For many couples, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) may be the only hope they have to start a family, but it doesn’t come without its own set of complications and side effects. The good news is that breakthroughs in science are happening all the time to make the process safer, less costly, less stressful, and more reliable.
Medical News Today’s article on IVF treatment discusses how women may be given a hormone called hCG to trigger egg production. In some cases, this results in a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). In severe cases, it can be fatal but generally causes the ovaries to swell and become painful, breathlessness, rapid weight gain, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
In a study conducted at the Department of Medicine at London’s Imperial College, Prof. Waljit Dhillo tested the use of a natural hormone, kisspeptin, instead of hCG and found that participants reported fewer side effects and that it was just as effective as hCG in triggering ovulation. They also found that kisspeptin breaks down faster in the bloodstream, which reduces the chances of OHSS.
Egg stem cells
Time.com reports on IVF patients who have poor egg quality, there is now a technique that can improve the quality of the eggs. Mitochondria (the part of the cell that provides energy) are collected from the egg stem cells, from the ovaries, and implanted into the woman’s eggs in the laboratory to rejuvenate them and improve their viability.
The technique has had dramatic effects but it is not available in many countries because it is considered a form of gene therapy, which is highly regulated. It is so far the only technique that can solve the problem of poor egg quality and has huge potential for the future if it can get past the ethical issues of cell manipulation.
Better embryo screening
A team of researchers from the National Tsing Hua University and National Health Research Institutes in Taiwan have developed a technique that helps improve the selection of embryos for the implant, reports Science Daily. While still in the experimental stage, they have had good results with mice. Where usual IVF techniques pool embryos during culturing, their technique cultures each embryo individually. The so-called micro-well device allows each embryo to develop on its own. It is a less efficient method, but because each embryo is contained in its micro-environment, the embryos are better able to develop. This improves the chances of successful implantation because lab technicians can be more selective and implant only those embryos that show the greatest viability.
Using this more targeted approach would reduce the number of eggs needed for IVF procedures and also the associated costs and time involved. IVF science advances all the time, and with new hormones and better techniques being developed, there are more options available to infertile couples and more reasons to hope.
Disclaimer: The above is general advice only and is not intended as medical advice. You should not delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of the information in this article.