When you’re dealing with an infertility diagnosis, there are a lot of options to consider for building your family. No one can tell you which option is right for your family, so do what is best for you and your partner.
Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART for short) covers a wide variety of treatments with a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). Jumping into treatments involves tons of acronyms for expensive procedures – IUI, IVF, GIFT, to name a few – and may or may not be covered by your insurance. Depending on the infertility diagnosis, a RE may start you on any of the many paths to having a successful pregnancy.
- Follicle stimulation medication – This medication will (hopefully) produce several follicles with healthy eggs. Your RE will monitor their development until you’re ready to ovulate, which they will control with another medication. At this point, your RE may recommend regular intercourse, or you may need to move on to IUI.
- Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) – For this procedure, your RE will take a semen sample from your partner or your donor and wash it so the sperm is separated from the fluids. A catheter will be inserted through your cervix, and the sperm will be pushed through the catheter. This should give the sperm a head start toward those healthy eggs you’ve ovulated.
- In Vitro Fertilization – Your RE will retrieve the eggs from the follicles during a procedure at the fertility clinic. Your eggs and the sperm will be mixed in a petri dish or a single sperm can be selected and injected into a single egg (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection, ICSI), and any embryos that result in that process can be graded, tested, transferred, or stored. Healthy embryos can be transferred 3-5 days after retrieval in a similar process to the IUI. This catheter, however, is guided by an ultrasound image to give the best chances for pregnancy.
Adoption is another path to parenthood. Under the adoption umbrella, there are many options to consider.
- Domestic or International? Choosing where to adopt from is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when you choose adoption to build your family. Domestic adoptions can be through foster care, an agency, or a lawyer. International adoptions are facilitated through an agency. You should understand the laws and requirements of any country you are interested in adopting from.
- Agency or lawyer or foster care? Many families hoping to bring a newborn or young child into their family choose to work with an adoption agency or a private lawyer. Foster care is also an option, often the least cost prohibitive, though reunification with the family is a goal of foster care.
Adoption is not pregnancy. Before you choose to adopt, be sure that you have processed through the grief infertility can bring. Adoption is an option for building a family, not a second-best or last resort, and should be approached with its own joy and hope.