When mature eggs are harvested from a woman’s ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab, resulting in an embryo that is implanted into the woman’s uterus, this is a type of reproductive technology referred to as in vitro fertilization, or IVF. This method for conception is typically not used, except as a treatment for infertility or to prevent genetic problems.
Although other, less invasive and less expensive options are usually explored to treat infertility before IVF is attempted, it may be a primary treatment option if you or your partner have certain health conditions. Here are some fertility problems that in vitro fertilization can be used to treat.
If no cause for infertility has been found, even after a thorough evaluation has been performed for the most common causes, then IVF might be recommended by your doctor.
Damage to Fallopian Tubes
If there is damage or blockage in your fallopian tubes, this makes it difficult for an egg to be fertilized. Even if the egg is fertilized, it could also be difficult for an embryo to travel to the uterus because of this. In cases like these, IVF may be the best option.
This is a condition that occurs when tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus to begins growing outside of it. Among other things, this can cause problems with the functioning of the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes, which can in turn cause infertility.
Tubal ligation is a procedure that blocks or cuts your fallopian tubes in order to permanently prevent pregnancy. If you had a tubal ligation in the past but now have decided you want to conceive, IVF can be an alternative to consider instead of a tubal ligation reversal procedure.
Premature Ovarian Failure or Ovulation Disorders
If ovulation is sporadic or absent altogether, this will make it more difficult to become pregnant on your own. If you are experiencing the loss of ovarian function before the age of 40, this is considered premature ovarian failure. This can cause problems with producing estrogen, as well as problems with releasing eggs regularly. Both of these problems can be addressed using in vitro fertilization.
Impaired Sperm Production
Your partner’s sperm will be analyzed as part of infertility diagnosis. If the sperm is found to have a below-average concentration, poor mobility, or abnormalities in the shape and size, fertilization could be difficult. In these cases, IVF can be used to select the healthiest and strongest sperm to manually fertilize a harvested egg.
Benign tumors found in the walls of the uterus are referred to as fibroids. Although common in women in their 30s and 40s, these tumors can interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg. In vitro fertilization is sometimes useful for working around this problem.
If you or your partner have a genetic disorder that you are concerned about passing down to your child, then IVF can help with ensuring this does not happen. After eggs are harvested from the ovaries and fertilized, they can be screened for the specific genetic problems. Only the fertilized embryos that do not contain the genetic disorders will be transferred to the uterus.
If you have had cancer or other health conditions with treatments that can harm your fertility, such as chemotherapy or radiation, then IVF for fertility preservation may be a good option for your future. This involves harvesting eggs from a woman’s ovaries before harmful treatments begin so they can be frozen and stored for later use.