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Infertility impacts men and women equally. About a third of the time the causes of infertility are related to the female. Some of the barriers faced by women trying to get pregnant may include ovulation disorders, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or premature ovarian failure (POF) or physical issues with the reproductive system, such as fibroids or damaged fallopian tubes.
Depending on the nature of the infertility, there are many treatment options for you to choose from, including:
Ovulation Induction (OI) – hormonal therapy to stimulate egg development and release. Oral or injectable fertility medications are used to regulate or promote ovulation in women, resulting in the production of a single healthy egg, or to increase the number of eggs reaching maturity in a single cycle to increase chances for conception.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) – fertility treatment where sperm is placed inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization
In vitro Fertilization (IVF) – process in which both eggs and sperm are retrieved and fertilized outside of the body, then implanted back in the woman’s uterus. This process also entails ovulation stimulation and takes place over several weeks and stages (typically referred to as a cycle)
Reproductive Surgery – may occasionally be necessary to remove uterine growths or damaged tissue
When it comes to overcoming infertility, age is our biggest barrier to success. For example, at birth, a woman will have all the eggs she will ever have in her lifetime, nearly 1-million. But by the time she’s in her early 30’s her pool of eggs has decreased substantially to less than half that. A secondary challenge for women is one of egg quality: by the time a women is in her late 30’s nearly 40% of her eggs will be of low-quality due to genetic imbalances or other issues related to her age.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommends seeing a reproductive specialist if you are a woman under 35 and trying to get pregnant for 12 months without success. If you’re over 35 ASMR recommends you see a specialists after 6-months of trying without success.
Hormonal evaluation studies help identify hormonal imbalances that may impair your fertility.
Hormones control every step in achieving pregnancy — from stimulating the development of an egg to ovulation and implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus. Each hormone that plays a role in conception must be produced in a specific amount at a precise time in your menstrual cycle. Hormonal studies measure the levels of certain hormones produced by your body during your cycle. You are likely to have a series of simple blood tests at various points in your cycle. The tests your doctor orders may help determine your diagnosis as well as identify the best treatment options.
Hormones that control ovulation and implantation of the egg:
Estradiol – stimulates the growth of the follicles and the production of fertile mucus from the cervix, and prepares the uterine lining for implantation of a fertilized egg
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) – stimulates the development of the egg
Luteinizing hormone (LH) – stimulates the release of the egg from the follicle (ovulation)
Progesterone – stabilizes the uterine lining for implantation of a fertilized egg and supports early pregnancy
Androgens – normally, small amounts of androgens — testosterone and DHEAS (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate) — are produced in women; excess production may interfere with development of the follicles, ovulation, and cervical mucus production
Prolactin – stimulates milk production; blood levels may be higher than normal in certain disorders or if you are taking certain medications
Thyroid – underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can result in high prolactin levels
Ovulation induction with medications stimulate many follicles in your ovaries to develop multiple eggs. Your doctor will evaluate you frequently during this time to make sure your follicles (egg sacs) are developing properly and to evaluate the right time for egg retrieval. Once your follicles are developed, your doctor will retrieve the mature eggs.
What to expect during ovulation induction:
Ovulation induction involves treatment with medications to stimulate follicle growth. A GnRH analog may be used to control follicle growth. Your treatment will depend on your specific needs.
For more information on female infertility treatment options in NJ, please contact us today.