In the past, infertility seemed to be the end of family building dreams for many couples. There is no reason to worry now. With many other infertility treatment options available for most couples unable to become parents in the natural process, things have become easier.
Many of us feel unfair when we realize that conceiving naturally and becoming pregnant is not possible. However, thanks to the advances in medical technology, more families are accepting non-traditional ways of family-building.
But, what is infertility? Infertility in women refers to the inability of conceiving naturally, even after trying for at least one year, and six months for females above 35 years. If a female has a constant miscarriage, is also considered to be infertile.
Infertility can also be a serious issue in males. This can be a blockage that prevents the delivery of sperm or an abnormal sperm function, and low sperm production. In such cases, when either of the partners faces infertility issues, couples must look for some alternative options.
What are the alternative ways to get pregnant for infertile couples?
Here are some of the options that you can consider:
Taking fertility drugs is the first step that most important couples prefer. Both the partners need to be examined by a reproductive endocrinologist to identify the causes of infertility. Upon a thorough examination, they prescribe proper medication that may either increase sperm production or help to improve the quality and stimulate ovulation, and others.
Medical procedures are some of the best alternatives for infertility in the form of assisted reproductive technology or ART. After a thorough examination of infertility issues, your reproductive endocrinologist will advise you on certain ART procedures. These are:
- In Vitro Fertilization or IVF: The process includes harvesting sperm and egg cells for each partner. Here, you may also need a donor if necessary. Once both the sperm and egg cells are fertilized successfully in a laboratory, the fertilized egg is then implanted in the female’s uterus. If the procedure is successful, then she will continue with the normal process of pregnancy.
- Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection or ICSI: This procedure is suggested when the male suffers from infertility issues. It is a part of the In vitro fertilization process where a solitary sperm is inserted into a retrieved egg.
- Intra-Uterine Insemination or IUI: When the need for harvesting an egg is not necessary, a reproductive endocrinologist recommends IUI. Here, the sperm is collected from the male partner and is washed to get rid of seminal fluid. Then, it is inserted into the uterine cavity of the female partner directly. This increases the chances of conception.
- Assisted hatching: It is a technique used by physicians to allow an embryo to “hatch” out easily of a certain layer of proteins, and then is implanted in the female uterus.
- Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer or GIFT: This procedure is similar to In Vitro Fertilization. However, it involves the process of the harvested egg and sperm being implanted into the fallopian tube of the female, for fertilization.
- Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer or ZIFT: It is similar to GIFT, but the egg is fertilized before it gets transferred to the fallopian tube of the female partner.
Sperm, Egg or Embryo Donation
In some cases, an intended parent may not have a viable egg or sperm production to initiate the embryo creation process. This is when they can pursue a gamete donation process as the best infertility option for a couple. Here, the child will have a genetic connection with a single parent, if not with both of them. This process is usually preferred in the case of same-sex family building. For example, a lesbian couple may ask for sperm donation or a gay couple may need an egg donation.
In some cases, a couple cannot carry a child themselves. The reason can be a medical issue or the intended parent is a single male or a gay couple. This is a great option for infertile couples. Here, an embryo is either donated or created by the intended couples and is implanted into a surrogate’s uterus. She will carry out the pregnancy and deliver the child to its intended parents.
In the present years, the traditional surrogacy procedure has been converted into gestational surrogacy, where the surrogate has no relation with the child she carries. This prevents emotional and legal complications related to traditional methods.
Here, parents adopt children who are not genetically related. The modern-day adoption forms include:
- Private domestic adoption: Here, a woman independently chooses to place her baby for adoption. The pregnant woman gets to choose her adoption plan, along with her child’s adoptive family, and how they will raise the child. During the process of child growth, both the adoptive parents and birth parents often have a relationship.
- International adoption: Here, a parent can adopt a child from a foreign country. Usually, they are an older child or the ones with special needs.
- Foster Care Adoption: Here, the biological parents no longer regain custody of their child and such children are free to be adopted by a permanent adoptive family. When a child is in the foster care system, the court terminates the rights of their biological parents.
One of the last options for infertile couples is to stay childfree. Make sure you discuss and come to a consensus so that it doesn’t affect either of the partners. It is not important to have a child for a happy life. A life without having children can also be an option for any couple.
If you are suffering from infertility issues and are expecting to have a healthy family-building plan, consult a reproductive endocrinologist or visit a trustworthy fertility clinic. Make sure you are happy with whatever choice you make.