Treatment of infertility depends on the cause and your age. Some causes of infertility can’t be corrected. However, a woman may still become pregnant with assisted reproductive technology. Infertility treatment involves significant financial, physical, psychological and time commitment.
Treatment for men may include:
- Treating infections. Antibiotic treatment may cure an infection of the reproductive tract, but doesn’t always restore fertility.
- Treatments for sexual intercourse problems. Medication or counseling can help improve fertility in conditions such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.
- Hormone treatments and medications.
- Surgery. For example to correct a varicocele or an obstructed vas deferens repaired. In cases where no sperm are present in the ejaculate, sperm may often be retrieved directly from the testicles.
- Assisted reproductive technology (ART). ART treatments involve obtaining sperm through normal ejaculation, surgical extraction or from donor individuals, depending on your specific case and wishes. The sperm is then inserted into the female genital tract, or used to perform in vitro fertilization or intracytoplasmic sperm injection.
Treatment for women
Although a woman may need just one or two therapies to restore fertility, it’s possible that several different types of treatment may be needed before she’s able to conceive.
- Stimulating ovulation with fertility drugs. These medications regulate or induce ovulation.
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI). During IUI, healthy sperm that have been collected and concentrated are placed directly in the uterus around the time the woman’s ovary releases one or more eggs to be fertilized.
- Surgery to restore fertility. Uterine problems such as endometrial polyps, a uterine septum or intrauterine scar tissue can be treated with hysteroscopic surgery.
- Assisted reproductive technology
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most common ART technique. IVF involves stimulating and retrieving multiple mature eggs from a woman, fertilizing them with a man’s sperm in a dish in a lab, and implanting the embryos in the uterus three to five days after fertilization.
Other techniques are sometimes used in an IVF cycle, such as:
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
- Assisted hatching.
- Donor eggs or sperm.
- Gestational carrier.
Complications of treatment
Complications of female infertility treatment may include:
- Multiple pregnancy. The goal of infertility treatment should be a single healthy pregnancy, and preventing multiple pregnancies should be discussed before treatment starts. In some cases, fetal reduction can be used to help a woman deliver fewer babies with lower health risks.
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Use of injectable fertility drugs to induce ovulation can cause OHSS, in which the ovaries become swollen and painful. Rarely, a more severe form causes rapid weight gain and shortness of breath requiring emergency treatment.
- Bleeding or infection. As with any invasive procedure, there is a rare risk of bleeding or infection with assisted reproductive technology.
- Premature delivery or low birth weight. There may be a greater chance of preterm delivery or low birth weight associated with IVF, especially with multiple pregnancy (carrying twins or triplets etc)
- Birth defects. Some research suggests that babies conceived using IVF might be at increased risk of certain birth defects, but most studies conclude that this appears to be related to why couples need infertility treatment and not the IVF procedures themselves.
Complications of male infertility treatment are rare and may occur following surgery including infection, bruising, or lack of efficacy with the procedure.
Best of luck with your plans to start a family.