Treatment of Female Infertility
Intrauterine insemination (artificial insemination) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) can help treat many infertility problems, including fibroids and endometriosis. Dr. Massey reviews these two common treatments in the following video.
Intrauterine insemination/artificial insemination
Artificial insemination is often highly effective for addressing infertility, and today the most common form is intrauterine insemination (IUI), in which a fertility doctor injects sperm directly into the woman’s uterus in hopes of fertilizing an egg.
The IUI form of artificial insemination requires that the woman have working ovaries, viable eggs and functional fallopian tubes (not blocked) so that the egg may transfer to the uterus to be fertilized by the injected sperm. It is much more effective when the sperm are normal.
In vitro fertilization – IVF
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a way of making a baby by combining a man’s sperm and a woman’s egg outside the woman’s body in a lab. Then, one or more fertilized eggs would be placed in the woman’s uterus with hopes that these embryos would implant in the lining of the uterus and develop into full-term infants.
At first, IVF was used for women with blocked or damaged tubes, but today IVF is used for many causes of infertility, such as ovulation factors, tubal factors, male factors, age factors, uterine factors, endometriosis, or unexplained infertility.
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths in the uterus. These growths can cause heavy bleeding if they are in the inside of the uterus.
Fibroids can cause fertility problems when located either within or very close to the uterine cavity or when they are so large the uterine cavity itself is distorted. Other uterine causes of infertility include scarring or sometimes benign glandular tumors inside the uterus which are called uterine polyps.
Myomectomy fibroid removal can improve the chances of conceiving – about 50 percent of women become pregnant within six months after the procedure. It can be performed via hysteroscopy or laparoscopy.
Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that uses a small camera to examine the reproductive organs through small incisions in the abdomen. During a laparoscopy, the surgeon can see the outside of the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Laparoscopy is used to diagnose and treat a multitude of reproductive problems that can cause infertility including blocked fallopian tubes, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, ectopic pregnancy and unexplained infertility.
Endometriosis is a problem many women have during childbearing years. The endometrium is tissue that normally lines the uterus, and in endometriosis, it grows outside the uterus, sometimes causing abdominal discomfort or even severe pain.
The invading tissue may attach itself and grow upon any organ or structure within a woman’s pelvis, including her ovaries, which can lead to removal of one or both ovaries. Endometriosis is found in 35 percent of women who have no other diagnosed infertility problem, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
Although scientists have proposed many theories as to why it is harder for women with endometriosis to conceive, endometriosis is not completely understood. Many women with endometriosis become pregnant after medical treatment.
Possible treatment options are lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery. For women who want to have biological children of their own, possible use of assisted reproductive technologies, like in vitro fertilization, may be considered.