Entries in IVF (9)


Texas Couple Auctioning Football Card to Pay for IVF

ABC News(HOUSTON) -- A Texas couple hope the auction of a one-of-a-kind football card will fund a final attempt at in vitro fertilization, a goal that the NFL Hall of Famer on the card fully supports.

Todd and Ula Nelkin of Houston have been trying to have a baby for several years.  When they were unable to conceive naturally, they turned to IVF, but suffered two failed attempts.

The first attempt resulted in an ectopic pregnancy, which is when the pregnancy occurs outside the womb and the fetus cannot survive.

The second IVF failed at the get-go.  

The couple, who own a sports-memorabilia shop in Houston, have now decided that they want to try IVF one more time before exploring the option of adoption, but they need some financial help for the costly procedure.

"We have a house payment, car payment, loan payment like everyone else and you reach a point where you say, 'OK, what are our other alternatives?' and having a card like this is a pretty amazing backdrop," Todd Nelkin, 44, said.  "It's something to fall back on.  We're hoping the right person sees the auction."

The item to which Todd refers is a one-of-a-kind card, double autographed by legendary running backs Barry Sanders and the late Walter Payton.

"This card is the only one of the 100 made to be graded a perfect 10 and I would like to think that maybe this could be the only card in the history of the world that could be responsible for a human life existing and that's a nice addition to the card," Todd said.

Experts have told Todd that the card could be worth up to $20,000.

"As far as I'm concerned, the winning bidder could make the check to Baylor College of Medicine," he said.  "The money is going straight to the hospital.  That's the only goal of this whole auction."

The Nelkins' story caught the attention of NFL Hall of Famer Sanders himself.  The former Detroit Lions running back tweeted Todd to voice his support.

In a statement to ABC News' Houston affiliate KTRK-TV, Sanders said, "I want the Nelkins to know that I am supportive in helping spread the word about their cause and since this one-of-a-kind item cannot be replaced, I wanted to send them another signed card to have in its place."

Todd said it was "pretty unreal" when he saw Sanders' message.

"It's not every day a Heisman trophy-winner text messages you," he said.  "You don't think that people like that know about people like me."

Todd knows that the last IVF attempt does not guarantee a child for the couple, but he dreams of the day when he will be a father.

"I'm hoping we get a little person that talks too much on the phone, talks back to me, puts a dent in the car where there shouldn't be one," he said.  "I'm sure there will come a time to where we're standing in the front yard saying, 'Honest, officer, it won't happen again.'  That's what I want to go through, that wonderful experience of being a dad like my dad was to me."

The card will be up for auction on eBay under the name "Nelkin Baby 2012" the last week of October.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Womb-Scratching Technique May Boost IVF Success

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- What if a quick, cheap and relatively painless procedure could double the chances of becoming pregnant through in-vitro fertilization?  British researchers say a simple scratch to the uterine lining might do just that, but some experts are skeptical.

A new review of eight previously published studies suggests women who have their wombs gently scraped a month before starting IVF are twice as likely to have babies. The procedure, called local endometrial injury, takes about 15 minutes and costs as little as $200.

"Because the success rate of IVF is modest, these results are of considerable interest since the proposed intervention is neither expensive nor time-consuming and is apparently devoid of significant complications," the review authors wrote.

In IVF, a woman's eggs are plucked from her ovaries and fertilized in a laboratory.  The resulting embryos are then transferred back into the woman's womb, but fewer than half will implant in the uterine lining and result in a pregnancy, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.

"It's a very complicated biochemical process," said Dr. Richard Paulson, director of the Fertility Program at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles.  "The embryo has to chemically communicate with the surface of the endometrium, give a kiss of death to some of the cells underneath to make room for implantation, and then invade the tissue much like a cancer."

The new review, published in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online, suggests a small scratch in the endometrium can boost the receptivity of the uterus to an implanted embryo.  But some experts say the studies cited were flawed; most of them lacked proper control groups.

"Certainly this warrants revisiting the issue," said Dr. James Goldfarb, director of the University Hospitals Fertility Center in Cleveland and past president of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies. "I think the value of this review is that it might entice people to do good randomized control studies so we can know if this truly helps or not."

The idea of scratching the womb to aid implantation stemmed from the observation in 2003 that women who had endometrial biopsies after one or more failed IVF cycles were more likely to get pregnant.  But it's unclear how an endometrial injury might improve implantation.  Some studies suggest the tiny scratch triggers the release of growth factors from the uterine lining.  But the timing of it -- one month before a woman starts IVF -- raises questions.

"All those cells are going to be sloughed off," said Paulson, explaining how the uterine lining sheds with each menstrual period.  "That's a problem."

The procedure, Paulson said, also defies Mother Nature.

"Teleologically, this would never have occurred in nature," he said of injuring an organ to boost its function.  "You might be allowing the implantation of an embryo that would not normally implant."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rabbis Urge Single, Orthodox Women to Freeze Eggs at 38

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Rebecca, an Orthodox Jew from California, was two weeks away from her marriage to the son of a respected rabbi when medication she was taking for migraines triggered a debilitating stroke.

She fell to the floor of the emergency room where she was working as a manager and broke her neck, suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries. When her fiance saw the extent of her disability, he called off the wedding.

"We did everything the Orthodox way," she said of their three-month engagement after being matched by family members. "I was in the hospital on my wedding day and they got out the wheelchair, and he was so frightened he backed off."

Now 38 and walking again, Rebecca is single, but her Orthodox faith implores her to find a husband and build a family. So she sought spiritual guidance from three or four rabbis and has decided -- with their blessing -- to have her eggs frozen for the future, when she hopes she will marry and start a family.

Doctors in the United States who are familiar with "halacha" -- or Jewish religious law -- say they are seeing more Orthodox patients who have been sent by their rabbis to freeze their eggs before their fertility wanes.

Orthodox Jews include a number of different sects worldwide, including the large Hasidic communities in New York City, which all place an importance on raising families.

"I couldn't think of a life without children because of our religion," said Rebecca, who did not want to share her name for privacy reasons. "That's the biggest mitzvah [commandment]. To bear kids and to bring them up the right way and to teach them the Torah is a woman's obligation."

Reproductive technology has perfected freezing techniques so that pregnancy rates are about the same as using fresh eggs when in vitro fertilization methods are used.

Rebecca is prepared to spend $7,000 to $10,000 per cycle to freeze her eggs with fertility specialists who can provide religious supervision.

"Most rabbis are strongly recommending this, and most should," said Dr. Sherman Silber, director of the Infertility Center of St. Louis, whose practice caters to Orthodox Jews. "'Be fruitful and multiply' is considered the first commandment."

The procedure helps make these single women more marriageable in the eyes of their communities, according to Silber.

"In truth, however, most orthodox women marry much earlier than this, often at age 20," he said. "So it is an uncommon event, but an important one for them."

About five percent of Silber's patients are Orthodox and his practice is supervised by top halachic authorities in Judaism from Jerusalem.

He recommends egg freezing "for all women who do not anticipate having a baby soon," he said. "Aging of the eggs is the critical and most important reason for the current infertility epidemic worldwide. And I would suggest well before age 38 to do that."

"We do everything we can to follow Orthodox halacha in all of our IVF practice," said Silber. "The patient can get her shots on Friday night before shabbos, and she can get her shots on Saturday night after shabbos. This is never a scheduling or dosage problem."

Rabbis also give special approval in rare cases when egg pick-up must be over the Sabbath, according to Silber, "as life trumps all other mitzvahs," including getting approval for a non-Jewish doctor.

In Israel the procedure is covered by the government. Some rabbis recommend every single woman over age 32 freeze her eggs as an insurance policy against infertility.

More women delay pregnancy for careers, but by their mid-30s their fertility dramatically drops and miscarriage rates rise. Harvesting a woman's eggs literally freezes them in time.

The first "frozen egg" baby was born in 1986, but success rates were so low that it was considered experimental. Unlike sperm, which had been successfully frozen for years, unfertilized eggs contain a lot of water and slow freezing causes ice crystals to form, destroying cell structure. But a specialized fast-freezing technique called vitrification changed all that.

Dr. Jamie Grifo, program director of the NYU Fertility Center in New York City, has done 1,100 frozen egg cycles since 2005, and recommends the earlier the eggs are harvested the better.

"Ideally, the best results are under 35, optimally in their early 30s," he said.

In his studies of live birth rates from 2003 to 2009, the pregnancy rate among 30-year-olds is 61 percent, but at age 44 it drops to five percent.

Grifo is also able to cater to Orthodox patients and has a rabbinical observer in his labs to oversee labeling and storing of eggs.

In accordance with halacha, eggs must be placed in new Petri dishes, even if they have been sterilized.

Rebecca is now in counseling with Rabbi Gideon Weitzman of Jerusalem, who is director of the Puah Institute, which for 20 years has been a "central authority" on infertility procedures performed in accordance with Jewish law.

"There is a very, very huge interface through the millennia between Judaism and medicine and technology," he said. "We've learned to go hand in hand with science."

Weitzman said freezing the eggs of single women is a real "boon" for Orthodox women who are taught at a young age that marriage and children are important.

"We get calls on this question every single week, if not every single day," he said.

Most of the time, women who freeze their eggs do not end up using them after they have found a husband and conceive the usual way.

Jewish law is "permissive" on destruction of unused eggs or embryos.

"Everybody agrees life in a Petri dish isn't life," said Weitzman.

Rebecca, who is of Moroccan Jewish descent, did not grow up in a religious family, but became modern orthodox when she was 27. She observes Shabbat (the Sabbath), prays each morning and dresses modestly in skirts below the knee -- except at the hospital, where she wore scrubs to work.

After his initial hesitation, her fiance later asked her to marry once again, but she refused.

"That wasn't an option for me after the way he behaved in my recovery," she said. "I wanted someone to be there for me the Orthodox way -- to be there for you regardless, someone who is more nurturing."

She wears a neck collar and has multiple therapies for her brain injury, which makes her processing slower.

"As an OR manager and director, I was, all the time, very active," she said. "But now, it's sometimes hard to read a book. I get fatigued easily."

She has been told she can never do nursing again. But with a helping husband, she said being a mother one day is possible.

"I know that I have a long road to recovery and my self-esteem went down," she said of her broken engagement.

Still, she eventually wants to go back to dating and find a husband.

"I feel hopeful," she said. "I am a very positive person. Thank God, I never got depressed and my religion has helped me a lot."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Artificial Testicle Could Make Sperm for Infertile Men

In-vitro fertilization. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Researchers in California are attempting to make an artificial testicle that will produce human sperm.

Dr. Paul Turek, director of the Turek Clinic in San Francisco, which specializes in male infertility, said the goal is not to create a testicular implant for men, but a “sperm-making biological machine” that will help scientists learn more about just what causes male infertility.

“We’re trying to recreate the process of sperm production in a three-dimensional system,” Turek said. “Simple laboratory conditions can’t get it done in humans. Our concept is to actually recreate the testicle itself.”

Turek and his team will build the faux testicle by first growing cells that nurture sperm in the lab and then adding a man’s stem cells to hopefully create new sperm cells. Turek said the “holy grail” of his research will be to produce sperm for infertile men that could be used in IVF treatments to conceive children, but achieving that goal will likely not happen for many years.

Dr. Rick Paulson, director of the fertility program at the University of Southern California, told ABC News that if Turek and his team are successful, it could be an exciting step forward for men who lose their testicles to cancer, accidents or other factors that leave them without the ability to make sperm.

But the team will face a few hurdles, Paulson said.

“The processing of DNA is very complicated to go from a regular cell to a germ cell” like sperm, which have half the number of chromosomes as other cells in the body, Paulson said. “Not only do you have to split the chromosomes in half, but you also have to package the DNA in a very specific way. I think it will be quite challenging.”

Approximately 15 percent of couples are infertile, and in about half of those cases, the man is the source of the infertility, according to the Mayo Clinic. Scientists are already able to harvest sperm from the testicles of men who produce their own sperm, just not enough to be fertile.

Paulson said the next, far more challenging task for researchers will be to create eggs from stem cells to help infertile women.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Some IVF Patients Fail to Follow Lifestyle Recommendations

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Women who undergo in vitro fertilization are advised to make several lifestyle changes, but many women do not always take the recommendations to heart, a new study has found.

Most doctors recommend that women stop or cut back on caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and herbs because it decreases their chances of becoming pregnant. Women are even advised to tone down their exercise regimen, as well.

But new research from Boston IVF, an infertility treatment center, examined data from 118 women who underwent an IVF cycle between June 2009 and March 2010 and found that many women were not following recommendations. While it appeared most women were generally living healthier lifestyles than in the five years before their IVF cycles, about half of the study participants reported still drinking one to two alcoholic beverages per week. Three percent reported smoking during their IVF cycle.

Patients at the center are advised to limit caffeine consumption to about 50 milligrams (one soda, one cup of tea) per day, but almost half of the patients reported to continue drinking caffeine each day. Most of those caffeine drinkers reported drinking coffee, which can have anywhere between 60 and 200 milligrams of caffeine in one cup.

And even though patients are told to cut back on exercise, about 12 percent reported exercising at least once a week.

“Something like running can be really jarring and painful during an IVF cycle because the ovaries are enlarged,” said Dr. Alice Domar, the study’s lead author and executive director of the Domar Center for Mind and Body Health of Boston IVF. “While we think going out for a run makes us feel good and feel like we can eat that cupcake later, our bodies take it as we’re running from a bear, which is not conducive to your body if you’re trying to get pregnant.”

While the survey size is too small to make blanket responses and suggestions, Domar said they were surprised by the results because each cycle can cost nearly $20,000, and women really want to get pregnant.

“An IVF cycle is only 28 days, so patients really need to understand that they should maximize their chances of getting pregnant at that time,” Domar said. “If it doesn’t work, then they can go back to their normal lifestyle habits, but they should really capitalize on their chance if they can.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


In IVF, Is Three Embryos Too Many?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(GLASGOW) -- A new study suggests women undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) should receive no more than two embryos, regardless of their age or the quality of the embryos. But some fertility doctors say the benefits and risks of transferring extra embryos still depend on the woman.

In IVF, a woman’s eggs are fertilized outside of her body and the resulting embryos are transferred into her uterus. Because not all embryos will successfully implant and result in pregnancy, doctors often transfer more than one -- a practice that increases the odds of multiples and, consequently, the risk of complications.

The British study, which was based on a review of more than 120,000 IVF cycles yielding 33,514 live births in the UK, found a higher live birth rate and lower complication rate among women who received two embryos compared with women who received three, regardless of their age. Transferring two embryos was associated with a higher live birth rate than transferring one, and the live birth rate was lower among women over 40, irrespective of the number of embryos transferred.

“In older and younger women, the transfer of two embryos was associated with greatest live birth rates,” the study authors wrote in their report, published Wednesday in The Lancet. “A clear implication of our study is that transfer of three embryos should no longer be supported in women of any age.”

The American Society of Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology currently recommend transferring no more than two embryos in women younger than 38, no more than four embryos in women aged 38 to 40, and no more than five embryos in women 41 to 42.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Guiliana Rancic: Fertility Treatments and Breast Cancer

Dan MacMedan/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Guiliana Rancic has attributed her breast cancer diagnosis with her efforts to get pregnant. But could her fertility treatments have contributed to her diagnosis?

Specialists in breast cancer and fertility say no. Studies so far have shown no increased risk in women undergoing fertility treatments and the occurrence of breast cancer.

"Right now there is no convincing evidence that IVF causes breast cancers," Dr. Jennifer Litton at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston told ABC News.

"We need further follow-up and long-term studies," she said, adding, "We are actively evaluating the effect of IVF on breast tissue."

Rancic, the 37-year-old E! and Style Network host, has long documented her struggle to have a baby on her Style Network reality TV show Giuliana and Bill, with husband Bill Rancic, the first Apprentice winner. Her first round of in-vitro fertilization ended in a miscarriage and the second failed to work.

It was during her third round of IVF that her doctor insisted she undergo a mammogram first, since pregnancy could accelerate the spread of any potential cancer. That's when a tumor was detected.

Rancic said her prognosis is good, having caught the cancer at an early stage. "I will be OK, because I found it early," she said.

She will undergo a lumpectomy later this week, followed by six weeks of radiation therapy.

"We are grateful that thanks to early detection, Giuliana is expected to have a swift and complete recovery," E! said in a statement to ABC News, while it applauded her decision to go public with her diagnosis, "in the hope that it will encourage women everywhere to take necessary and preventive measures."

Rancic, who already had embryos retrieved in her latest round of IVF, still plans to pursue pregnancy after her breast cancer treatment.

"I still want this baby," she told NBC's Today. "What's amazing is that baby will have saved my life. If I had gotten pregnant later down the line, I could have been a lot sicker."

Litton doesn't see a problem with Rancic trying to get pregnant.

"Finding cancers early with appropriate detection there are very high cure rates," Litton said. "And it does not take future motherhood off the table."

Dr. Jennifer Mersereau, director of the fertility preservation program at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that for those who have had breast cancer and wish to become pregnant, studies are "very reassuring that there is not an increased risk of [cancer] recurrence."

As for their chances of conceiving afterward, Mersereau said there is not a whole lot of data. Age at the time of diagnosis, type of treatment and previous fertility history are all factors that can play a role.

Rancic said she was dragged "kicking and screaming" into her mammogram, something she had planned to do at 40. Like 85 percent of all women with breast cancer, she did not have a family history of it.

Rancic shared the following message with women: "A lot of us think we're invincible...but we have to start putting ourselves on the to-do list. I had a friend call me yesterday, and she said, 'I'm so sorry, can I do anything for you?' And I said, 'Just call your doctor tomorrow and make an appointment. That's what you could do for me.'"

Mersereau said women under 40 shouldn't rush out to get mammograms. Age 40 is still considered the baseline age. But women should tailor their screening depending on many factors, including their family history, Litton said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Taller Women More Likely to Have Twins after In Vitro?

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Thinkstock(AMSTERDAM) -- Multiple births after in vitro fertilization (IVF) are not uncommon, but a new study released on Monday suggests that if two embryos are implanted in a woman's uterus, taller recipients are more likely to have twins than their shorter counterparts.

Researchers at Vrije Universiteit Medical Centre in Amsterdam reviewed data from over 2,300 Dutch women who underwent a double embryo transfer during their first IVF treatment. They found that women measuring over five feet eight-and-a-half inches in height were almost three times more likely to give birth to twins than shorter women.

The authors of the study, however, could not offer any explanation to their findings.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: PCBs May Affect In Vitro Fertilization

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) -- A new study suggests polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) may affect in vitro fertilization (IVF), according to HealthDay.

Congress banned PCBs in 1979, although the toxic chemicals can still be found in the United States, particularly in seafood and dairy. Environmental Health Perspectives published a report by the University of Michigan School of Public Health in their Feb. 24 issue, which indicated that PCBs could be the cause of a significantly lower IVF birth rate.

765 women were involved in the study. Scientists analyzed blood samples for PCBs, and found that the 530 cases who lost their babies, either by implantation failure or miscarriage, tended to have higher a PCB content.

The analysts said the findings do not necessarily apply to all infertility problems.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio