The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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“Acupuncture increases blood flow to the uterus and decreases stress hormones, both of which help pregnancy attempts,” says Ann Cotter, M.D., medical director of the Atlantic Mind Body Center in Morristown, N.J. Several good studies report high success rates when acupuncture and in vitro
fertilization are combined.
Preliminary research has yielded good results with a nutritional supplement that includes chasteberry and green-tea extracts. However, experts say it’s best not to self-prescribe, so seek a qualified herbalist. The American Herbalist Guild sets standards; look for “A.H.G” after a practitioner’s name. Licensed acupuncturists (L.Ac.’s) and naturopathic physicians (N.D.’s) from an accredited four-year school also can prescribe herbs. —Mary Jane Horton
Is it him or you?
The most common causes of infertility are problems with eggs and ovulation, the fallopian tubes and sperm. According to Resolve, 40 percent of infertility is due to a female factor, 40 percent to a male factor and 10 percent to a combination of male and female factors; 10 percent is unexplained.
Infertility’s Toll On A Marriage
Infertility is one of the most stressful things to befall a marriage, says Kristen Magnacca, author of Love and Infertility (LifeLine Press, 2004). It can trigger arguments, mood swings and feelings of isolation. What’s more, it can take all of the fun out of your sex life. “You’re making a baby, not making love,” Magnacca says. She recommends scheduling enjoyable, non-baby-making sex in the early part of your menstrual cycle and seeking counseling if needed. She also encourages having a written “fertility game plan.” “This ensures that both parties are on the same page,” Magnacca says.
Going the high-tech route
The following commonly performed fertility treatments are roughly listed from least to most invasive (and expensive). Costs depend largely on location, and success rates are very approximate because they vary greatly based on several factors, including a woman’s age, her and her partner’s diagnoses or health history and where the procedure is performed.
|Treatment||Description||Approximate cost (per cycle)||Approximate success rate (% per cycle)|
|Intrauterine insemination (IUI) with “washed” sperm||A large number of sperm are concentrated into a small volume of fluid and inserted into the uterus.||$150–$300||3–6|
|Donor insemination||A donor’s sperm is inserted into the uterus.||$400||5–15|
|Ovulation-enhancing drugs such as clomiphine citrate (Clomid, Serophene)||These pills induce ovulation, normalize irregular cycles and increase egg production.||$100||3–9|
|Follicle-stimulating hormones (Follistim, Gonal F) plus IUI||These injected drugs stimulate egg production.||$1,500–$6,000||10–25|
|In vitro fertilization (IVF)||An egg or (usually) eggs are retrieved from the woman and fertilized outside of her body. The embryos are then transferred to the uterus.||$5,000–$12,000, plus $2,000–$6,000 for drugs (much less if using frozen embryos)||20–40|
|Donor egg||A woman undergoes IVF using a donated egg.||$20,000–$35,000||40–50|
|Third-party pregnancy||A surrogate conceives using her, your or a donor’s egg and your partner’s or a donor’s sperm.||$30,000–$60,000||20–40|