by Sinit Aatifa
Currently, 186 million people worldwide struggle with getting pregnant or staying pregnant. Infertility affects more than seven million people in the United States, which is nearly one in eight couples.
For some of these couples, their deep yearning for a child leads them to try IVF treatments. In vitro fertilization comes with a hefty price tag and is usually not covered by insurance.
A typical, single cycle can cost between $12,000 to $17,000 US dollars. The expense goes far beyond just finances, however. These hopeful parents-to-be are subjected to physical, emotional and intensive time commitments.
It goes without saying that they want to do everything they can to increase the odds of conceiving a baby the first time around.
As specialists and researchers learn more about early embryo growth, they incorporate techniques that increase In Vitro fertilization's effectiveness. Look at the clinic's success rate as you choose your provider.
One embryo per cycle: With the new techniques, transferring just one embryo can be as effective as transferring multiple embryos. Doctors say it's safer for mom and the baby-to-be. Since twins could mean preterm labor and potential medical issues, some insurance companies might pay for a second IVF cycle if your first IVF attempt is unsuccessful. However, the "catch" is that you only transfered one embryo in the first cycle.
What's on the horizon? Researchers study techniques to improve egg quality, build a better environment for the embryo and to boost IVF success rates. Which of these studies will turn into practice in the clinics? Perhaps it will be one of these groups that have been in the news recently.
• Researchers at Oxford University are improving ways to check for chromosomal abnormalities in extremely tiny five-day old embryos. They hope that their study will help boost the IVF success rate for a single cycle of treatment to nearly 100 percent.
• Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden have identified a molecule that helps eggs mature. They hope the use of this key molecule can improve the chances of successful IVF for women who are not becoming pregnant because their eggs don't mature.
• A team of fertility experts at Newcastle University have designed and developed a system that lets technicians perform all in vitro procedures, like viewing under the microscope, without removing the embryo from its controlled environment. Research published in March, 2012 showed a 27 percent increase in pregnancy rate compared with conventional equipment used in IVF treatment labs.
You can be active in increasing the success rate. Growing evidence points to the significant effect of lifestyle factors on IVF fertilization outcomes. Optimizing the health of couples before they commence IVF may improve their chances of achieving success.
In a recent study on the lifestyle problems and risks that affect fertility, 96 percent of the women pursuing IVF faced three or more risks. These included bacterial and parasitic infections, alcohol use, smoking, obesity and using medication without a prescription.
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