Fertility Options

skimm md
PUBLISHED MAY 2, 2018

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The story

At some point, your nosy co-worker has probably asked when you plan on adding kids to the equation. Maybe you already know you don’t want to. Do you. For everyone else, you might want to know about some of the options out there.

What if I don't want kids...yet?

Meet one backup plan. Most women can freeze their eggs and don’t have to worry about having kids right now. At least 5,000 babies have been born from frozen eggs. Women usually do this because the amount and quality of eggs decreases after turning 35. Thanks, biology. With egg freezing, a woman goes through a hormone-injection process to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. Then, the eggs are removed with a needle and frozen. The price tag is no joke. It costs between $10-12k, then about $800 per year that they remain frozen. That means if a 32-year-old woman freezes her eggs until age 50, it would be around $25k. But freezing eggs isn’t a guaranteed backup plan because eggs need to survive being thawed, fertilized, and implanted. Some eggs don’t survive those steps but there’s no way of knowing until they’re put to use.

I'm trying to get pregnant but having a hard time...

You’re not alone. About 1 in 10 women in the US have a hard time getting or staying pregnant. There are a lot of reasons for that. Most of those reasons involve medical issues with the body parts in charge of ovulation. Think: reproductive organs like the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. Docs think that 15-30% of pregnancies end in a miscarriage, which means the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks.

That's...more than I thought.

Yep. And doctors have a hunch that miscarriages are even more common than that. Since the symptoms can look a lot like your period, sometimes women don’t know they were ever expecting in the first place. Especially if the miscarriage happens within the first 10 days of getting pregnant. But new tech has been helping doctors detect pregnancies earlier and earlier. They’re hoping more research will help clear things up.

Why do miscarriages happen?

They’re usually caused by genetic mix-ups in the embryos. Which is basically science for ‘it’s up to chance’. There are a lot of factors that could affect infertility. And plenty of superstitions, too – like whether it’s safe to do things like exercise, work, and have sex while pregnant. Note: it usually is.

I had a miscarriage. Should I be worried?

Talk to your doctor. One miscarriage doesn’t always mean more. Most women who miscarry go on to have a healthy pregnancy. That’s why doctors sometimes wait until the second or third miscarriage to start trying to figure out underlying causes.

I've been trying to get pregnant for a while...

There are many reasons people have a hard time conceiving and it’s on both men and women. For example, some women may not be ovulating or the shape of their uterus makes it hard for a fertilized egg to implant, and some men may have a low sperm count or the little swimmers can’t swim well enough to reach an egg. There are fertility drugs. There’s also artificial insemination – think “Jane the Virgin” – where a guy's swimmers are directly injected into the woman.

That didn't work...

If you’ve explored other fertility treatments, or are over 40, your doctor may recommend in vitro fertilization (IVF) as an option. More than 60,000 babies are conceived using IVF in the US each year. And at least 5 million babies have been born from IVF. With IVF, a woman takes medications to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. A doctor takes eggs from a woman and then sperm is injected to develop a healthy embryo, which is put into the uterus. Be aware, medications used to stimulate egg production come with side effects, such as hot flashes, mood swings, bloating, and in rare cases Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (this means the ovaries produce excess fluid that can be drained with a needle, but in some cases they cause fatal kidney failures and blood clots). The procedure and medication can cost about $20k and only 15 states make it so that insurance has to cover some part of infertility treatment. Success rate for women under 35 is around 40%. That success rate decreases more the older a woman is. For women over 40, that success rate is less than 20%.

These options aren't for me.

There are more options to have kids. Surrogacy is where an egg and sperm go through IVF before being inserted to a surrogate’s womb. The surrogate can be a friend that volunteers or you can pay someone to do it. With adoption, you use lawyers for private adoptions, becoming a foster parent, or with international agencies. They all vary in costs and wait time, but it’s a matter of your personal preference and what you can swing financially. About 135,000 children are adopted in America every year and at least 750 babies are born each year using surrogacy.

theSkimm

There’s a lot that comes with wanting to have a child. You’re not alone in trying to figure everything out and knowing your options can help in the long term.

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