Reproductive Medicine and Endocrinology
Making your dream possible
If you are among the millions of women and men who are struggling with infertility, you’re not alone. The experts at VCU Health Reproductive Medicine are here to offer real solutions and a variety of options to help you on your journey to parenthood.
Infertility: What is the definition?
Simply stated, infertility means that a woman has not been able to get pregnant after one year of having intercourse without any birth control or protection, or six months if she is over the age of 35. Infertility can also apply to women who can get pregnant but miscarry in the first three months.
Pregnancy truly is miraculous when you consider the intricacy of the process. To have a baby:
- A woman must ovulate — release an egg from the ovaries
- The egg must be fertilized by a man’s sperm
- The fertilized egg must travel through the fallopian tube
- The embryo must then attach — or implant — in the uterus
- The hormonal and nutritional environment must be able to support the pregnancy to full term
Infertility can happen if a problem occurs in any of these vital steps. To schedule a consultation, call (804) 327-8820.
New options, new hope
The advances in reproductive medicine in the past 30 years are astounding, bringing new hope to couples who are struggling to get pregnant. The physicians and staff at VCU Health are on top of the latest changes and improvements in the field.
- Depending on the causes of infertility, a range of medications may be used to help infertile couples. Ovulation disorders are some of the easier problems to treat with medication.
- In some cases, when a structural problem exists, surgery can increase the chances of natural conception. Women may benefit from surgery to treat endometriosis or uterine fibroids or to repair the fallopian tubes. Men may have a vasectomy reversed or varicocele (varicose veins in the scrotum) repaired by a urologist.
- Most fertility cases can be treated with medication or surgery alone, but sometimes more advanced interventions are needed. One example is intrauterine insemination (IUI) — often called artificial insemination. IUI is a procedure in which sperm are processed in the laboratory, washed, concentrated and placed in a special culture fluid — then placed into the woman’s uterus at the time of ovulation to facilitate fertilization.
- Assisted reproductive technology (ART) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) refers to a whole class of fertility treatments that involve removing the eggs from a woman’s body, mixing them with sperm to create an embryo and then transferring the embryos back into the woman’s body. Sometimes assistive reproductive technology procedures rely upon eggs, sperm or embryos that were donated by others — allowing a woman to experience pregnancy and birth, even though the baby may not be her biological child.
- Women with ovaries but no uterus, or those who should not become pregnant due to health issues, may be able to use a surrogate or gestational carrier. Using IVF, the mother’s egg is fertilized by the father’s sperm and the embryo is placed in the gestational carrier’s uterus. The biological mother and father are the legal parents after the birth of the baby.
- As more and more women opt to delay childbearing, egg freezing offers a solution to the rapid decline in fertility women experience after the age of 35. For example, a woman can have her eggs frozen at age 30 and saved for the future. Then, if she wants to start a family at age 42, she can have her frozen eggs fertilized and the embryos transferred back into her body. As far as her fertility is concerned, she will only be 30 years old.
The specialists at VCU Health Reproductive Medicine and Endocrinology will provide you with a personalized approach to addressing your fertility issues — from a complete evaluation to offering options for treatment — all delivered with respect and compassion. Most of our testing and treatment is performed at our state-of-the-art facility at Stony Point 9109 on our Stony Point Campus.