Advances and Updates in Infertility Care
It is definitely a better time in history for women who have difficulty conceiving and women who chose to delay childbearing.
IVF’s International Success
In 1978, a woman named Louise Brown was born. She is the world’s first baby born via a process now known as IVF. Today, more than 8 million babies have been born via assisted reproductive technology and it’s estimate that about 500,000 babies will be born this year via the technique. Much progress has been made with IVF and today the success rates for livebirth are over 35% and with donor eggs over 50%. Twins, and other multiples, are also decreasing worldwide.
One of the long-held fears related to IVF was that the hormonal stimulation needed for each cycle increased the risk of ovarian cancer. A very large population study out of Denmark, including over 600,000 women, recently established that assisted reproductive technology(ART) (IVF and other techniques requiring hormonal stimulation) did not increase a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer. The study did establish that a diagnosis of female infertility and also a woman who had never carried a biological child were both risk factors for breast and ovarian cancer, but ART itself did not increase that risk.
Oocyte preservation (“egg freezing”) is now successful enough that it is an available service at nearly every IVF clinic. As the service grows, we expect the cost to come down as well. Fortunately, for many of our patients in the Bay Area, this is already a covered benefit through tech employers.
The empowerment for women to have a “back up” plan for delayed fertility has been well established. The actual outcomes as oocyte preservation becomes mainstream remains to be seen. A recent study from Belgium shows some updated information. The average age of storing eggs in their study was 36. The average age women came back to pursue pregnancy was 42. Of the only 12% of women who returned for treatment, only 7.6% had their eggs thawed, fertilized and transferred. As expected, over 70% of oocytes survived thawing, however ongoing pregnancy rates were about 21%, consistent with data from other large centers.
One of the take home messages, as with any woman at any age, pregnancy is never 100% guarantee and realistic expectations are an important part of informed consent and women’s empowerment. Also, as oocyte preservation becomes more mainstream and more affordable, hopefully women will be able to store eggs at younger ages.
El Camino Women’s Medical Group offers the latest Minimally Invasive Solutions for gynecologic problems. Drs. Amy Teng, Erika Balassiano, and Pooja Gupta, all members of AAGL (American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy) are highly trained and experienced in the field of Minimally Invasive Gynecgologic Surgery. Dr. Erika Balassiano is also a graduate of the Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Fellowship at Stanford University, under the supervision of world-renowned Dr. Camran Nezhat.
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