When it comes to health and health care, it’s no secret that there are some groups of people in our society that are less prioritized than others. One of those groups is women. There are plenty of women’s health issues that are either not talked about enough or don't contain enough current research. This leads to women and their families not fully understanding the options they can utilize to address the health issues they may face. One such health issue that many women experience is infertility. For some women, infertility is not much of an issue because they don’t care to have a child, which is entirely okay; this is heartbreaking for others. However, some options are available to help those suffering from infertility to have a child without needing a surrogate, but they aren’t common knowledge to everyone. These options include Restorative Reproductive Medicine and Assisted Reproductive Technology.
What is the difference between these two options? Well, “Restorative Reproductive Medicine (RRM) is medical, and surgical reproductive health care that aims to improve general and gynecological health and restore optimal reproductive function” . This means that the goal of RRM is to find out what might be causing someone to be unable to conceive and to correct it. “RRM operates on the principle that infertility is not a diagnosis but is the expression of underlying ill health conditions, often several, which if diagnosed and treated commonly result in restoration of normal reproductive function” . On the other hand, ART is not used to correct issues in the body that may be causing infertility; it does “not prioritize diagnosis or treating underlying conditions; rather the treatment largely bypasses underlying pathology” .
So, what kind of issues can RRM help with in order to help someone conceive naturally? Some common health issues that can cause someone to have trouble conceiving include polycystic ovary syndrome, hormone abnormalities, and irregular menstrual cycles.
A more well-known example of ART and the most effective is in vitro fertilization (IVF). “During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs (embryos) are transferred to a uterus” .
So, to put it in simpler terms, RRM aims to help those wanting to conceive to do so the “old-fashioned way,” A.K.A. via sexual intercourse; ART helps those trying to conceive do so by working outside of the body like the example of IVF provided above.
If you are having trouble trying to conceive, have a discussion with your doctor to find out which of these methods may work for you.
1. Boyle, P. C., de Groot, T., Andralojc, K. M., & Parnell, T. A. (2018). Healthy Singleton Pregnancies From Restorative Reproductive Medicine (RRM) After Failed IVF. Frontiers in medicine, 5, 210. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2018.00210
2. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, September 10). In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 6, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/in-vitro-fertilization/about/pac-20384716
Author: Lauryn Agron
Editor: Kayjah Taylor
Health scientist: Naiya Upadhyay