Choosing a
fertility treatment

First things first: Before starting a fertility treatment, you’ll need to have some tests done. Testing—often referred to as a fertility evaluation—helps your reproductive endocrinologist (RE) figure out what makes sense for you, treatment-wise.

Fertility evaluations may include:

Blood work

To check for hormonal abnormalities or potential genetic factors that can contribute to infertility

To check your ovarian reserve

Semen analysis

To determine if sperm
production is normal

Ultrasound

To look for obstructions and/or blockages of the tubes that transport semen

To count the number of small follicles in the ovary (also known as an antral follicle count)

HSG (hysterosalpingogram) test

To check your uterus and fallopian tubes

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What happens next?

Once your RE has a better sense of the big picture, you’ll discuss your options. Remember: Every woman’s body is different, which means the plan of action can differ greatly from one person to another. For some, lifestyle changes (either on the part of you or your partner) are enough—but in many cases, you’ll be discussing one or more of the options below.

Possible treatment
options include:

Ovulation induction (OI)

Ovulation induction (OI) is one of the first treatment options your doctor may discuss. Often referred to as ovarian stimulation, OI is generally the first step of IVF (in vitro fertilization) or IUI (intrauterine insemination). It’s the process of stimulating the ovaries with fertility medications to produce multiple eggs.

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What is OI?

During OI, fertility drugs are used to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Normally, the ovaries will produce only a single egg each month. With OI, multiple eggs are produced since not all eggs will fertilize or develop normally after fertilization.

Medications for OI may include:

  • Human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG)
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
  • Luteinizing hormone (LH) (used in conjunction with FSH)
  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)
  • Letrozole

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IUI and IVF

You’ve probably heard of IUI and IVF. They’re two of the most common fertility treatments—but they’re not the same thing. Let’s break down the differences between the two.

What is IUI?

In an IUI procedure, sperm is placed directly into the uterus in order to bypass the cervix and place the sperm closer to the egg.

What is IVF?

With IVF, sperm and eggs are combined outside the body in a laboratory. A developed fertilized egg (embryo) is then reintroduced into the uterus in hopes of achieving pregnancy.

Get the details on IVF

Surgery to correct
medical conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as problems with your fallopian tubes, endometriosis, or fibroids, can cause fertility issues. In many cases, surgery can correct these problems, restoring your chance to conceive. And thanks to medical advances, most of these procedures are minimally invasive and have a short recovery period.

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Here’s a list of common fertility-related surgeries:

Laparoscopy: Often used as a diagnostic tool, laparoscopy involves the insertion of a small, lighted camera into the pelvic cavity, which allows your doctor to check for scar tissue, endometriosis, and blockages impacting the outer wall of the uterus as well as the fallopian tubes and ovaries. If issues are discovered, your surgeon may use other surgical tools to correct the problems.

Hysteroscopy: Hysteroscopy involves a small camera inserted through the cervix to view the uterine lining. Unlike laparoscopy, which allows your doctor to examine and treat the outer wall of the uterus, hysteroscopy goes deeper, providing a view of fibroids, scar tissue, polyps, and abnormalities inside the uterine cavity.

Myomectomy: Myomectomy refers to the removal of uterine fibroids and is sometimes called fibroidectomy. Often done through laparotomy (which is a major surgery, see below), but can sometimes be done via laparoscopy or hysteroscopy (aka, a less invasive procedure).

Laparotomy: If your doctor needs a better view of your reproductive organs, he or she may recommend laparotomy. This is a majorly invasive surgery, performed under general anesthesia on an inpatient basis (which means you'll be spending time in the hospital).

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