Before Baby - Week 3
What is ovulation induction? What’s the difference between artificial insemination, IVF and ICSI? Let us explain.
What you need to know about fertility treatment
Sometimes we need a little help to fall pregnant. Some of the most common fertility treatments are artificial insemination, IVF and ICSI, but even if you’ve already done a ton of research, you might be feeling confused about which is which and what does what. And how does ovulation induction fit into the picture? To help prepare you for your journey to parenthood, it’s worth understanding what each of these treatments does and how they could potentially help make your baby dreams come true.
This is a form of medication that brings on ovulation, encouraging eggs to develop in the ovaries and be released. It’s designed to improve your chances of conceiving – both naturally and through artificial insemination. Ovulation induction can be used for women who are producing low levels of hormones for ovulation, or are not ovulating at all (but have normal fallopian tubes and a male partner with a normal semen analysis). It’s a simple, non-invasive form of fertility treatment.
Also known as IUI (intrauterine insemination), artificial insemination is where sperm is inserted into the uterus close to the time of ovulation, to enhance the chances of pregnancy. It’s one of the simpler, less invasive forms of fertility treatment, and is often used when there’s a diagnosis of unexplained infertility, what’s known as hostile cervical mucus or minor sperm abnormalities. It’s also used when the male’s sperm has been frozen previously (due to cancer treatment, for example). In the case of single women or same sex couples, artificial insemination can also be used with donor sperm.
This is probably the most well-known fertility procedure, but that doesn’t mean we all necessarily have a good understanding of what it involves. In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is where a woman’s ovaries are stimulated for around two weeks to create more eggs, which are then surgically removed. In a laboratory, those eggs are joined with the male’s sperm, and the fertilised egg (also known as an embryo) grows in a protected environment before being transferred into the woman’s uterus later.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a procedure done as part of IVF, but only in certain cases. It involves a single sperm being injected into each egg to assist fertilisation, using very fine micro-manipulation equipment. It can be recommended when there’s been a diagnosis of male fertility issues, such as low sperm count or motility, anti-sperm antibodies or after a vasectomy. It can also be used when poor (or no) fertilisation has occurred during standard IVF.
Need a fertility friend?
During this programme you can head to our private Facebook group and chat with others who are trying to conceive. Hearing the experiences of other people on a similar fertility journey can be an invaluable source of support and encouragement.
In case you missed it last week: Week 2 of Before Baby >>>>