If you’ve been trying for a year or more to get pregnant (or six months if you are 35 or over), you may be starting to think about fertility treatment. Here’s a quick run-down of what’s available.
Commonly prescribed drugs include:
Fertility drugs also play a role in other fertility treatments, such as IVF.
You may be offered IUI if you have unexplained infertility or ovulation problems. IUI can also help couples where the man has poor sperm quality. In this case, doctors will separate fast-moving sperm out from the slower ones then use IUI to place them in your womb close to ovulation. They may recommend you take a fertility drug to boost the amount of eggs you produce beforehand.
IUI is also used as part of other fertility treatments, such as sperm donation or surrogacy.
For women, the first step in IVF involves taking a drug to suppress your natural menstrual cycle. You’ll then be given a hormone injection to boost the number of eggs you produce followed by an injection to help the eggs mature.
Your eggs will be gathered during a simple procedure (with a local anaesthetic and sedation) and fertilised in a laboratory using your partner’s (or a donor’s) sperm. Finally, a single fertilised embryo will be transferred back to your womb and the rest frozen for possible future attempts.
IVF can be a long, demanding process so you will need plenty of support as you go through it.
ICSI involves a similar process to IVF. However, instead of simply mixing the egg and sperm together in the laboratory, doctors choose a single sperm and inject it directly into the egg.
This technique is becoming more common and is particularly helpful for couples where the male partner has poor sperm quality or doesn’t ejaculate any sperm.
If necessary, sperm can be collected directly from the testes or epididymis (a small tube near the testes where sperm are stored and matured).