IVF vs Other Fertility Treatment Options

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Several couples and individuals with fertility issues often contemplate what fertility treatment to undergo and which will be the right one for them.  They visit a fertility specialist for suggestions and undergo the treatments which they suggest are best for their condition.

When asked about fertility treatments, most people only know about IVF because it is the most used fertility treatment. But, that is not the only fertility treatment available for patients with infertility issues. 

This blog discusses some fertility treatments that couples can undergo other than IVF treatments. These options are for couples with minor fertility problems and who wish to undergo minimally invasive fertility treatment.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

IVF is one of the most commonly practiced assisted reproductive technologies with the highest success rates. In this procedure, the eggs and sperm are collected from the female and male partners are are fertilized under artificial conditions. 

Once the eggs are fertilized by the sperm, the embryos are monitored for development by embryologists. They are then transferred into the uterus after 5 to 6 days when they reach the blastocyst stage. Successful pregnancy happens when the embryo implants itself firmly into the uterine wall. 

IVF Procedure

Ovulation Induction

A series of hormonal injections are administered to the female before IVF treatments. These injections will stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs than they usually do. This is done because the doctors will have more eggs to perform IVF, even if the first one ends up in failure. 

Egg and sperm retrieval

Once the eggs are mature enough to be fertilized, a tiny needle is inserted into the uterus, and the eggs are collected from the ovaries. 

Simultaneously, the sperm are also collected from the male partner and sent for a semen analysis to choose the best sperm for fertilization.

Fertilization

Eggs collected for IVF can be fertilized via two methods; Traditional IVF and ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection.)

In traditional IVF, the eggs and sperm are placed together in a lab dish for fertilization. In ICSI, a single, healthy sperm is injected into the egg’s cytoplasm for fertilization.

Embryo culture

After fertilization, the embryos are monitored for development for 5 to 6 days. On an average, around 50-60% of the embryos develop to reach the blastocyst stage.

Of all the developed embryos, the one with the highest chances of pregnancy is selected to be transferred into the uterus. Pregnancy occurs when the embryo implants itself firmly into the uterine wall. 

Why is IVF done?

IVF is usually the last resort for couples who have fertility issues are are unable to conceive a child naturally. IVF doctor first suggest less invasive methods, like medication, surgeries, and IUI, for couples when they consult them for fertility treatments. Only when these treatments do not result in pregnancy will they suggest them to undergo IVF. 

It is also recommended for couples who have an existing health condition like the ones below.

  • Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes.
  • Endometriosis (a situation where the tissues lining the inner layer of the uterus grow outside the uterus).
  • Ovulation disorders. Problems with ovulation (menstrual cycles) caused by PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), obesity, or other hormonal changes. 
  • Uterine fibroids. 
  • Previous vasectomy or other surgeries.
  • Azoospermia (low to no sperm in the ejaculate).
  • Genetic diseases.
  • Problems with sperm count, motility, and shape. 
  • Unexplained infertility.

The success rate of IVF treatment differs for each person as it is dependent upon their health and fertility conditions. By following the Expert Instructions you can make IVF successful in First time. Here is the average success rate of IVF treatment for women based on their age. 

Age

Live birth per egg retrieval

Younger than 35

54.5%

35-37

41%

38-40

26.5%

41-42

13%

Older than 42

4.2%

Other Fertility Treatment Options

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

In IUI, a tiny catheter is used to inject sperm directly into the uterus for fertilization. By boosting the quantity of healthy sperm that enter the fallopian tubes when the woman is most fertile, this treatment is very helpful in increasing the likelihood of fertilization.

IUI can be undergone by couples with the following conditions. 

  • Couples who are unable to conceive because of a medical problem (such as endometriosis or poor sperm quality or quantity).
  • Those with unexplained infertility.
  • Female couples of the same sex who wish to use donor sperm.
  • Single ladies who want to conceive using donor sperm.

IUI is a popular choice of fertility treatment because it is a less intrusive, more affordable treatment option than IVF and because it is an easy and simple procedure.

Fertility Medications

Fertility medications are drugs used to control or induce ovulation. This is the main form of treatment for women who are infertile because of ovulation problems.

These drugs are similar to follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) as they trigger ovulation. They can also be taken by women who wish to produce a better egg or some extra eggs. Some fertility medications that women can take are given below. 

Citrate of clomiphene. By stimulating the pituitary gland to generate more FSH and LH when taken orally, this medication promotes ovulation by encouraging the development of an ovarian follicle that contains an egg. In most cases, this is the first line of treatment for women under the age of 39 without PCOS.

Gonadotropins. These intravenous therapies encourage the ovary to release more eggs. Some examples of gonadotropin-based drugs are human menopausal gonadotropin, also known as hMG (Menopur), and FSH (Gonal-F, Follistim AQ, Bravelle).

Metformin. This medication is utilised when insulin resistance is a known or suspected cause of infertility, typically in female patients with PCOS. Improved insulin resistance increases the likelihood of ovulation, which is improved by metformin (Fortamet).

Letrozole. Letrozole (Femara) functions similarly to clomiphene and is a member of the class of medications known as aromatase inhibitors. For PCOS, letrozole is typically prescribed to women under the age of 39. Bromocriptine. A dopamine agonist called bromocriptine (Cycloset, Parlodel) can be used to treat ovulation issues brought on by the pituitary gland’s excessive synthesis of prolactin (hyperprolactinemia).

Surgical Interventions

Several surgical treatments can boost female fertility by fixing issues or by improving fertility. However, due to the success of other treatments, surgical procedures for infertility are now uncommon. Here are some surgical methods to improve fertility. 

  • Laparoscopic or Hysteroscopic surgery. Surgery can be done to correct the uterine anatomy, remove endometrial polyps and some forms of fibroids that deform the uterine cavity, and remove pelvic or uterine adhesions.
  • Tubal surgeries. Your doctor might advise laparoscopic surgery to remove adhesions, widen a tube, or construct a new tubal opening if your fallopian tubes are obstructed or packed with fluid. This procedure is uncommon since IVF typically results in higher pregnancy rates. Your chances of getting pregnant with IVF after this operation may be increased by having your tubes removed or by having the tubes close to the uterus blocked.

Conclusion

IVF is not the only option when it comes to infertility treatment. There are a number of fertility treatments that couples can undergo to cure their infertility and have a child of their own. 

Every patient’s body and health condition are different and one treatment that worked for a person may not work for someone else. So, it is always better to consult a fertility specialist to test your condition and choose the best fertility treatment for you.

Frequently asked questions

Depending on the specific situation, the amount of time that fertility medications are taken prior to IVF can change. A woman would often take fertility medications for 10 to 12 days before having an egg retrieval. However, based on some factors, including age, ovarian reserve, and prior responses to fertility medicines, the treating doctor will choose a specific plan.

You should try consulting a fertility doctor if

  • you are under 35 and haven’t been able to get pregnant after a year of regular, unprotected sex.,
  • you are over 35 and haven’t been able to get pregnant after 6 months of regular, unprotected sex, or
  • you are trying to get pregnant, but you have irregular or painful periods.

Before attempting IVF, both partners must undergo some testing. The hysterosalpingogram (HGS) is one of the most intense diagnostics, but this varies from patient to patient. In addition to these, doctors may perform ultrasounds, saline hysterosonography, semen analysis, blood tests, and occasionally diagnostic laparoscopies or hysteroscopies.

For all types of infertility problems, including age-related and unexplained infertility, IVF is often the most effective and effective treatment.

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Dr. Rukkayal Fathima
Dr. Rukkayal Fathima

Dr Rukkayal Fathima, India's Leading Gynaecologist and the best fertility doctor in Chennai. She has 11+ years of experience and treated 1000+ patients. She finished her M. S., Obstetrics and Gynaecology from the Institute of Obstetrics & Gynaecology (Madras Medical College), Chennai. She is a visiting consultant at St. Isabelle Hospital, Motherhood Hospital, Rainbow Hospital & Mehta Hospital. Dr Rukkayal Fathima specialises in Obstetrics care, Early Pregnancy Scan, IVF, ICSI, TESA/Micro TESE, Menopause advice, Gynaecological surgeries and endoscopy. She is a Co-Founder of Hive Fertility, the Best Fertility Center in Chennai.

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