Guest blogger Ronda Kaysen: Couples who turn to in-vitro fertilization to get pregnant may soon be able to drastically improve their odds that the expensive and stressful procedure will actually work. A new IVF test that doubles the chances that a woman will get pregnant is currently undergoing testing. It may be on the market within the next three years.
The new test screens five-day-old embryos for genetic abnormalities before they're implanted in a woman's uterus. In clinical trials in New Jersey, moms-to-be who were implanted with embryos that hadn't been screened had a 68 percent chance of having a successful pregnancy, whereas those whose embryos were screened saw their odds jump to 87 percent.
Although the test is expensive -- between $1,600 and $3,200 per screening -- it could mean that fewer embryos need to be implanted, reducing the chances that a mom will end up carrying twins, triplets or quadruplets, which make for high-risk pregnancies. It will also reduce the number of times a woman has to undergo treatment, which is extremely expensive and usually not covered by insurance. The test will be most helpful for women over age 35, who have a greater likelihood of having an egg with genetic abnormalities.
"It's not as important in women under 35, but in women above this age, it will make a significant difference to successful implantation," Dr. Tony Rutherford, chair of the British Fertility Society, told the Daily Telegraph.
For women who've undergone multiple IVF cycles to get pregnant, the news that a procedure might actually make getting pregnant easier is a welcome relief. IVF is a grueling, costly and stressful process which often requires women to endure multiple cycles of hormone therapy, failed attempts and miscarriages. Couples drain their savings trying to get pregnant and worry that the effort won't result in a baby.
Undergoing fertility treatments "messes with your body, your mind, your bank account," Mary Katherine Kennedy, who went through fertility treatments for both of her pregnancies, told me earlier this year.
The news that a woman could know that the odds are more in her favor with this new test, even if it is costly, will make a trying experience that much easier.