If you’ve struggled to have children, then it’s likely that you’re very familiar with the ins and outs of in vitro fertilization. It’s one of the most common treatment options for couples who struggle with infertility, so it’s pretty well-known throughout the fertility community. What you might not know as much about, though, are the alternative treatment options available to you.
Traditional IVF isn’t the only solution out there, there are actually several different types of IVF available to help with infertility, as well as several other treatment options. Take some time to familiarize yourself with all of your options now.
Different Types of IVF
Dr. John Zhang of New Hope Fertility contributed to Fertility Authority, discussing three alternatives types of in vitro fertilization:
Natural Cycle IVF: With Natural Cycle, there is no medication or stimulation. The woman’s ovulation is monitored and the egg retrieved with the assistance of medical simulation. This significantly cuts down on side effects as there is no hormonal fertility medication leading up to the procedure.
Minimal Stimulation (Mini) IVF: Mini IVF uses, you guessed it, minimal stimulation to get the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Conventional IVF treatment focuses on the quantity of eggs, but Mini IVF strives to produce a small number of high quality eggs.
Ultra Mini IVF: Ulta Mini IVF uses no injectable fertility medications (as opposed to the Mini IVF 1-3). The Ultra Mini IVF treatment relies on oral medications only to produce multiple eggs.
Why Not IVF?
Though IVF can be very successful, there are a lot of things to consider. There are a number of possible IVF side effects that go along with IVF associated with the hormone therapy, the actual procedure, and the pregnancy if it’s successful.
The fertility medications that a patient typically endures before a round of IVF can result in headaches, mood swings, abdominal pain, hot flashes, and bloating.
Side effects associated with the procedure include vaginal discharge, mild cramping and bloating, constipation, and breast tenderness. The egg retrieval may also result in bowel or bladder damage, infection, or bleeding.
If there’s a pregnancy after the IVF treatment, it’s very possible that it will be twins or even triplets since multiple embryos are implanted at once. There’s also an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and infants who are premature/born with low birth weight.
Some may consider in vitro fertilization an ethical concern. The idea of selecting certain embryos and discarding others, especially when the reasoning is to scan/avoid diseases and disorders or choose specific genders doesn’t sit well with everyone, but remember that this is your family, so you have the final say.
Lastly, it’s pretty expensive. The cost will differ for everyone based on location, insurance coverage, and a number of other factors, but you can learn more here and here about the pros, cons, and costs associated with IVF.
If you want more information, take a look through one of the various IVF Forums so you can connect with other families who have gone through this or are considering the same course of treatment. They may have some great insights or have questions you may not have thought to ask.
Other Types of Infertility Treatment
If you decide IVF is not for you, that’s okay. There are a lot of infertility treatment options to explore.
For some, fertility medications alone will work. They can help regulate ovulation and stimulate the egg. For others, surgery is a good fit because it can help combat endometriosis or PCOS. There’s also Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) which is similar to IVF, but it injects sperm instead of an embryo. IUI can help the embryo form naturally even if the sperm has low motility. Finally, Gestational Surrogacy is another great, popular option, in which another woman carries the baby for the couple.
Whatever you decide, make sure it’s right for you and that you’re honest with your specialist. If something makes you uncomfortable (physically or emotionally), tell them.
Written by: Joanna Hynes