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Fertility Treatments – An Overview

Fertility Treatments – An Overview

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The percentage of children born with the help of fertility treatments – or artificial reproduction techniques – varies greatly in the world. In the United States, it’s nearly 2%, while in Denmark, it’s all the way up to around 10%. The method used depends on the cause of the infertility, but also varies between countries and clinics.

In this article we present an overview of the main fertility treatments. The constellations and cost of treatments can differ from clinic to clinic.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

In this procedure, you collect sperm from the male (partner or donor) and insert it directly into the female uterus on ovulation day through a thin, flexible catheter. The female partner may need to take hormones to increase the chances of inseminating the female when she is ovulating.

For this treatment to work, the female must have free passage in the fallopian tubes and no other major fertility problems. It is usually offered to couples where the male has suboptimal semen quality, but still a sperm count above 5 million progressive sperm cells per ml.

This treatment is most often considered in the case of:

  • Problems with vaginal intercourse
  • People in same-sex relationships
  • People infected by HIV

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

IVF is a multistep process. With IVF, the female gets hormones to stimulate her immature eggs (follicles) to mature. The woman then injects herself with an ovulation-promoting medicine when the follicles are mature. This ensures the ovulation to be timely and controlled very precisely. After this, the lab extracts the eggs from the ovaries and mix them with sperm, to help the sperm fertilize the eggs. After a few days, the eggs (embryos) are ready for insertion directly into her uterus. Pregnancy happens if any of the embryos implant in the lining of her uterus. One will usually need to wait for 2 weeks before taking a pregnancy test to see if the treatment worked.

The doctor then implants the embryos into the uterus.

IVF is considered in the following cases:

  • Low sperm count.
  • Problems with ovulation due to conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Problems with the fallopian tubes
  • Endometriosis

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

ICSI is a specialized form of IVF. In this process, instead of having the sperm fertilizing an egg in a dish, a tiny needle, called a micropipette, sucks up a single healthy-looking sperm cell, and injects it into the centre of the egg. Similarly to IVF, the fertilized egg (embryo) grows for a few days in the laboratory before it is transferred to the uterus.

ICSI is considered in the following cases:

  • Very low sperm count.
  • Unsuccessful IVF attempts, where the eggs haven’t been fertilized
  • Donor eggs or previously frozen eggs are used

How successful are fertility treatments?

When a couple gets a referral to a fertility treatment, they often ask the doctor how likely it is that a single treatment cycle will result in a successful pregnancy.

This is very difficult to answer because it depends on many factors. These can be female age, sperm quality, response to hormone treatment, previous fertility treatment outcomes, etc.

Specifically, for IUI, over 50% of women aged under 40 years of age will conceive within 6 cycles of IUI (NICE fertility guidelines).

For IVF, a recent analysis of 20,000 Danish couples undergoing fertility treatment found that over the course of 3 years of fertility treatments, 65% had successful pregnancies. Over the course of 5 years, 71% had successful pregnancies.

Age affects the fertility of both men and women. Age is the single biggest factor affecting a woman’s chance to conceive and have a healthy baby. The fact is that a women’s fertility already starts to decline in her early 30s, with the decline speeding up after 35. See an illustration of this in the table below. The higher the female’s age, the less chance of success with IVF.

According to the NHS statistics, these are the percentages of IVF treatments that resulted in live births by age group:

NHS stats in IVF resulting in births

For your individual chances of pregnancy, both naturally or with fertility treatment, you should consult a fertility expert together with your partner.

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Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.


Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.


Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.


Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.


There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  


A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.


Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.