While IVF may be what you and your partner expect to face when you attend a Fertility Clinic, there are actually several alternatives to IVF which may be recommended for you instead.
Your fertility specialist will make their decision after considering all circumstances of your own particular case and in light of all your test results. However, whichever course of action is recommended for you, taking pre-Conceive can help the male partner to produce higher quality sperm and the female partner to produce healthier eggs, to increase the chances of success.
Its unique combination of therapeutic levels of 31 essential nutrients and other ingredients was the subject of Europe’s first clinical study into an all-natural fertility supplement, where it was shown to improve key fertility parameters in both women and men. Please feel free to talk to your specialist about pre-Conceive and how it can help you along your fertility journey.
Alternatives to IVF
The alternatives to IVF that may be recommended for you and your partner include:
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
This is the most recently developed method for bypassing the problem of infertility. It is similar in many ways to IVF. The difference is that each ovum is injected with a single sperm cell.
ICSI ensures the penetration by the sperm of the outer layer of the ovum, and it therefore facilitates the beginning of fertilisation. Practitioners recommend this method in cases where regular IVF has failed, and particularly in involving oligozoospermia (low sperm count), or where sperm is not ejaculated naturally.
Recent literature from Bourn Hall Clinic indicates that ‘there is emerging evidence of genetic abnormalities associated with male infertility’, and advises careful screening before embarking upon ICSI.
Couples who have previously undergone the process of IVF, and who decide that their family is now complete, may still have surplus embryos in storage. Clinics in some countries are now facilitating embryo donation, whereby these surplus embryos are made available for couples for whom IVF itself has not been successful, but for whom embryo transfer is a possibility.
In the UK, there is a government proposal that children of IVF where embryo donation (or indeed the donation of sperm, or ovum) is concerned, will have the right at the age of eighteen, to have information about their donor parent(s). If this is passed, it would conflict with the current practice of guaranteeing anonymity to the donor.
Gamete IntraFallopian Tube Transfer (GIFT)
In GIFT, a maximum of three ova are selected and replaced in the fallopian tube almost immediately after collection, together with a small sample of sperm. Fertilisation actually takes place in vivo. This procedure requires the use of laparoscopy, and involves general anaesthetic.
Because this method involves placement of the gametes in the fallopian tubes, it requires that the woman has healthy tubes. The method works well for couples with unexplained infertility, and mild endometriosis. The best results reported indicate a 26% live birth rate.
Egg donation has been common practice for several years. The procedure for obtaining the ovum is the same as in the case of IVF, except that the ova are harvested from a woman other than the one who will conceive and carry the baby. A woman who is herself a candidate for IVF might be asked to donate ova which are surplus to her own requirements. Alternatively, a woman who is a candidate for tubal ligation, or other gynaecological surgery, might be asked to donate her ova prior to surgery.
Surrogacy is an arrangement whereby a woman agrees to conceive a child and carry it to term, on behalf of another woman who, for whatever reason is unable or unwilling to become pregnant herself. Theoretically surrogacy may involve the use of ova provided by the intended social mother, or by the surrogate.
Assisted Insemination by Husband (AIH) and Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
Assisted Insemination, which was in use long before IVF, is now less commonly used, as it has little effect in resolving infertility due to sperm deficiency. AIH does however offer the possibility of achieving pregnancy in cases where men cannot achieve or sustain erection, or where women have difficulties with vaginismus.
Theoretically, this does not necessarily require any medical intervention. Where the woman is ovulating normally (or will respond to drug therapy), and where the male partner’s sperm is satisfactory, problems may still arise because of the inability of the sperm to penetrate the cervical mucus of the female partner. This can be overcome by a procedure known as intrauterine insemination (IUI), which is a specific variation of AI.
Ovulation is induced, and sperm is placed high in the uterus, by means of a catether, thus avoiding the cervical mucus. IUI can also be used with reasonable success to treat subfertility caused by mild endometriosis. Where superovulator drugs are used to stimulate ovum ripening, it is different from IVF, in that the objective is to produce three ova, and no more.
Artificial Insemination by Donor (AID)
This procedure is rarely offered today. The donor has to have a full screening for hepatitis, AIDS, syphilis, and more. Also, it may be difficult for the couple to accept a situation in which only one of them will be a biological parent of the child.
Testicular biopsy is a surgical procedure in which sperm are extracted directly from the testicles. This procedure is considered to be of benefit in cases where the male has a sperm count below 1 million. Its availability further reduces the need/demand for AID. Sperm can be obtained in this way and used for ICSI. Drug treatment for reduced sperm count has been largely abandoned.