In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is the most commonly used assisted reproduction technology (ART). As part of IVF, sperm can be injected into the egg to fertilise it. This is called ICSI, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection.

IVF can be considered in the following cases:

  • A woman's fallopian tubes are missing or blocked
  • A woman has severe endometriosis (a condition in which the cells that normally line the inside of the uterus are found outside the uterus)
  • A man has a low sperm count (poor quality or quantity of semen)
  • Intrauterine insemination has not been successful
  • There is unexplained infertility for a long time

What is the best treatment option for female infertility?

Different patients require different treatments depending on their specific problem, says Dr Matthew Lau, Consultant, KKIVF Centre, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth group. But generally, IVF and ICSI are considered the most effective of all the options. However, for a young woman with no issue, ovulation induction or SOIUI may be the best choice.

In some cases, for instance young couples who haven’t been trying for long, simple advice on the frequency of sexual intercourse will suffice, says Dr Lau.

When infertility is due to a low sperm count, the man has to be treated first. If the semen can be optimised, the woman has a chance of natural conception. If no sperm is produced in the semen, the sperm may be retrieved surgically, which allows the woman to attempt IVF/ ICSI.

A fertile woman who has cancer and is concerned about becoming infertile can preserve her fertility if she desires. “Prevention is better than cure. When a woman requires chemotherapy or radiotherapy, freezing part of the ovary to use it later can help. If the woman is married, freezing the embryo may yield better results,” says Dr Lau.

Ref: S13