BABY BOOSTER NO 5: IVF (IN VITRO FERTILIZATION) — WHEN NOTHING ELSE HAS WORKED
IVF is commonly used if you have unrepairable fallopian tubes or if your partner has less than 10 million active sperm. You may also be nearing 44, the age when most fertility treatments start to have less of a success rate, and you’re afraid of wasting time on less-effective options.
How it works: A needle is passed through the vagina into the ovaries to retrieve multiple eggs. “Usually the patient has already undergone a round of gonadotropins to stimulate more eggs than she regularly produces,” says Dr. Glassner. “The hope is to get about 12 to 16 healthy eggs.” The eggs are then fertilized by sperm in a dish outside the woman’s body, creating living embryos. “We either put sperm on the egg or, if sperm count is extremely low, we can inject it right into the egg,” says Dr. Fossum. Then, the embryos grow for a few days. “We put one or two of the healthiest embryos back inside the uterus,” says Dr. Glassner. “The excess embryos can be frozen and used later if the cycle doesn’t work or of the patient decides they want another baby later.”
How it will affect your life: “It’s time consuming,” says Dr. Fossum. “Generally, each patient needs about five visits within a two-week time period. During egg retrieval, the patient is fully sedated, and after embryo transfers we recommend 24 hours of bed rest. So that’s another two days to plan on being out of work.”
Success rate: “The lab is extremely important in determining the success of IVF,” cautions Dr. Glassner, who advises comparing IVF success stats at www.sart.org before committing to a doc. “On average, for women under age 35, the take-home baby rate is in the 40 to 50 percent range,” says Dr. Glassner. “For women in their 40s it drops into the teens.”
Average local cost: $9,000 to 13,000 per cycle, not including fertility drugs, which run about $3,000. “It’s blood tests, medications, ultrasounds, and then the actual procedures,” says Dr. Fossum in regard to the high cost. “It’s a lot of different things all together.” Keep in mind, however, that the first round is usually the most expensive. “If you are on a second cycle and already have frozen embryos, it’s only about $3,000 or $4,000 because you don’t need to go through egg retrieval,” says Dr. Glassner.
Octo-mom risk: “It’s very low because we can control how many embryos we place,” says Dr. Glassner. “Depending on how healthy they are, we do anywhere from one to three embryos per cycle.”
Where it’s available: Jefferson University Hospital Center for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, 834 Chestnut St.; Main Line Fertility, Bryn Mawr; Penn Fertility Care, 3701 Market St.; Abington Reproductive Medicine, Abington; The Crozer Reproductive Endocrinology and Fertility Center, Upland.