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Seeking treatment for infertility

Many couples have difficulty getting pregnant. Treatment options vary by cause.

Infertility is a medical condition that prevents pregnancy. The cause can lie within the male or female reproductive system. Sometimes a combination of factors is responsible.

The first step in infertility treatment is to get an accurate diagnosis. A doctor looking for the cause may ask about a couple's:

  • Medical, sexual and reproductive histories.
  • Drug use.
  • Past injuries.
  • Frequency of intercourse.
  • Past methods of birth control.

The doctor may also ask about the woman's menstrual cycles and then perform complete physical exams.

Further tests are done as needed. A sperm analysis is common. For women, tests include x-rays, laparoscopy, and body temperature and ovulation analysis.

About 85% to 90% of infertile couples receive medication or surgery to repair reproductive organs. Other treatments include:

  • Intracervical insemination (ICI), in which semen is placed in the woman's cervix.
  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI), in which semen is placed in the woman's uterus.
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF), in which the eggs and sperm are mixed in a petri dish. If an egg is fertilized, it is placed in the woman's uterus.
  • Donor insemination (DI), in which a donor's semen is placed in the woman's cervix or uterus.

Infertility treatment may cause stress in intimate relationships. Doctors can provide the names of support groups or counselors who specialize in infertility.

reviewed 9/26/2019

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