The ARC Fertility Blog

ARC® Fertility Blog

From Scandal to Mainstream: The History of IVF

Embryologist adding sperm to egg

From Scandal to Mainstream: The History of IVF

We often take for granted what comes before research translates to widely accepted medical practice. For in-vitro fertilization (IVF), the research and breakthroughs leading to success took substantially longer than most people realize. The history of IVF is a lesson in persistence and reward — more than five million babies have been born worldwide using IVF in the 37 years since the first assisted birth. But it wasn’t easy. http://www.eshre.eu/Guidelines-and-Legal/ART-fact-sheet.aspx

How IVF – combining sperm and egg in the lab – came to be begins in the mid-1800s when scientists first confirmed that pregnancy occurred from a combination of sperm and eggs. By 1876, early IVF treatments were tested with rabbits, and by the early 20th century major research was underway on how hormones and fertility were linked.

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It Takes Two: Male Infertility

It takes two

It Takes Two: Male Infertility

It takes two to tango – and two to make a baby. So when there are problems with getting pregnant, there are two people to consider when looking for possible causes. And even though infertility is often looked at as a “women’s issue,” every couple’s fertility assessment should include a review of the male partner.

Male infertility is more common than most people realize – approximately 15% to 25% of all infertility is due to solely to male factors. An additional 20-40% of infertility cases are related to male and female issues with sperm. Some of the reasons for male infertility are well documented and a variety of tests are available to assess potential problems. However, at least fifty percent of cases are due to unknown factors.

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IVF culture media may influence sex of embryo

IVF culture media may influence sex of embryo

BioNews  reported on March 23rd, “The nutrient-filled liquid used to grow embryos during IVF might affect the resulting male to female birth ratio, a study suggests. But this only seems to be true when the sperm is injected directly into the egg during fertility treatment (a technique known as ICSI).

“…Dr David Adamson, a reproductive endocrinologist and surgeon at the Advanced Reproductive Care Fertility Clinic in California, USA, told Medical Daily: ‘I don’t think it’s effective enough to say that it’s a good therapeutic intervention. This may well be true, but in the absence of information about the culture medium, it’s difficult to interpret.'”

Read more here

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IVF Nutrients May Influence Gender Selection In Embyros, Reports Medical Daily

IVF Nutrients May Influence Gender Selection In Embyros, Reports Medical Daily

Medical Daily reported March 19th, “Chinese scientists believe that certain undisclosed nutrients given to embryos during in vitro fertilization may favor the development of male fetuses over female. The study is significant because it could possibly lead to a new technique for gender selection. However, experts are more concerned about what other changes that aren’t as obvious as sex these gender-specific nutrients may bring about.” Read more here…

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Embryo donation and fertility treatments

Embryo donation and fertility treatments

Among the choices available for couples seeking fertility treatment, embryo donation is an important option to consider. Embryo donation is much more affordable than many other fertility treatments, and its odds of success are relatively favorable. Like any medical technique, however, it comes with its own challenges.

Embryo donation is defined as giving remaining embryos resulting from in vitro fertilization to either another person or couple. These embryos are placed into the recipient woman’s uterus to facilitate pregnancy and childbirth. Similar to egg and sperm donation, the resulting child is considered the child of the birth mother, and not the child of the donor. In most cases, the embryos are donated after the woman for whom they were originally created has successfully carried one or more pregnancies to term.

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What needs to be done for women with endometriosis?

Endometriosis.org reports, “With an estimated 176 million women in the world affected by the painful consequences of endometriosis, it is shameful how little commitment there is to invest in basic research so that the life altering realities of endometriosis can be prevented in the next generation of women. On International Women’s Day (#IWD2015) we’ve asked 19 health care professionals, who have dedicated their professional careers to increasing the understanding of endometriosis, to give their take on what needs to happen to care better for women with endometriosis today – and what we can do to improve their lives tomorrow.” Read more here…

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Fertility Drugs Carry Promise – And Risk

From Science 2.0, Dr. Adamson writes, “Every fertility specialist seeks to design the most effective treatment strategy possible for each couple seeking to become pregnant. Treatment is usually a complex process and fertility drugs are often part of the regimen. Along with the benefits of such drugs, however, come risks such as multiple gestation or pregnancy.”

Read the whole story here…

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Access to Fertility Treatment Varies Across the Globe

Access to Fertility Treatment Varies Across the Globe

Wanting to have a baby is a uniquely universal desire. Yet, the way fertility is viewed and treated around the world varies considerably. From access to assisted reproductive technology (ART), to widely different costs and legal barriers, couples in different countries often face widely different attitudes and strategies on their way to the same goal.

Approximately one hundred countries use ART with 1.6 million cycles and 400,000 babies born each year for a worldwide total of nearly 5 million births, according to the International Committee Monitoring the Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ICMART).

For every country, however, a variety of complex, intertwining factors of culture and religion, economics, education, ethics and supply of specialists and facilities affects what fertility treatment is available, according to a survey by the International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS) This translates to relatively few fertility centers in the Middle East, South East Asia and Latin America, while Japan and India have built hundreds of new facilities to meet the global demand for cross border reproductive care (CBRC).

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Single or multiple embryo transfers – a tough decision

Single or multiple embryo transfers – a tough decision

One quickly learns that fertility medicine is a field that offers many different treatment options, and each one of them requires choices. Keeping track of these choices, as well as understanding the pros and cons, is crucial, but challenging. When a woman chooses to use in vitro fertilization (IVF), one of the biggest decisions involved is the number of embryos to transfer for potential pregnancy. Both single and multiple embryo transfers come with potential risks and advantages. More embryos are more likely to result in successful implantation, but they are also more likely to result in a multiple pregnancy, which can lead to health complications as well as increased financial burdens.

In 2013, the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), issued guidelines for the number of embryos to be transferred based on:

  1. The patients’ age
  2. Likelihood to achieve successful implantation
  3. The development of the embryos (the number of days since the embryo has been fertilized in vitro.)
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Pregnancy Over 50: Ethical Considerations

From Medical Daily,  “How old is too old to give birth? The answer to this question would have been obvious 30 years ago, but recent advancements in fertility treatments mean that in 2015, a woman’s biological clock can be permanently put on hold. Thanks to science, a 55- or even 65-year-old woman can do what was once unthinkable: become pregnant and give birth to a healthy child. However, just because a woman of this age can physically become pregnant, is the decision to do so ethical?”

Read the rest of the article here…

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Maternal Age: How Old Is Too Old To Give Birth?

From Science 2.0, Dr. Adamson writes, “I read a sad story in the news recently. A Baltimore mother died a week after giving birth to two twin sons, leaving her husband to raise the two boys on his own. As tragic as the news was, the reason that it made national headlines was that the mother was 56 years old.”

Read the whole story here…

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Egg freezing is no longer deemed “experimental”

From OBG Management

Update on fertility
Egg freezing is no longer deemed “experimental.” Here are current protocols, fertility expectations, and safety outcomes as well as ethical considerations for oocyte cryopreservation.

Read more here….

OBG Manag. 2015;27(2):32-34,36-39
Mary E. Abusief, MD  and G. David Adamson, MD

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The Past, Present, and Future of Baby-Making and Morality Debates

From IVF to three-parent babies to…

Women’s Health Magazine reports,

“Old-fashioned baby-making is definitely more fun. But for many couples struggling with infertility, high-tech treatments are the only way to get sperm and egg together.

Couples now have surrogacy, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and perhaps soon, three-parent IVF, as viable baby-making strategies. The British Parliament recently approved the use of three-parent technology. Granted, three-parent IVF has to pass some red tape before it becomes available in the U.S., but experts believe that it may soon be an option for couples stateside.”

Read more here…

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PGD and PGS = healthy pregnancies and healthy babies

PGD and PGS = healthy pregnancies and healthy babies

As reproductive science advances, fertility scientists, embryologists and doctors are constantly developing new techniques to help families have healthy pregnancies and healthy children. Recent technologies that offer promise include preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) in which a day 5 embryo (blastocyst) is tested for a specific known genetic abnormality, and preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) in which a blastocyst is screened to determine if the chromosomes are normal. PGD is used to increase our ability to prevent specific, known disease, often in couples who are not infertile but carry a risk of passing on genetic disorders, while PGS is generally used in infertile patients or those with recurrent pregnancy loss to identify the most normal appearing blastocysts for transfer back into the uterus.

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FSH Levels

Chances are that if you are trying to get pregnant you have probably been overwhelmed by many acronyms and abbreviations. It’s important to track this “alphabet soup,” because a number of tests and procedures play a critical role in determining the ability to get pregnant. One term that you may have heard – and if you haven’t, you should definitely familiarize yourself with it – is FSH.

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Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome

abdominal-ovary-pain-620

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome

One of the most common causes of infertility in women is that eggs are not released as frequently or regularly as needed for the woman to become pregnant. As a result, many treatments involve using hormones to “kick start” or stimulate the ovaries to release eggs so that they may become fertilized by sperm. It’s a marvelous approach to fixing a complicated problem but, like all medical procedures, it has potential drawbacks.

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