Two mothers happily looking at the ultrasound of their baby

Getting pregnant is not always simple. Some of us might have trouble conceiving with our partner or be in a same sex couple, and others could choose to become a single parent. Good news is there’s many fertility treatments out there! Understanding more about these options can help you to feel more at ease and hopefully welcome a new life into the world soon too.

Having a baby is a common dream that many people have; for some, it may even be a big milestone in their lives. And while it is common to talk about having kids, it is not as usual to share the struggles that may come with it. Every body is different, and in the same way some of us experience light and short periods while others have heavy and seemingly endless ones, it is also more difficult for some people to get pregnant than for others. 

Conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid problems, premature ovarian failure (when ovaries stop working before the age of 40) or endometriosis can often affect fertility and make it harder to become pregnant. Blockages in the fallopian tubes due to scarring from surgery, fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease can also make it tricky for an egg to travel down into the womb. On the other hand, male fertility problems can be caused by low sperm production, abnormal sperm function, or blockages that prevent the delivery of sperm. [1]

Frustrating as this may be, you’re not alone; in fact, around 1 in 7 couples experience difficulty when trying to conceive. [2] This is exactly why medicine has been working on a solution through different fertility treatments.

What are the different types of fertility treatment?

There’s a wide range of procedures that can help with getting pregnant depending on your needs, whether that is conceiving with a same sex partner, preventing the transmission of genetic conditions onto the baby, or even preserving a transgender persons’ ability to have a biological child (before undergoing hormone therapy or gender reassignment surgery). So, it’s always a good idea to talk with a medical professional who can set you on the right direction. Taking a further look at the different types of fertility treatments and how they work can come in handy to prepare you for that conversation.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF)

The most well-known type of fertility treatment is IVF. This process takes place in a lab and involves fertilising an egg (where the sperm enters the egg) outside of the body. This fertilised egg is then implanted into the womb and from then on, the pregnancy journey continues naturally. IVF is an extremely common form of fertility treatment, so much that 8 million babies have been born as a result ever since 1978. [3]

In vitro fertilisation can be carried out with your own egg or a donated one from a donor. In some cases, your eggs can be frozen years in advance, this means you can put parenthood on hold until you’re ready to go through this treatment. Be mindful that depending on who’re partnered with (if at all), you may need a sperm donor too in order to make this option work.

So, how likely it is to conceive through IVF? The success of this fertility treatment varies from person to person and is impacted by individual situation and age. Generally, the older you are, the harder it gets. If you’re under 35 and using your own egg, there’s a 3 in 10 chance that it will lead to a baby, whereas if you’re over the age of 44, it’s 1 in 50 chance. [4]

Because the odds of having a baby through IVF are relatively slim, women+ often end up going through many rounds of expensive, physically demanding treatment. This can make it an incredibly stressful and isolating experience. But remember you’re not alone! Relying on your doctor, partner, a close friend or family for comfort can really help you get through what may be a difficult time. You might also consider therapy or joining help groups to connect with other people who can share their IVF experiences and give you emotional support.

Other types of fertility treatments

Even though IVF is quite popular, it is by no means the only fertility treatment out there – depending on your personal situation along with what works for your body, you may be better suited to another option For example, your doctor can prescribe medications to help encourage ovulation. This method can be particularly helpful for people who have PCOS, as this condition can cause unpredictable and less frequent ovulation. Another common option is surrogacy, which means another person accepts to go through the pregnancy if you are unable to...a bit like a borrowed womb for your baby!

There are some other surgical procedures that also count as types of fertility treatments. This refers to procedures used to remove scar tissues in the fallopian tubes or growths and cysts in and around the womb that may be blocking the egg’s journey – similar to how you would remove an obstacle from a racetrack! [5] There is also artificial semination, which is very similar to in vitro fertilisation, except that the fertilisation of the egg with the sperm takes place directly inside your body as opposed to in a lab.


Whichever options you decide for along with your medical professional, bear in mind that they don’t always work. All of our bodies are different in how they respond to treatment, so it’s important to rely on your doctor as well as on those closest to you for support. And most importantly, remember to be kind to yourself.

It’s ok to look for help getting pregnant!

When getting pregnant gets difficult, it’s not surprising for it to affect our mood and mental health. It’s normal to feel sad, anxious or even angry. But whenever these emotions come around, remember that it’s ok to get help when you need it – after all, our bodies are not machines and we are unable to control exactly how they work.

Looking to your partner, doctor or other close friends and family for extra support during these times can make a big difference to how you feel. Fertility treatments are an incredible scientific development that has given many the chance of getting pregnant – it can sound like a miracle of sorts. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy journey both physically and emotionally. So if you've feeling disheartened, be kind to yourself, and try to take it one day at a time. 

If you’re experiencing, or have experienced the ups and downs of fertility treatments, why not share your story with others? You might give someone else the comfort of knowing they’re not alone either.

Medical disclaimer

The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition.



[References]

[1]  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/male-infertility/symptoms-causes/syc-20374773

[2]  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/infertility/

[3]  https://www.hfea.gov.uk/media/2894/fertility-treatment-2017-trends-and-figures-may-2019.pdf

[4]  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ivf/

[5]  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/infertility/treatment/

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