." Exhaustion also plays a part. "The sleeplessness of life with a small child can't be underestimated," she says. "You might still be breastfeeding, you might be sharing a bed with a toddler, you might be holding down a job at the same time. Basically, there's not a lot of sex happening."
When I think back to that time, I recall an almost constant sense of grief. Every 28th day represented another failure, another loss. All around me my friends were having their second and then third babies. My son looked at his classmates with their siblings wistfully, he wished with every birthday candle for a brother or sister and one day he asked, "Can you play tig on your own?"
When Sarah Bozinovich and her husband, Joe, decided to start a family, they were amazed by how quickly they were on the road to parenthood. "I went off birth control in April and was pregnant in May," says Bozinovich, of Mokena, Illinois. About a year and a half after their daughter's arrival, the couple was ready to expand their family. But they'd try for more than two years and endure many medical tests and fertility treatments to have the second child they so badly wanted. Like many other parents, they struggled with secondary infertility, the inability to conceive or carry a baby to term after having one or more children. Says Bozinovich, who was 27 when her problems began, "It's so surprising because no one could tell me why I couldn't get pregnant, when I got pregnant so easily before."
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.
This chart is US national average data on success rates per IVF cycle by female age for 2014. The dark blue line (triangles) shows pregnancy rates per cycle by age. The orange line (circles) shows live birth rates per cycle by age. The rate of singleton live births per cycle is shown by the light blue line. The difference between "pregnancy" rate and "live birth" rate is due to miscarriages.

Though there are some risk with older women pregnancies, there are some benefits associated with caesareans. A study has shown that births over 40 have a lower rate of birth trauma due to increased delivery by caesarean. Though caesarean is seen to benefit mothers over 40, there are still many risk factors to consider. Caesarean section may be a risk in the same way that gestational diabetes is.
In IVF, a woman is given more medications to develop lots of eggs. Ideally, they develop around 15 mature eggs. The eggs are removed from the ovaries, fertilized and developed in a lab for a number of days, and subsequently put back into the uterus as an early-stage embryo. While this may sound like a relatively minor difference, it leads to leads to a large number of noteworthy differences.
The grief and anxiety of SI is, of course, self-perpetuating. You find yourself in a double-bind: you're constantly told that the chances of conceiving are maximised if you can relax and eliminate stress, but it's hard to let go of something so all-consuming, so elemental, as infertility. People were always saying to me: "If you just forgot about it, you'd get pregnant straight away." For the record, this is the most unhelpful thing you can say to someone with fertility problems. West explains that "couples become more and more anxious about the gap [between children]".
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.
Fertilization. An embryologist (a scientist who specializes in eggs, sperm, and embryos) will examine your eggs before combining them with your partner's sperm and incubating them overnight. Fertilization usually happens during this time, but eggs that aren't normal may not be fertilized. (If sperm quality is poor, or if fertilization was unsuccessful during previous IVF cycles, your doctor may recommend using a technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). With ICSI, a single sperm is injected directly into each mature egg.)
^ Lasa, JS; Zubiaurre, I; Soifer, LO (2014). "Risk of infertility in patients with celiac disease: a meta-analysis of observational studies". Arq Gastroenterol. 51 (2): 144–50. doi:10.1590/S0004-28032014000200014. PMID 25003268. Undiagnosed celiac disease is a risk factor for infertility. Women seeking medical advice for this particular condition should be screened for celiac disease. Adoption of a gluten-free diet could have a positive impact on fertility in this group of patients.(...)According to our results, non-diagnosed untreated CD constitutes a risk factor significantly associated with infertility in women. When comparing studies that enrolled patients previously diagnosed with CD, this association is not as evident as in the former context. This could be related to the effect that adoption of a gluten-free diet (GFD) may have on this particular health issue.
The likelihood of a diagnosis of unexplained infertility is increased substantially in women 35 and over - and greatly increased in women over 38. The reason for this is that there are more likely to be egg quantity and quality problems as women age. Since we do not have a "standard category" called egg factor infertility, these couples sometimes get lumped in to the "unexplained" infertility category.
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.
The first successful birth of a child after IVF treatment, Louise Brown, occurred in 1978. Louise Brown was born as a result of natural cycle IVF where no stimulation was made. The procedure took place at Dr Kershaw's Cottage Hospital (now Dr Kershaw's Hospice) in Royton, Oldham, England. Robert G. Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010, the physiologist who co-developed the treatment together with Patrick Steptoe and embryologist Jean Purdy; Steptoe and Purdy were not eligible for consideration as the Nobel Prize is not awarded posthumously.[1][2]
While ICSI is a more invasive procedure, some have suggested it may help by reducing the risk of failed fertilisation. However, it's emerging that IVF is probably the preferred treatment, at least in the first cycle, in "unexplained" infertility. IVF allows for healthy competition between sperm, is less expensive, avoids trauma to the egg and may produce more embryos, with better pregnancy and live birth rates  
In 2006, Canadian clinics reported an average pregnancy rate of 35%.[11] A French study estimated that 66% of patients starting IVF treatment finally succeed in having a child (40% during the IVF treatment at the centre and 26% after IVF discontinuation). Achievement of having a child after IVF discontinuation was mainly due to adoption (46%) or spontaneous pregnancy (42%).[14]

We’re not talking about that uncomfortable throb or dull ache that most women are cursed with during their periods—those cramps are your uterus’s way of telling you it’s contracting to expel its lining. For some women, the message comes through more loudly and clearly than others, but it doesn’t compare to the pelvic pain and severe cramping associated with endometriosis. This kind may begin before your period and extend several days into it, it may include your lower back and cause abdominal pain, and it can get worse over time. Endometriosis occurs when tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus grows in other locations, such as your ovaries, bowel or pelvis. The extra tissue growth (and its’ surgical removal) can cause scarring, it can get in the way of an egg and sperm uniting, and it may also affect the lining of the uterus, disrupting implantation. Approximately one-third to one-half of women with endometriosis have difficulty getting pregnant. Other symptoms include pain during intercourse, urination and bowel movements.  Here are other conditions that cause stomach pain.
A woman's age is a major factor in the success of IVF for any couple. For instance, a woman who is under age 35 and undergoes IVF has a 39.6% chance of having a baby, while a woman over age 40 has an 11.5% chance. However, the CDC recently found that the success rate is increasing in every age group as the techniques are refined and doctors become more experienced.
A surge in LH triggers your ovaries to release an egg. The surge usually happens 36 hours before the egg is released. Ovulation kits check LH levels in your urine to help you pinpoint the day of ovulation. These kits, which you can buy at the drugstore, are convenient and highly accurate. You may want to test 1-2 days before you expect the surge so you can note the rise in LH.

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.

Step on the scale. Have you put on some extra pounds since your last baby was on board? Or maybe you’ve lost a lot of weight (because after all, who has time to eat when you’re running after a little one)? Your weight can impact your fertility, so getting as close as possible to a healthy BMI can also help get you closer to that second pregnancy you’re hoping for.


"Demographers tend to define infertility as childlessness in a population of women of reproductive age," whereas "the epidemiological definition refers to "trying for" or "time to" a pregnancy, generally in a population of women exposed to" a probability of conception.[8] Currently, female fertility normally peaks at age 24 and diminishes after 30, with pregnancy occurring rarely after age 50.[9] A female is most fertile within 24 hours of ovulation.[9] Male fertility peaks usually at age 25 and declines after age 40.[9] The time needed to pass (during which the couple tries to conceive) for that couple to be diagnosed with infertility differs between different jurisdictions. Existing definitions of infertility lack uniformity, rendering comparisons in prevalence between countries or over time problematic. Therefore, data estimating the prevalence of infertility cited by various sources differs significantly.[8] A couple that tries unsuccessfully to have a child after a certain period of time (often a short period, but definitions vary) is sometimes said to be subfertile, meaning less fertile than a typical couple. Both infertility and subfertility are defined as the inability to conceive after a certain period of time (the length of which vary), so often the two terms overlap.
Undergo minor surgery to retrieve eggs. Following a round of injections, your doctor will determine the best date to retrieve eggs from the follicles of your ovaries. If you choose to use donor eggs, the retrieval process will occur with the donor, or the frozen eggs may be collected and used. A partner’s sperm or donor sperm will also be collected.

Alana Stewart, who was conceived using donor sperm, began an online forum for donor children called AnonymousUS in 2010. The forum welcomes the viewpoints of anyone involved in the IVF process.[121] Olivia Pratten, a donor-conceived Canadian, sued the province of British Columbia for access to records on her donor father's identity in 2008.[122] "I'm not a treatment, I'm a person, and those records belong to me," Pratten said.[119] In May 2012, a court ruled in Pratten's favour, agreeing that the laws at the time discriminated against donor children and making anonymous sperm and egg donation in British Columbia illegal.[122]

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]

Risk of multiples. IUI with fertility medication carries a significant risk of multiple pregnancies, including higher-order multiples (triplets or more). A good clinic will carefully monitor your follicles to make sure that only a safe number are mature before the IUI, but they cannot entirely eliminate the risk. Recent advances in IVF (including blastocyst transfer) mean that most modern fertility clinics now transfer only one or two embryos per IVF cycle. As a result, the risk of multiple pregnancies for IVF patients is much lower than it used to be.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a treatment for infertility or genetic problems. If IVF is performed to treat infertility, you and your partner might be able to try less-invasive treatment options before attempting IVF, including fertility drugs to increase production of eggs or intrauterine insemination — a procedure in which sperm are placed directly in your uterus near the time of ovulation.
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]
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) have been the therapeutic mainstays for those with unexplained infertility. The former involves inserting sperm directly into the uterus, while the latter works by uniting the sperm and the egg cells in a laboratory dish. IVF is expensive, but has a higher success rate. However, some patients continue to struggle and suffer the associated financial burden of repeated cycles.
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.
While it’s always recommended to consult with a medical provider before making any treatment decisions, this article serves as a great jumping point for those looking to get pregnant using assisted reproductive technologies (ART). In it, we discuss everything you need to know about IUI and IVF.  We start things off with a high-level overview, then jump into the different types of each treatment, discuss treatment details, key decisions within each treatment, success rates, cost comparisons, risks, and who each treatment might be a good fit for.

Medical treatment of infertility generally involves the use of fertility medication, medical device, surgery, or a combination of the following. If the sperm are of good quality and the mechanics of the woman's reproductive structures are good (patent fallopian tubes, no adhesions or scarring), a course of ovulation induction maybe used. The physician or WHNP may also suggest using a conception cap cervical cap, which the patient uses at home by placing the sperm inside the cap and putting the conception device on the cervix, or intrauterine insemination (IUI), in which the doctor or WHNP introduces sperm into the uterus during ovulation, via a catheter. In these methods, fertilization occurs inside the body.

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DNA damage reduces fertility in male sperm, as caused by oxidative DNA damage,[31] smoking,[28] other xenobiotic DNA damaging agents (such as drugs or chemotherapy)[32] or other DNA damaging agents including reactive oxygen species, fever or high testicular temperature.[33] The damaged DNA related to infertility manifests itself by the increased susceptibility to denaturation inducible by heat or acid [34] or by the presence of double-strand breaks that can be detected by the TUNEL assay.[35]

^ 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.
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.
Undergo minor surgery to retrieve eggs. Following a round of injections, your doctor will determine the best date to retrieve eggs from the follicles of your ovaries. If you choose to use donor eggs, the retrieval process will occur with the donor, or the frozen eggs may be collected and used. A partner’s sperm or donor sperm will also be collected.
The Catholic Church opposes all kinds of assisted reproductive technology and artificial contraception, on the grounds that they separate the procreative goal of marital sex from the goal of uniting married couples. The Catholic Church permits the use of a small number of reproductive technologies and contraceptive methods such as natural family planning, which involves charting ovulation times, and allows other forms of reproductive technologies that allow conception to take place from normative sexual intercourse, such as a fertility lubricant. Pope Benedict XVI had publicly re-emphasised the Catholic Church's opposition to in vitro fertilisation, saying that it replaces love between a husband and wife.[127]
IVF may be used to overcome female infertility when it is due to problems with the fallopian tubes, making in vivo fertilisation difficult. It can also assist in male infertility, in those cases where there is a defect in sperm quality; in such situations intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be used, where a sperm cell is injected directly into the egg cell. This is used when sperm has difficulty penetrating the egg. In these cases the partner's or a donor's sperm may be used. ICSI is also used when sperm numbers are very low. When indicated, the use of ICSI has been found to increase the success rates of IVF.

High costs keep IVF out of reach for many developing countries, but research by the Genk Institute for Fertility Technology, in Belgium, claim to have found a much lower cost methodology (about 90% reduction) with similar efficacy, which may be suitable for some fertility treatment.[144] Moreover, the laws of many countries permit IVF for only single women, lesbian couples, and persons participating in surrogacy arrangements.[145] Using PGD gives members of these select demographic groups disproportionate access to a means of creating a child possessing characteristics that they consider "ideal," raising issues of equal opportunity for both the parents'/parent's and the child's generation. Many fertile couples[citation needed] now demand equal access to embryonic screening so that their child can be just as healthy as one created through IVF. Mass use of PGD, especially as a means of population control or in the presence of legal measures related to population or demographic control, can lead to intentional or unintentional demographic effects such as the skewed live-birth sex ratios seen in communist China following implementation of its one-child policy.


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.
Cytoplasmic transfer is where the cytoplasm from a donor egg is injected into an egg with compromised mitochondria. The resulting egg is then fertilised with sperm and implanted in a womb, usually that of the woman who provided the recipient egg and nuclear DNA. Cytoplasmic transfer was created to aid women who experience infertility due to deficient or damaged mitochondria, contained within an egg's cytoplasm.
Initial blood work, cycle tracking and fertility analysis is done. To begin IVF, your doctor or fertility specialist will evaluate your hormone levels and menstrual cycle to determine what medications and plan of action may be needed. You may also undergo a transvaginal ultrasound to examine your ovaries and reproductive system, ensuring that they are healthy.
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.
As a result, most patients need to undergo multiple cycles, and as we pointed out in a another lesson, no cycle is as likely to succeed as the first one. Below is data out of the UK published in the Journal of The American Medical Association that illustrates that after a few cycles most younger patients succeed with IVF but that is not necessarily true for older patients.
Fertility was found to be a significant factor in a man's perception of his masculinity, driving many to keep the treatment a secret.[139] In cases where the men did share that he and his partner were undergoing IVF, they reported to have been teased, mainly by other men, although some viewed this as an affirmation of support and friendship. For others, this led to feeling socially isolated.[140] In comparison with women, men showed less deterioration in mental health in the years following a failed treatment.[141] However many men did feel guilt, disappointment and inadequacy, stating that they were simply trying to provide an 'emotional rock' for their partners.[140]
May you accept your body – even if you are an infertile man. We struggled with male factor infertility in our marriage, and it strengthened our marriage and our faith in God. May you feel God’s blessing on you even if you can’t conceive children naturally. May you walk in faith, and trust that He knows what He is doing. Don’t give up on your God, for He is loving and compassionate.
I used to have a neighbour I would do almost anything to avoid. An elderly lady, she was given to jam-making, church-going and patrolling the local streets. If I saw her coming, I would dive back inside my front door or seize my son's hand and gallop to our car. I once twisted my ankle in an effort to escape her. Whenever she saw me she would utter the words, "If you don't get your skates on and give that child a brother or sister he's going to be a lonely only." Even now, it's hard to say what was more loathsome. Was it the boisterous intrusion of her tone, the inexcusability of the phrase "lonely only", or the idea of strapping on skates as a euphemism for – what exactly? Unprotected sex?
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.

Having no period means ovulation isn’t taking place at all, so a pregnancy can’t happen because no eggs is making itself eligible to be fertilized. Similarly, having irregular periods makes achieving pregnancy difficult, because it’s hard to time intercourse properly -- if sperm and egg aren’t at the same place at the same time, there is no chance of pregnancy.
For women, intake of antioxidants (such as N-acetyl-cysteine, melatonin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, myo-inositol, zinc or selenium) has not been associated with a significantly increased live birth rate or clinical pregnancy rate in IVF according to Cochrane reviews.[30] The review found that oral antioxidants given to men in couples with male factor or unexplained subfertility may improve live birth rates, but more evidence is needed.[30]
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