IVF & Same Sex Couples – The ‘Same’ Subjects?
With the government recently announcing the legalisation of marriage for same sex couples, it’s understandable that many parties are taking on a number of stances. Whilst religious believers question the nature of same sex marriage, another ‘hot’ topic has also made the headlines with the NHS raising the age limit for IVF treatment from 39 to 42.
Two very different, but altogether, intensely related and dependable matters that do not only raise their own questions, but also those that are entwined.
Hitting The Headlines
With both of these issues, come’s the unavoidable ethical queries; Should it be allowed? Does it breach our moral fibres? What are the damaging effects? But whilst these can be argued and debated till the end of time, the reality of the situation is that IVF treatment and same sex marriage are two very real concepts in today’s modern society.
Since the ‘birth’ of In Vitro Fertilisation back in the late 70’s, many a couple have been able to experience the feeling of parenthood in the face of infertility. Providing couples with the chance to raise a family of their own has always been a resounding factor. But in the instance of same sex couples, many people do appear to be missing the point.
Two Topics, Both Alike
As well as occupying the concept of fairness and equality, IVF allows same sex couples – both gay and lesbian – to also experience the realms of parenthood from a situation where the ability to conceive is not conventionally possible. But whilst heterosexual couples turn to IVF when infertility is an issue, it is not the fertility of same sex couple that is of concern, but the lack of ‘integral’ parts.
In conventional types of IVF treatment, ovarian stimulation and fertility-inducing drugs are used in order to increase the chances of a fertile egg. The presence of such drugs does come with some side effects such as nausea, fullness and diarrhoea to more serious and threatening complications such as multiple luteinised cysts within the ovaries due to Ovarian Hyper-stimulation Syndrome.
When fertility is not the underlying issue, it does not make sense to expose donors and couples to such health risks, which is why Natural or Mild-stimulation IVF techniques must be adopted. Mothers and donor mothers can conceive naturally through the collection of an egg during the woman’s natural menstrual cycle without the use of drugs.
This not only eliminates the side-effects and complications that can arise from using such drugs, but also removes the risk of any long-term effects to both the mother and child. This is especially the case when the effects of using fertility inducing drugs in the long term are still relatively unknown. Whilst some studies proclaim that the long term effects are minimal to non-existence, is the life or your baby, donor or even your own life worth the risk?
Whilst the ethics, beliefs and scientific will continue to be a source of debate, the implementation of Natural or Mild Stimulation IVF treatments for same sex couples is one that could not be more black and white.
Research, Develop, Pro-create
With many same sex couples reliant on the development and accessibility of IVF to experience the joys of parenthood, the emphasis on devising, developing and advancing more natural and ‘drugless’ methods of conception could not be of more importance. Institutions such as the International Society for Mild Approaches in Assisted Reproduction (ISMAAR) have made substantial steps in evolving our understanding and integration of naturally astute procedures and with more funding, it can continue to develop its research.
Is it a coincidence that these two heavily debated subjects have recently been in the news? Or is it an eye-opening opportunity for us to contemplate two subjects that, in terms of science, could not be further apart? Yet, what really stands out is the way that they are seamlessly conjoined by life and its wondrous and unpredictable nature.
Because we treat all women regardless of health history, we meet many who have been unfairly labeled as “IVF non-responders” by the clinics at which they received treatment that resulted in a lost cycle.
At New Hope, we do not believe in the term “IVF non-responder.” Our team of fertility specialists believe the devil’s in the details: it is unrealistic to state a woman is simply “non-responsive,” rather, there must be something waiting to be discovered about the woman’s body and her follicles that has remained unseen by other clinics.
This was the case for a recent patient who came in for a visit after failing multiple cycles at another clinic here in New York City. After coming in for her consultation, she revealed that she had experienced 4 failed cycles, only producing 1 dominant follicle during her treatments, which didn’t transfer.
Considering her health history, our doctors — along with the patient — decided it was wise to go forward with our most holistic protocol here at New Hope, Natural Cycle IVF.
Because Natural Cycle IVF (NC-IVF) relies on the one dominant follicle produced naturally every month, it was a perfect protocol for this particular woman. Her previous treatments and experience with fertility medications clearly did not make more than one egg (which fertility medications are meant to do), so it was only obvious to our team that we should work with what we have — the one dominant follicle she always produced.
Not only does NC-IVF require little to no fertility medications, cutting the cost of treatment and reducing the physical stress of taking meds, but is simply the best option for those who do not produce multiple follicles. Natural Cycle IVF is an organic approach to helping those having difficulty conceiving, and we’ve been using it successfully for over a decade!
So, fear not “non-responders,” we’ll never call you that here!
She first came to our clinic with a history of miscarriages — one of which occurred after carrying for 18 weeks — and turned off by aggressive protocols at other clinics. Attracted to New Hope’s holistic approach to fertility care, she proceeded treatment with a Natural Cycle transfer — the embryos collected from a few Mini-IVF™ cycles in order to increase her chances of collecting more than one healthy egg during treatment.
She opted for PGD with CGH testing in order to detect any genetic abnormalities that may be present, since she suffered from an autoimmune disorder. If genetic abnormalities exist within an embryo during IVF treatment, this can lead to miscarriage. She eventually became pregnant and Edward was born in December of 2011. She was the first case in which we used genetic testing to pick only the healthiest embryos for use during her minimal stimulation protocol.
Ms. CGH is back to try for a sister for Mr. Edward at the age of 44. We can’t wait to help you again and add another baby to the New Hope Family!
CGH, or Comparative Genomic Hybridization, is a service we offer during treatment to make sure you’re getting the most from your cycle here at New Hope Fertility Center.
Although we’ve been offering PGD testing since our opening, we’ve partnered with Reprogenetics to ensure we’re providing the latest in embryo-testing technology.
In the past, PGD was used solely for gender selection and finding specified chromosomal abnormalities. The current CGH testing is the most comprehensive test to detect significant genetic abnormalities in existence to date.
For more information on CGH testing, please visit us on the web to schedule a consultation.
We’re excited to see our new clinic thrive and thrilled to have Dr. Cheang and team as part of the New Hope family.
Here’s to a successful 2013!
As seen in this morning’s Wall Street Journal article titled “New Strategy May Help Success of In Vitro Fertilization,” recent studies within the fertility care field are linking frozen embryo transfers with an increase in healthy pregnancies following IVF treatment.
The “3 separate randomized and controlled studies involving 633 women with an average age of 35″ fairly represent the group of couples we’ve helped get pregnant with frozen embryo transfers: New Hope’s latest SART statistics show 44% of our patients age 35 and under achieved a healthy pregnancy following frozen embryo transfers, and 64% of our patients got pregnant using frozen donor embryos.
Frozen embryo transfers (FET) have indeed produced high rates of success at our clinic, and we continue to encourage the practice when counseling our patients. Not only do FETs increase chances of healthy pregnancy and live births, but the process with which we freeze them also contributes to the health of embryos. Vitrification, a flash-freezing method we’ve utilized since our center opened in 2004, has a 98% thaw survival rate here at New Hope, giving our patients peace of mind with every frozen embryo transferred.
The practice of frozen embryo transfers also encourages the practice of single embryo transfers. Because frozen embryos increase the chance of pregnancy, FETs subsequently decrease the need to transfer more than 1 embryo at a time. Single embryo transfers, along with our minimal stimulation protocols like Mini-IVF™ and Natural Cycle IVF, significantly decrease risks associated with multiple births. At the hands of our experienced team of fertility specialists, we’ve been able to prove time and again that with these methods combined, IVF can be safe and more cost-effective for patients wishing to get pregnant without overstimulation.
Read more of our success stories involving frozen embryo transfers here.