Infertility Treatment - Meaning, Causes, Symptoms & More
Published On Feb 12, 2020, Updated On Jul 07, 2020
Infertility has become a massive problem in India.
Countless couples are facing mental and physical stress on a day to day basis, all because of their infertility issues.
It won’t be wrong to say that infertility has progressed to become a public health issue in today’s day and age and engulfed unnumbered couples in the sea of the constant sadness of not having a child.
However, the good thing is that infertility treatment has made a considerable progress in terms of IVF, IUI, ICSI, Blastocyst Culture & Transfer, and more. As a result, more couples are now opting fertility treatment solutions like such other than going for adoption to reintroduce happiness in their lives.
Before talking about the infertility treatment, let’s take a look at its meaning, causes, symptoms, types, and more.
Infertility Treatment Meaning
Infertility can be described as the inability to conceive children.
It can be termed as a medical condition under which a couple, even after trying for an year without birth control, are not able to conceive.
Talking about the meaning of infertility treatment, it is the use of medical techniques to improve the ability of a woman, a man or a couple to conceive.
Infertility treatment is dependent on a couple of factors that include:
- What is causing the infertility?
- The period of infertility (infertile for how long)
- Age (you and your partner)
- Personal preferences
First and foremost, note that infertility issues can arise either because of man or woman, or both. It is a myth that infertility is a gender-specific problem. Both male and female can be equally responsible for the inability to conceive a child.
For both, men and women, the following can be the prime causes of infertility:
- Sperm causes
- Age-related factors
- Ovulation problems
- Tubal causes
- Unexplained infertility
Other than these, hormonal changes, stress, job pressure, vehicular pollution, and postponing parenthood come across to be the key reasons for infertility. Lifestyle diseases like diabetes and obesity lead to infertility as well. Not to forget, sexually transmitted infections, fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and genital TB are also factors that are affecting women in a massive way.
One of the major symptoms of infertility is the inability to conceive.
However, couples trying for more than a year and facing below mentioned problems should consult a doctor as soon as possible -
- Abnormal, irregular, painful periods or absence of periods
- Semen abnormalities, Varicoceles, immunity related infertility, chromosomal defects, hormonal imbalance, and more
- Female with age 35 years or more
- Any history of STDs or infections
- Endometrial polyps or uterine fibroids
Before proceeding with the infertility tests, the doctor may work towards understanding a couple's sexual habit and recommend ways to improve the chances of getting pregnant.
However, if the testing is important, the doctor may continue with the diagnosis process, for both man and woman.
Infertility diagnosis tests for men :
Other than a general physical exam, including an examination of male genitals, specific diagnosis tests may include -
- Analysis of semen
- Blood test to check the level of testosterone and other male hormones
- Genetic testing to check whether there is a genetic defect causing infertility
- Testicular Biopsy to identify abnormalities contributing to infertility or to retrieve sperm
- Imaging studies like brain MRI, transrectal or scrotal ultrasound, or a test of the vas deferens (vasography)
- Other specialty testing to evaluate the quality of the sperm, like evaluation of a semen specimen for DNA abnormalities
Infertility diagnosis tests for women :
- Other than a general physical exam, including a regular gynecological exam, specific diagnosis tests may include -
- Ovulation testing with the help of a blood test to determine whether a woman is ovulating
- Hysterosalpingography to check the condition of uterus & fallopian tubes and look for blockages or other problems
- Ovarian reserve testing to check the quantity of the eggs available for ovulation
- Other hormone testing to check levels of ovulatory hormones and pituitary hormones which control reproductive processes
- Imaging tests including pelvic ultrasound for uterine or ovarian disease
- Hysteroscopy to look for uterine disease, if only required according to situation
- Laparoscopy to examine your fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus. Laparoscopy helps in identifying endometriosis, scarring, blockages or irregularities of the fallopian tubes, as well as problems with the ovaries and uterus.
Female Infertility Treatment
When it comes to female infertility treatment, patients can be given medication for stimulating ovulation as well as surgical processes to correct a uterine septum and get rid of endometrial polyps, or even a hysteroscopy surgery.
Infertility Treatment for Male
Male infertility treatment is done based on the causes. Many issues can be treated with medication and surgery. While infertility caused because of abnormalities of hormones, retrograde ejaculation, immunity, or genital tract infection can be corrected by using medications, conditions like varicocele or azoospermia can require minor surgeries to be treated.
Infertility Treatment Types/Methods
In Vitro Fertilization or IVF is the medical procedure that combines the sperm and the egg.
In IVF, mature eggs are collected from the ovaries and brought together with the sperm collected. The fertilization process takes place where the fertilized egg grows for 3 to 5 days. Thereafter, the fertilized egg or eggs are transferred to a uterus.
A complete cycle of IVF takes around 3 weeks. However, there are times when the process is slipt into different parts, which may take a significant amount of time.
IVF is the most effective form of ART or assisted reproductive technology.
IVF procedure can be carried out using your own eggs and your partner's sperm. IVF may also involve eggs, sperm or embryos from a known or anonymous donor. In certain cases, a gestational carrier (a woman who has an embryo implanted in her uterus) might be used.
IVF treatment is a great option for women over 40 years of age or those (or their partner) having Fallopian tube damage or blockage, ovulation disorders, Endometriosis, Uterine fibroids, previous tubal sterilization or removal, impaired sperm production or function, unexplained infertility, a genetic disorder, fertility preservation for cancer or other health conditions.
Intrauterine insemination or IUI is a medical procedure that puts sperm directly inside a uterus.
Also referred to as donor insemination, artificial insemination or alternative insemination, IUI works by putting sperm cells directly into the uterus at the time of ovulation, helping the sperm get closer to the egg. IUI is of big help in reducing the time and distance the sperm has to travel, thereby making the fertilization of the egg easier.
Pregnancy happens, in case the sperm fertilizes the egg, and the fertilized egg implants in the lining of the uterus.
IUI is a simple and low-technology procedure that increases the chances of pregnancy.
For this process, the woman may be given a low dose of ovary stimulating hormones.
IUI is commonly used when the male has a low sperm count, decreased sperm motility, or when infertility does not have an identifiable cause. IUI also has a great use for a male with severe erectile dysfunction.
A couple that has IUI performed, can enjoy success rates may reach as high as 20% per cycle, depending on a few factors such as the reason for infertility, female age, use of fertility drugs, among others.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI is procedure quite similar to the conventional IVF.
The prime difference between IVF and ICSI is the method of achieving fertilisation.
In ICSI, a single sperm cell is injected directly into the cytoplasm of an egg. This technique is utilised to prepare the gametes for the obtention of embryos that may be transferred to a maternal uterus.
Primarily used for treating various cases of male-factor infertility, ICSI fertilizes 50% to 80% of eggs. However, cases of some or all of the eggs being destroyed, egg not growing into an embryo, stopped growth of embryo may take place.
Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer or GIFT is an assisted reproductive tool.
In this procedure, eggs from the woman are collected, mixed with sperm in a petri dish, and then placed directly inside the fallopian tubes, thereby allowing fertilization to occur.
GIFT is a good option for couples with man having low sperm count or woman having at least one functioning fallopian tube. Couples with unexplained infertility can also try this procedure.
One of the biggest benefits of GIFT is that it allows the fertilization to occur in a natural environment.
As far as the success rate is concerned, about 25% to 30% GIFT cycles result in pregnancy.
Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer or ZIFT is another infertility treatment that many couples try.
In this procedure, the embryo is inserted into the fallopian tube.
Perfect choice for couples having unexplained infertility or those with man having low low sperm count, woman having at least one tube open, and/or ovulation problems.
ZIFT is a good infertility technique having success rate of 36% becoming pregnant during a cycle, with 29 percent going on to deliver.
ZIFT comes with an advantage, i.e., it lowers the risk of multiple birth as a zygote can be confirmed before it's being placed into the fallopian tube.
Egg or sperm donation :
If required, sperms and eggs can be received from a donor and fertility treatment with donor eggs can be carried out with the use of IVF.
Benefits of Infertility Treatment
- Hope for couples and women
- Successful pregnancy and healthy new born baby
- Helps in diagnosing fertility issues
The Importance of IVF treatment
IVF is one of the most common infertility treatment types. IVF or In Vitro Fertilization, is the procedure in which the sperms are mixed with eggs of the female partner in a lab. Mature eggs are retrieved and once they are fertilized, they are placed back in the uterus.
The general IVF treatment process steps include -
- Initial consultation
- Testing and ovary stimulation
- Retrieval of egg
- Retrieval of sperm
- Fertilization process
- Development of embryo
- Transfer of embryo
- Final pregnancy test (blood test)
IVF fertility treatment - Challenges couples face
The biggest challenge that a couple faces in availing IVF treatment is the high cost of treatment. Not all are able to afford the IVF treatment due to the fact that it costs around Rs. 1.5 Lakh and can go up to Rs. 2 Lakh.
Another challenge that comes with IVF treatment is that it does not come with a 100% success rate. As a matter of fact, the success rate of IVF is in the range of 30-35% per embryo transfer. There are many couples that may not conceive at their first cycle of IVF and need to consider a second cycle, which in turn, is quite stressful in terms of physical & mental health and financial stability.
What comes as a major inconvenience is the fact that at present, both public as well as private health insurers, do not come with plans including fertility procedures and treatments. Where insurer can play a big role in minimising financial risks for many couples, the unavailability of IVF treatment or other fertility treatment coverage makes the struggle even harder.
The insurance companies face challenges in offering mediclaim for fertility treatments due to the fact that they provide cover mainly for illness and diseases that require hospitalisation. In such a scenario, paying from one’s pocket due to the lack of an ideal health insurance covering fertility treatment is not feasible for many. As a reason, they are not able to try for IVF or any other fertility treatment.
IVF Treatment & Health Insurance
With the passage of time, many insurance companies have given health insurance for fertility treatment a thought. Needless to say, it has become a need of the hour!
Having an insurance policy by their side can help countless couples become parents without facing the pressure of the society as well as financial burdens.
Many health experts have urged the need for inclusion of fertility treatments under health insurance plans so that more and more people can come up for the procedures and make the most of this blessing.
This is an informative article about infertility treatment. InsuranceDekho does not provide fertility treatment cover. However, if you need any help regarding health insurance policies, feel free to call us at 18001205698.