Chicago Health | Homepage
Fertility advances bring help and hope

Fertility advances bring help and hope

Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham Medicine

Sometimes it takes a little science to help fulfill a dream. At least that’s what it often feels like for people who turn to University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility for answers, help and hope.

Now more of those dreams are coming true. In less than 10 years, UAB’s success rate for in vitro fertilization (IVF) has more than doubled. Division director G. Wright Bates, M.D., credits much of the success to refinements in IVF techniques.

“We have come a long way in treatment cycles,” he says. “Back in 2002, less than one in four women with a good prognosis got pregnant within a month. Now we often exceed 50 percent in a month with IVF.” He adds that increased awareness of infertility issues — and more widespread information on potential solutions — also has helped educate the public and encouraged more patients to learn about their options.

Increasing the chances

Today, the division, which provides individualized care to both women and men, continues to investigate new advances in fertility treatment that will increase the chances of conceiving and carrying healthy babies. One avenue of research is the multicenter PCOS-II Trial, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is testing two oral medications, clomiphene citrate (Clomid) and letrozole (Femara), to determine which is the most effective in inducing ovulation and enhancing fertility in women who have irregular cycles, don’t ovulate regularly, or exhibit signs of hormone imbalance.

“We’re thrilled to be part of this group,” Bates says. “There is no other center in the Southeast participating, and we think it’s a great way for us to improve our treatment options, and better serve the women of Alabama.” The trial covers basic fertility testing for both women and men and provides four months of treatment.

Another revolutionary development, Bates says, is pre-implantation genetic screening, which examines embryos for disease and potential developmental problems. “This doesn’t mean designer babies, or choosing hair color and eye color,” Bates explains. “We’re talking about ensuring a normal chromosomal number and avoiding major developmental issues to enhance the chances of producing a normal, healthy offspring.”

Bates is quick to underscore the division’s emphasis on healthy pregnancies. UAB is committed to avoiding high-order multiples — triplets or more — that can pose a threat to both the woman and the fetuses, he says.

Fertility after cancer

Beyond assisting couples who are struggling to conceive, Bates and his colleague Janet McLaren, M.D., are focusing on ways to help cancer patients who have concerns about their future reproductive capabilities. UAB is participating in the National Physician Cooperative and Oncofertility Consortium, an NIH program working to develop techniques to improve the reproductive prospects of people who have undergone treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation that can be detrimental to fertility.

“As treatments for cancer have improved, survival has become more commonplace. People are going on to live full lives, and for many of them, that includes having children,” Bates says.

A very successful solution for these patients, he notes, is fertility restoration, in which donated eggs or sperm allow couples who are infertile from treatment to experience pregnancy and parenthood. And both women and men can benefit from a variety of fertility preservation techniques, Bates says, including banking sperm, eggs, embryos or an ovary before cancer treatment begins.

The newest and most experimental of these techniques is ovarian tissue cryopreservation, in which a woman’s ovary is harvested and frozen. Following successful cancer treatment, the frozen tissue is transplanted back to the remaining ovary in the woman’s body. While only about two dozen pregnancies worldwide have resulted from this technique, Bates says that it is particularly promising for women and young girls for whom reproduction may not be a priority now, but who may want children in the future.

Bates adds that the majority of patients who have sought information regarding fertility preservation prior to cancer treatment have chosen to not pursue fertility preservation or use traditional IVF with embryo freezing, with only a small number pursuing egg or ovarian tissue banking. However, it is very important to note that simply having the options discussed and their questions addressed may allay some common fears about cancer treatment, he explains. “We want to help people go from surviving cancer to surviving parenthood,” Bates says.

(A Wellness Update is a magazine devoted to up-to-the minute information on health issues from physicians, major hospitals and clinics, universities and health care agencies across the U.S. Online at www.awellnessupdate.com.)

(c) 2016 www.awellnessupdate.COM. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Know Your Breast Cancer Risk and Take Steps to Reduce It

Know Your Breast Cancer Risk and Take Steps to Reduce It

By Laura Drucker From a young age, women spend a lot of time thinking about their

Gaining Strength

Gaining Strength

Post-op exercises help breast cancer survivors win control By Nancy Maes When a woman is first diagnosed

Can you be held responsible for your parents’ long-term-care costs?

Can you be held responsible for your parents’ long-term-care costs?

By Eleanor Laise, Kiplinger Retirement Report When an older adult racks up unpaid long-term-care bills, who's

Rare syndrome causes overly flexible joints, fragile skin

Rare syndrome causes overly flexible joints, fragile skin

Mayo Clinic Q&A DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I was recently diagnosed with vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. My doctor

Calcium is crucial for long-term bone health

Calcium is crucial for long-term bone health

Mayo Clinic Q&A DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Should all postmenopausal women take calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis,

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

January 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
December 25, 2016 December 26, 2016 December 27, 2016 December 28, 2016 December 29, 2016 December 30, 2016 December 31, 2016
January 1, 2017 January 2, 2017 January 3, 2017 January 4, 2017 January 5, 2017 January 6, 2017 January 7, 2017
January 8, 2017 January 9, 2017 January 10, 2017 January 11, 2017 January 12, 2017 January 13, 2017 January 14, 2017
January 15, 2017 January 16, 2017 January 17, 2017 January 18, 2017 January 19, 2017 January 20, 2017 January 21, 2017
January 22, 2017 January 23, 2017 January 24, 2017 January 25, 2017 January 26, 2017 January 27, 2017 January 28, 2017
January 29, 2017 January 30, 2017 January 31, 2017 February 1, 2017 February 2, 2017 February 3, 2017 February 4, 2017

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives