There are several ways to increase a couple’s fertility and the specific treatment should depend on the cause of the infertility. Sometimes surgery is needed to correct a specific problem, such as removing endometriosis, fibroids or polyps.
Often times, however, fertility medications are used with methods of sperm washing and sperm transport to increase a couple’s fertility. Some women never ovulate and require medications to induce ovulation. For other women, the fertility medications (i.e., clomid or FSH shots) may lead to more than one egg maturing each cycle, which creates more “targets” for the sperm to reach, — and, incidentally, leads to the risk of multiples with such treatments. This treatment is referred to as superovulation or controlled ovarian hyperstimulation.
Treatments can also increase the chances of the sperm and egg meeting by placing the sperm closer to the egg at the time of ovulation – using either, intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF).
More advanced reproductive technologies are used in various situations during IVF to help improve pregnancy rates. For instance, a common technique, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), is used to place one sperm inside the egg to facilitate fertilization. Other treatments aid implantation by opening the outer shell of the embryo before transfer, called assisted hatching. More recently, preimplantation genetic screening or diagnosis (PGS or PGD), which involves embryo biopsy, provides genetic information about an embryo BEFORE a woman conceives. This gives opportunity to select only healthy embryos to transfer. As with any technique, PGS and PGD have both risks and benefits that are important to consider before committing to this treatment.