connectVideoDoctor provides natural, non-needle approach to IVF
More couples struggling with infertility turn to in vitro fertilization (IVF), but one of the biggest complaints about the process as the dreaded and expensive hormone injections. Fox News’ Dr. Manny Alvarez with a Columbia University fertility specialist to talk about their new needle-free approach of IVF.
If you or someone you know is struggling with infertility you are not alone. In fact, 33 percent of American adults say that they or someone they know, used a type of ivf treatment to have a baby, and according to reports, in vitro births continue to rise in the U.S.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process by which the mature eggs are retrieved from a woman’s ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg(s) or embryo is implanted in the uterus, according to the Mayo Clinic.
In order to stimulate the production of eggs, hormones, and drugs are usually injected into a woman’s abdomen or thighs two times per day. Since a typical IVF cycle takes about two weeks, women tend to use around 30 or more syringes in one cycle.
The injections are not only uncomfortable and sometimes painful for the patient, but when IVF requires multiple cycles, the cost of these medications can be very costly.
Dr. Zev Williams, Director of the Columbia University Fertility Center, said medication costs can vary depending on the individual couple of of the insurance, and the dosage required.
“In some cases, the medication will be fully covered by insurance, in some cases, the costs will be partially covered and in some cases the costs for prescription drugs are not covered. In those cases, the cost can be $5,000 or higher,” Williams told Fox News.
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For the guidance of women and couples who struggle with infertility, Williams and his fellow doctors at the Columbia-developed a new and unique way of IVF called CORAL-IVF, that “makes use of a combination of the pills cause the same effects as the hormone injections.”
“The idea actually came from a patient…[which] has not had many rounds of IVF in the past where they had all these injections, but in the end it was very, very little eggs or embryos,” Williams said. “The goal of all of these artificial hormones [is] to stimulate the ovaries to grow. We wanted to say, ‘well, we can not help you other pills instead of injections’, and in place of the artificial hormones, these pills asks your body to the natural release of these hormones.”
The pills are a mixture of Letrozole and Clomid, two medications that have been shown to stimulate ovulation.
(Columbia University Fertility Center)
“When we looked at how patients have done with maximum doses of injectable medications in comparison with the follow-up cycle where they would make use of this oral medication, we see, in fact, comparable numbers of eggs to be picked up, but more usable embryos, which is really one of the goals that we are trying to achieve,” Williams said.
Since this service is so new, Williams said that they are only with patients for whom the standard approach has failed, but they will counsel and consider patients that have not demonstrated problems and just don’t want to go through the painful injections.
Not only CORAL-IVF to save women from the daily injections, but Williams said there is the potential for huge cost savings.
“It [the medications] is usually around $20 copay,” he said.
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Williams has also pointed out that the side effect profiles for these drugs are generally safe. Some reports say that Letrozole and Clomid can lead to nausea, vomiting, headache and muscle soreness or pain.
With the use of IVF are becoming more common in the US, some couples may wonder why? Is it because more women feel empowered to talk about their struggles or more couples deal with infertility? Williams said that it was probably a combination of a few factors.
The first is the success of IVF itself.
“It is something that is a greater choice as to IVF had a low success rate, let’s say 10 percent, many people would say that it is not worth to go through all this for a 10 per cent chance of success. Now we see a conversion rate that is much higher,” Williams said.
According to 2016 CDC report, 31 percent of all one IVF cycles result in pregnancy for women aged 35 years or younger.
Another example for the increase of the IVF procedures is that the process can help a larger population of patients. When IVF was first introduced in the 1980s, most women who used it had to cause infertility and medical conditions, such as non-functioning fallopian tubes. Today, IVF can help in the treatment of age-related infertility and genetic disease.
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“We can do it in cases where the man has very low sperm, even a couple of sperm that are viable, we can use that to help them,” Williams said. “And now we see more and more couples who have genetic diseases such as Tay-Sachs, cystic fibrosis, who want to be assured of a child is not affected can go through [IVF].”