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Medical Advances

Providing Support: An Infertility Roundup

Available Treatment Options

The miracle of life truly is really science. Each time a man ejaculates, he typically releases tens of millions of sperm. However, only a few hundred sperm will reach a woman’s egg, and only one will fertilize it.

Infertility can be a difficult road to navigate. Fortunately, there are resources that can help guide you along the way. From planning to preparation, see everything you need to know about seeking treatment to grow your family.

Deciding to Get Help

When Should I See a Fertility Specialist?

If you are having trouble conceiving, you are not alone. About 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. Here are six reasons why it might be time to seek help.

Others may have trouble staying pregnant:

  • An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo implants outside of the uterus, often in the fallopian tube. An ectopic pregnancy is not a viable pregnancy and can be life-threatening.
  • A biochemical pregnancy loss occurs when an embryo stops growing before it becomes large enough to see on an ultrasound. This is potentially due to a severe chromosomal abnormality in the embryo.

You may have previously conceived without a problem. So why are you struggling now? Secondary infertility accounts for more than half of all infertility cases in the United States. The goal is finding the root cause and fixing it. From stress to food, see what else gets blamed for infertility — and which causes are actually myths.

Available Treatment Options

There are several reasons why treatment might be appropriate for you, from facing chemotherapy to genetic conditions:

  • Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue similar to the lining inside the uterus grows outside the uterus. This affects an estimated one in 10 women during their reproductive years, which is approximately 176 million women worldwide.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects approximately 10 percent of reproductive-aged women. This can cause a hormone imbalance that impacts ovulation.
  • Many women want to become parents in the future, but worry about their age affecting their chances of conceiving. Egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation) is one method being increasingly used to increase women’s chances of having a baby as they age.
  • See other reasons why treatment might be appropriate for you.
IUI vs. IVF: Which Is Right for You?

Two procedures are commonly used to help couples who need fertility assistance: IUI and IVF. Explore the differences and learn which might be right for you.

IVF involves the use of medication to help a woman grow more eggs. The eggs are then retrieved, fertilized with donor sperm and transferred back into her uterus. Learn more about this highly effective treatment.

Navigating Through Heartache — and Hope

Although depression and anxiety do not cause infertility or pregnancy loss, it is common for women undergoing fertility treatment to feel like they are on an emotional rollercoaster.

Despite the frequency of miscarriage, women and men often report a sense of suffering in silence. Here are ways to help you cope with miscarriage.

Going through this journey is hard. If someone in your life is pursuing fertility treatment, it’s important to know that some comments can be hurtful, even if they’re intended to help. Find out how to be supportive, and how to avoid being insulting. (For starters: Don’t assume everyone can have children.)

Wondering what options you might have to grow your family? Northwestern Medicine Fertility and Reproductive Medicine has locations in Chicago and the north and west suburbs.

Fertility and Reproductive Medicine