Smoking – Besides the fact that it increases your risk of lung, colon and pancreatic cancer, smoking can also jeopardize your chances of conceiving. Women who smoke accelerate the aging process of their ovarian follicles, which in turn can lead to early menopause and an increased risk of infertility. In men, the strength and quality of your partner’s sperm can also be affected.
Chronic Stress – It’s impossible to eliminate all stress from our daily life. But recent research suggests that the higher the perceived stress, the harder the time women had conceiving. Feeling stressed, particularly for a prolonged period of time, can bring along hormonal shifts that can impact ovulation and fertility.
Excessive Caffeine Consumption – This may not sound appealing, but too much caffeine consumption per day can have a significant effect on your fertility. Luckily, you don’t have to completely cut out your morning pick-me-up, but you may want to consider limiting the number of cups you consume per day to increase fertility and minimize the risk of miscarriage.
Listed below are some of the best treatment options available that can boost your fertility.
Artificial insemination (AI) involves placing sperm from your partner or a donor inside your reproductive tract during ovulation to help you get pregnant.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a similar yet slightly more involved process. Instead of just injecting sperm into the reproductive tract, a thin catheter is used to place sperm directly in the uterus close to the fallopian tubes, upping the chances that sperm will meet the egg.
Success rates: Up to 40% of women under the age of 40 who undergo AI will get pregnant within six tries. For IUI, the success rate ranges from 5% to 20% per attempt.
Average cost: $300-$1,000. The procedures may be covered by insurance, depending on where you live and your overall health care plan.
During IVF, your eggs are fertilized by sperm in a laboratory or fertility clinic. Then one or more of the embryos are transferred into your uterus with the hope that it’ll implant and result in a pregnancy.
Success rates: Success rates for IVF vary, depending on a woman’s age: around 54% for women under 35, around 26% to 40% for women 35-40, and around 4 to 13% for women 41 and older.
Average cost: $15,000 to $25,000 per cycle. Currently, 19 states require insurance plans to cover some form of fertility treatments; 13 states specifically include IVF.
The process involves fertilizing a donor egg with sperm and implanting it into your uterus, similar to IVF. The donor can be someone you know or someone you are matched with anonymously through an agency. Using a donor egg means you won’t be related to your baby biologically — but you’re still listed as the birth mother on record.
To avoid any legal pitfalls, hire a lawyer early in the process to make sure you have a formal contract between you and your donor and/or the donor agency, waiving all parental rights and outlining that any children born from the donated eggs are legally yours.
Success rates: Around 50% when fresh donor eggs are used, and around 40% when frozen donor eggs are used.
Average cost: Expect to pay about $15,000 to $25,000, plus additional costs such as medical care for your donor and legal fees. Most donors are paid for their actual eggs too. Compensation can vary widely, but you can expect to pay several thousand dollars at a minimum. Donor eggs are not covered by insurance.
Fertility drugs are taken at the start of IVF, but you can also take them on their own for ovulation issues. Oral meds like Clomid and Femara are used to stimulate the ovaries and correct irregular ovulation. Both drugs work by suppressing estrogen production, which boosts the production of ovulation-stimulating hormones. If oral medications don’t work, there are hormone shots called gonadotropins that directly stimulate ovulation.
If your irregular ovulation is caused by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the drug Metformin can also be an option. While it’s normally used to treat diabetes, Metformin works to sensitize insulin levels, which can help women with PCOS achieve more regular ovulation.
Success rates: Successful pregnancy rates with fertility medications depend on the drug. For hormone shots it’s 32%, for letrozole it’s 28%, for Clomid it’s 23%, and for Femara it’s 18%.
Average cost: Around $900, if you’re paying out of your pocket. Fertility drugs are often covered by insurance, depending on where you live and what your health care plan is like.
Although these treatments may be pricey, they have the highest success rates and lowest overall risk.
However, be sure to consult with your doctor to discuss the possible risks of each fertility treatment, and which one is most suitable for you.