Treatment methods for infertility may be grouped as medical or complementary and alternative treatments. Some methods may be used in concert with other methods.
At-home conception kit
In 2007 the FDA cleared the first at home tier one medical conception device to aid in conception. The key to the kit are cervical caps for conception. This at home cervical cap insemination method allows all the semen to be placed up against the cervix for six hours allowing all available sperm to be placed directly on the cervix. For low sperm count, low sperm motility, or a tilted cervix using a cervical cap will aid in conception. This is a prescriptive medical device.
Prior to undergoing expensive fertility procedures many women and couples will turn to online sources to determine their estimate chances of success. A take-home baby assessment can provide a best guess estimate compared with women who have succeeded with in vitro fertilization, based on variables such as maternal age duration of infertility and number of prior pregnancies.
Medical treatment of infertility generally involves the use of fertility medication, medical device, surgery, or a combination of the following. If the sperm are of good quality, and the mechanics of the woman’s reproductive structures are good (patent fallopian tubes, no adhesions or scarring) physicians may start by prescribing a course of ovarian stimulating medication.
The physician may also suggest using a conception cap cervical cap which the patient uses at home by placing the sperm inside the cap and putting the conception device on the cervix, intrauterine insemination (IUI), in which the doctor introduces sperm into the uterus during ovulation, via a catheter. In these methods, fertilization occurs inside the body.
If conservative medical treatments fail to achieve a full term pregnancy, the physician may suggest the patient undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF and related techniques (ICSI, ZIFT, GIFT) are called assisted reproductive technology (ART) techniques.
ART techniques generally start with stimulating the ovaries to increase egg production. After stimulation, the physician surgically extracts one or more eggs from the ovary, and unites them with sperm in a laboratory setting, with the intent of producing one or more embryos. Fertilization takes place outside the body, and the fertilized egg is reinserted into the woman’s reproductive tract, in a procedure called embryo transfer.
Other medical techniques are e.g. tuboplasty, assisted hatching, and Preimplantation genetic diagnosis.
Complementary and alternative treatments
Three complementary or alternative female infertility treatments have been scientifically tested, with results published in peer-reviewed medical journals.
- Group psychological intervention: A 2000 Harvard Medical School study examined the effects of group psychological intervention on infertile women (trying to conceive a duration of one to two years). The two intervention groups—a support group and a cognitive behavior group—had statistically significant higher pregnancy rates than the control group.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture performed 25 minutes before and after IVF embryo transfer increased IVF pregnancy rates in a German study published in 2002. In a 2006 similar study conducted by The University of South Australia, the acupuncture group’s odds (although not statistically significant) were 1.5 higher than the control group. Although definitive results of the effects of acupuncture on embryo transfer remain a topic of discussion, study authors state that it appears to be a safe adjunct to IVF.
- Manual physical therapy: The Wurn Technique, a manual manipulative physical therapy treatment, was shown in peer reviewed publications to improve natural and IVF pregnancy rates in infertile women in a 2004 study, and to open and return function to blocked fallopian tubes in a 2008 study. The therapy was designed to address adhesions restricting function and mobility of the reproductive organs. It may be regarded as a form of medical tourism. The main reasons for fertility tourism are legal regulation of the sought procedure in the home country, or lower price. In-vitro fertilization and donor insemination are major procedures involved.
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