Have you and your partner been trying to get pregnant for a long time with no success? If so, you don’t need anyone to tell you that trying to have a baby can be a physically and emotionally taxing process. As months turn into years, you may feel deep despair or a strain in your relationship.
If this applies to you, the first thing you need to know is that you are not alone. While people may not discuss this struggle openly, research shows that 12 to 15 percent of couples are unable to conceive after a year of trying. Infertility is common and nothing to be ashamed of.
While it’s important to note that success can never be guaranteed, however, many treatment options can significantly raise your chances of getting pregnant. The most popular and most effective assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment, according to the Mayo Clinic, is in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Talk to a Doctor About Your Options
If you’re worried about infertility, at what point should you see a doctor? If you are a woman between 35 and 40 years of age and have been trying to conceive for more than six months, it may be time to see a doctor. For women younger than 35, you should consider it after one year.
Men experiencing sperm production issues or exhibiting symptoms such as a swollen scrotum may want to see a doctor as well. If you or your partner have a family history of infertility, seeing a doctor may help establish the likelihood you will follow suit.
Depending on your age, medical history, and the root cause of your infertility (if one is determined), your doctor may suggest different options. Types of infertility treatment and ART practices include:
- Medication to boost sperm count or stimulate ovulation
- Sperm retrieval
- Fertility restoration surgery
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI)
- Donor eggs or sperm
- Assisted hatching
Look into IVF Treatments
There are numerous forms of IVF treatment. For example, intracytoplasmic sperm injection entails the injection of a single healthy sperm directly into a mature egg. This technique is commonly used when semen quality is low or produced in low amounts. (In traditional IVF, about 50,000 sperm are placed near an egg within a dish.) An embryo can also be implanted into the lining of the uterus by removing its outer covering, also called “hatching.”
IVF treatment is also a great option for those using a surrogate or donated or frozen sperm and/or eggs to have a baby. These practices often come into play for couples trying to have a child later in life, same-sex couples, and women who choose to have a child on their own.
Find the Right Doctor and Treatment for You
To help overcome the challenges of infertility, you typically want to work with a reproductive endocrinologist. If you need help finding one, ask for a recommendation from your general practitioner, gynecologist, or urologist.
Before choosing a fertility specialist, do your homework. Research infertility and possible courses of treatment beforehand so you know what questions to ask when you meet your potential doctor. Keep in mind that IVF treatment is a long and emotional road. While you obviously need to look for a knowledgeable doctor, you also need one who is empathetic and offers encouragement.
Get Help with IVF Costs
If you do find a specialist and decide to proceed with IVF, you’ll have to create a plan to pay for treatment. IVF doesn’t come cheap; single cycles can cost up to $23,000, and many couples go through multiple rounds.
First, thoroughly research your insurance plan to see if it at least partially covers fertility treatment. Some states have laws that mandate a certain amount of coverage, but most do not. Next, start thinking about IVF loans, payment plans offered by fertility clinics, personal loans, and home equity loans, and which financial plan best suits your needs.
There Is Hope, Reach Out
You don’t have to face infertility alone. As discussed at the top of this article, it’s a common condition among both women and men. So don’t fight this battle on your own. Seek emotional support as well as helpful information and specialist recommendations from others.
Joining an in-person support group or online forum can go a long way in encouraging you through your treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice; many others have gone through the same challenges.