Does it ever feel like the fertility odds are not in your favor? Do your dreams of starting a family seem like a distant wish? Don’t give up hope! Since its inception over three decades ago, in vitro fertilization, or IVF, has resulted in the birth of over 200,000 babies in the U.S.
Couples that have been unsuccessful in getting pregnant naturally or with other fertility treatments are increasingly turning to IVF to conceive. In fact, in the U.S. today, a little over one out of every 100 women giving birth used IVF to get pregnant. With chances of pregnancy with IVF as high as 50 percent in some cases, it is no wonder that IVF has been getting a lot of attention.
Basically, IVF involves taking mature eggs from the woman, fertilizing them with sperm in a dish in a laboratory and then transferring the resulting embryos back to the woman’s uterus 2 to 6 days after fertilization is confirmed.
But who really is a good candidate for this procedure? IVF is a potentially good option for couples with any of these six infertility diagnoses:
The woman has blocked tubes
Initially, IVF was developed and used to treat women with blocked, damaged, or absent fallopian tubes. Since the IVF procedure bypasses the fallopian tubes entirely, many women with tubal issues find that IVF helps them to conceive. Tubes often become blocked with scar tissue due to pelvic inflammatory disease, past surgeries that can cause abdominal scar tissue.
The woman has endometriosis
Like women with tubal issues, women with endometriosis can also develop a lot of scar tissue and adhesions around the ovaries and fallopian tubes that can sometimes make getting pregnant hard.
The woman has Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or abnormal ovulation cycles
Women with PCOS do not release an egg during ovulation due to a complex web of multiple hormone imbalances. Along with women who have abnormal ovulation cycles, women with PCOS can also get pregnant with IVF, since fertility drugs can be used to induce ovulation and generate healthy eggs.
The couple has unexplained infertility
Couples who have had difficulty becoming pregnant through natural means combined with fertility medications or intrauterine insemination (IUI) are often good candidates for in vitro fertilization.
The man has male factor infertility issues
If your partner has male factor infertility, such as low sperm count or other sperm abnormality, you may also benefit from IVF. A procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) requires just one healthy sperm to fertilize an egg during IVF, making it a preferred fertility technique for men with low sperm count.
The woman has decreased ovarian reserve
As women age, the quality of their eggs diminishes, making conception difficult. Women who cannot produce healthy eggs and who are willing to use donor eggs can find success with IVF. Use of donor eggs with IVF achieves similar pregnancy rates for women of all ages, and about 50 percent of women that attempt IVF with donor eggs are able to get pregnant.
Who is not a good IVF candidate? In vitro fertilization may not work for everyone. Conditions that may interfere with IVF success include fibroid tumors, ovarian dysfunction, abnormal hormone levels, and uterine abnormalities. Women with these issues may face lower rates of pregnancy with IVF.