A couple is diagnosed as infertile if it takes them more than a year of trying to become pregnant. For couples where the woman is over 35, this timeframe may be reduced to six months. That’s because age is a major risk factor for infertility. There are also a number of other risk factors for male and female infertility. Some of them can be modified through simple changes in lifestyle. Others may need more intensive treatment while still others cannot be changed.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a procedure used to treat fertility problems and assist with the conception of a child. During in vitro fertilization, mature eggs are retrieved from your ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs are implanted in your uterus. One cycle of in vitro fertilization takes about two weeks. In vitro fertilization is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology (ART).
The chances of giving birth to a healthy baby after using in vitro fertilization depend on various factors, including:
• Maternal age. The younger you are, the more likely you are to get pregnant and give birth to a healthy baby using your own eggs during in vitro fertilization.
• Embryo status. The live birth rate is lower when frozen embryos are used instead of fresh embryos. The use of fresh or frozen sperm, however, hasn’t been shown to affect success rates.
• Reproductive history. Women who’ve previously given birth are more likely to be able to get pregnant using in vitro fertilization than are women who’ve never given birth. Success rates are lower for women who’ve previously used in vitro fertilization multiple times, but didn’t get pregnant.
• Cause of infertility. Having a normal supply of eggs increases your chances of being able to get pregnant using in vitro fertilization. Women who have endometriosis are less likely to be able to get pregnant using in vitro fertilization than are women who have tubal damage or blockage.
• Lifestyle factors. Women who smoke typically have fewer eggs retrieved during in vitro fertilization. Smoking can lower a woman’s chance of success using in vitro fertilization by 50 percent.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a procedure to treat infertility. The procedure for IUI is straightforward; it takes about 15 to 20 minutes and is usually done in a doctor’s office or clinic. Sperm that have been “washed” and concentrated are placed directly in your uterus on the day after your ovary releases one or more eggs to be fertilized. The hoped-for outcome of intrauterine insemination is for the sperm to swim into the fallopian tubes and fertilize a waiting egg, resulting in a normal pregnancy.