The ABCs of IVF
How are you progressing along your roadmap to fertility? If you’ve been stymied thus far, it might be time to learn the ABCs of IVF. When all else fails – unassisted, timed conception, fertility meds and IUI, IVF is often the last stop along the journey. IVF is the destination where most couples finally find a solution to their infertility.
Why Would Someone Need IVF?
So, who need IVF anyway? Good question. For the most part, we have answers. The majority of patients who find IVF is the solution are:
- Women 40-years or older who are having trouble getting pregnant as the result of their waning fertility window and poor egg quality.
- Women with severe endometriosis or PCOS.
- Couples who may be harboring genes for particular genetic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities and don’t know it yet (these issues are the leading cause of miscarriages).
- Couples with unexplained infertility (about 20% of couples with infertility will receive this frustrating diagnosis, because there are some fertility factors we simply can’t test for yet, like poor egg quality or the reason for poor embryo development).
- Women with major tubal blockages that aren’t correctable via surgery.
- Those with medical conditions or prior medical treatments that have caused infertility.
We recommend reading, The IVF Cycle: A Step-by-Step Timeline, to learn more about the IVF basics and what you can expect in terms of the time it will take to complete a single cycle. In this post, we’ll be covering some of those ABCs or LMNs that aren’t talked about as often.
IVF Basics You May Not Have Known
Here are some facts you may not have known about IVF and the knowing will help you craft the next stage of your fertility treatment plan.
It often takes more than one IVF cycle
There are cases where couples get pregnant with a single IVF cycle, but this isn’t the norm. For most couples, it takes more than a single cycle to get pregnant via IVF. For this reason, if a couple can only afford a single IVF cycle, it’s important that they weigh all of the considerations because it might turn out that IVF is not the right move for them.
A recent study out of the UK, which compiled data from more than 150,000 women found that the best chances of IVF success came from couples who were able to participate in six or more cycles.
Since genetic defects are a leading cause of miscarriage, it can be helpful to find out what potential disease markers are lurking in your gene pool. Most of the common genetic disorders (cystic fibrosis, fragile X, sickle cell anemia, spinal muscular atrophy, Tay-Sachs disease) require both parents to carry the gene. However, unless an immediate member of your family has one of these diseases, you would never know you’re a carrier.
With a combination of a thorough medical history, and blood tests from both partners, we can get important genetic information about how to proceed with IVF. For example, if you know that both of you are carriers for one of these conditions, PGD would be considered a must-have so we can choose embryos without these markers for implantation.
These tests cost only a few hundred dollars at most (for the most comprehensive screening) and are often covered by health insurance.
PGS or PGD may be well worth the extra expense
Similarly, chromosomal abnormalities often result in a failed IVF cycle, testing for them ahead of time can help us select the most viable embryos for implantation. Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) can be done on the embryos prior to transfer. It allows us to make sure there are 46, normal looking chromosomes – no more and no less.
Similarly, we can go one step further and perform pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). In addition to screening for chromosome abnormality, we also screen for those common genetic disorders, which can be common in women who are 40-years or older, and/or who have poor egg quality. PGD also allows us to find out the gender of each embryo, so you have the added bonus of knowing what your baby will be long before you ever have your first ultrasound. In some cases, this aspect of IVF becomes a diagnostic tool in and of itself because we learn that a perfectly healthy couple produces poor quality embryos – which can shift how we proceed (perhaps a donor egg or a donor embryo?)
This testing does add extra expense to an IVF cycle (typically between $3000 and $5000) but we believe they will prove to increase IVF success rates because only the best-quality embryos are transferred, which should reduce the chance of miscarriage.
The more you know about IVF, the more you can determine whether it is the right move for you, how many cycles make sense for you financially, and which options make the most sense for IVF success. Feel free to contact RRC to learn more about IVF and how it can shorten your fertility roadmap.
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Meet Our Team
RRC has over 200 years of combined experience. As a leading reproductive health, infertility, and in-vitro fertilization (or IVF) center based in Kansas City, we're proud to have the highest level of expertise available to our patients.