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4 Questions Answered About What Happens At Fertility Clinics

by Stephen Silva

If you've been trying to get pregnant for a year or longer, and you still haven't conceived, you're not alone. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that infertility is a common problem, affecting 11 percent of women ages 15 through 44. While there isn't just one possible cause for problems getting pregnant, you can seek help at an infertility clinic. These medical centers provide hope and may just make your baby dreams a reality.

Before going to your first visit, consider some of the questions that you have. Go beyond, "How can I have a baby?" and get the true scoop on your condition and what the possibilities really are. Start by learning some of the key facts, and then decide what questions make the most sense to ask the doctor. These depend on your unique situation. For example, if you're trying to conceive at 39, age is an issue that you may want to bring up.

1. Is it possible to start with a medication and not an invasive procedure? If you're not ovulating or are ovulating irregularly, the doctor at the infertility clinic may suggest a medicine. Medications that induce ovulation include clomiphene citrate, human menopausal gonadotropin, follicle-stimulating hormone and gonadotropin-releasing hormone. These are the medical names, not the brand names. While these medicines do jump-start ovulation, they are often used before a procedure such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). Only you and your doctor can decide if medication is enough.

2. Is assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as IVF, effective? For many women it is. The factors of success include your age, whether you ovulate or not, your infertility issue and if you need to use a donor egg or sperm. The CDC cites that 40 percent of women under age 35 who use nondonor embryos are able to get pregnant and have babies via ART. The number drops as you get older, but is still as high as 32 percent for women 35 to 37 and 22 for women 38 to 40. This makes ART an effective option in the face of infertility.

3. What types of ART procedures are available? According to the National Infertility Association, ART procedures include IVF as well as gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) and gestational carriers. IVF involves harvesting your eggs, combining them with sperm in a lab and then implanting the growing embryo into your uterus. GIFT is similar to IVF, except for the embryo is immediately implanted into the fallopian tube right after the egg harvest. ZIFT combines IVF and GIFT. The lab creates the embryo with the harvested egg and sperm. It is then implanted into the fallopian tube, and not your uterus. If you choose to use a gestational carrier, the embryo is implanted into someone else. Also known as surrogacy, the infertility clinic can help you to navigate this process and all of the legal issues surrounding gestational carriers.

4. Are there other surgical options? Yes. In some cases a fallopian tube blockage is the cause of infertility. If this is the case, a surgeon can remove the blockage and repair the tube. This doesn't guarantee a pregnancy, but does up the odds.

Infertility clinics offer you the chance to conceive, even when you think it may not be possible. The doctors, surgeons and medical staff all work together to help you make the most of your decision to seek help. Knowing your options, what the procedures include and what the odds are can help you to make an informed decision that works for you and your family. For more information, contact Contemporary Health Care for Women or a similar organization.