Women's Health

Common Questions about Infertility Treatments

I’ve been trying for a year but I can’t get pregnant. What’s the problem?

There are many reasons women cannot become pregnant. Sometimes, women do not produce or release eggs. In other cases, the eggs cannot become fertilized. The fallopian tubes may be blocked, or sometimes, the man’s sperm is unable to fertilize a woman’s egg.

Doctors who specialize in infertility are known as reproductive endocrinologists. In general, an infertility evaluation should be considered for these conditions:

  • a woman under 35 has not become pregnant after 12 months of intercourse without birth control
  • a woman more than 35 has not become pregnant after six months of intercourse without birth control
  • a woman has repeated miscarriages and is unable to carry a pregnancy to term

Will I become pregnant?

While no fertility team can promise you will become pregnant, we are proud that our success rates are excellent for couples seeking infertility treatments. We will do everything possible to maximize your individual chances to have a successful pregnancy.

How do you know whether the problem is with the woman’s egg or with the man’s sperm?

Once you become our patient, we will perform tests to help us understand why you are not able to become pregnant. We will check both partners’ general health and perform special tests to check hormone levels and to evaluate the reproductive organs for abnormalities.

What can you do to help us conceive?

By addressing general health problems, many women are able to become pregnant. Once we have located any specific problems, we can provide additional options. They include pills or shots of hormones to help the woman produce more eggs.

These hormonal treatments can often help a woman conceive. Other times, eggs may be taken from a woman’s ovaries and fertilized in a lab, known as in vitro fertilization or IVF. We may also place sperm (after laboratory processing) directly into a woman’s reproductive tract, or use the sperm to fertilize an egg during in vitro fertilization, or IVF.

Can you tell me more about in vitro fertilization (IVF)? What is egg retrieval?

If you are a candidate for IVF, you will undergo a series of injections to prepare you to have your eggs surgically removed. This step of removing the eggs is known as egg retrieval, or oocyte retrieval. When the eggs have been removed, they are combined with sperm cells in a highly controlled setting, a process known as in vitro fertilization. After three to five days, the fertilized eggs are surgically implanted in the woman’s uterus.

What is ICSI?

ICSI stands for intracytoplasmic sperm injection. This technique allows us to insert a single sperm cell directly into an egg. It is recommended if a man’s sperm count is very low, if it has poor motility (movement toward the egg) or if it is poorly formed.

I (or my partner) will need chemotherapy for cancer. Can we still have children?

While we can’t guarantee you will be able to conceive, we have several options that will increase your chances of becoming pregnant and having children. We may be able to preserve eggs, sperm and embryos prior to chemotherapy by freezing (cryopreservation).

Can I have a baby after 40?

Many women become pregnant after 40, both naturally and with assisted fertility techniques. Sometimes it is necessary to use donor eggs for a successful fertility treatment. These decisions should be made in close consultation with your doctor.

My family (or my husband’s family) has a history of genetic disease. I wish to avoid passing this disease to my child.

Among our services are genetic testing of embryos before we transfer them to the uterus to make sure they do not have genetic abnormalities. This early screening is known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD. Before transplanting the embryo into the uterus, we will select embryos that do not have the disease or condition.

What other fertility options do you offer?

Depending on the cause of the fertility problem, other approaches may be recommended. These include donor eggs and or donor sperm.

Can I be an egg donor?

Yes. Non-smoking, healthy women may wish to become egg donors. Being an egg donor allows you to share fertile eggs either with a family member or friend, or anonymously. You will be compensated.

Once accepted, you will need daily injections of fertility drugs that cause you to develop multiple eggs instead of the single egg usually created each month. When your eggs are ready, they are removed through the vagina, under sedation, in a ultrasound-guided procedure. You will be asked to sign consent forms as part of egg donation. It may take two-three weeks for the fertility medication to leave your system. Most studies show no evidence of long-term effects or changes in fertility, although a possible link has been suggested between fertility medications and an increase in the lifetime risk of ovarian cancer.

How much will infertility treatments cost? Are they covered by insurance?

Infertility treatments are often covered by insurance, although IVF generally is not. During your consultation, we will discuss the possible costs for our treatments. While fertility treatments may sometimes be expensive, we are among the most cost-effective providers in our area for these services.