Infertility is a complicated issue for many patients. Navigating the physical side-hormone injections, getting the timing just right, seemingly endless office visits-is overwhelming enough, but the emotional journey through treating your infertility can be extremely challenging. Setting realistic expectations, by knowing what to anticipate, is one of the best ways to quell the overwhelm that accompanies the process of fertility treatment.
Timing is Everything
In the beginning, before treatment even starts, you’ll need to expect a series of appointments to evaluate your fertility. Ultrasounds, bloodwork, examinations, and many other assessments are necessary in order to proceed with the best possible remedy for your infertility. Once we understand the reasons behind your inability to conceive naturally, we can proceed accordingly.
The case for timing your treatments is strong. After all, you need to sync your reproductive clock to the treatment timeline in order for your successful outcome, especially in the matter of IVF. That being the case, you need to understand many initial visits to our offices, following diagnosis and evaluation, will be focused on testing and timing.
You may need to undergo a procedure to facilitate reproduction, prior to IVF, intrauterine insemination (IUI), or other methods of fertility treatments. For instance, you may require a tubal reversal, if you’ve had tubal ligation, removal of fibroids, or surgery to repair damage to your fallopian tubes. A procedure to restore fertility will take some additional time.
Treatment Options According to Your Diagnosis
There can be many different reasons for your inability to conceive, and, typically no two diagnoses are the same. For this reason your fertility treatments are customized to address your specific issues. Your infertility may be remedied through one procedure, or a series of procedures.
In the case of tubal disease, there are ways to repair the damage to your fallopian tubes, helping to restore your fertility. However, in some cases, the damage may be too extreme, or disease may be present, resulting in removal of your fallopian tubes. This may result in having to choose another option for pregnancy, such as IVF.
Endometriosis can also entail some procedures prior to restoring fertility. When endometrial tissue grows outside of the uterus, it can distort the reproductive organs to the point of impairing your ability to conceive. One of the symptoms of endometriosis is pain, especially during your period, or intercourse. Surgery to remove the endometrial tissue in your pelvic cavity is fairly successful and many patients conceive within the year following their surgery. For those who are still experiencing infertility a year post surgery, IVF is often the best route to pregnancy.
PCOS, a very common cause of infertility, often responds well to medication to encourage ovulation. Sometimes a drug like Clomid is given to induce ovulation. When ovulation occurs, the drug is continued until pregnancy has been achieved. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) can be combined with ovulation induction medications to promote pregnancy, and is especially successful when dealing with male infertility as well.
Advanced Maternal Age
Younger couples, and women under 35, have a much higher success rate than those who are older. In today’s world many women are putting off starting families until they are often a bit older. Nature may not always comply, and women over 35, or even 40, and beyond, usually find they must seek medical intervention to become pregnant.
Expectations should be addressed in mothers of advanced maternal age (those 35 and over at the time of delivery). In addition to a lower fertility treatment success rate, there are many other genetic concerns that need to be addressed. The older you are, pursuing pregnancy can carry risks to both the mother and the fetus.
You will require age-specific screenings prior to pregnancy, and, depending on your method of conception, you should also expect embryo testing, or first trimester screening for the birth defects Trisomy 18, and Down’s Syndrome. Additional screening and testing may be advised, as each case is different and presents different risks.
In the case of IVF, you will begin your treatment by taking birth control pills to ensure proper timing of ovulation. When the timing is right, you will follow up with injections of hormones to stimulate your ovarian follicles. There will be ultrasounds to check for maturation of your egg, and then you will be given an ovulation trigger prior to retrieval of your egg(s). At this time the fertilization process begins, and, within a few days, if all goes right, implantation into your uterus.
Successful IVF depends on many components all working as they should. The quality of your eggs, the viability of the sperm, and the quality of your endometrial tissue. In addition to making sure the timing is right, there are other factors that determine IVF resulting in a successful pregnancy.
Pregnancy and birth truly are miracles, and improved technology in fertility treatments help these miracles come to fruition. Understanding what is involved in the process of becoming pregnant through fertility treatments can help you maintain a hopeful and positive attitude as you go through the steps.