Seeking fertility treatment? Here are your options (aside from IVF).

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Many women automatically equate fertility treatment with In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), but the truth is, there are plenty of other treatment options aside from IVF. In this article, we’ll go through the various Assisted Reproductive Technology procedures available, and tell you all you need to know about these procedures.

#1: Ovulation Induction

Ovulation induction, which is also referred to as ovarian stimulation, is a method of regulating your menstrual cycle and ensuring that you ovulate each month. With this fertility treatment, women consume medication which stimulates ovulation, allowing them to develop follicles to maturity.

Suitable for: Women who have irregular periods, and women who don’t ovulate on their own

Side effects: Headaches, nausea, weight gain and bloating. There’s also the chance of women developing ovarian hyperstimulation, which leads to their ovaries swelling. Certain drugs such as clomiphene are also known to have a drying effect on women’s cervical mucus, and they might result in a thinning of the endometrium over time.

#2: Intrauterine Insemination

Intrauterine insemination, also known as artificial insemination, is the act of placing the male partner’s sperm directly into the female partner’s uterus. The goal of this fertility treatment is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes, and in doing so, increase the chance of successful fertilization.

Suitable for: Women whose male partner has a sperm count or quality that’s mildly low, women with hostile cervical mucus, and women with cervical scar tissue that blocks the sperm from entering their wombs

Side effects: For medicated intrauterine insemination, the same thing goes – if too much clomiphene is consumed, the patient’s cervical mucus may dry out over time, and their endometrium may get thinner as well. Otherwise, intrauterine insemination is a relatively simple and safe procedure with little risk of complication.

#3: In Vitro Maturation (IVM)

In Vitro Maturation (IVM) is a relatively new fertility treatment that has certain similarities to the better-known IVF. While IVF involves using a regimen of medications to mature a patient’s eggs, the practice with IVM is to retrieve the patient’s eggs while they are still immature, and bring them to maturity in the laboratory.

Suitable for: Women who have PCOS, high antral follicle counts, and ovarian hyper-responsiveness. Cancer patients who have undergone treatment involving gonadotoxic therapies may experience success with IVM as well.

Side effects: Researchers are concerned that prematurely removing oocytes from antral follicles may compromise developmental mechanisms, and hamper the child’s growth further down the road. As of now, there aren’t any studies or research that confirm or refute these concerns.

#4: Sperm donation

With sperm donation, couples may either get someone to donate their sperm privately and directly, or visit a sperm bank or fertility clinic. Upon securing the donor sperm, the female partner will then undergo artificial insemination or IVF.

Suitable for: Couples wherein the male partner is producing no sperm.

Side effects: No significant side effects (apart from the standard risks associated with artificial insemination and/or IVF). Do note that most clinics and hospitals will require couples to undergo counselling before entering their sperm donation programmes.

#5: Egg donation

For couples in Singapore, obtaining an egg donation is more complicated than obtaining a sperm donation. As a general rule of thumb, no commercial transactions are allowed when it comes to egg donation in Singapore. This means that you won’t be able to fall back on egg banks, and you’ll have to hunt for and enlist the help of an egg donor personally. Some couples who are unable to find donors in Singapore do venture overseas to get the procedure done.

Suitable for: Women who do not produce eggs due to an inherited condition, surgery, ovarian disease, or early menopause, and women who have been advised that their eggs are not medically safe for conception after chemotherapy or serious illness.

Side effects: No significant side effects (apart from the standard risks associated with artificial insemination and/or IVF).

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