The Infertility Process

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How ever you end up getting pregnant it is a wonderful (albeit possibly stressful time) in a women’s life. For some though, getting to the point of being pregnant is a longer road than others. 33 percent of women will undergo some sort of infertility treatment to help them achieve their goal of becoming pregnant. Whether it is with medication or as invasive as a surgery there are many options to consider.

With such a large number of women struggling to get pregnant, you would think you would hear more about infertility treatments. Infertility treatments date back all the way to the 1950’s and medicine and procedures have only gotten better and more effective since that time.

There are a number of reasons why a couple may be struggling to get pregnant, from male infertility issues, to even changing your mind after having your tubes tied. There are also a number of ways to go about it. Here are the most common infertility treatments out there. You can take medication with timed intercourse. Intrauterine insemination (IUI), which is a simple procedure what puts the sperm close to the egg. In vitro fertilization (IVF) seems to be the one most people understand. It’s a quick procedure to extract eggs and place them in a petri dish with sperm to fertilize.

All three of these seem pretty simple when you read the breakdown, but the roller coaster of emotions and length of time make it anything but. The misconception with any sort of infertility treatment is that it is quick. There are people who get pregnant right out of the gate, but there are more people who undergo treatments for one or more years.

Let’s look at IVF as there is a lot more involved in that process. Let’s assume all the initial blood work and sperm testing has been done (they test for genetics, and possible reasons for infertility). You meet with your doctor to go over the treatment plan and send everything to insurance for approval (unless you’re self pay). Then they order all your medications and you call them back with day one of your cycle.

Here is where the fun begins. You do blood work and an ultrasound on day three, once those results come in (later that day) they will tell you what medications to start. This can be anywhere between 1-3 shots. This continues until you go back around day 10 for more blood work and another ultrasound. They are looking at your uterine lining and counting follicles. You get a call and will probably add another injection at this point. Now, depending on how you look, you may go in for another ultrasound and blood work, or they might tell you when you are going to do your trigger shot. The trigger shot is usually done about 36 hours before your egg retrieval and it is supposed to stop you from ovulating so you don’t lose any eggs.

Everything is timed and precise.

The day of your retrieval is a mini surgery. You will be put under with anesthesia and the whole thing take about 20 minutes, but you are there for pre-op a few hours before. When it’s all done, you are a bit crampy, and they give you a nice heating pad to go home with.

You get a call the next day and the nurse will tell you how many eggs fertilized, if any. If none did, you start from square one all over again. They will probably change your medications, and protocol. If some did, you will be scheduled for a fresh transfer usually about 3 days after. This part is painless as they are putting the fertilized egg directly into your uterine lining and then you hope it sticks.

Any eggs left over that look good will be frozen to use again at a later time. If this one sticks, you hope it continues. IVF does not change the rate of miscarriage, so 20% of women will still experience a miscarriage on top of having to go through all that. If it doesn’t stick, or you miscarry, you start all over again. If you have frozen embryos you usually will just have a trigger shot to do leading up to the transfer. If there are none left to freeze, you start from square one again.

It is a long road, and not one everyone is cut out for. The best advice if you are going through this, is find a support group and interact with those men and women. They know what you are going through, and just how strong you and your partner are.