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Other types of infertility treatment

Fertility tests

For women this might include blood tests, follicle tracking, an ultrasound scan of the uterus and ovaries, x-rays and other investigations.  For men, it will probably involve semen analysis, and/or sperm antibody tests.

Super Ovulation and fertility drugs

Super Ovulation may be offered in the first instance to couples with unexplained infertility.  Clomid is one of the most commonly used fertility drugs to help induce a woman’s ovulation, and is commonly used for women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCO). Follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) are used to help to stimulate the eggs and follicle development within the ovaries.

Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI)

Artificial insemination involves directly inserting sperm into a woman’s uterus to help her get pregnant.  IUI is the most commonly used insemination technique for couples with unexplained fertility problems (if for example there’s a problem with the production or the quality of a man’s sperm, or a woman has endometriosis).  The man provides a sample of sperm which is washed and ‘filtered’ for the most potent, highest-quality and passed directly into the woman’s uterus through a catheter (tube) when the woman is at her most fertile time.  If a man cannot produce any healthy sperm, frozen sperm can be obtained from a sperm donor or a relative/friend.  The success rate for IUI is considered good as a much greater number of sperm can get into the fallopian tubes than during intercourse.

Gamete Intra-Fallopian Transfer (GIFT)

GIFT stands for ‘gamete intra-fallopian transfer’ with ‘gametes’ meaning the reproductive cells (eggs and sperm).  ‘GIFT’ involves placing unfertilised eggs from the woman and her partner's sperm into her fallopian tubes via a laparoscopy (a small incision made in the abdominal region).  Because fertilisation takes place inside the woman's body as if conception had occurred naturally any ethical issues associated with IVF are removed.

Cryopreservation of embryos

The process of cryopreservation involves freezing and storing embryos at a very low temperature. The embryos which survive after being thawed can be transferred to the woman's uterus.

Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

ICSI technology is used to enhance the fertilisation phase of IVF by injecting a single sperm into a mature egg.  It is commonly used to treat male fertility problems such as low seminal volume, motility, low sperm counts or high percentage of abnormal spermatozoa. Many specialists use the ICSI technology with all IVF patients.

Assisted hatching

Assisted hatching is used to help a couple’s success with IVF by assisting an embryo to hatch out of its protective layering so that it can implant in the uterus. The procedure involves making a tiny hole in the zona pellucida (an outer layer which protects the embryo). Embryo transfer places the embryos in the woman's uterus where they will hopefully implant and result in a live birth.

Blastocyst embryo transfer

The blastocyst stage in embryo development takes place approximately five or six days after fertilisation when embryos implant into the uterus for higher chances of success.  Embryos can be left to grow in the laboratory for this length of time and the embryos which successfully reach the blastocyst stage can be selected for transfer to potentially improve the chance of pregnancy.

Surrogacy

A ‘surrogate’ is a woman who carries a pregnancy for another woman.  A ‘gestational’ surrogate is a woman who carries a pregnancy created by the egg and sperm of two individuals via IVF.  A ‘traditional’ surrogate is inseminated with sperm from the male partner of an infertile couple so the child will be genetically related to the surrogate woman and to the man, but not the female partner.

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