Specific treatments for diseases that sometimes cause infertility can sometimes also improve fertility.
This section focuses on three specific conditions; visit What are the treatments for uterine fibroids? for more information on how treatments for uterine fibroids might also affect fertility. Treatments for other diseases, such as thyroid disorders, may also improve fertility in women who have them.
Treatments for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
There are specific treatments for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) that may help a woman get pregnant.
Treatments for infertility in women with PCOS include:
- Weight loss. Women with PCOS who lose weight are more likely to have restored ovulation and improved pregnancy rates.
- Medication to promote ovulation. Clomiphene is the most common treatment for infertility in women with PCOS. Studies have shown that in women with PCOS, those who took clomiphene were six times more likely to get pregnant than those who did not. However, a recent study found that a newer drug, letrozole, also known as Femara, improves the receptivity of the uterus lining in women with PCOS.
- Insulin-sensitizing medication. A medication called metformin treats diabetes and can also help improve menstrual cycles and ovulation in women with PCOS. Use of metformin may help regulate the hormones that affect the menstrual cycle, but so far there is no evidence that metformin treatment increases the rate of pregnancy in women with PCOS.
- A combination of clomiphene and metformin. In women with PCOS who do not respond to clomiphene by itself, adding metformin may slightly increase the rate of pregnancy.
- Hormone therapy. Gonadotropins and hCG are types of hormones used to treat women who do not respond to clomiphene and/or metformin.
- Fertility treatments. ART, such as IVF, also may help women with PCOS get pregnant.
- Surgery. Ovarian drilling is a surgical treatment that can stimulate ovulation in women with PCOS. The procedure is usually done through a small incision near the belly button, with the woman under general anesthesia. A laser or electrocautery (a process that destroys tissue using heat current) is used to destroy parts of the ovaries. This surgery is not commonly used. But it can be an option for women who are still not ovulating after losing weight and trying fertility medicines. Studies of women with PCOS have shown that ovarian drilling results in an 80% ovulation rate and a 50% pregnancy rate.
Treatments for Endometriosis
There are specific treatments for endometriosis.
Treatments for the infertility that can occur with endometriosis include:
- Surgery to remove the patches of tissue caused by endometriosis can improve a woman's chances of getting pregnant. Some studies suggest that surgical treatment of endometriosis can double the pregnancy rate.
- ART, which can improve the chances for getting pregnant among women with endometriosis.
Treatments for Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI)
There are currently no treatments that increase fertility among women with Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). However, women with POI can use ART and become pregnant with the help of an egg donor.
Courtesy: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.