We Have Confirmed Fertility Issues - What Now???

Amy Hendel Health Guide
  • You hear that some people are trying to specifically target having a baby boy or a baby girl, while other couples are so fertile, they can target the precise month or time of year they would like to give birth.  You.....just want to get pregnant!! Your doctor will offer you the best possible interventions, depending on the cause of your infertility.


    Intrauterine or artificial insemination


    If your partner has a low sperm count, if there is a cervical mucus problem (with your antibodies attacking the sperm), or in the case of unexplained infertility, this procedure may be recommended.  Semen is collected and sometimes "spun down" to get the most active and viable sperm.  The sperm is then introduced via a catheter inserted through the woman's vagina and cervix into the uterus.  Your doctor will have you take temperatures or use other testing means to ascertain when you are ovulating, so that when the sperm is introduced, you have the best chance to fertilize available eggs.  You may have to undergo several rounds before conception happens. 

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    In Vitro Fertilization


    If the cause of the infertility is identified as pelvic or tubal damage in the female partner, of if there is male infertility, this procedure may be a good option.  The woman will take certain drugs to stimulate egg production, and then the eggs are surgically removed.  The eggs and sperm from the partner (or a donor) are combined outside the body, fertilization occurs, some cellular splitting is allowed and then the fertilized eggs (embryos) are inserted directly into the uterus.


    Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer -GIFT


    If you are a couple that has been diagnosed with any of the following issues: low sperm count, sperm antibody problems or if you have mild endometriosis, then the GIFT procedure may be an appropriate intervention.  The eggs and sperm are collected (just like in IVF) and then placed in close proximity to each other in the woman's fallopian tube, where fertilization typically takes place.  Nature usually takes care of the rest.


    ZIFT - Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer


    This procedure is similar to GIFT but the sperm fertilizes the eggs and the resulting zygotes are then placed into the woman's healthy fallopian tube, where one or more will travel on to the uterus for implantation and development


    ART with Sperm Donation


    If the man has poor sperm quality or low sperm count then this might be an excellent treatment option.  The woman's eggs are collected and sperm is taken from a donor or a sperm bank.  Sperm banks now test for donors for HIV, freeze the sperm for six months and then the donors are re-tested before the sperm is given out to a couple.  The egg and the donated sperm are combined and embryos are inserted directly into the fallopian tube or the uterus.


    ART with Egg Donation


    If you are a woman who has experienced premature menopause, or possibly some health issue that is affecting ovulation, then ART (or GIFT OR ZIFT) can be performed, using an egg from a donor that is known to you or from an unknown donor.  Unless there is a reason that you cannot carry and support the baby, you would have the fertilized egg inserted into the fallopian tube or directly into the uterus.


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    Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)


    If ART does not seem to be working, then doctors can collect several eggs and inject each egg with one collected sperm (from the male partner or donor).  These egg/sperm combinations are then placed in the fallopian tube (or uterus). 


    In some of the above procedures, you will have to decide with your physician, just how many fertilized eggs or embryos are placed inside your uterus.  The mother of 8 recent babies clearly establishes the need for restriction on just how many embryos are used during fertility treatments.


    Next Up: Surrogacy, Adoption and "Questions to Ask"





Published On: March 13, 2009