Infertility Treatments: Medical Options & Natural Remedies

Infertility can be a heartbreaking reality for many couples. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that 12 percent of those who want to get pregnant are having serious trouble doing so. However, there is hope: Medical advancements mean that infertility treatments are constantly getting better, and more and more babies are being born by using them. There’s even more good news: costs of infertility treatments are not as expensive as they used to be, and some more affordable methods are now showing great success.

Infertility Treatments: Top 11 Medical Options

In 40 percent of infertile couples, the problem is traced to problems with the male, such as low sperm count or poor sperm mobility. For another 40 percent, the problem is with the female, including irregular ovulation or blocked fallopian tubes. For the remaining 20 percent, there is usually a combination of factors. Numerous options exist for any of these issues.

1. Fertility Drugs

There are many drugs designed to help conceive healthy babies. Here are a few of the more popular methods.

  • Pills. Medications like Clomid or Serophene help a woman’s ovaries release more than one egg at a time, bettering the chances of getting pregnant. Men can also use Clomid or drugs like human menopausal gonadotropin which stimulates sperm production.
  • Injection. If the pills don’t work, injections of stronger drugs might be able to produce a pregnancy. They can also lead to multiple births.

Success Rates: 40 to 45 percent for pills, up to 50 percent for injections.

Costs: Varies widely, from $60 to $6,000 per cycle, depending upon what drug is being used and what tests are done during the procedure, etc.

2. Laparoscopic Surgery

When the fallopian tubes are blocked, sometimes surgery is required to correct the problem. This can then allow the egg to reach the tubes and uterus, possibly leading to a healthy pregnancy.

Success Rates:  Depends upon age, physical condition and severity of the problem.

Costs: Typically from $1,700 to $5,000.

3. Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

In this easy medical procedure, sperm is placed in the uterus at the time a woman is ovulating, thus making it easier for the sperm to reach the egg at the right time.

Success Rates: 60 to 70 percent chance of pregnancy after six cycles.

Costs: $865 on average.

4. IUI with Donor Sperm

When a man has few healthy sperm, taking sperm from a donor might provide a healthy pregnancy. Counseling is usually required before this procedure, as the couple will be raising a child that is not biologically related to the father.

Success Rates: Up to 80 percent after six cycles.

Costs: Generally $300 to $400.

5. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

In this procedure, the egg and sperm are joined in a laboratory and then introduced to the uterus to implant. This can be an unpleasant procedure for women, with many side effects from various drugs.

Success Rates: Depends on age; the older you are, the less likely it will work.

Costs: $8,000 on average per cycle, not including medications.

6. IVF with ICSI

For sperm that do not move well, they get some help in the laboratory. In this procedure, the sperm is injected directly into the egg, thus creating a pregnancy.

Success Rates: About 35 percent.

Costs: The cost of IVF, plus an additional $1,000 to $2,000 per cycle.

7. IVF with Donor Eggs

For those who have poor egg quality or other problems with eggs, donor eggs might be a suitable alternative. The egg is then infused with the partner’s sperm to create the embryo.

Success Rates: 55 percent with fresh eggs, about 35 percent with frozen eggs.

Costs: $15,000 to $30,000, including IVF and donor compensation.

8. Donor Embryos

When both sperm and egg are unsuitable for pregnancy, donor embryos can be used. These embryos were created by other couples through IVF and are now offered to infertile couples for their use.

Success Rates: About 30 to 50 percent of a live birth, depending on the number of the embryos and other factors.

Costs: $15,000 to $30,000.

9. Surrogacy

When a woman cannot carry a child to term, a surrogate might be able to help. IVF creates the embryos, which are then implanted in the surrogate. The child is the biological son or daughter of the couple.

Success Rates: From 5 to 30 percent per cycle.

Costs: Between $50,000 and $100,000.

10. Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT)

Eggs are mixed with sperm and then introduced into the fallopian tube where fertilization is more likely to happen. This is best for women who have unexplained fertility and at least one fallopian tube.

Success Rates: About 25 to 30 percent; a younger age increases the chances.

Costs: $15,000 to $20,000.

11. Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT)

In this case, an embryo is formed and inserted into the fallopian tube, not the uterus. This is best for women who have unexplained fertility or men with a low sperm count.

Success Rates: 36 percent become pregnant, 29 percent deliver successfully.

Costs: $8,000 to $13,000 per cycle.

Infertility Treatments: 5 Natural Ways to Try at Home

Before moving into the more expensive options, try infertility treatments that are inexpensive or even free. These natural boosts to your fertility might help:

  • Eat a Healthful Diet. A very healthy diet of natural, whole foods can help you conceive. Look for foods like lean meats, whole grains, healthy oils, beans, fresh fruits and veggies.
  • Make Walking a Habit. Walk at least 30 minutes per day. This can help boost your metabolism, keep you in shape and increase circulation to the pelvis, which can help with fertility in a variety of ways.
  • Maintain a Proper Weight. Obesity can inhibit ovulation and cause serious hormone problems. Being underweight can do the same thing. It pays to be at your optimum weight as you try to get pregnant.
  • Try Acupuncture. In some studies, women have been twice as likely to get pregnant when they use acupuncture. No one is sure why, but it does seem that it can be very effective.
  • Apply Relaxation Techniques. Meditation, talk therapy and hypnosis are all things that might help with infertility. These work because stress directly affects your fertility and can make it much harder to get pregnant when you’re ready to do so.