Some couples have trouble getting pregnant. About 85 percent of couples get pregnant after trying for one year, and the remaining 15 percent are considered infertile. Many of these couples will go on to get pregnant without help, but some will need medications or other treatments in order to have a baby.
For a couple to conceive, they need a healthy egg, healthy sperm and place for sperm and egg to meet. That meeting place requires healthy fallopian tubes and a normal uterus where the fertilized egg can set up a home for the next nine months. Treatments for infertility depend on where in the process the couple is having problems.
If a woman has irregular periods with hormonal imbalances or deficiencies, the solution might be drug therapy. Other couples may have problems that may be corrected by surgical procedures.
See an Infertility Specialist
If you've been having intercourse on a regular basis for more than a year and haven't conceived, the specialists at Norton Women’s Care can help. We provide a full range of infertility tests and treatment options to identify and address the issue, and help you realize your dreams of conceiving.
Find an infertility expert or call (502) 629-1234 and we'll point you to the right specialist.
Infertility Treatments & Therapies We Offer
The term used to cover all types of infertility treatments for women and men is "assisted reproductive technology (ART).” These include:
In many of these procedures, women take medication to increase the number of eggs they will mature and release during a cycle. This is called an "ovulation induction protocol." Advances in these drugs have improved the success rates for many of these procedures.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
This process selects out healthy sperm and delivers them directly into the uterus, shortening the path the sperm need to travel and increasing the chance they meet an egg and fertilize it.
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
The most commonly known type of ART treatment for female infertility is in vitro fertilization (IVF). In this procedure, one or more eggs are removed from the woman's ovaries and fertilized with the man's sperm in a laboratory. Three to five days later, some of the fertilized eggs (called embryos) are placed in the uterus through the cervix.
The trick is to pick the right number of embryos. If too few embryos are put back, none of them may implant in the uterus, and the woman won't get pregnant. If too many are put back, she may have a triplet or quadruplet pregnancy. Multiple pregnancies—twins triplets or more—are at high risk of early delivery, with potential long-term consequences for the babies.
In vitro fertilization was initially used for women who had problems with blockage in their fallopian tubes. With the improved technology and success rate of IVF, the procedure is now used for couples experiencing a variety of problems. Recently, IVF laboratories have been able to culture embryos for longer periods of time, allowing doctors to pick out healthier embryos and transfer fewer of them back to the mother's uterus. This is important, because it reduces the risk of multiple pregnancies.
Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) and Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT)
GIFT and ZIFT were developed to assist fertilization, but use a woman's fallopian tubes as a natural incubator. They are generally used when a couple's religious beliefs forbid in vitro fertilization. In GIFT (gamete intrafallopian transfer), the eggs are removed from the ovaries, mixed with the sperm, loaded into a catheter and then injected into the fallopian tubes, where natural fertilization can take place. In ZIFT (zygote intrafallopian transfer), the eggs are removed from the ovaries, fertilized in the laboratory and then placed back in the fallopian tubes where they can travel to the uterus and implant on their own.
This technique involves freezing the embryos for use at a later time. If a couple goes through in vitro fertilization and a large number of eggs fertilize successfully, the embryos that are not transferred back to the uterus can be frozen. The frozen embryos can be transferred to the woman's uterus for another pregnancy.
Donor egg or embryo IVF
Sometimes, a woman can't get pregnant because her ovaries no longer produce healthy eggs. This problem becomes more common as a woman gets older. In these cases, a friend, relative or volunteer may donate the eggs. The eggs are then fertilized with the man's sperm and transferred into the recipient's uterus so that she can carry the pregnancy. Women pursuing donor egg work with the fertility clinic to select an appropriate donor.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
This is an effective treatment for male-related infertility factors. Male factors include low sperm count, low motility or movement of sperm, or other conditions that make it more difficult for the sperm to fertilize the woman's egg naturally. This procedure takes place in the laboratory where one sperm is injected directly into the egg.
Gestational carrier or surrogacy
In this technique, another woman carries the fertilized embryo through the pregnancy and delivery. This infertility treatment is used for women who cannot carry a pregnancy themselves.