However, there are many couples who visit fertility clinics who explore options other than IVF. After all, a couple between the ages of 29 to 33 with normal, functioning reproductive systems has only a 20-25% chance of conceiving during any given month. Those odds obviously decrease with age or with reproductive issues. But with all of our technological and scientific advancements, experts are saying that there's a lot of promise for the future of the treatments that couples will receive at fertility clinics.
One speculation refers to the use of genetic screening. While this method is being used in special cases at present, it's likely that it will become more popular in the coming years. Embryos created with the IVF process will be screened for genetic abnormalities prior to implantation. This will likely increase pregnancy rates, as these abnormalities can cause the embryo to not implant or to miscarry. This technique is currently performed only under specific circumstances, like when a woman has miscarried multiple times before. Widespread use of this screening could keep couples from having to undergo multiple rounds of IVF and could help them avoid going through an emotionally painful miscarriage.
In the future, IVF treatments may also involve fewer hormones. Before undergoing IVF, a woman must receive hormone injections for a two week span. This helps the ovaries produce more eggs, thus increasing the chances of a viable embryo in the end result. But these hormone injections often cause bloating, mood swings, headaches, and abdominal pain. An experimental procedure called in vitro maturation, or IVM, may be able to produce better results with fewer hormones. While IVF waits for a woman's eggs to mature in her ovaries, IVM removes the eggs before this happens. The eggs are the matured in the lab. IVM requires fewer injections of lower hormone doses, which means women will experience fewer side effects and fewer doctor visits. In addition, this procedure is less expensive than some IVF treatments; however, its success rates aren't nearly as high, so researchers are continuing to work on improving it.
Another emerging method is even wilder: in vitro gametogenesis (IVG) may soon let doctors develop both eggs and sperm just from skin cells alone. These could then be used to create fertilized embryos that could then be implanted into a uterus (either real or artificial). While it's still very much in the beginning stages and poses some serious concerns regarding consent, it has the potential to make a huge impact for couples who want their own biological children but have had no success by other means.
"It will create an option for people who have no options," sums up reproductive scientist Kyle Orwig.
While there are other methods in the works, at present, IVF presents a feasible option for many couples who want to have children. If you want to find out more about IVF or schedule a consultation at our fertility clinic, please contact us today.