Inspite of having regular sex, some couples are unable to conceive naturally. There are several reasons why this can happen and there are tests and treatments available for both men and women. However, these treatments can only improve your fertility and your chances of a natural conception.
When you undergo a treatment where conception is assisted by controlling the way the sperm and the egg come together, it is called Assisted Conception. This can be offered to couples who have been trying for several years without success and all tests suggest that you will not be able to conceive normally. It may be carried out in one of the following ways:
IVF (In vitro fertilisation) where the eggs are removed and fertilised by the sperm in a laboratory (outside the body). IVF is the most commonly used treatment for infertility and the process involves retrieval of eggs from the mother (can also be donor eggs) and then fertilising them with sperm from the father (or donor sperm) under controlled conditions. Once successful fertilisation is achieved, the resulting embryos are transferred back into the womb. If Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD - an advanced genetic testing) is to be performed, this is done prior to the embryo transfer. IVF is an expensive process (along with the hormonal injections) and PGD can also increase the costs substantially.
GIFT (Gamete Intra-Fallopian Transfer): Sperm and egg are collected externally and then transferred into healthy fallopian tube so the sperm can fertilise the egg inside the woman's body as close to 'natural' as possible. This procedure requires healthy fallopian tubes.
ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection): using this technique, sperm are injected directly into the egg in the laboratory and the resulting embryo put back in the womb (a slight variation of the IVF)