The Fertility Center

A blog about fertility issues, treatments and trends from the specialists at Greenwich Fertility.

June 6, 2018

Alternative Fertility Methods to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

By Nora Miller, M.D.

Fertility options can be confusing. Between the IVF and the IUI, you could find yourself saying OMG and getting overwhelmed. There are many fertility options that are available.  When you meet with a Reproductive Endocrinologist, they can help you decide which option is best for you.

1 in 6 couples will need assistance to conceive. If you have been having unprotected sex for a year without conceiving then you should consult a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialist. If the female partner is 35 or older, or if there is any reason to suspect there will be a problem, you should make an appointment after six months of trying to conceive.

According to the National Institute of Health, more than half of couples with infertility become pregnant after treatment.  There are many different fertility paths you can take to build your family.  All of them start by acknowledging that there is a problem and seeking assistance from a Reproductive Endocrinologist.

Artificial Insemination or Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
Usually a fresh semen sample is washed or concentrated.  Alternatively, frozen sperm can be thawed for use.  The sample is placed directly into a woman’s uterus using a thin, flexible catheter on the day that she is ovulating.  Sometimes, the woman will take fertility medication to stimulate more eggs to grow to maturity for the cycle to further increase her chances of conceiving with this treatment.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is an advanced fertility treatment in which a woman is stimulated with fertility medications to grow multiple mature eggs simultaneously (normally only one will grow).  Then, the eggs are extracted while she is sedated.  In the embryology laboratory, her eggs are fertilized with sperm.  The fertilized eggs are cultured in media before they are transferred for pregnancy, frozen for future use or biopsied to determine if they are chromosomally normal.  The embryo is placed directly inside the woman’s uterus to achieve a pregnancy.

Donor Egg
In this process, IVF is performed but the eggs are obtained from the ovaries of another woman.  The eggs that are collected are donated to the recipient and fertilized in the embryology laboratory using sperm from her partner. Resulting embryos are then transferred into the uterus for pregnancy. This can be a great option for women whose ovaries are damaged from surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, for women with recurrent pregnancy loss or for older women who have poor egg quality.

Surrogacy or gestational carrier
A woman carries a pregnancy for another woman. This may be necessary because the intended mother has no uterus or it is medically unsafe for her to be pregnant due to medical disease or medication she is taking.  Usually, the gestational carrier becomes pregnant via IVF– the intended parent’s embryo is transferred into the gestational carrier’s uterus.  Traditional surrogacy where the surrogate’s egg is fertilized with sperm via intrauterine insemination (IUI) is rarely done to avoid the gestational carrier having a genetic link to the fetus she is carrying.   Donor eggs and/or donor sperm may also be used to create the embryo.

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