In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) - Making Futures Possible

Today, thanks to the miracle of science, thousands of couples desperately wanting children, who can't conceive naturally, are able to become parents. "In the in vitro fertilization process women are given hormonal treatments to try to stimulate their ovaries to release eggs, and then we remove those eggs fertilize them outside the body in a laboratory with sperm and place the embryos back into the uterine cavity," says Dr. Daniel Stein of St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital. But, one of the greatest challenges with IVF is multiple births. "We often have to replace more than one embryo back into the uterus, about a third of pregnancies from in vitro fertilization are multiple pregnancies, the majority of those are twin pregnancies, but there is also an increased rate of triplet and quadruple pregnancy rate, we want to try to reduce the multiple pregnancy rate because there are so many problems associated with multiple pregnancy, like cerebral palsy, other types of neurological damage, increase c-section rates for the mom," says Dr. Stein.

However, recent research conducted by fertility experts in Finland, demonstrated for the first time that in many cases, transferring a single embryo is just as likely to result in pregnancy and a live birth, in those aged 36-39 as it is in younger women. Their study indicates that it's the quality of the embryo that's more important in determining the success of IVF rather than the age of a woman. But, many American scientists don't believe that single embryo transfer is a viable option, due in part to the fact that most insurance companies do not cover the exorbitant cost of IVF which is around $10-$15 thousand dollars per treatment cycle.

"Mainstream is not ready for single embryo transfer a lot of reason being is because you do run the risk of lower percentage of implantation, lower percentage of pregnancy rates, however, I guess overseas, in Europe, IVF is mandated so they can afford it, you can afford to go through a couple of times and have the single embryo transfer but, over here a lot of expense is incurred by the patient so as time progresses, the science advances, then we will be ready," says embryologist, Eric Gonzales at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital. IVF treatment starting from ovulation induction to egg retrieval to transfer takes approximately 5 weeks.


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