If you’ve been TTC for a while, you may be wondering about fertility treatments. Is there fertility surgery?
What about natural fertility treatments at home?
One million babies were born from Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) in the United States between 1987 and 2015.
And 2% of all babies born in the United States every year are conceived this way.
While these treatments don’t work for everyone, they have seriously opened up options for those struggling to get pregnant — and they could be the right choice for you.
There have been some amazing advancements in fertility treatments in recent years.
So, if you’re an aspiring mama, things are looking good.
However, there’s no denying that the array of different fertility treatment options can be confusing.
And you probably have lots of questions from what are fertility pills for women? to what is the cheapest fertility treatment?
(Sadly, yes, price does sometimes come into it.)
We spoke with embryologist and fertility expert, Navya Muralidhar, for everything you need to know about fertility treatments.
In this article: 📝
- What are the primary causes of infertility?
- What is a fertility treatment?
- What are the 3 main types of fertility treatments?
- What are the 5 options for infertility?
- How much do fertility treatments cost?
- Which fertility treatment is most effective?
- What is the best fertility treatment to get pregnant?
- Support when you’re going through fertility treatment
What are the primary causes of infertility?
Infertility is generally defined as not being able to fall pregnant naturally after at least one year of trying.
There are all sorts of reasons why this might be the case.
The most common cause of female infertility is anovulation (not ovulating).
For about 40% of women struggling with infertility, this is at the heart of their TTC issues.
Anovulation can happen for various reasons, including endocrine disorders like PCOS and thyroid disease.
We are born with all the eggs we’ll ever have, about a million according to the experts.
By puberty, this decreases to around 300,000.
And as we get older, our eggs decline exponentially.
This is a totally normal process.
So by the age of 45, our eggs have decreased in number and quality which makes falling pregnant a little more challenging.
Some reproductive system medical conditions can also make it harder to get pregnant.
Endometriosis, fibroids, polyps, injuries, and infections are all contributors.
For some people, having a differently shaped uterus can impact whether a fertilized egg can implant in the womb and how easy it will be to carry a baby to term.
As for male infertility, there are various reasons why this can happen too.
Male fertility challenges can be caused by not having enough mature sperm — or by the fact that the available sperm are not strong swimmers.
A range of issues can affect sperm count and motility (their ability to move on their own), including infections and inflammation, hormone issues, immune disorders, specific medical treatments, and some genetic disorders, like cystic fibrosis.
Some men have mental and physical disorders, like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
So by this point, it’s easy to see that there’s so much that can go into fertility struggles.
But wherever you’re at, the first thing to know is that you do have options.
One of the first steps you can take is to speak to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) — aka a fertility doctor.
They’re trained to diagnose and treat conditions related to infertility and can even perform minor surgeries to help with reproductive issues.
In some cases, both partners need treatment, and in others, only one does.
But fertility treatments are not the only options available to you.
If you are TTC, there are a number of roads that you can explore, including surrogacy and adoption.
We’ll take you through the details.
What is a fertility treatment?
Fertility treatment covers any medical treatment that’s used to help you conceive a baby.
It might involve fertility surgery, fertility pills, or assisted reproductive technology (ART), like in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
Fertility treatments (sometimes also known as infertility treatments) are used when all other avenues for improving your chances of conceiving have been explored.
That is, any underlying health issues that could impact your fertility have been resolved (if that’s possible).
Your doctor will carry out tests to try and work out the exact issue with your fertility for the best fertility treatment for you.
For women, the problem can lie with our ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus.
If you’ve got a male partner on the scene, there could be a problem with his swimmers, or reproductive organs. And in some cases, the issue may lie with genetic makeup.
The results of these tests will guide your doctor as they determine which would be the best fertility treatments to help you get pregnant.
If you want more support and people to talk to who know what you’re going through, you’re always welcome on Peanut.
How can I check my fertility?
If you’re not sure when you might be at your most fertile (this is your fertile window, which is the most likely time to conceive), there are some tests you can take at home.
You can try an at-home ovulation test before you think about fertility treatments ‒ it might be that you’re trying to conceive on days where you’re at your least fertile.
One of the highest-rated fertility tests according to our mamas of Peanut is the Clearblue Fertility Monitor, which you can get on Amazon.
However, if you’ve taken a fertility test and you’re still not sure whether you might have fertility issues, it’s best to speak with your doctor, who can carry out a proper fertility check and suggest possible fertility treatments.
Can I test my fertility at home?
Yes, you certainly can, with an at-home fertility test or ovulation test ‒ although visiting your doctor will give you a more accurate result, along with some next steps, like fertility treatments.
How can I boost my fertility to get pregnant?
While it’s true there are some ways that you can improve your fertility outside of surgical fertility treatments and over-the-counter fertility pills, it’s important to remember that these aren’t guaranteed.
Sometimes, TTC just takes longer than usual, or needs a helping hand.
But if you want to try some more ‘natural’ fertility treatments at home, here are a few things you can try:
- Timing when you have sex. Doing your ‘baby dance’ when you’re at your most fertile can significantly increase your chances of conceiving.
- Keeping stress in check. Sometimes, stress can impact your fertility and chances of implantation.
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle ‒ whatever that means for you, like including exercise, healthy eating habits, or eating more fertility-friendly foods.
- Cutting some things out, like drinking alcohol, smoking, and caffeine.
- Taking fertility supplements. Some fertility doctors recommend taking multivitamins and prenatal supplements to boost your chances of conceiving.
Remember to speak with your doctor before you make any major lifestyle changes.
Can folic acid make you fertile?
Not strictly speaking, no.
Folic acid is recommended to take a few months before trying to conceive and during the first trimester of pregnancy to encourage healthy growth and reduce the risk of neural tube defects in babies.
One small study even tested men taking folic acid supplements, which didn’t significantly improve their semen quality ‒ although it’s still a small study, so more tests need to be carried out.
Can you go from infertile to fertile?
Yes, you can become fertile after being infertile.
Whether you try our natural fertility treatments at home or speak to a doctor about fertility treatments, more often than not, you can become fertile.
What are the 3 main types of fertility treatments?
While there are lots of different fertility treatment options available, they’re split into three main types of fertility treatment:
- Medicines, like fertility pills or shots
- Surgical procedures, like tubal cannulation
- Assisted conception, like intrauterine insemination (IUI)
What are the 5 options for infertility?
The most important thing to know is that there’s no one way to have a family.
How you decide to travel this road is a decision only you can make.
(And yep, we’ll be there to help you along the way.)
Here’s what’s on the table.
1. Medical procedures
The term Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) refers to all fertility treatments where eggs and embryos are directly manipulated by a doctor, like in vitro fertilization (IVF).
There are also treatments that involve the medical handling of sperm, such as intrauterine and artificial insemination.
We’ll take you through the details of the main treatment types below.
Depending on the root of your TTC struggles, medication may help improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Some of the common treatment options to help stimulate ovulation are:
This is one of the most common fertility medications, the other being Letrozole which is not FDA-approved.
Clomiphene citrate is used for women who have ovulation challenges caused by conditions like PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome).
Clomid tells your brain that it needs more estrogen, which prompts it to increase the production of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), vital hormones.
As the name suggests, FSH helps your ovaries produce a mature ovarian follicle.
LH is responsible for triggering the release of your egg.
Research tells us that about 80 percent of those who take Clomid for irregular ovulation will ovulate as a result, and about 30 to 40 percent of them become pregnant.
And while it’s not approved as a fertility drug for those with sperm, Clomid can be used off-label to increase sperm production and testosterone.
Known by its brand name Femara, Letrozole is an aromatase inhibitor — a kind of drug that lowers estrogen (and testosterone) levels.
This causes a chain effect, ultimately leading to the production of more hormones necessary for ovulation.
While it’s not FDA-approved as a fertility medication, it has proven to be very effective for stimulating ovulation and treating endometriosis.
(It is FDA-approved as a treatment for breast cancer.)
Interestingly, another aromatase inhibitor called Anastrozole is used as a fertility medication for men, as it helps to lower estrogen and, in turn, balance out testosterone levels.
For more info about Femara vs. Clomid, check out our article here.
Chat with your doctor about what option might be right for you.
Bromocriptine and Cabergoline
These medications are known by their brand names, Parlodel (Cycloset) and Dostinex, respectively.
They help produce prolactin, which is the hormone that assists in producing breast milk.
Too much of this hormone can get in the way of ovulation.
These medications, given as an injection by a healthcare practitioner, are all used to stimulate ovulation if oral medication doesn’t work.
- Synthetic Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG): Yep, we know — it’s a mouthful. Its brand names include Pregnyl, Profasi, Novarel, and Ovidrel. hCG can also be used in men to help out with sperm production.
- Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH): Brand names include Bravelle, Fertenix, Follistim, and Gonal-F.
- Human Menopausal Gonadotropins (hMG): You may have heard it referred to as Menopur, Metrodin, Pergonel,or Repronex. It contains a combo of FSH and LH.
- Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) agonists: Lupron, Synarel, or Zoladex are the brand names to look out for here.
- Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) antagonists: Also known as Antagon and Cetrotide.
3. Complementary therapies
As you travel along your TTC journey, you might come across several alternative medicine methods that promise to boost your chances of getting pregnant.
These are sometimes tried before venturing into medications and medical procedures, or at other times as an add-on to medical treatments.
But while there are a host of complementary therapies out there, it’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor before starting any treatments.
(That being said, eating a healthy diet and doing yoga are only good for you — so enjoy!)
One thing that may help?
There’s some early research to suggest that stress reduction can lead to higher pregnancy rates.
Plus, actively reducing stress really helps navigate what can be an extremely demanding time.
How you look after yourself is up to you.
Yoga, mindfulness meditation, and breathing exercises can do wonders, as can walks in nature or talk therapy.
Surrogacy is when someone has a baby on your behalf.
In this case, you would be what’s known as the “intended parent.”
And once the baby is born, you become their mother.
There are two types of surrogates — traditional and gestational.
A traditional surrogate is artificially inseminated with the sperm of the intended father or a donor, which then fertilizes the surrogate’s own egg.
This means the resulting baby has the surrogate’s DNA.
Gestational surrogacy does not use the surrogate’s egg, meaning the surrogate is not genetically related to the baby.
In this case, either the intended mother’s egg or a donor egg is used, and the fertilized egg is implanted in the surrogate through IVF.
(We’ll take you through the details of IVF below.)
As you might guess, the gestational surrogacy option makes things a little smoother legally, particularly if you live in a state that doesn’t recognize surrogacy contracts.
Curious to learn more about surrogacy?
We’ll give you the full lowdown here.
Adoption can be an incredible route to mamahood.
And you’ll be in good company — more than 1.2 million children in the U.S. are living with at least one adoptive parent.
If you want to explore your options, the National Adoption Council provides this resource that will take you through costs, timelines, and how to know if you’re ready.
And head here for our dedicated space for those who have adopted, are in the process of adoption or are curious about starting the adoption journey.
An important note: the choice to adopt after ending the TTC journey is big.
It can be quite a hard transition to make.
Take time to grieve, go easy on yourself — and seek counseling to talk through your feelings.
How much do fertility treatments cost?
The cost and availability of different fertility treatments will vary based on where you are in the world.
In the US, for example, only 16 states have laws that say medical insurance must cover or offer coverage for fertility treatments.
You’ll find that the more complex the fertility treatment is the more expensive it will be.
So, a fairly quick, low-tech procedure like IUI might cost $300 to $1,000 (without medical insurance), while one cycle of IVF can cost upwards of $15,000.
It’s worth contacting your healthcare or medical insurance provider to check what kinds of fertility treatments are available in your region and whether you’ll need to cover the cost yourself.
Are fertility treatments tax deductible?
Yes, some fertility treatments can be tax-deductible, as they can be classed as a medical expense.
If you want to find out if you can claim your fertility treatments as tax-deductable, speak to a financial advisor.
Which fertility treatment is most effective?
There is no ‘best’ fertility treatment ‒ there are different reasons for infertility, ranging from stress to issues with sperm.
If you want to find the best fertility treatment for you, speak with your doctor.
What is the first step to treating fertility?
One of the first treatments for infertility is to try a few natural fertility treatments at home, before opting for fertility pills or fertility surgery.
This could involve:
- Finding out when you’re ovulating.
- Meditation and yoga to keep stress levels down.
- Eating healthily.
- Exercising regularly.
- Stopping smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Taking fertility supplements.
What is the surgical treatment for infertility?
The most common fertility surgery is tubal cannulation, which finds and removes any blockages in your fallopian tubes that could cause infertility.
What are three fertility treatments available?
Generally speaking, the fertility treatments that may be available to you will be split into three categories: fertility surgery, fertility pills (medication), and assisted conception (like IUI and IVF).
What are alternatives to IVF?
There are lots of ways to get pregnant without IVF, but if you’re struggling with infertility and you want to see what other fertility treatments may be suitable for you, it’s best to speak with your doctor.
What is the best fertility treatment to get pregnant?
Our bodies are all different, and what works for one person may not be the best bet for another.
Also, these treatments can be very taxing on your body and mind.
Often, fertility therapies are combined into a comprehensive treatment plan.
For example, combining ovulation-stimulating medication, egg freezing, and IVF.
To give you an idea, the 2020 national report from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) reported a live singleton birth rate per cycle of egg retrieval:
- 44.6% for those younger than 35
- 29.6% for those between 35 and 37
- 18.7% for those between 38 and 40
- 9.2% for those between 40 and 42
- 2.8% for those older than 42
(While these numbers may seem quite low, there are multiple variables including it’s that this is per cycle, and it’s common to undergo multiple cycles.)
But there are other considerations here.
IVF is more expensive and invasive than IUI — so it really depends on what your preferences are.
If you’re considering fertility treatments, the best bet is to start by talking to a fertility doctor about your options.
They will look at your unique situation and advise you accordingly.
And remember that your Peanut community is here.
We know — this road is filled with ups and downs, and it can be pretty lonely.
Connecting with others who are walking it with you can really help.
Support when you’re going through fertility treatment
Infertility can be a tough mountain to climb at the best of times, before you start throwing in hormone shots, stressful appointments, fertility treatments, or the hunt for a suitable egg donor.
If you’re undergoing fertility treatments to get pregnant and you’re finding it difficult, remember that there’s a whole community of women who have been there (or are going through the same thing right now!) on Peanut.
Be gentle with yourself, and reach out for support when you need it.