Most couples who want a baby simply let nature take its course. Usually within a month or two the child they have longed for has been conceived, and they can make the happy announcement to all of their friends and family, and start shopping for cribs and layette sets.
For other couples, however, starting a pregnancy is not quite so simple. After months of trying, they find that no pregnancy has occurred. And, while they may feel very much alone at this time, hundreds of thousands of other couples are experiencing the same heartbreak. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic’s infertility webpage, as many as 15 percent of all couples who are trying to have a baby experience infertility.
What is infertility?
Infertility is generally defined as not being able to become pregnant after a year even after having frequent, unprotected sex. Infertility has many causes and can stem from either partner or from both partners. The causes of infertility that affect men, according to the Mayo Clinic website, include abnormal sperm production, problems with sperm delivery such as ejaculation problems, chemical exposure and some cancer treatments. In women, infertility can be caused by cervical abnormalities, damaged fallopian tubes, endometriosis, pelvic scar tissue or ovarian insufficiency.
Can infertility be treated?
When a couple has been diagnosed with infertility, it is important that they both receive a thorough medical examination. The causes of infertility cannot be addressed until they have been accurately diagnosed. Once the cause of infertility has been identified, a treatment plan can be established. One possible treatment option is in vitro fertilization.
What is in vitro fertilization?
This procedure is the process by which a woman’s fully developed egg is combined with a man’s sperm in a laboratory setting. The woman’s eggs are retrieved from her ovaries in a minor surgical procedure. Once the egg — or eggs — are successfully fertilized, they are placed into the woman’s womb. If they implant themselves into the uterine lining, then a pregnancy occurs.
Who can benefit from this procedure?
The procedure, according to the U.S. government’s online medical encyclopedia, Medline Plus, is recommended for infertile couples when the woman is older, when she has blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, if she has endometriosis, or if the cause of infertility is simply unexplained. It is also recommended if the man has a decreased sperm count or a decrease in sperm motility.
Are there side effects?
In vitro fertilization, like all medical procedures, has both risks and benefits. If you are considering this procedure, you should speak with your doctor about the possible side effects that you can expect. Then you can decide if this procedure is right for you.