RECENT ADVANCEMENTS IN FERTILITY TREATMENTS

The field of assisted reproductive technology (ART) has come a long way in the last four decades. Around 1% of babies in the United States are conceived using in vitro fertilization (IVF), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This process allows an egg to be fertilized outside of the womb and then implanted using advanced techniques.

Egg Freezing Advancements

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine removed the label of “experimental” from egg freezing in 2012. The rapid-freezing process, called vitrification, makes this a much more viable option than procedures of the past. Before vitrification, the Freezing-Eggs-300x240eggs were often damaged by crystallization when thawed and used in vitro. During the last four years, fertility centers have seen a 50% increase in the number of female partners freezing eggs. Many women choose to cryopreserve (freeze) eggs while they are in their 20s or early 30s, as egg quality decreases with age.

Most women who freeze their eggs never use them. However, it is a great insurance policy for women who may have problems conceiving in the future. The cost of egg freezing starts at around $10,000, and many women do 2-3 cycles for egg retrieval. Improvements in the egg freezing process has led to the creation of donor-egg depositories.

Genetic Screening

Many women undergo fertility treatments at an older age. The risk of Down syndrome increases with the mother’s age, so preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) is used to check for viable embryos and certain genetic disorders. Doctors can biopsy the embryo on the third day after fertilization, when the error rate in diagnosis is around 20%. If there is no damage to the embryo, PGS has a 99% accuracy rate. Our fertility specialists recommend PGS for women age 35 years and older. In addition to PGS, preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is used to check for cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia, Huntington’s disease, and Tay Sachs syndrome.

Fewer Twins and Triplets

The risk of having multiple pregnancies has declined during the last couple of decades. Carrying more than one baby increases the chance of birth defects, premature births, and maternal health problems (preeclampsia and diabetes). With new screening measures, the fertility specialist can implant a single healthy embryo instead of multiple eggs. Single embryo transfer (SET) allows the specialist to transfer a high-quality embryo that has a high likelihood of survival.

IVF DenverIn Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Around 15% of couples in the U.S. are affected by infertility. The majority of these cases can be effectively treated using medical therapies, such as surgery and medications. In vitro fertilization was introduced in 1981, and it is the most popular of the ARTs.

The overall success rate of IVF is reported as high as 50% today compared to 15% 20 years ago. Many factors have contributed to the increase in IVF success. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is used to place a single sperm into an egg using microtechnology. This helps men who have problems with sperm count, shape, and movement.

Egg Retrieval

The egg retrieval process has made much advancement during the last few decades. The improvement came when specialist began doing egg retrieval using a transvaginal ultrasound procedure instead of the invasive laparoscopy method. Egg retrieval involves inserting a special needle through the vaginal wall and into the ovarian follicle to remove the fluid that contains the egg. The procedure is easier and safer than laparoscopy, and recovery time is shorter.

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