In the UK, infertility is one of the most common health problems. Studies suggest that one in seven couples has infertility. It can induce a lot of stress in a couple, resulting in depression. Before being officially diagnosed with infertility, doctors run a series of tests. They go through patients’ medical and sexual history. Both men and women undergo tests like sperm analysis, blood tests, and ultrasound. To fully understand each situation, doctors need to get a full picture of the couple. Once diagnosed, there are several fertility treatment options. Some are invasive, while others are not. Here are the standard options.
In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
IVF is one of the most common fertility treatments around the world. It is slightly invasive. Fertile, healthy eggs are extracted from the woman’s ovaries, while healthy sperm is extracted from the man. The two are combined in a controlled laboratory environment. If successful fertilization occurs, the fertilized embryos are then transferred back into the woman’s ovaries for natural development. The success rate of IVF is up to 40%. Common side effects include cramping and spotting, rash, mood swings, and bloating.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
With IUI, a large amount of motile sperm is transferred directly into the woman’s uterus. To be successful, it must be done during a natural cycle or just before eggs are released. From then on, she will conceive naturally. The IUI procedure is one of the safest, non-invasive fertility treatments. This non-invasion reduces the risks of complications and ultimately makes the process more affordable for couples. It costs less than £1000.
The entire process only takes between 24-36hrs. IUI is mostly advisable for unexplained infertility cases, ejaculatory failure, and mild infertility in males. One of its side effects is the ability to conceive twins, which most couples don’t mind considering they are trying to get pregnant. Guy’s and St Thomas’ Private Healthcare has one of the best fertility departments, the Assisted Conception Unit, in the UK. It has been helping hundreds of couples get pregnant since its foundation in 1991.
This is usually the first step that most doctors recommend for couples affected by infertility. It is non-invasive and very affordable. Two of the most common fertility drugs are Clomiphene and Gonadotropins. They are used to control hormones in women. They help in releasing eggs during ovulation periods. To be successful, it must be used for about 4-6 months consistently. Some of its side effects include bloating, tenderness in the breast, and mood swings. Clomiphene costs about £100 while Gonadotropins go for around £1000.
For select cases, surgery is the best option. Women who have endometriosis, fibrosis, or a blockage in the fallopian tube have to undergo a corrective surgery before they can conceive naturally. This is the most invasive, most dangerous, and most expensive fertility treatment. However, it has a success rate of up to 59%.
Infertility occurs due to various reasons. It affects both men and women. Depending on the severity and budget available, couples can choose to go for IVF, IUI, drugs, or undergo a surgical procedure to increase their chances of conceiving.