National Infertility Awareness Week: Understanding Infertility and Treatments
It’s a common misconception that conceiving a baby is a simple, straightforward process. While most people understand the basic mechanisms of sex that lead to pregnancy, many often don’t realize how complex our reproductive processes are. As such, it can be difficult to understand what infertility really means.
Every year in April, National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) shines a light on the subject of infertility by promoting awareness, communication, and education. This year, NIAW takes place between April 19 and April 25, and, whether you’re thinking about your own fertility health or you know someone who has been diagnosed with infertility, it’s a great opportunity to learn more about the causes of infertility and how they can be treated.
What Is Infertility?
Infertility is characterized by the inability to get pregnant after at least a year of trying to conceive. It occurs in both men and women and can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Natural aging
- Premature menopause
- Cancer treatments
- Poor sperm quality
- Reproductive conditions, such as endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Toxic cervical mucus
- Lifestyle factors such as smoking
How Is Infertility Diagnosed?
A wide range of diagnostic tests can be performed in order to determine the exact nature of someone’s infertility. For both men and women, these tests include blood tests, serologic tests, genetic tests, and full medical exams. Women may also undergo other tests such as a uterine cavity study, ovarian reserve testing, or a transvaginal sonogram, while men may have a semen analysis or wash.
How Is Infertility Treated?
Thanks to modern medicine and advanced laboratory technologies, there are many ways that infertility can be treated.
One of the most well-known examples of assisted reproductive technology (ART) is in vitro fertilization (IVF). This is the process of retrieving a woman’s eggs from her ovaries, fertilizing them with sperm in a laboratory, and then implanting the resulting embryo into the woman’s uterus. Another common treatment is intrauterine insemination (IUI), which is also known as artificial insemination. This is a noninvasive procedure in which semen is placed directly into a woman’s uterus while she is ovulating.
In some cases, people are unable to get pregnant with their own sperm, eggs, or uterus. In these scenarios, couples and individuals may choose to pursue third-party reproduction. This can involve the use of donor sperm, donor eggs, gestational surrogacy, or a combination of techniques. In many cases, these reproductive methods can help infertile individuals and couples create the family of their dreams.
When it comes to raising awareness about infertility, it’s important to be educated on the subject and to pass the knowledge along to others. To learn more about infertility and treatments, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Chelsea Fertility of New York City.