If you’re struggling with infertility, it may help to know you’re not alone. Infertility is a worldwide issue and affects 15% of couples globally. I hear more about it as I get older and so I put together some information to help. I really wish there was a magic wand that we could wave and make this a thing of the past.
While different factors cause fertility issues for men and women, for most individuals the cause is often related to an issue with ovulation, the fallopian tubes, or sperm. Unfortunately, in 5-15% of cases, doctors don’t know the cause, otherwise known as unexplained infertility.
Common fertility treatments include hormone therapy, surgery, and assisted reproductive technology (ART). ART includes treatments like IUI (intrauterine insemination) and IVF (in vitro fertilization). If choosing IVF, you may have a choice between traditional IVF using your own eggs or undergoing a fresh or frozen donor egg cycle using donor eggs. You can consult knowledgeable professionals from institutions like Donor Egg Bank USA to help you decide what choice is right for you.
Causes of infertility and possible treatments
Causes and treatments for those with sperm related infertility
Sperm related infertility is often caused by three primary issues with sperm – motility (movement), morphology (size and shape), and total motile count (volume). All three are assessed in a basic semen analysis and may be caused or influenced by genetic or environmental factors.
Motility is the sperm’s ability to move quickly and efficiently. If motility is impaired, sperm can’t travel to the egg. Morphology — the size and shape of sperm — is typically categorized as normal or abnormal. While “normal” sperm samples from healthy individuals often include abnormal sperm, an overabundance of abnormal sperm points to an underlying health or fertility issue. Total motile count is most commonly known as “total sperm count”. A low sperm count decreases your chances of getting your partner pregnant naturally.
Other common factors may be related to incorrect sperm delivery due to erection or ejaculation issues, which may be treated using counseling and/or medication.
If lifestyle changes, medication, or therapy aren’t successful in improving these issues, IUI or IVF are possible treatments to consider.
Causes and treatments for menstruation related infertility
Infertility due to menstruation issues may be caused by several factors, including but not limited to: a failure to ovulate, infections, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids, structural problems with the reproductive system, and autoimmune disorders.
Fertility specialists often prescribe medications and/or hormones to resolve ovulation and hormonal problems. Surgery is often required to treat conditions like endometriosis and blocked fallopian tubes.
When these treatments aren’t successful or a viable option, using assisted reproductive technology (ART) may be the best path to take towards parenthood.
Assisted reproductive technology (ART)
ART includes fertility treatment involving eggs and sperm. With intrauterine insemination (IUI), sperm is collected from the intended father or sperm donor and placed inside the intended mother’s uterus while ovulating. In traditional IVF, one or more of the intended mother’s eggs are retrieved and fertilized with the intended father’s or donor’s sperm in a lab. The fertilized egg or eggs mature for 3 to 5 days, and then 1-2 embryos are implanted into the intended mother’s uterus.
Undergoing fresh or frozen donor egg cycles
There are several reasons why you may consider a fresh or frozen donor egg cycle.
1. Traditional IVF has repeatedly failed in the past.
2. You have a genetically transmitted disease that you don’t want to pass on to a child.
3. You’re in menopause or have undergone surgical menopause.
Should you choose fresh or frozen eggs?
Once you’ve decided to use donor eggs to become pregnant, you have the option to use either fresh or frozen donor eggs.
Many choose to use frozen donor eggs because it’s a significantly shorter and less complicated process. If you choose to use frozen donor eggs, your menstrual cycle and your donor’s menstrual cycles don’t need to be synchronized. Synchronizing two menstrual cycles can be frustrating and time-consuming, and can be interrupted by circumstances outside of your control. In fact, cycle cancellations occur more often in fresh cycles versus frozen cycles. Further, an entire fresh donor egg cycle treatment may take over six months to complete, while a frozen donor egg cycle can be completed in as few as four weeks. By choosing frozen donor eggs, you can use the eggs as soon as your body is ready to receive them.
Additionally, the frozen donor egg process is less complicated because all the legal procedures regarding your donor and her donation have already been conducted. Your donor has already been paid for her time and effort and is no longer a part of the process.
Another factor that may sway you in favor of using frozen eggs is frozen donor egg banks like Donor Bank USA are scrupulous about screening their donors. Donors undergo an extensive screening process covering a comprehensive range of physical, mental, and psychological conditions.
A final factor to keep in mind when choosing between fresh and frozen donor eggs is the cost. Frozen donor eggs are significantly more affordable than fresh donor eggs, mainly due to the lack of synchronization needed.
Infertility doesn’t have to stop you in your tracks
Infertility is a tough diagnosis, but there are solutions. Learn about and consider the options available to you, whether it’s IUI, traditional IVF, or using ART therapies like fresh or frozen donor eggs. Give yourself a fighting chance to start your own family.
Margaret GallagherAugust 9, 2020
Concise and factual – can be mindfield of jargon