Most healthy couples under 35 years of age have a 25 percent chance of becoming pregnant in the first month of trying to conceive. That rate rises to 60 percent after three to six months and reaches 85 percent after one year. For the majority of couples, giving nature enough time is usually the only treatment required for successful conception. That’s why most physicians won’t evaluate you for infertility until you have tried to become pregnant for at least one year.
In many cases, mis-timed intercourse is the only reason for infertility. Detecting the changes in your body that signal the beginning of ovulation is often the first step towards solving your fertility problems. Your basal temperature chart will help you to pinpoint your most fertile days. A urine test, indicating the presence of luteinizing hormones, is another method of establishing ovulation. By planning intercourse to maximize the chances of a mature egg meeting a viable sperm, your chances of conception may improve considerably.
Since the primary cause of infertility is anovulation, the major objective of most fertility treatments is to stimulate ovulation. The fertility drug Clomid® (clomiphene citrate) triggers ovulation by affecting the release of luteinizing hormone. It has a high success rate but often leads to multiple births. In some women, this drug can cause painful ovarian cysts and may increase the risks of ovarian cancer.
If you are not having success with Clomid, you may benefit from supplements of the hormones FSH, LH or GnRH. The addition of these hormones should restore a normal menstrual cycle and improve fertility by stimulating egg production.
In some instances, surgery may be necessary to repair damaged reproductive organs. Laparoscopy is performed to open up damaged fallopian tubes or to remove scar tissue resulting from infections or endometriosis. Surgery is also helpful in correcting certain uterine abnormalities and removing polyps and fibroids.
Assisted reproductive technologies (ART) have been available for many years and are proving to be very successful in treating a wide variety of infertility problems. The most well known ART is in vitro fertilization. During this fertilization process, fertility drugs are prescribed to stimulate your ovaries to produce many eggs. When they are mature, several eggs are retrieved from your ovaries and fertilized in a laboratory. Between three and five embryos are then implanted into your uterus, in the hope of establishing a successful pregnancy. In vitro fertilization is used most frequently for women who have fallopian tube damage, endometriosis, anti-sperm antibodies and unexplained infertility. This technique has a success rate of approximately 25 percent per attempt. There are many other ART techniques that can be discussed with your doctor.
Dealing with infertility is a highly emotional experience for most couples. Fortunately, there is a great deal of research underway in the field of infertility, and treatments are becoming increasingly effective. Continual advances, especially in the area of ART, are offering new hope for couples who dream of the joys of parenthood.