Researching fertility treatments can be exhausting! Here are eight ways to treat infertility and get pregnant — brief summaries of options for couples who are having trouble conceiving a baby.
If you’re considering fertility treatments, you might want to avoid alternative therapies such as acupuncture or natural supplements. Here’s what the research shows:
“Until further evidence is available, it is best to counsel couples against the use of alternative therapies when also having in vitro fertilization [a type of fertility treatment],” say Alex Polyakov and Beverley Vollenhoven of the Faculty of 1000 Medicine emphasize the relevance of the study for IVF clinics. “It is important, when discussing IVF treatment with couples, that their use of alternative therapies is also discussed, as this may have a bearing on treatment success.”
My fertility doctor told us not to pursue natural therapies for getting pregnant while we were undergoing fertility treatments. If you don’t know what you should do, talk to your doctor.
Here are different ways to get pregnant by treating infertility…
8 Ways to Get Pregnant – Fertility Treatments
Assisted reproductive technology or ART describes a range of infertility treatments – all involving lab treatments and medical drugs. Some treatments for infertility also involve egg donors or sperm donors…and they all focus on egg fertilization, embryo implantation, baby conception, and (hopefully) birth!
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is one of the easiest ways to treat infertility! This fertility treatment consists of a microscopic technique (micromanipulation) in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg. This technique improves the chances of getting pregnant because it involves selecting a single sperm, treating it, and injecting it directly into the egg. ICSI can be helpful for couples who have unexplained infertility, or who haven’t conceived a baby with standard techniques. For men with low sperm concentrations, ICSI dramatically improves the likelihood of fertilization.
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
In vitro fertilization is the most effective and well-known fertility treatment. IVF involves retrieving mature eggs from a woman, fertilizing them with a man’s sperm in a dish in a laboratory, and then implanting the embryos in the uterus three to five days after fertilization. IVF often is recommended when both fallopian tubes are blocked, or when the woman isn’t ovulating or producing enough eggs to get pregnant. This way to treat infertility is also widely used for a number of other conditions: endometriosis, unexplained infertility, cervical factor infertility, male factor infertility and ovulation disorders. In vitro fertilization is a fertility treatment that increases the chances of getting pregnant with “multiples” – twins, triplets, etc. Multiple fertilized eggs are often implanted in the uterus, so there’s a good chance that more than one embryo will become a baby.
Gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT)
Gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT) is a fertility treatment that involves mixing sperm and ovum (eggs) outside the body and then immediately put into the fallopian tube. With GIFT, pregnancy happens as “naturally” as possible when it comes to treating infertility at a clinic and getting pregnant! Gamete intra-fallopian transfer is less expensive than in vitro fertilization, but can only be used for women with healthy fallopian tubes.
Zygote intra-fallopian transfer (ZIFT)
Zygote intra-fallopian transfer (ZIFT) is similar to GIFT, but it’s a zygote that’s transferred to the fallopian tube (not the sperm-and-egg mixture). In ZIFT, the fertilized embryo is transferred into the fallopian tube instead of the uterus. Because the fertilized egg is transferred directly into the tubes, the procedure is also referred to as tubal embryo transfer (TET). ZIFT can be a more successful fertility treatment because the doctor has a greater chance of insuring that the egg is fertilized. Like GIFT, ZIFT can only be used as a fertility treatment when women have healthy tubes.
Micro-epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA)
Micro-epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA) is a fertility treatment that requires sperm to be surgically extracted from the epididymis. MESA can help men who have no sperm in their ejaculate (azoospermia). MESA is a way to treat infertility and get pregnant that can be performed in a hospital or in a clinic equipped with an operating room. Generally, the procedure is performed under local anesthesia, using a special sperm cord-blocking anesthetic. After MESA, another fertility treatment has to take place for a woman to get pregnant: intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Testicular sperm extraction (TESE)
TESE is a fertility treatment for men with both obstructive and non-obstructive azoospermia. This type of male infertility means that men have no sperm in their ejaculate, because either there is a blockage in the route between the site of sperm production (the testes) and ejaculation or because there is a partial or complete failure in sperm production in the testes. Testicular sperm extraction (TESE) is similar to micro-epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA), but the sperm are collected from the testes (not the epididymis). After TESE is intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Sub-zonal insemination (SUZI)
Sub-zonal insemination (SUZI) is an in vitro fertilization that involves carefully selecting sperm and injecting them underneath the outer layer of the egg. This type of fertility treatment helps men who have low sperm counts to conceive a baby.
Micro-insemination sperm transfer (MIST)
Micro-insemination sperm transfer (MIST) is similar to sub-zonal insemination (SUZI), and involves depositing sperm directly into the egg cell.
If you’re worried that your age is a factor in your fertility, read Too Old to Have a Baby? Signs It’s a Good Time to Get Pregnant.
To learn more about getting pregnant and treating infertility, read Making Babies the Hard Way: Living with Infertility and Treatment
For more information about fertility treatments, read How Much Do Infertility Treatments Cost?