Infertility treatment


There are many reasons a woman may have difficulty becoming pregnant. There are a number of things you can do to increase the likelihood of becoming pregnant including lifestyle changes, surgery, hormone treatment and Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).

Whatever treatment you decide upon, it is very important you have a discussion with your doctor about what the proposed treatment involves physically, emotionally and financially and what chance of success you can expect.

The following are some of the ways used to help with infertility.

Weight management

Small reductions in weight can assist with fertility, so if you are above a healthy weight, weight management and physical activity is the first treatment option. Even a 5-10% loss of weight has been shown to greatly improve the chances of becoming pregnant [1]. Nutrition and exercise will play an important role in weight management.

Ovulation induction

Ovulation induction is designed to stimulate the ovary to increase egg production. Ovulation induction uses tablets or injections over a period of time. Ultrasounds and blood tests are performed to determine the best time to trigger ovulation using a hormone called HCG. Once ovulation has been triggered, semen is introduced either by sexual intercourse or intra-uterine insemination when collected semen is placed directly into the uterus through the cervix.

Ovulation induction is not recommended for women who have a BMI greater than 35.

Clomiphene citrate

Clomiphene (Clomid) is a tablet that is the most common medication used in Australia for ovulation induction. It is often recommended as the first option for improving fertility in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) who are infertile and do not ovulate.

Metformin

Metformin can be used for treating infertility in women with PCOS who don't ovulate and who have no other reasons for infertility.

Gonadotrophins

Gonadotrophins are hormones involved in regulating ovulation such as:

  • follicle–stimulating hormone (FSH)
  • luteinsing hormone (LH)
  • human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG)

Surgery for improving fertility

Ovarian drilling

A surgical procedure that may increase ovulation in PCOS. It is a minimally invasive procedure where an incision is made in the abdomen under a general anaesthetic and via the laparoscope small holes are drilled in the surface of the ovary. Following ovarian drilling, ovulation is often restored for up to 6-12 months.

As surgery is a more intensive treatment than taking medication or lifestyle treatment, ovarian drilling is not commonly used and is mostly used after other lifestyle or medical treatment has not helped.

Tubal surgery with microsurgery to unblock tubes

It is rare these days because of assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

Hydrotubation

Putting dye through the fallopian tube either under anaesthetic or during ultrasound.

Assisted reproductive technology (ART)

For women who have not been able to conceive naturally or by using medications or lifestyle treatment to improve their fertility, another option is assisted reproductive technology. This includes treatments such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Referral to a fertility specialist is necessary for these treatments.

 You will find helpful information on ART on the VARTA website at varta.org.au/reproductive-treatment, including:

  • understanding reproductive treatment
  • what is ART?
  • possible health effects of IVF
  • understanding IVF success rates
  • preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD)
  • navigating reproductive treatment
  • after reproductive treatment

References

  1. Vause, Cheung, Sierra et al. Ovulation induction in polycystic ovary syndrome. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2010 May;32(5):495-502.

Last updated 13 February 2017 — Last reviewed 01 March 2014

This web page is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your health practitioner. The information above is based on current medical knowledge, evidence and practice as at March 2014.

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