At the America Institute of Reproductive Medicine – Alabama, we will do all that is possible to help build your family through comprehensive diagnostic testing and assisted reproduction technologies, if necessary. Under the medical guidance of Dr. Cecil A. Long, a board-certified endocrinologist, you will have his 30 years experience in infertility on your side as he navigates your health history and determines why you are experiencing infertility. Our team of compassionate nurses and medical technicians will be a great resource to guide you through learning more about procedures when you have questions or feel uncertain about decisions that need to be made. We also have a world-class, assisted reproductive technology laboratory available for your reproductive health needs right in Birmingham.
When you meet with our board-certified reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Cecil A. Long, he will share with you his first-hand experience with infertility. Not only has he spent 30 years of his career dedicated to reproductive medicine, he also experienced it in building his own family. He and his wife had their daughter as a result of IVF and ICSI. Dr. Long knows the type of support and care you need during your infertility journey from the start. He is the founder of the America Institute of Reproductive Medicine – Alabama, and considers it an honor to work with couples from infertility diagnosis to treatment and possible pregnancy through assisted reproductive technologies.
At the America Institute of Reproductive Medicine – Alabama (AIRM), we understand that when you are experiencing infertility or secondary infertility, it can be an overwhelming situation. A woman with a hormonal imbalance, an ovulation disorder, or an unknown structural issue within the uterus may find it difficult to become pregnant. Our board-certified reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Cecil A. Long, can consult with you about treatments and medical strategies to hopefully lead you to a positive pregnancy test.
While there are common symptoms of female infertility, finding the reason you cannot become pregnant may require blood tests, diagnostic imaging, and some minimally invasive testing. Our highly qualified and practiced medical team at AIRM is here to find the right diagnosis. If you choose to go through treatment with Dr. Long, he will be there with you at every appointment and every step of the way. If you have been referred by your primary care physician or OBGYN, please call and schedule a consultation.
While some women show no symptoms, some possible indicators of infertility in women can include:
We can start the process today by helping you find answers to why you are experiencing infertility.
Infertility in women may be caused by one or more factors, including the following conditions below.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder that causes a woman’s eggs to remain immature, among other symptoms related to the imbalance of hormones. About 10% of women of reproductive age in the United States have PCOS.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the woman’s reproductive organs that is often the result of sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia or gonorrhea. It can cause scarring, adhesions, or other damage to the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or uterus.
Fibroids or polyps, which are noncancerous tumors that develop in the woman’s uterus, may change the shape of the womb or alter the receptivity of the endometrium for an embryo trying to implant. Polyps, which can form in the uterus, cervix, or vagina, are small overgrowths of endometrial tissue. While usually benign, a small percentage of polyps are precancerous or malignant. Uterine polyps can affect the lining of the uterus, which can lead to infertility or miscarriage.
If the body produces too much or too little of one or more hormones essential for reproduction, this can affect ovulation and/or the success of embryo implantation.
As women increase in age, the quantity and quality of eggs begin to decline. Beginning at age 35, a woman’s fertility declines steeply, lowering the chance of a healthy pregnancy. This can make conception much more difficult.
Ovulatory dysfunction is a female condition where the ovaries do not produce or release an egg regularly during a menstrual cycle. With diagnostic testing, we can determine if an egg is not released during ovulation to be fertilized.
Menopause, the cessation of a woman’s menstrual periods, indicates that a woman’s egg supply is depleted. The average age of menopause is 51, although some women may experience premature menopause.
If you have had more than one miscarriage (experiencing 2 or more consecutive pregnancy losses), we may recommend a thorough female infertility examination and testing. Recurrent miscarriage can indicate an underlying fertility condition.
Endometriosis results when the endometrium, the tissue that lines the inside of the womb (uterus), grows abnormally outside it. This tissue continues to act as if it were still inside the uterus, responding to the menstrual cycle by thickening, breaking down, and bleeding. Since it is outside the uterus, this endometrial tissue is not shed from the body as it normally would be from the uterus during menstruation. The tissue becomes trapped in the woman’s abdomen, typically affecting her ovaries, her bowels, fallopian tubes, the lining of her pelvis, or her bladder. The endometrial tissue can cause pain, particularly during a woman’s period, and scar in these areas. This can become a cause of some women's infertility. This condition is mainly reported by women of reproductive age, 15 – 45 years old.
Unexplained infertility is a diagnosis made when the cause of infertility is unknown despite thorough testing of both the female and male partners. Unexplained infertility affects up to 10% of infertile couples.
TYPES OF DONATIONS
While the America Institute of Reproductive Medicine – Alabama (AIRM) is not an egg or sperm bank, we do offer donation services for third-party reproduction procedures. Birmingham reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Cecil A. Long has assisted thousands of infertile patients throughout his career. The phrase third-party reproduction means the use of donor eggs, sperm, or embryos to achieve pregnancy. The recipients of those select gametes will then undergo fertility treatments, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). Dr. Long performs egg retrievals and egg transfers at the Brookwood campus. We can help you discover more about this life-giving treatment option at AIRM.
If problems with a woman’s eggs make it impossible for her to become pregnant, donor eggs can be used in IVF treatment to achieve pregnancy. Women who do not want to pass certain genetic conditions on to their children may also use donor eggs.
Some patients use egg donors they know, such as family members or close friends. Others work with egg donation agencies to find donors, many of whom prefer to remain anonymous. Although women who use egg donation will not be genetically related to their child(ren), they will be able to experience pregnancy and childbirth.
Donor sperm is used by patients who do not have a male partner, or by couples whose male partner has a very low sperm count, blocked sperm ducts, or problems with sperm production. Sperm donors are thoroughly screened by sperm banks for communicable diseases. In addition, their sperm is quarantined for 6 months until sexually transmitted disease testing is complete.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), sperm donation has been used for more than 100 years. The use of donor sperm among couples with male factor infertility has decreased in recent years due to the effectiveness of ICSI, which injects one sperm directly into an egg to increase the chance of fertilization and successful pregnancy.
When patients have IVF treatment, there may be more fertilized eggs (embryos) created than the individual or couple will use. Some may choose to donate their embryos to other patients experiencing infertility, rather than storing, discarding, or donating their extra embryos to scientific research. Embryo donors may be known to the adoptive parent(s) or remain anonymous.
Patients may consider embryo adoption if they are carriers of genetic disorders and do not wish to pass it on, or are unable to conceive using their own sperm and/or eggs. While they would not be genetically related to their child(ren), embryo adoption makes it possible for the intended parents to be involved in their child’s growth and development from the earliest stages.
In Birmingham, AL, we are very fortunate to have Dr. Cecil A. Long, who has dedicated his career to reproductive health and innovative ways to treat the many facets of infertility. As a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Long performs assisted reproductive procedures for men and women, such as in vitro fertilization. This is one of the primary treatment options for women with damaged, abnormal fallopian tubes or for men with poor sperm quality and motility.
In vitro fertilization (IVF), which means “in glass” in Latin, refers to the method of combining eggs and sperm in a Petri dish in a fertility laboratory. Our doctors are constantly evaluating our laboratory and stimulation protocols to confirm that conditions are optimal for successful conception. With a fertilized egg, an embryo is created that Dr. Long can then transfer directly into a healthy uterus. Our patients will have this procedure at Brookwood Hospital where our state-of-the-art IVF laboratory is located. If you would like to learn more about IVF, please request a consultation at the America Institute of Reproductive Medicine – Alabama.
For patients with other conditions, fertility specialists may recommend trying a different treatment first and considering IVF as a second-line approach. This plan is often selected because IVF is a complex process and is also the most expensive assisted reproductive technology. IVF can be beneficial for patients with:
Patients may choose to undergo IVF treatment who would not otherwise be able to experience pregnancy or biological parenthood, including those who must use donated sperm or eggs or single mothers by choice.
The woman takes medication in preparation for IVF that stimulates her ovaries to produce mature eggs, which are retrieved surgically. The man provides a sperm sample, either naturally or via surgical aspiration. If male factor infertility is present, the couple may opt to use intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), a form of artificial insemination, or use the sperm of a donor. During the transfer, an embryo is placed into the woman’s uterus, where it will hopefully implant itself in the uterine lining and continue to develop through a full-term pregnancy into a healthy baby.
We are confident in our high-quality clinical laboratory capabilities. Our goal is to help as many couples as possible achieve the dream of a healthy baby. Consequently, we should offer treatment to a patient with all the tools at our disposal, even if that patient does not necessarily have the highest chance to achieve success. As long as patients have a realistic and true expectation of their chances, we are obligated to offer them an opportunity. Therefore, we do not exclude patients from treatment for fear of affecting our statistics.
Sometimes, the medical, financial, and psychological risks associated with IVF far outweigh the possibility of a successful outcome. When treatment is objectively futile, it is our responsibility to discourage further treatment and to encourage the couple to move on to the next step, such as embryo donation or the use of donor eggs if appropriate.
We emphasize elective single embryo transfer (eSET), which is when only one embryo is placed in the womb at a time by choice. A twin pregnancy is extremely risky with approximately 50% of twin pregnancies resulting in the premature birth of the babies. Premature birth is a leading cause of still births, cerebral palsy, lower birth weight, and developmental problems such as malformations, poor eyesight, and learning disabilities.
With the improved culture techniques and cutting-edge technology at the Institute, pregnancy rates after the initial transfer of one fresh embryo and the later transfer of one frozen, are significantly higher compared to transferring two fresh embryos at the same time. Furthermore, when transferring only one embryo, the chance for an uncomplicated pregnancy and the resultant birth of a healthy baby is increased significantly.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, serious complications from the medications or procedures used during IVF treatment are rare. As with any medical procedure, there are potential health risks involved. The following are the types of risks associated with different aspects of IVF treatment.
The drugs prescribed for ovarian stimulation may cause side effects that include:
IVF medications can also cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which affects 10% of women undergoing IVF. OHSS is an over stimulation of the ovaries that causes enlargement of the ovaries, abdominal fluid retention, and weight gain. Generally, OHSS causes mild to moderate pain, bloating, and decreased appetite. About 1% of patients who experience OHSS will develop more serious symptoms, including:
If severe OHSS occurs, the fertility doctor may recommend delaying or rescheduling the embryo transfer until the woman recovers. In some cases, OHSS can occur after embryo transfer and may last until the 10th week of pregnancy before resolving.
Egg retrieval is a transvaginal surgical procedure in which a long needle is guided through the vagina into the ovary where it retrieves eggs from follicles. Aside from risks associated with the use of anesthesia during the procedure, egg retrieval carries a slight chance of pelvic and abdominal pain, internal bleeding, infection, or damage to the blood vessels, bladder, or bowel.
During the embryo transfer, a catheter is inserted into the uterus that can cause cramps, spotting, or bleeding.
Some patients will have more than one embryo transferred at a time, which increases the chance of becoming pregnant. However, it also increases the chance of being pregnant with twins, triplets, or other multiples. Physicians should strive to transfer the minimum number of embryos that will result in the highest chance of pregnancy while keeping the risk of a multiple pregnancy low.
A multiple pregnancy presents risks during pregnancy and delivery for the mother. For the babies in a multiple pregnancy, there is an increased risk of premature delivery and lifelong health or developmental problems.
Often, fertility treatments like IVF can be emotionally and physically stressful for patients and their families. Fertility clinics routinely offer and recommend psychological counseling for IVF patients. Infertility counseling and support groups led by a licensed professional counselor provide a safe, nonjudgmental environment for patients to share experiences and emotions due to infertility.
*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.