What fertility treatment is available?
IVF and other assisted conception options
There are a number of different treatments that increase the chance of you getting pregnant. The best option will depend on the reasons for your difficulty conceiving. Generally speaking, all options work on the same principle, assisting the chances of conception by increasing the number of sperm coming into contact with the egg; increasing the number of eggs available for fertilisation – or both. In some cases, assisted conception will be the only way to achieve pregnancy. This includes for those with an extremely low or zero sperm count, no ovulation or completely blocked fallopian tubes. In other cases, assisted conception can increase the chances of pregnancy significantly, speeding up what may otherwise take a long time – a real issue where age is a factor in the infertility. This may be an option for couples with ‘subfertility’ that is, who may become pregnant naturally, but whose chances are reduced by factors such as a low sperm count; irregular ovulation; endometriosis; scarring of the fallopian tubes; fibroids or the woman’s age. It is also an option for the one in five couples who have difficulty conceiving for no apparent reason.
What are the options?
The main techniques for assisting conception are:
- assisted insemination, also known as intrauterine insemination, or IUI
- ovulation induction
- In vitro fertilisation (IVF) and variations of IVF.
All assisted conception techniques involve monitoring the stages of ovulation and the menstrual cycle to ensure the procedure concerned takes place when the egg is at its most fertile and receptive. This usually involves testing the blood for levels of a form of estrogen called estradiol, known as ‘E2’. The follicles in which the eggs develop secrete increasing amounts of estradiol, giving an indication of the number and stage of development of the eggs. They also usually involve vaginal ultrasound examinations to enable counting and measuring the growing follicles as your E2 level rises. Once the follicles reach 18-20 mm in diameter, they are big enough to produce a mature egg. At Genea, these blood tests and ultrasounds are carried out early in the morning, so you to get on with the rest of your day. Results are phoned through to you later that day.
The chance of pregnancy with any assisted conception technique will depend on:
- a woman's age
- the reason/s for the fertility difficulties
- the expertise and technology of the facility where assisted conception takes place
- the strength and quality of the embryos a couple produces.
You can find out more about the chances in your particular case by talking to one of the Genea fertility specialists.