In a world where it seems that more and more women and finding it difficult to fall pregnant, most of us know somebody who has undergone in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). While the procedure often pays off for couples desperate to have a child of their own, the truth is that IVF is not only expensive, but very hard on the body.
In fact, according to University of New South Wales Women’s and Children’s Health head William Ledger, for many women IVF is simply too difficult.
“The major reason women drop out from having more than one IVF cycle is the emotional and physical burden of treatment,” Ledger told The Huffington Post.
In response to the difficulties of IVF, an Australian team is developing an alternative to the treatment that is not only cheaper, but requires 90 percent less drugs. The process that is called in-vitro maturation (IVM), has been around for a number of years however a new development in research has discovered a new way to double the embryo yield in human pre-clinical trials.
Currently, women who undergo IVM have a much lower chance (30 – 35 percent) of falling pregnant than those who choose IVF, however this new research is set to make the success rates of IVM much higher. The major benefit of the new and improved IVM is that women who would find IVF too difficult (such as women with sensitive polycystic ovaries) will soon have a feasible alternative to IVF.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Ledger explained that traditional IVF treatment requires women to have 12-14 days of injections and side effects can be similar to signs of menopause. “She may experience hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, loss of libido and other fairly distressing complications,” Ledger said.
“Those injections don’t have major side effects, but they cause many large ovarian follicles to develop and in someone prone to be sensitive to these drugs — usually young women with polycystic ovaries, they may develop too many eggs or make too much estrogen hormone and fall into the trap of having ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome.”
“In contrast, the IVM process is over with in just a few days and is much less emotionally and physically challenging,” Ledger said.
The research that is being conducted via a collaboration between the University of New South Wales, the University of Adelaide and a Belgian university hospital, could have a major impact on millions of women around and if proven safe by the US Food and Drug Administration, the treatment may be available in Australia within three to five years.