HRM HEALTH: Infertility Options

Having Trouble Conceiving? Help is at Hand



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Blocked fallopian tubes, which can be caused by a current or past infection, also can prevent pregnancy, Thom says. If the blockage is caused by a current infection, doctors can often clear the blockage by treating the infection, he says.

If the blockage is near the ovary, a doctor can do laparoscopic surgery to remove the blockage. If the blockage is deep inside the muscle of the womb, the preferred treatment now is to proceed to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) because that has a better success rate than clearing a blockage deep in the womb, he says.

Fibroid tumors present another problem. Endometriosis can also cause infertility. Hormonal therapy and surgical excision are used to treat these problems, he says.

For men, tests include a semen analysis to make sure the body is producing enough normal sperm, he says. Just five percent healthy sperm is normal, he says. But when only 1 percent or 0.5 percent are healthy, this poses a problem, he says.

For 20 to 25 percent of men with this issue, a lifestyle change can help boost the numbers of good sperm, Thom says. That change would include cutting back or eliminating alcohol, smoking, drugs, even some prescription medications, he says. “We want to decrease the amount of poison people are taking in,” Thom says.

Some couples come in knowing the options they are willing to try to get a pregnancy, he says. If they don’t get pregnant, they stop after they’ve pursued those options, he says.

Of the rest, about 60 percent get pregnant, Thom says. He refers the remaining 40 percent for IVF at the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Norfolk or the New Hope Center for Reproductive Medicine in Virginia Beach. IVF success rates are continually improving—from 23 percent 20 years ago to approaching 65 percent today, Thom says.