Thinking Outside the Petri Dish_
When most people hear the words “fertility treatments” they think of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and hormone injections – with good reason. Over the past decade IVF has become increasingly popular as the technology has advanced at lightning speed and made headlines with an impressive 50% success rate in women under 35, the ability to test embryos for genetic disease or inject a single sperm into a single egg (a method known as ICSI) to overcome fertilization and sperm issues. IVF is the answer for many patients, but it’s not the only option you have when you enter the world of fertility treatments, and this is an important message to get out!
Many women avoid taking the step to see a specialist thinking IVF is their only option, but there is a conservative side to fertility treatment. Fertility Solutions advocates using the most conservative treatment possible to help achieve a healthy pregnancy – for some this is a natural cycle, for others it is a medicated IUI cycle complemented with acupuncture, and for others it’s IVF. Whatever it takes, Fertility Solutions can help you achieve your dreams – at your pace and with you in control of what steps you want to take to get there. Learn about these non-IVF treatment options:
- Lab Work
- X-ray of the Uterus (HSG)
- Closely Monitored Natural Cycle
- Clomiphene Citrate
- Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
Lab work and imaging studies can be done to look for hormone or anatomical factors. Sometimes, if a patient is found to have a hormone imbalance and the doctor corrects it with medication, the patient is able to conceive on their own without any intervention or treatment. A prime example of this is an un-diagnosed thyroid condition, which can effect ovulation and is tested for in the initial battery of lab tests. Diagnosing and treating an over or under active thyroid with medication regulates the body and may cause the woman to begin ovulating normally, which can lead to natural conception. If an anatomical issue is found, like a uterine fibroid or polyp, medication or surgery can be used to remove or shrink the mass – sometimes allowing the patient to conceive naturally once the uterus is in better shape for pregnancy.
fertilitysolutionsne.comX-ray of the Uterus (HSG)
A hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is a routine X-ray procedure done to examine the woman’s uterus and fallopian tubes (to ensure there isn’t an obstruction preventing the egg from reaching the uterus), and can lead to an increased chance of pregnancy naturally in the months following the procedure. The HSG procedure involves the insertion of a catheter and dye through the uterus and fallopian tubes, and can clear out tiny obstructions caused by mucus and the flimsy nature of the fallopian tubes. After the procedure the patient is instructed to call once they get their period to begin further testing or to establish a plan for pregnancy. Sometimes their period never comes because there is a slight increase in the rate of pregnancy following this procedure.
fertilitysolutionsne.comClosely Monitored Natural Cycle
Even if the HSG isn’t the answer, your reproductive endocrinologist can discuss other conservative fertility treatment options with you. If you and your partner’s hormone, semen and other testing falls in the normal or nearly-normal range, you may be a candidate for a closely monitored natural cycle. Some patients don’t conceive on their own, because with a busy lifestyle, intercourse isn’t timed appropriately, and they’re missing their ovulation window, or perhaps they’re ovulating irregularly or not at all. By utilizing ultrasound and blood work monitoring, we can take the guesswork out, and help inform the patient when the best time for conception is.
If ovulation is not occurring naturally, medication can help. Clomiphene Citrate, (Clomid™) will help 70-80% of women ovulate, and it is not an injection, it is a pill taken once daily for about five days. Taking Clomiphene, monitoring the cycle closely with ultrasound and lab work and having timed intercourse when ovulation is occurring may help boost conception up to 8 percent.
fertilitysolutionsne.comIntrauterine Insemination (IUI)
To further increase the odds for conception with close monitoring and medication, intrauterine insemination (IUI) can be performed in addition to, or instead of, intercourse. The IUI procedure is fast and can be performed right in your doctor’s office. Most patients report minimal to no discomfort during the procedure. When it is determined you are ovulating or near ovulation (via lab work and ultrasound), the IUI is scheduled. It involves obtaining a semen sample from the male partner (it can be collected at home and transported to the office if kept warm and travel time doesn’t exceed 40 minutes) and having the lab “wash” the semen sample. This increases motility and makes the semen suitable to be placed directly in the uterus, via a thin, flexible catheter. The entire procedure takes no more than 30 minutes and you may be advised to have intercourse that night and/or the next day to further increase conception odds.
Infertility is a medical condition that can take a toll emotionally, physically and financially. Fertility Solutions is dedicated to helping you start your family, and the physicians and staff will offer guidance as to which treatment may be best for your situation. Whether you need a conservative or aggressive treatment, we strive to make the journey toward parenthood as easy and fast as possible.