Cabell Huntington Hospital's Center for Advanced Reproductive Medicine (CARM) offers several therapies to help infertile couples have children.  Treatment options vary depending on the circumstances and reasons the couple is seeking assistance.  Dr. William N. Burns, gives them a realistic assessment of their chances for success, outlining not only the course of treatment itself, but also the physical and emotional stresses that come with it.

Doctor at work

Eighty-five to 90 percent of infertility cases can be treated with simple therapies or surgery. Various fertility drugs may be used for women with ovulation problems.  Sometimes surgery can be done to repair damage to a woman's ovaries, fallopian tubes or uterus if the damage is not severe. Likewise, male infertility may be corrected by surgery. Oral medications such as Clomiphene citrate (Clomid/ Serophen) or Femara (Letrozole) help increase the stimulation of the ovary to begin production of a mature egg. Combined urinary ovulation predictor kits and timed intercourse are very effective simple treatment therapies. The use of intrauterine insemination (IUI) is another successful simple and inexpensive therapy for infertility.

In Vitro Fertilization Laboratory

CARM has a special In Vitro Fertilization Laboratory in which embryologist and andrologist perform microscopic procedures such as sperm preparation, oocyte (egg) retrieval, embryo culturing, embryo  transfer, intracytoplasmic sperm injections (ICSI), assisted hatching (AH) and cryo-preservation of sperm, eggs and embryos.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) 

IVF is the most complicated and expensive form of infertility therapy. The procedure is often used when  simpler treatments have failed.  In cases where there is severe tubal damage or male infertility, IVF will be the only therapy option.

In preparation for IVF, a woman follows a specific drug protocol to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. During this period of time, ultrasound examination and blood testing indicate the effectiveness of the ovarian stimulation. When testing indicates that the eggs are optimally developed, the eggs are removed from the woman's ovaries and placed in a culture dish with the man's sperm for fertilization to occur. The eggs are examined the next day to see if they have become fertilized and are properly dividing. These embryos remain culture for 3-6 days before they transferred to the woman's uterus using a soft plastic catheter. Based on the patient’s age and medical history, the physician and embryologist will consult with the patient to determine the number of embryos to be transferred.  In Vitro Fertilization has the highest success rate per cycle of treatment of any fertility procedure.

In Vitro Fertilization plus Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

This highly effective treatment specifically addresses male infertility issues. ICSI involves the injection of a single sperm into an egg. IVF with ICSI involves the use of specialized micromanipulation tools and equipment that enable embryologists to select an individual sperm and insert that sperm through the outer shell of the egg and the egg membrane into the inner part (cytoplasm) of the egg.

This usually results in normal fertilization in about 75-85% of eggs injected with sperm

Treatment with IVF is effective. However, there is always the chance that it may take more than one cycle to achieve pregnancy.

Cost of Infertility Treatments

Simple Fertility treatments can range from $100 to $5000.00 depending on the procedure needed. IVF can range from $12,000 to $15,000 per cycle. With fertility treatments becoming more common and as the options and techniques are improved, insurance coverage has improved in some cases. Each patient should check with her insurance carrier to determine which costs are covered.