If you've been trying to conceive for months or years without success, you may find it difficult to keep your hopes up. There's no need to despair, though. Science offers several highly effective methods to boost your fertility. Read on to learn about the most common options and explore the one that is right for you.
Fertility DrugsBetween 40 and 50 percent of the women who ovulate as a result of taking fertility drugs get pregnant. Fertility drugs are usually the first course of treatment for infertile couples because of the relatively low cost and high effectiveness. However, such drugs shouldn't be used if you have damaged fallopian tubes or endometriosis scarring. Side effects include bloating, headaches, hot flashes, and nausea. Shots are slightly more effective than pills, but the side effects tend to be worse. The shot also carries additional risks, like ovarian cysts, multiple births, and premature delivery.
Artificial Insemination (or Intra Uterine Insemination)If your infertility issues are caused by sperm that aren't reaching the egg, your doctor may recommend artificial insemination. Your partner's sperm will be prepared and then inserted into your uterus trough a thin tube during an outpatient procedure in a fertility specialist's office. You may also take fertility drugs to help ensure that your eggs and uterus are ready to receive the sperm. Couples who try this procedure over six cycles have a 60 to 70 percent chance of conception, although many conceive sooner. Side effects can include multiple births, especially if you're also taking fertility drugs.
In Vitro Fertilization
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This method is used for older women, those with damaged fallopian tubes or scarring from endometriosis, and couples with unexplained fertility. Typically, the woman takes fertility drugs so that several eggs can be extracted at once to increase the odds of conception. The eggs and sperm are mixed in a lab, and one or two resulting embryos are implanted in the uterus. Additional embryos are also frozen and stored for future attempts. The procedure is costly and physically demanding, with success rates ranging from 23 to 32 percent, depending on the woman's age.
Egg or Embryo DonationIf a woman is unable to become pregnant using her own eggs, the couple may turn to an egg or embryo donor to complete an in vitro procedure. Success rates for these procedures range from 38 to 50 percent. This is a remarkably expensive procedure, and choosing a donor can be a grueling process for some couples. One or both parents will need to prepare emotionally to love a child who isn't a genetic relative, but unlike adoption, this process allows the couple to have a complete pregnancy and birth experience.
If none of these options seem right for your situation, talk with your doctor about the range of other treatment options that are available. If you're not interested in medical fertility treatments, you might choose to adopt a child or to share your love through foster parenting, mentorship programs, hosting foreign exchange students, and other volunteer work.