The Ultimate Guide to Fertility Methods
Child takes a look at the pros, cons, costs, and emotional tolls of assisted reproduction.
Fertility Method: Injected or taken in pill form, the drugs release hormones that induce ovulation to boost egg production and make the uterus more receptive to embryo implantation.
Best Suited For: The one-third to one-half of infertile women who don't ovulate regularly or who have partners with very poor sperm quality. Not for women with damaged or blocked fallopian tubes or with scarring from endometriosis (they require in vitro fertilization).
Success Rates*: 40% to 45% of women who take the pills and ovulate get pregnant, while 26% of women who ovulate as a result of the shots get pregnant.
Pros: The drugs are typically the first choice in fertility treatments because of their low cost and relative convenience.
Cons: Possible bloating, headaches, hot flashes, and nausea. Side effects are worse with the shots, including risk of multiple births, premature delivery, and formation of large ovarian cysts.
Costs: $100 to $400 per cycle for pills. $2,500 to $6,000 per cycle for shots, which require blood tests and ultrasounds to monitor how ovaries are responding.
Emotional Toll: Fertility medications can cause mood swings in some women.
Fertility Method: The most common method, intrauterine insemination (IUI), involves inserting specially prepared ("washed") sperm directly into the cervical canal through a thin, flexible tube. Women usually take fertility drugs, as well, to increase chances of fertilization.
Best Suited For: Men with slow-moving or decreased-quality sperm or low sperm count. Also, women who have produced antibodies to their partner's sperm or whose cervical mucus is too scant, too acidic, or too thick to transport the sperm to the egg.
Success Rates*: 7% to 14% per cycle. When combined with fertility drugs, success rates increase to as high as 23% per cycle.
Pros: Simple procedure that can be performed in a doctor's office.
Cons: Women who take fertility drugs when inseminated may experience side effects from them (see above).
Costs: $100 to $300 for sperm retrieval and insertion. When combined with fertility drugs, can cost $1,400 to $6,000 per cycle.
Emotional Toll: Some men report feeling embarrassed that they can't make a baby the traditional way.
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