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Infertility Is More Common Than You Might Think. Here Are Your Treatment Options.

Infertility is now estimated to impact approximately 1 in 8 couples, representing a significant portion of the U.S. population. Infertility can stem from issues with either the male or female partner, and while often caused by anatomical or genetic issues beyond one’s control, it’s easy for those experiencing infertility to feel a sense of guilt and confusion. Here to clear the air and answer your questions on infertility and popular treatment is Dr. Stephen Somkuti, a board-certified fertility specialist with Sincera Reproductive Medicine.

What can couples do to improve their fertility or likelihood of conceiving naturally?

To increase your odds of pregnancy, the things you can control include eating healthy, exercising, limiting alcohol and maintaining a healthy weight—along with taking prenatal vitamins and avoiding stress. You should monitor ovulation through the use of over-the-counter ovulation predictor kits (available at your local drug store), and time intercourse with ovulation to improve the chance of sperm meeting egg.

If doing the above without success after a year (if the female is under 35 years of age) or after six months (if 35-plus), then it may be time to seek a fertility specialist. They can help identify what, if anything, may be limiting you from conceiving, so that the most appropriate approach can be taken to achieve pregnancy. In vitro fertilization (IVF), which has received a lot of attention lately, isn’t necessarily the best option for everyone.

When is IVF a good option for hopeful parents?

The process of IVF was originally designed in the ‘70s to address the sperm and egg not meeting due to blocked fallopian tubes. Since then, we’ve realized IVF can actually be used to address a number of challenges, such as ovulation disorders, egg quality issues and genetic concerns.

The overall success of IVF often far eclipses treatments provided in the office setting by stimulating ovulation, picking the best embryos, and generally stacking the deck in your favor toward pregnancy.

IVF also gives you flexibility to freeze unused embryos for future use. With freezing, your success rate will be equal to that of the rate that correlates to your age at collection. If you freeze at age 30 and use at 38, your odds of success are equal to that of a 30-year-old, so it’s also a great option if you want more children down the road.

What should those considering fertility treatment look for (and beware of) when seeking a fertility specialist?

During your journey, you’ll see your providers often, and experience emotional highs and lows with them, so it’s key to find compassionate, caring providers. They should listen and not force a particular treatment method on you. Everyone is different.

Clinical expertise is crucial due to the time, effort, and quite frankly, money at stake. You want the best providers in your corner with the best technology to support your care. For example, not having an in-house, state-of-the-art IVF lab is a red flag. You want a clean facility with the most advanced air filtration systems to support optimal embryo care, which our team is proud to have in our new lab in Fort Washington.

Also, with pricing, be cautious of deep discounts offered at the expense of proper protocol, or money-back programs with unrealistic criteria. Read the fine print.

For more answers to common fertility questions, as well as information on treatment, click here.