Super-Tech Ways to Conceive
Ovarian tissue freezing and egg freezing
These new treatments are now being offered for women whose ovaries must be removed after a diagnosis of cancer, or whose eggs may be damaged or destroyed by cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. And egg freezing is also being offered to younger women who want to preserve their fertility. Although dozens of babies have been conceived with frozen eggs, the technology is still considered experimental.
In vitro maturation of immature eggs
This experimental technique for women with polycystic ovaries—who produce multiple immature eggs in a single cycle—is currently being attempted at a number of centers in the U.S. So far there have been only a few pregnancies recorded.
An adjunct to IVF, PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) allows embryos to be tested for genetic problems before they are implanted in IVF. PGD is often recommended for couples who know they carry the gene for a specific disorder (such as cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease), so that only embryos that don’t carry the gene will be implanted. PGD may also help prevent future miscarriage in women who have suffered recurrent pregnant loss due to genetic problems. Scientists hope that new advances in PGD will eventually help identify the best embryos to implant for IVF in any couple undergoing the procedure, but so far its effectiveness in couples without a known genetic disorder is questionable.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection
An adjunct to IVF, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can help men with extremely low or even zero sperm count to become fathers. In this technique, doctors retrieve a single sperm from testicular or epididymal tissue and then microsurgically inject it into the egg.
In vitro fertilization
IVF is the treatment of choice—and the final fertility treatment option—for a variety of patients, including women with total fallopian tube blockage. It leads to childbirth in about 30 percent of cases. In IVF, the follicles are stimulated with superovulation drugs, but the eggs are retrieved from the ovaries before ovulation so they can be joined with sperm in a lab dish. To reduce the chances of multiple births, most doctors today transfer no more than two embryos into the uterus at a time; any extras can be frozen.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Conceive Magazine's Special Issue 2008-2009. View the digital issue now!
Related Topics: Fertility Basics; Fertility Tips