Infertility is defined as a male's or female's incapacity or reduced biological ability to contribute to the conception of a child. More commonly, it is defined as the inability to become pregnant after 12 months of intercourse without birth control. Infertility may also refer to a woman's inability to carry a pregnancy to full term.
Infertility affects about 1 in every of couples in their reproductive age. In the US, approx. 7% of married couples in which the woman was of reproductive age (2.1 million) reported they were not able to get pregnant after trying for one year (2002 National Survey of Family Growth).
In some cases, both the man and woman may be sub-fertil. In other cases, each partner is each fertile but the couple can not conceive together without assistance. In approx. 1 / 3rd of the cases, the male is infertile, in 1 / 3rd the female is infertile, and in 1 / 3rd, it can be either one of them, or the cause is unknown. In about 15% of cases, investigation will show no abnormalities which can be detected by current methods.
Egg quality is also of critical importance, especially for women of advanced maternal age. Or it may be a question of the egg not being released at the optimum time for fertilization, or the sperm not being able to reach the egg, or fertilization may fail to occur.
If you are trying to get pregnant, and are considering a fertility treatment, do not opt immediately for the most advanced and expensive Fertility Treatments, such as IVF, thinking you'll get pregnant faster.
You have a number of Fertility Treatments available, which include: fertility drugs, surgery, IVF, GIFT, ZIFT, donor eggs, and surrogacy. In 85% to 95% of cases, Infertility can be treated with conventional Fertility Treatments, such as drug treatment. These solutions are more affordable and less invasive than some of the other options.
Here's an overview of your Fertility Treatment options, ranked from the least to the most invasive:
Fertility drugs: These drugs can help get a female's or males reproductive system and hormones in balance.
Artificial Insemination: Sometimes the male's sperm needs help getting to the female's egg. Placing a dose of sperm in your uterus at the proper time will improve one's chances of getting pregnant.
Surgery: Some women have blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, fibroids, or ovarian cysts, or genetic defects. A minor surgery, performed with a laparoscope (a fiber-thin tube) can help diagnose the problem. However, more intensive surgery may be required.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART): ART can introduce the hi-tech In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) or Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), or in rare cases, GIFT or ZIFT. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a major treatment in infertility when other methods of ART have failed. It involves surgically removing eggs (ova) from a woman's ovaries, fertilizing them with sperm in the laboratory, and returning them to the woman's body. Both Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer and Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer are ART procedures, which involve removing the woman's eggs, mixing them with the male's sperm, and implanting them in the woman's Fallopian tubes. With ZIFT, fertilization takes place outside the body, and with GIFT, fertilization takes place inside the body. Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is a procedure in which a single sperm (especially donor sperm) is injected directly into an egg.
Egg Donation: Occasionally, a woman may require to use a egg donor, depending on her age, and egg quality.