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Approaching IVF Treatment Options

There are only a few causes of infertility for which In Vitro Fertilization is the only treatment option. These causes are the following: blockage of, or severely damaged fallopian tubes and extremely low sperm count or no sperm in the ejaculate.

For most all other causes of infertility, it is possible that a patient or couple may be able to conceive without assistance or with a less aggressive approach such as intrauterine insemination (IUI).

In developing a treatment plan, the difficulty often lies in estimating the odds of conceiving with any one treatment method, considering the patient's age and diagnosis. We do know that IVF is probably one of the most efficient forms of fertility treatment, in that it usually provides for the highest rates of successful conception for any one treatment cycle. But for some people with less severe causes for their infertility, non-IVF approaches may prove successful and for others, IVF is realistically the best way to achieve pregnancy within a reasonable period of time.

If the female partner is young (for instance, less than 38 years of age), and if the infertility has not been too significantly long-standing, a fertility specialist working with the patient may propose a treatment plan that consists of using fertility medications along with intercourse or intrauterine insemination in order to improve the chances of conception over the chances with natural conception without medical intervention. Whether or not to move directly to in vitro fertilization or to consider other approaches first will depend on a patient's (the female partner) age, diagnosis, and how long she has been trying to conceive.

If a treatment plan is devised including non-IVF treatments, it is usually a good idea to decide at the outset how many cycles of intrauterine insemination with clomiphene, for example, or how many cycles of intrauterine insemination with injectable medications will be undertaken and what to do if the treatments do not work.

In general, as the age of the female partner increases, less aggressive approaches should probably be eliminated and/or the amount of time spent on non-IVF attempts should be limited.
Many women will conceive with these non-IVF methods and they should at least be considered and discussed with your reproductive endocrinologist during consultation.
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About the Author

Dr. Herbert is a fertility expert and an innovator in the field.