Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected intercourse if under the age of 35, and 6 months if over the age of 35. It affects about 14%-20% of reproductive-aged couples. Seven out of 10 couples have trouble conceiving. Most cases of infertility are treated with conventional therapies- drug treatments and/or surgical repair of reproductive organs. When these options fail, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) can offer the opportunity to conceive and carry the pregnancy to term.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
IVF is assisted reproductive technology (ART) for the treatment of infertility. The process involves fertilization of the egg(s) by sperm outside the body. This creates embryos which grow in the lab. Three to five days after fertilization, the healthiest embryo(s) are selected and transferred into the uterus. IVF is a safe and successful method of treatment for infertility. While no two IVF cycles are exactly alike, the process in general involves the same basic steps.
It is very important to have an infertility evaluation conducted by a infertility specialist like the trusted reproductive endocrinologists and fertility experts at Virginia Fertility Associates in Richmond, VA. We recommend an evaluation for any woman 35 and older, who has been unable to conceive for six months with unprotected intercourse. Younger women (<35) should be evaluated after one year of unprotected intercourse without conception.
Patients and their significant other will undergo a series of tests, and their medical histories will be reviewed with a focus on uncovering underlying conditions affecting their ability to reproduce, including male fertility issues. This is a trying time filled with feelings of frustration, anxiety, anger and stress. It is important to discuss these feelings with your doctor.
When is IVF an option?
IVF is appropriate treatment in cases of male or female infertility. IVF is used in one or more of the following situations:
- Blocked fallopian tubes or pelvic adhesions
- Low sperm count
- Unexplained infertility
- Failed cycles of ovarian stimulation with intrauterine insemination
- Advanced female age
- Reduced ovarian reserve- low egg supply
- Severe endometriosis
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) that has failed to respond to repeated ovulation induction cycles
- Genetic disorders requiring pre-implantation genetic diagnosis
- Lesbian couples who use a sperm donor
- Gay couples who use donated eggs and/or donated sperm plus a surrogate
Issues that impact conception
- A woman’s age has a substantial impact on her ability to conceive.
- Healthy women in their 20’s and early 30’s have a 20% chance to conceive each month.
- Women in their 40’s have only a 10% chance of conceiving each month.
- About 40% of infertility cases are due to the male partner’s problem. IVF can overcome these physical difficulties.
- The chance of a successful pregnancy resulting from one cycle of IVF is about 45% nationally (age <35).
Patients rate IVF as very stressful. It affects all aspects of their lives. The time commitment is intense. Long waiting periods increase stress. Many couples experience anxiety, depression and feelings of isolation. The side effects of hormone treatment create their own stresses. Each patient is unique, but studies show the majority of patients adjust well.
However, where pregnancy is unsuccessful in any IVF cycle, it is common to grieve. Feelings of sadness, loss and disappointment are normal. It is always wise to consider the number of times you will be willing to try IVF. No matter what the outcome, it is important to recognize that you are doing everything in your power to have a child.
Infertility treatments raise the risk of multiple births. The use of fertility medications makes it more likely that one or more eggs will be fertilized. It is important to consider whether multiple births are good for you and your babies. The risks include premature birth, low birth weight babies, developmental problems, pregnancy related issues, and delivery options. You and your doctor will decide how many embryos to place in your womb.
Advantages of Assisted Reproduction with IVF
- IVF offers the opportunity for infertile women to have biological children.
- For couples unable to conceive traditionally, or those who suffer with infertility, IVF can be a godsend.
- Single women who have an infertility diagnosis that prohibits the ability of the egg and sperm to meet without assistance.
- When other infertility treatments fail, IVF can work.
- Same sex couples can become parents by using a surrogate and IVF.
- For singles or couples who use donated eggs and/or sperm to become parents.
- People focused on developing their careers can control when to become pregnant by using frozen eggs, embryos or sperm.
IVF is a delicate procedure, requiring highly trained physicians that are board certified with sophisticated labs and equipment. This is reflected in our success rates. Richmond Center for Fertility has nationally recognized leaders in reproductive medicine. Ask us about our success rates.
Call us to make an appointment for an evaluation.