A Look at the Types of Fertility Treatments

IVF

One of the most common ways to induce a successful pregnancy is by the use of in-vitro fertilization. Otherwise known simply as IVF, this process involves removing a healthy female egg during ovulation. The egg is subsequently fertilized outside of the body in a laboratory; multiple eggs can be used to help ensure a successful pregnancy. The fertilized egg is then reinserted with the hope that the female will soon become pregnant with a healthy foetus.

IVF step-by-step:
  • A removal of a healthy egg.
  • The egg is fertilized in a laboratory.
  • The fertilized egg is reinserted into the female.

Artificial Insemination

Another type of treatment that has shown success is the use of artificial insemination. This procedure is slightly invasive, as donor sperm are inserted into a woman's fallopian tubes in areas thought to be the most conducive to join with an egg. The hope is that conception will take place inside the woman; thus offering an increased probability that an embryo will develop.

Artificial Insemination step-by-step:
  • The surgical implantation of donor sperm.
  • The fertilization of an egg inside the female's body.
  • The hopes that a healthy embryo will develop.

Risks and Concerns

While these treatments are popular methods designed to help a woman conceive a child, they are not without their concerns and risks. For example, the in-vitro process may result in unexpected multiple births (caused by multiple eggs being inserted simultaneously). Some research suggests that this process can slightly raise the chances of a child being born with mental deficiencies or a low birth weight. Additionally, the rate of miscarriage rises significantly for women over forty years of age and the process used to harvest the eggs may cause discomfort, bleeding and possibly infection.

Risks associated with in-vitro fertilization:
  • Premature birth and low birth weight.
  • Multiple pregnancies.
  • The rate of miscarriage rises considerably with age.
  • Possible physical damage or infection.

Likewise, inseminating a female artificially carries the risk of damaging the delicate Fallopian tubes within a woman's body. This is primarily due to the instrumentation used during the process. As mentioned with the in-vitro process, women over the age of forty are at a significant risk of a miscarriage, whilst the occurrence of a Fallopian tube blockage also a possibility. While this is treatable, it may make conception in the future more difficult. Doctors may place the woman on fertility drugs such as Clomid; while these are usually safe, some women may experience allergic reactions that can place their health and the health of the unborn child at risk.

Potential pitfalls of artificial insemination:
  • Physical damage to the Fallopian tubes.
  • A higher risk of miscarriage.
  • Difficulty to conceive in the future.
  • Possible side effects of prescribed fertility medications.