Pregnancy is an exciting time, but for some women, the road to pregnancy isn’t always an easy one. Struggling with fertility issues can be expensive, stressful and confusing. Here are some common fertility treatments that can help you begin your research.
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
During in vitro fertilization, a woman's eggs are removed from the ovaries and fertilized with the sperm of their partner in a laboratory. Because this process occurs in a lab, it allows the doctor to monitor the process and confirm fertilization.
Once fertilization occurs, embryos are transferred into the uterus, and women are told to watch for symptoms of early pregnancy. The success of IVF is dependent upon age; as women get older, rates decrease, but for women under the age of 35, the success rate is about 35 percent. However, one thing to keep in mind is the price of the procedure.
“IVF can be expensive for patients who do not have insurance coverage,” cautions Michael Glassner, MD, Director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine at Bryn Mawr Hospital. “The cost of treatments can be daunting."
Fertility drugs are anti-estrogen drugs that stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. Most women use these drugs for three to six months before conception or opting for a different kind of fertility treatment.
These drugs are also typically used in conjunction with other fertility treatments, especially artificial insemination, during which sperm is injected into the uterus. About 20 to 60 percent of women who use fertility drugs are successful in getting pregnant, so this is a good first step for women who are pursuing fertility treatments.
Donor eggs make pregnancy a reality for women who are unable to conceive. Your partner’s sperm and a donor egg are fertilized in a laboratory using in vitro fertilization techniques.
“For women who struggle with fertility, this is a plausible alternative. Many couples face the reality of the impact age can have on egg quality,” says Dr. Glassner.
In the case of donor eggs, about 48 percent of women experience pregnancy. However, choosing an egg donor can be a long process, and some women may struggle with feeling genetically disconnected to their child, so keep in mind all the aspects of this option.
There are surgical options available for women who are struggling with fertility. Surgical solutions may help fix genetic defects or blocked fallopian tubes or remove fibroids or ovarian cysts that may be preventing pregnancy.
Many infertile women suffer from endometriosis, a medical condition in which cells from the lining of the uterus appear on the ovaries. For some women with endometriosis, it can take 7-10 years to conceive a child. Surgery can help alleviate the issue and allow for a more immediate conception.
Main Line Health has a variety of fertility treatment options available for both men and women, including the In Vitro Fertilization program at Bryn Mawr Hospital.