Three most common methods of infertility treatment for women are:
fertility drugs, surgical treatments and Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). The main factor
that determines chosen treatment method is the underlying cause of
infertility (click for more information). If there is a need, the fertility specialist might recommend for a
combination of any of these treatment methods.
treatment can be a lengthy and challenging process. Patience, commitment and mutual support of couple under
treatment are important factors that can influence success of the treatment. It is advisable to discuss with the
doctor or fertility specialist about the pros and cons of the treatment prescribed. Most common infertility treatments for women are explained in this
Fertility drugs are usually used to treat infertility in women who
suffer from ovulatory disorders. These drugs help to induce ovulation by functioning in the same way as
natural hormones. Fertility drugs listed below are the most widely used ones:
Clomiphene citrate (Clomid) tablets
(taken orally)areusually used to treat
women who suffer from poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This drug stimulates the pituitary gland to produce more
gonadotropins: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These hormones then help to
Drugs that contain Follicle Stimulating Hormone
These drugs are used to treat women whose ovaries are capable of
producing eggs, but those eggs do not mature enough due to hormonal abnormalities. FSH
drugs injected to a woman's body stimulate a follicle (egg) to develop and
Metformin is prescribed for women who suffer from insulin resistance. Insulin resistance can be one of the causes of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Metformin is usually taken orally and it helps to boost
ovulation. This drug is sometimes used in combination with Clomid or FSH drugs.
Gonadotropin releasing hormone (Gn-RH) analog
Gn-RH drugs administered by
injections or nasal spray, are used to treat irregular ovulatory cycles and premature ovulation. These drugs act on
the pituitary gland to control ovulation.
Human Menopausal Gonadotropin (hMG)
medicine is used to treat infertility in women who do not ovulate due to failure of pituitary gland. Human
menopausal gonadotropin (hMG), which contains both follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH),
directly stimulates ovaries for ovulation. hMG is administered by injections.
Prolactin is the hormone that
stimulates milk production in women. High levels of prolactin in body can cause irregular ovulation cycles.
Bromocriptine drugs can help to control prolactin levels, resulting in regular ovulation cycles.
fertility specialist might choose surgery as a meansof infertility treatment
for women in following scenarios:
A surgery may be used to treat women suffering from endometriosis, if the medical treatment using drugs is ineffective. As in the case of
fallopian tube repair, laparoscopy is the most common surgical method used to treat endometriosis.
As explained in fertility drugs section above, poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can be treated with the aid of drugs. A surgery might be
recommended, only if treatment using drugs is ineffective. The most common surgical procedure to treat PCOS is
called laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD) which is a relatively non invasive procedure very similar to
laparoscopy. Small surgical tools inserted through a key hole are used to burn away parts of ovarian follicles
(which are malicious cysts). A less commonly used surgical method to treat PCOS is ovarian wedge resection which
has very high risks associated with it, including scarring of ovary. It is advisable to get a second opinion, if
the fertility specialist recommends for an ovarian wedge resection.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is an advanced
method used to treat infertility in both men and women. It is advisable to discuss with the fertility
specialist about benefits and possible side effects of ART
treatment. Most common ART treatments for women are explained below:
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is a process in which sperm collected
from normal ejaculate of male partner, sperm retrieved from reproductive tract of male partner or donated sperm are
directly placed into a woman's uterus, close to the time of her ovulation. Doing so would increase chances of
fertilization, since a concentrate of high quality sperm is placed into the uterus and it is relatively easier for
sperm to travel from the uterus to fallopian tube and fertilize the egg, rather than travelling all the way from
vagina to fallopian tube through the cervix. If the woman under treatment has ovulatory disorders, prior to IUI, fertility drugs may be prescribed for her to induce
IUI is performed under any of the following scenarios:
In IVF, fertility drugs are used to stimulate production of multiple ovaries
(eggs) in women. Once these eggs mature, the fertility specialist retrieves them from ovary through a minor
surgical procedure. In a laboratory setting, each egg is then mixed with sperm collected from normal ejaculate of
male partner or sperm retrieved from the reproductive tract of male partner. This would result in fertilization of
multiple eggs and formation of multiple embryos. One or more healthy embryos are then transplanted into woman's
womb (uterus). A successful pregnancy is achieved when one or more of these transferred embryos gets implanted to
the uterus lining and starts growing there. There is a possibility of having a multiple pregnancy (pregnancy with
two or more foetuses); if more than one embryo is transferred to a woman's womb by IVF. This has a few risks
associated with it. It is advisable to discuss with the fertility specialist about it. Embryos that are left over
from an IVF cycle can be freezed for future use, donated to other infertile couples or destroyed.
An advantage of IVF is that, it can also be performed using donated eggs and/or
donated sperm. Click here for
more detailed information on IVF such as: success rate of IVF, factors that can influence success of
IVF, duration of IVF treatment, cost of IVF, how to
finance IVF costs?, what are blastocyst transfer, assisted hatching and intracytoplasmic sperm injection
(ICSI) in IVF?, risks of IVF, things to take care of after IVF treatment etc.
Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer
This treatment method is recommended under similar scenarios as in the case of
in vitro fertilization (IVF). The difference is, to have a successful pregnancy through
gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT); women should have healthy fallopian tubes without any damage or blocks.
The process is similar to IVF. Mature eggs are retrieved from the female partner and eggs are then mixed with
sperm collected from male partner, outside the body. Instead of allowing the fertilization to take place in a
laboratory setting (as in the case of IVF), the mixed eggs and sperm are immediately transferred to woman's one
or both fallopian tubes where it fertilizes naturally. If the treatment works, the fertilized egg (embryo) will
then travel down through the fallopian tube to the uterus and will get implanted to the uterus lining. GIFT can also be performed with donated eggs and/or donated
sperm. However, GIFT is less commonly used than IVF for infertility treatment for women.
Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer
Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), also known as
tubal embryo transfer (TET) is a process is similar to gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT). As in the case of GIFT, women should have healthy
fallopian tubes in order to perform Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT). The difference between GIFT and ZIFT
is that, in GIFT a mixture of eggs and sperm are placed into fallopian tubes and fertilization happens inside
woman's body, whereas in ZIFT a zygote (developing embryo which was fertilized in a laboratory setting) is
placed into fallopian tube. If the treatment works, the zygote (embryo) will then travel down through the
fallopian tube to the uterus and will get implanted to the uterus lining. ZIFT can also be performed with
donated eggs and/or donated sperm.
Difference between in vitro fertilization (IVF) and ZIFT is: in IVF, embryo is transplanted into a woman's
uterus, where as in ZIFT, embryo is placed into a woman's fallopian tube. ZIFT is not as commonly used as
Adverse Effects of Infertility Treatment
Multiple pregnancy (pregnancy with two or more foetuses) is considered to be a
main risk associated with infertility treatments. Fertility drugs used for
infertility treatment stimulate production of multiple ovaries. This would increase chances of fertilization
of multiple eggs and formation of multiple embryos. Similarly, in treatment methods such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), one or more embryos may be transplanted into a woman's uterus.
This can result in multiple pregnancy. Multiple pregnancy can cause high blood pressure and diabetes in mother,
premature labor and babies having low birth weight.
Other possible side effects of infertility treatments are: infections or damage to
reproductive tract, ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome or over stimulation of ovaries
(by fertility drugs), ectopic pregnancy(a condition in
which a fertilized egg gets implanted to fallopian tube instead of uterus and starts growing there), allergic
reactions to drugs, anxiety, sleep interruptions, mood swings, hot flushesandbirth defects inbabies (chances of birth defects are very low).
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Note: It is advisable for a couple whose female partner is over 35 years of age to
seek immediate medical help from a fertility specialist, if they are not able to conceive after 6
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Note: It is advisable for a couple whose female partner is over 35 years of age to seek
immediate medical help from a fertility specialist, if they are not able to conceive after 6 months
of regular sexual intercourse without using any contraceptives.