Thursday, June 8, 2023
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Beyond IVF—Understanding Fertility Treatment Options

When you face the unfortunate reality that you can’t conceive a child naturally, the shock is often enough to leave many couples dejected; even for months on end. Dealing with the emotional challenges, you probably don’t have the mental capacity to research and understand the options you can consider.

Yes, many couples are aware of the common reference of ‘IVF’ (in vitro fertilisation). And when Googling the term, you may determine that it’s not a viable solution for your scenario. But here’s what many couples unfortunately never discover: there are many more options than IVF treatment in South Africa these days.

While IVF is perhaps the most known term of this niche of the healthcare industry, it’s most definitely not the only one. There may be an alternative option that’s much more relevant to what you’re facing at the moment.

So, let’s break it down for you and help you understand fertility treatment options you can consider.

Treatments are for Women AND Men

Firstly, let’s clarify that thanks to medical advances, both women and men can receive fertility treatment. Both ovulation and sperm problems are common reasons for couples struggling to fall pregnant. So, the first step in the process would be to determine the cause. Then your medical team can consider which treatment to follow.

Fertility Treatments in 2020


Something as simple as taking the right drugs can improve your chances of falling pregnant. Since hormones play a primary role in whether a woman can conceive, it follows that treating a hormone imbalance can be the solution to your problem.

For example: a hormone imbalance may prevent a woman to ovulate, even though her body has healthy eggs. Taking the right hormones can prompt your body to ovulate for the first time in months or even years. If the couple is healthy in all other aspects and intercourse takes place at the right time, there is no reason why the woman can’t fall pregnant.

Some women are prescribed hormones, while others are given fertility drugs. This can also be a more affordable treatment option, enabling couples with lower income or less medical aid coverage to increase their chances of falling pregnant.


The reason you’re struggling to fall pregnant could be a physical abnormality in the woman’s body such as:

  • Endometriosis
  • Fallopian tubes that are blocked

These conditions can cause pain, but many scenarios are treatable. Once the blockage is removed, normal intercourse may result in a pregnancy, with no further intervention by a doctor.

Assisted Reproductive Technology

ART is a term referring to various procedures, some you may have heard of:

  • IVF:The well-known procedure where your healthcare team will collect both sperm and an egg from you as a couple. They’re placed together in the lab and when fertilised, allowed to grow up to five days before being planted into the uterus.
  • AI: It’s known as artificial insemination, but also called IUI (intrauterine insemination). This procedure must take place when a woman is in the ovulation stage of her menstrual cycle. Sperm is first obtained from the man and your doctor then places it inside the uterus. AI is used in a variety of scenarios, such as when the woman has endometriosis or if the man experiences sexual dysfunction. You can also consider this if you’re a woman who wants to use donated sperm to fall pregnant.
  • ICSI: Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injections are similar to IVF, but your healthcare team will select one sperm and place it on the inside of the harvested egg. This counters the risk of no sperm managing to cross that exterior barrier of the egg cell. Once it’s fertilised and growing it can be planted into the uterus.


For some couples there is no chance of having a normal pregnancy, because the woman’s body can simply not cope with carrying a child. All hope is not lost, since you can still consider getting a surrogate to carry a child that will have your DNA.

Good News for Reversals

If you’ve had your tubes tied or had a vasectomy, you can still have a child with your genes, because reversals are possible. You’ll need to match specific criteria, but it’s worth discussing with your doctor.


Thanks to modern medicine your initial despair at not conceiving, could turn into hope and eventually joy when you hold your child in your arms.

Do you have more questions about your fertility treatment options in South Africa? Please leave a comment below.

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