It can be nerve-wracking not knowing what to expect from a fertility clinic, or what procedures they can expect to undergo.
Upon arrival, your fertility specialist will conduct an evaluation of your and your partner’s medical history.
You will probably have a physical exam including a breast and pelvic exam.
In order to get a good idea of hormone levels, ovulation issues, sperm and motility count, and whether the sperm and egg are able to unite, blood and semen tests, scans and X-rays of the fallopian tubes may be done.
Once a cause has been established and it has been explained to the patients, then fertility treatments can begin. The doctor may also order more tests or procedures if the cause is not yet established.
Common fertility treatments
1. Induction of ovulation and timed cycle
The aim is to stimulate ovulation with hormone tablets or injections, monitoring when the woman will ovulate, and timing intercourse around that. Usually a swab will be taken afterwards to check that the sperm and egg have met, and that there’s no hostile mucus.
2. Intra-uterine insemination (IUI)
This is usually done in cases of male-factor infertility, as well as unexplained infertility. After the woman has been stimulated to ovulate, sperm is processed in an attempt to improve the quality. The processed sperm is then placed in the uterus with a small catheter to allow for natural fertilisation.
3. In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) with embryo transfer (ET)
Fertilisation doesn’t take place naturally in one of the fallopian tubes during this procedure, but in a test tube in a laboratory. During this process, controlled hyperstimulation of the ovaries takes place, after which the eggs are retrieved transvaginally under ultrasound guidance. The sperm is then processed, followed by fertilisation of the eggs in the laboratory. A number of embryos created during this process are then placed in the uterus for possible implantation.
4. Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
This is an in vitro fertilisation procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg. ICSI is used to treat severe male infertility where there is a low sperm count or if the sperm quality is poor.