Fertility Treatment Options
If you have been diagnosed with fertility problems, you might be wondering what options are available. Although there are many different fertility treatment options out there, like using egg donors, choosing between them can be difficult and confusing. In this article, we will discuss how certain foods can assist with fertility, some of the most popular fertility treatment options in detail, and look at the benefits and risks of each to assist you in making a decision.
In some cases, medication alone can be an effective fertility treatment. It may be especially helpful for women who do not ovulate or have irregular cycles.
Some of the most common fertility medications include:
- Human chorionic gonadotropin.
Women with PCOS may also benefit from treatment with the anti-diabetic drug metformin.
Fertility Medication Benefits
The primary benefit of fertility medications is that you can use them at home without having to visit the hospital. This makes them a convenient option for anyone who is trying to fit fertility treatment into a busy schedule.
Fertility Medication Risks
As with all drugs, fertility medicines carry a range of potential side effects. Some of the most common problems associated with these treatments include:
- Hot flashes.
- Mood swings.
In some cases, fertility medicines can cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). This is a serious condition and requires medical attention. Contact your gynecologist if you experience the following:
- Lower abdominal pain.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Shortness of breath.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
IUI is a type of assisted reproductive technology (ART). It involves inserting prepared sperm into the uterus using a long, flexible tube called a catheter.
IUI is versatile and may be suitable for people with a variety of fertility issues. It can be performed by a woman’s natural cycle or by using medication to induce ovulation if necessary. It also provides the option to use sperm from the woman’s partner or a donor.
There are a few risks associated with IUI. These include infection and vaginal bleeding. There is also a higher-than-average chance of multiple pregnancies following IUI. While this might not seem like a bad thing, multiple pregnancies increase the risk of complications for both the babies and their mothers.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
IVF is another type of ART. However, unlike IUI, fertilization takes place outside of the woman’s body. There are several distinct stages to an IVF cycle:
- Suppression and Stimulation: The woman must first take medication to suppress her natural menstrual cycle. She will then use other medicines to stimulate the production of multiple eggs.
- Egg Retrieval: The eggs are collected from the woman’s ovaries. This is a minor surgery but is straightforward with a low risk of side effects.
- Insemination: Once the eggs have been collected, they can be inseminated using sperm from the woman’s partner or a donor. If the sperm quality is poor, a procedure known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be used. This involves injecting one sperm directly into one egg.
- Embryo Culture: The fertilized eggs are allowed to develop into embryos. This process takes several days although the time can vary slightly depending on how well the embryos are growing.
- Transfer: The developed embryo or embryos are returned to the woman’s uterus, where they hopefully implant and grow.
IVF can help with a variety of fertility issues. It can be performed using donor eggs or sperm if necessary. It may also be the best option for people who have tried other unsuccessful fertility treatments.
IVF carries many of the same risks of IUI, including infection, bleeding, and multiple pregnancies. In the first stage, it can also cause side effects from the medication used to stimulate egg production. With IVF, there is also a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage compared with natural pregnancies.
Lifestyle Changes to Boost Fertility
For some people, especially those with unexplained fertility problems, some simple lifestyle changes may help. These changes are virtually risk-free and may increase the chances of a natural pregnancy occurring.
Anyone who is trying to conceive must eat a well-balanced diet. Not only do you need to maintain a healthy weight, but you also require certain nutrients to build optimal fertility.
Include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. However, healthy fats are one of the most important nutrients for fertility. Foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil are all good choices.
At the same time, try to eliminate any unhealthy substances from your diet. These could include caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar, and processed foods.
It is important to exercise to stay fit and healthy. However, exercising too much can be detrimental to your fertility. This is because excessive exercise releases stress hormones, which directly impact the sex hormones.
The key is to exercise little and often. Most experts recommend 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five times a week.
To keep your sperm healthy, you need to keep them cool. This means wearing loose-fitting underwear and pants, preferably made from natural, breathable materials. Men should also avoid resting laptops or other warm items on their laps for long periods.
To increase your chances of conceiving, you need to have sexual intercourse at the right time.
Women should familiarize themselves with their cycles to know when ovulation will occur. It is usually on day 14 of a 28-day cycle but will vary if the cycle is longer or shorter.
It's a good idea to start having regular intercourse a day or two before ovulation and continue for several days afterward. This increases the chances of the egg meeting with live sperm.
You can purchase ovulation tests which work by measuring body temperature. Alternatively, look out for changes in cervical mucus. There are also many different smartphone apps to help you monitor your cycle and improve your chances of conception.