If you’ve been having trouble getting pregnant for over 12 months through regular unprotected sex it’s likely you’re seeking advice from your GP or a fertility specialist.

Before recommending a specific treatment, your doctor might encourage you to make a few lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly, eating healthy, and cutting out alcohol and cigarettes.

You’ll then be asked about your fertility history and a physical examination may be carried out, along with a test to find out how well your ovaries are working and a blood test to check your hormone levels.

A few things will be assessed before the best course of fertility treatment is recommended. Your doctor will usually take into account:

  1. The cause of your infertility - if it can be identified

  2. If you’ve been pregnant before

  3. How old you are

  4. The quality of your partner’s sperm

  5. How long you’ve been trying to conceive

IVF treatment might sound scary initially, but it’s important to remember that there are lots of options available. Some are much simpler than others.

Types of fertility treatment

  • Fertility drugs

One of the most common causes of infertility is a hormone imbalance affecting either you or your partner. A course of fertility drugs may be able to help fix this, increasing your chances of having a baby naturally – the least invasive and most simple type of fertility treatment. Clomiphene and gonadotrophins are the most typically prescribed fertility drugs. Most women use them for three to six months before conceiving or trying a different kind of treatment.

About 80% of women who take clomiphene ovulate in the first three months of treatment. Of these, 30-40% conceive by their third treatment cycle.

  • Intrauterine insemination

This fertility treatment is recommended when the sperm has trouble reaching the egg. It involves placing your partner’s sperm or a donor sperm into your womb or fallopian tube to aid conception.

  • Surgery

If your fertility problems are linked to ovarian cysts, fibroids, blocked/scarred tubes or endometriosis, then surgery might be the best option to increase your chances of conceiving.

Two common surgical procedures are laparoscopy and laparotomy. Laparoscopy uses thin instruments and a camera inserted through small incisions in the abdomen. Laparotomy is done through a larger abdominal incision.

If none of these treatments are available to you due to your particular circumstance, then you might need an assisted conception treatment. The options here include ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), IVF and donated, eggs, sperm or embryos.

  • IVF

Couples that have been unsuccessful in getting pregnant with other fertility treatments often turn to IVF. Women with blocked or absent fallopian tubes find that IVF helps them to conceive, as it’s a procedure that completely bypasses the tubes.

You might also be advised to have IVF treatment if you suffer from a disorder such as endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Here, eggs are removed from your ovaries and combined in a laboratory with sperm from your partner or a donor. If fertilisation is successful, the resulting embryo(s) are transferred to your uterus.

Click here for more on the success rates of IVF.

  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

ICSI is often added to an IVF treatment to overcome male fertility problems. During ICSI, a single sperm is injected into a single egg and the resulting embryo is transferred to your uterus.

Click here to view the success rates of ICSI.

  • Donor eggs and embryos

Using IVF techniques, an egg donated by another woman is mixed with your partner’s sperm and transferred to your uterus. If you use a donor embryo, you have to take medication to prepare your uterine lining for pregnancy.

Whatever treatment is recommended for you, you’ll be offered as much support and guidance as you need. If you suspect you have fertility problems, be sure to book an appointment with your doctor, who’ll be able to advise you on the best course of action.

See if you may be eligible for financial help with fertility treatment with out Fertility Finance Checker.


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Mr Andrew Drakeley Andrew Drakeley

Mr Andrew Drakeley is the Clinical Director at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, working principally at the Liverpool Women’s site but with managerial responsibility for Knutsford.

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