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In Vitro Fertilization Test Helps Gauge Success

San Francisco Chronicle,  Aug 23, 2010
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Stanford University researchers have developed a test to determine whether a patient is likely to conceive a child through in vitro fertilization - a breakthrough that could save women tens of thousands of dollars in fruitless procedures, as well as the heartbreak of failed treatment.

Doctors perform nearly 150,000 in vitro fertilization treatments in the United States each year, but fewer than 1 in 3 results in a live birth. The treatments cost $10,000 to $20,000, with health insurance only rarely covering the expense.

The new test will use data from a woman's first, failed in vitro fertilization treatment to predict her likelihood of success with a second treatment. The test could be available to patients by the end of this year.

"Deciding whether to have another IVF treatment after the first one has failed is a very, very challenging decision," said Dr. Mylene Yao, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford's School of Medicine who led the team of researchers that developed the test. "The treatments are expensive and physically and emotionally consuming. I wanted to help support patients by giving them the best information available to make their decision."

Currently, when a woman wants to know her likelihood of getting pregnant with in vitro fertilization, doctors base their predictions on the woman's age. Sometimes they factor in height and weight.

Yao's team created a personalized prediction test based on 50 factors, including a woman's hormone levels, the number and quality of her embryos and the characteristics of the embryos used in her first in vitro fertilization treatment. While the test only works for women who have had at least one round of treatment, it produces results that are 1,000 times more accurate than the age-based guidelines, according to Yao's research.

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