In-vitro fertilization (IVF) has proven highly effective as a way to treat certain types of infertility problems. Understanding who is an acceptable candidate for this therapy can help patients who want to get pregnant form realistic expectations about their fertility treatment options.
Exactly What Does IVF Involve?
The Mayo Clinic notes that among the various types of assisted reproductive technology, in-vitro fertilization is the most effective option. This fertility treatment is a multi-step process that involves collecting eggs from a woman’s ovaries, fertilizing them with sperm in a laboratory setting and implanting the fertilized egg or multiples in her uterus. Each cycle lasts approximately two weeks.
The success of this procedure depends upon a number of factors. Among them are the reason for infertility and the woman’s age.
Physicians tailor a treatment plan to each patient. It includes detailed monitoring, blood level evaluations, and vaginal ultrasounds. A fertility doctor will discuss with each patient the various kinds of in-vitro treatment available, as well as all the potential factors that might affect the success of the therapy.
Which Women Can This Treatment Help to Get Pregnant?
For many women, in-vitro fertilization is not the first treatment attempted. One less-invasive option is taking fertility drugs to boost egg production.
A second is intrauterine insemination (IUI). According to the Cleveland Clinic, IUI inserts washed semen into the uterus using a catheter. It is appropriate following semen analyses that are mildly abnormal, for unexplained fertility, or with sperm from an anonymous donor.
In-vitro fertilization is sometimes the primary therapy offered to infertile women past 40, the Mayo Clinic reports. It is also an option after repeated IUI failures or with male infertility factor. Doctors recommend it under certain medical circumstances, such as:
- Fallopian tube issues. Blockage or damage makes it difficult for egg fertilization to occur or for an embryo to reach the uterus.
- Problems with ovulation. They include failure to ovulate and infrequent ovulation.
- Premature ovarian failure. This refers to losing normal function of the ovaries prior to reaching 40 years old.
- Endometriosis. This disorder of the uterine lining can affect how the Fallopian tubes, uterus, and ovaries function.
- Fibroids. These benign uterine tumors can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting properly.
- Prior sterilization. In-vitro therapy is an alternative to reversing a tubal ligation.
- Low function or production of sperm. Either can cause difficulty in fertilizing an egg.
- Unexplained fertility. The cause remains elusive.
- Genetic disorders. In-vitro fertilization is part of a pre-implantation genetic diagnosis procedure when there is a risk of passing down a genetic problem.
- Fertility preservation. Before a patient starts cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation, this treatment could help preserve fertility. Fertility doctors can retrieve eggs from a female patient and freeze them, unfertilized, for use in the future. It is also possible to freeze eggs already fertilized.