Different Infertility Treatment Options

Procedures Designed to Encourage Fertility and Pregnancy

There have been many recent technological advances in solutions designed to increase the
success rates for conception. Medical science has come a long way since the "test tube babies" of previous decades. Couples can now choose from different options; each with its own set of benefits and potential drawbacks. Two of the most common procedures are artificial insemination and in-vitro fertilization. Let us briefly discuss both in order to appreciate the pros and cons if each individually.

Artificially inseminating a woman first begins by obtaining donor sperm. This process is normally used when a woman's Fallopian tubes are damaged or when donor sperm are needed in the case of an infertile male partner. After the ejaculate is collected, it is inserted into an area of the uterus that will be the most likely to produce an egg. The intention is that by inserting the sperm in such a way, a pregnancy can be induced and the fetus will develop quite normally. This procedure is normally minimally invasive and boasts a moderate success rate.

Invitro processes are markedly different and instead involve the removal of the egg from a woman's uterus or in the case of an infertile woman, the acquisition of a fertile egg donor. The egg is placed in an aqueous solution and fertilized with sperm. Thereafter, the egg is inserted into the uterus of a woman in hopes that further gestation will take place. Afterwards, a woman will be required to take fertility pills that will aid in embryonic development.

To review, the main aspects that define artificial insemination are:
  • The procurement of fertile semen; either from the partner or from a fertile donor.
  • The insertion of semen into the uterus of the patient.
  • Careful monitoring to make certain that the fertilization procedure results in a healthy embryo.
Conversely, the primary differing factors that occur when fertilizing a woman in-vitro are:
  • The procurement of a fertile egg, or ovum.
  • The placement of the egg in a solution.
  • The insertion of healthy sperm in attempts to fertilize the egg into an embryo.
  • The placement of these embryos into the uterus of the female.

While the benefits of both of these options are considerable, there are a few concerns that should be addressed before electing to have either performed.

One of the first variables that needs to be taken into account is the woman's age. Pregnancy success rates notably drop for women over the age of forty. A greater number of treatments may be required and this can amount to a considerable cost over time. Above all, the woman may never become pregnant.

Another risk factor is that of the medication that is often times required to help ensure that the embryo continues to develop normally. Some women may develop allergies that can include but are not limited to stomach pains, bloating and skin rashes.

Furthermore, multiple pregnancies can sometimes occur due to the multiple embryos that are inserted into the uterus. The highest risk factor is a child having a low birth weight. This can prove dangerous at birth and may be associated with other complications such as mental or physical disabilities. It should be stressed that such effects have been greatly reduced with the onset of modern medical techniques.

So, some of the concerns associated with any type of assisted reproductive therapy include:
  • Age considerations.
  • The possibility of adverse reactions to medications.
  • Multiple pregnancies or a child that has an abnormally low birth weight.