Fertility Doctor Shares Expertise On Latest Treatment Options

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The news was devastating for Maria and Sean (names changed). They just learned they wouldn’t be able to have children of their own. Still, like many of the millions of women and men affected by infertility, this couple had reason to be hopeful that they would be parents one day. 


To better understand three of the most common—and successful—infertility treatment options, we spoke with fertility expert Dr. Alfred Rodriguez, Medical Director at Texas IVF in Plano, Texas. Dr. Rodriguez is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist with a passion—and decades of experience—in the treatment of infertility and reproductive health issues. 


“While infertility and reproductive concerns can be profoundly difficult, there is more reason than ever to be hopeful,” he explains. “Science continues to gain more knowledge about the issues, the treatments are becoming increasingly successful, and more babies are being born to parents who previously had no hope outside of adoption.”


Let’s explore three options.


Gestational Surrogacy

According to Dr. Rodriguez, gestational surrogacy is when a fertile woman carries and gives birth to a child that has no genetic connection to her. “This is possible when a fertilized egg that is not hers is implanted into her womb,” Dr. Rodriguez explains. In other words, she carries the child, but is not the biological mother.


This is an option when the female is unable to maintain a healthy pregnancy due to advanced age, previous hysterectomy, uterine or cervical abnormalities, or chronic health conditions. Another possibility is that a female partner is not present (as with male same-sex relationships) or when a single man desires to be a parent.


No matter the scenario, gestational surrogacy has three steps:

Preparation—If a patient uses their own eggs, their ovaries are stimulated to release a number of mature eggs. The infertility doctor extracts the eggs, as well as sperm from the male partner.

Egg fertilization—Using in vitro fertilization, an egg and sperm are combined to establish a fertilized egg, or embryo. The egg and sperm may be from the patient and their partner, or from an anonymous donor.

Embryo implantation—The embryo is implanted in the uterus of the gestational carrier.


Dr. Rodriguez emphasizes that any person or couple using a gestational carrier must find a willing surrogate, secure legal counsel, establish a contract, cover all legal and medical costs, provide the egg or sperm used, actively participate in every aspect of pregnancy, and be present for birth. 


Donor Egg

“As the term implies, a donor egg comes from someone besides the female partner,” Dr. Rodriguez explains. “The egg is retrieved from the donor, fertilized via in vitro fertilization, and then implanted into the female recipient’s uterus.”


Women choose this route for a variety of reasons: they are beyond child-bearing years, unable to ovulate, have diminished ovarian reserve, dysfunctional ovaries or no ovaries, or multiple failed in-vitro attempts. 

Dr. Rodriguez says the process used to determine the health profile of an egg donor is extremely important. “Each donor must fill out a series of questionnaires and exams to determine their physical and psychological health,” he explains. “It’s critical to know their family history, educational background, interests and hobbies, reasons for donating, drug use, and sexual activity.”

Once a donor has been identified and an egg retrieved, there are several steps to create a baby:

In vitro fertilization using the male partner’s or a donor’s sperm

Embryos maturation

Implantation of the embryo into the female partner


Sperm Donor with Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

Donor sperm is typically used when the male has no sperm, small numbers of sperm, poor sperm, or no male partner. Many times this is coupled with IUI. “This is fairly simple procedure,” Dr. Rodriguez explains. Roughly one week before the procedure, the female receives medication that increases the chances of ovulation. Before the IUI procedure, the semen is cleaned and concentrated using a fresh semen sample from the partner or donor. The sperm is then placed into the uterus using a thin, flexible catheter. 


For individuals or couples considering any of these procedures—or other options—Dr. Rodriguez says it is critical to partner with an experienced medical team. “Infertility can have a profound impact on the overall well-being of women, men, and couples,” he concludes. “When your efforts to conceive have not been successful, be sure to start your journey with a doctor who thoroughly understands the treatments, as well as the physical and emotional aspects.”

 
 

“While infertility and reproductive concerns can be profoundly difficult, there is more reason than ever to be hopeful,” - Dr. Alfred J. Rodriguez

 
 

For individuals or couples considering any of these procedures—or other options—Dr. Rodriguez says it is critical to partner with an experienced medical team. “Infertility can have a profound impact on the overall well-being of women, men, and couples,” he concludes. “When your efforts to conceive have not been successful, be sure to start your journey with a doctor who thoroughly understands the treatments, as well as the physical and emotional aspects.”

 

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Alfred J. Rodriguez, MD

Fertility

In Vitro Fertilization & Reproductive Surgery

texasivf.com