Part III - Treating Infertility
In this third installment on infertility, physicians at All About Women overview the many available infertility treatments
After a doctor has assessed a woman and her partner for potential infertility factors, the next step is to determine a treatment plan for the couple.
There are a wide range of infertility treatment options available – each depends on your individual situation, but the five most common include:
• Treatment of a Lifestyle Factor
• Ovulation Induction
• Surgical Treatment
• Assisted Reproductive Technologies
• Intrauterine Insemination
While it’s difficult to cover all of these infertility approaches in-depth, we’ll overview the available options.
Treatment of a Lifestyle Factor
Sometimes, infertility is caused by an underlying medical condition or lifestyle factor. These conditions can include:
• Being Underweight
• Being Overweight
• Illicit drug use
When your doctor has you or your partner tweak these factors, fertility cycles may restart on their own. Your doctor may also work to treat any underlying medical issues that might affect fertility, such as thyroid imbalances.
Drugs that encourage ovulation are often used to treat infertility in women who are not ovulating, or in women who have unknown reasons for infertility. These drugs may also be used to encourage better egg production or more egg production in women who are ovulating but still not conceiving.
The main drug a doctor uses to induce ovulation is clomiphene citrate. It works like natural hormones, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), to trigger ovulation.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) reports that 40% of women who are prescribed clomiphene will become pregnant within six cycles, which is the general length of time that a doctor will use clomiphene before considering other options.
Clomiphene is taken orally once a day for five days early in the menstrual cycle. It stimulates the pituitary gland to release more FSH and LH to trigger ovulation. A woman’s FSH levels are measured to determine if she is ovulating, and thus able to conceive. Its side effects are considered mild but can include breast tenderness, hot flashes, nausea, and mood swings.
Surgery might be used to treat infertility if your doctor determines that you have an underlying physical condition that is affecting your fertility, or if you want to reverse the effects of a tubal litigation.
Laparoscopic or hysteroscopic surgery may be used to remove growths that can cause infertility, including:
• Endometrial growths or adhesions caused by endometriosis
• Cysts caused by Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
These surgical procedures may also be used to correct abnormal uterine shape that could inhibit conception.
Laparoscopy is sometimes used to open blocked fallopian tubes, though the Mayo Clinic notes that IVF is usually a much preferred and successful method of conception for women who have blocked tubes.
Assisted Reproductive Technologies
Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) involves conception techniques that take eggs from the woman and sperm from the man and combine them together in a lab. Using ART requires a large financial and time commitment from the couple.
Where to Start with Infertility
Understanding your options for fertility treatment may seem overwhelming, especially when trying to understand the risks and potential success of different forms of treatment.
Having a thorough infertility evaluation and a doctor who you trust and are able to talk openly with are pivotal in treatment. Physicians at All About Women in Gainesville offer cutting-edge and compassionate infertility diagnosis and treatment.
Contact our offices in Gainesville or Lake City to schedule
an appointment today.