Artificial Insemination and In Vitro Fertilization
Now acronyms that most people are familiar with, artificial insemination (AI ) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) have come a long way since the “test-tube babies” of the 1970s. Artificial insemination or intrauterine insemination (IUI) involves placing sperm directly into the uterus whereas IVF is a procedure where eggs and sperm are combined in a laboratory, and then placed in the uterus once embryos form. AI is less expensive and less invasive and often attempted first if it makes sense; this procedure can be a good option for women with open fallopian tubes and can be used to manage moderately low sperm counts. IVF is often tried after other alternatives, because of its expense and lower success rate, but can be an option for women with blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, advanced reproductive age, ovulation issues, and partners with lower sperm counts. Both have helped couples with infertility start or expand families: Hundreds of thousands of babies in the United States have been born thanks to these procedures.
Some of the medications used in concert with these treatments can increase the chance of multiple births and can cause side effects, and insurance may or may not cover part of the procedures, so it is important to start with some research. If you’re considering AI or IVF, make sure you’ve exhausted other options and start with a consultation. Ask the clinic what their success rate is for your age group, the number of twin/multiple births that result, procedure costs, embryo storage costs and anything else that you are concerned about. If you are considering treatment for infertility issues, talk to your doctor about the best options for you.