According to Suruchi S. Thakore, M.D., medical director of in-vitro fertilization at UC Health and director of UCH’s Third-Party Reproduction Program, infertility affects one in eight couples. There’s no single solution. Luckily, UCH offers a full spectrum of options.
With a normal healthy couple, their chance of getting pregnant every month is about 20 to 25 percent. It’s actually very difficult for the human person to get pregnant.
We can never offer a patient a 100 percent guarantee of pregnancy because there are so many things in a big black box that we have no way to test for. But we do have multiple [ways] to potentially circumvent some of the things we don’t know the answers to.
We become part of the patient’s family in a sense. Whether it’s multiple miscarriages or years of infertility, you get to learn their life story and their couple story. It’s an emotional roller coaster. To be able to be there and tell them that they’re pregnant and do their ultrasounds and share that joy is fantastic. But there may be negative outcomes along the way, and we have to deal with that. To have that journey and the ups and downs makes the positive outcomes so much more important and emotionally rewarding.
We have lots of treatment options available to get [couples] to their desired end point, which is always to create a family. The options range from the very simple, which is oral hormonal medications, all the way to the extremes of in-vitro fertilization and third party reproduction, which includes using egg donors, sperm donors, gestational carriers, and embryo adoption.
Third-party reproduction means using someone who is not genetically tied to the couple who wants to be pregnant to achieve a pregnancy. That includes egg donors. If a female has the inability to create their own eggs or has poor quality eggs, they may need to use someone’s genetic material to help produce a pregnancy with their partner’s sperm. And if the male partner is unable to produce sperm or good quality sperm, then you can choose a sperm donor. The gestational carrier is for someone who has an inability to carry a pregnancy. Someone carries the pregnancy for you but usually the genetic material is your own.
Embryo adoption is one of the newer things. It’s been around a while. It’s just become a lot more socially acceptable in last five years. It is a version of adoption. But you’re actually adopting embryos that are being created by other individuals who are no longer going to use those embryos. You’re providing those embryos with the chance for life.
If a couple is attempting pregnancy, the one thing I say is come seek us out sooner rather than later. The sooner we can see them, the faster we can come up with a diagnosis and treatment plan.