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Future of Fertility

Debunking 4 Myths About In-Vitro Fertilization

Dr. Brian Levine, practice director at CCRM Fertility in New York, explains in-vitro fertilization.

Dr. Brian Levine

Practice Director, CCRM Fertility New York

Can you share exactly what IVF is and how someone would qualify for it?

Reproductive medicine is centered on mimicking nature and sometimes, as in the case of IVF, even making certain steps more efficient. In short, IVF involves a woman taking hormonal medications for 10 to 12 days, undergoing a minor surgical procedure (under anesthesia) where the eggs are retrieved transvaginally through an aspirating needle via ultrasound guidance, sperm is collected from the male partner (via masturbation), and the eggs are artificially fertilized in a dish. The resultant embryos are grown/cultured for several days (typically 5 to 7) and are then replaced in the uterus (fresh) or frozen in a lab for either further genetic testing or future use.

Are there any best practices before embarking on the IVF journey?

My five best bullet points for getting ready for IVF are:

  • Start taking prenatal vitamins (and review your current supplements with your doctor).
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and reduce or eliminate caffeine intake.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Stop smoking, drinking alcohol and recreational drugs.
  • Avoid travel to any countries or regions that may put you at risk of exposure to Zika, COVID-19 or other significant infectious diseases, which could delay treatment.

What are some common myths about IVF that you often debunk for patients?

  1. IVF makes twins. The increased numbers of twins and triplets were due to multiple embryos being transferred in the early days of our field. We have now improved our techniques and typically only transfer one embryo at a time.
  2. IVF makes boys. The laboratory environment and the manipulations that are used have not skewed the gender distributions of the children that are born. With the advent of genetic testing, we can now help patients balance their families by knowing the gender of the embryos before transferring them back.
  3. IVF hormones are dangerous. The hormones that are used for IVF are similar to those that are in a woman’s normal menstrual cycle. With that said, if someone is predisposed to cancer, or has a precancerous condition, they should discuss this with their doctor before being treated.
  4. IVF is only for the rich and famous. With one in eight couples suffering from infertility (and likely many more that are not being included in this statistic), we have seen an incredible number of employers that are empowering their employees to seek IVF and are covering the costs. In fact, more cycles are done with insurance than without.

IVF is often the only option for those looking to conceive, however the cost prohibits many from being able to embark on this journey. What are some financial options for those looking to do IVF?

First and foremost, talk to your HR department! You might have coverage that you didn’t even know about. Second, many clinics have discount programs for medications, services, or even financing services. Don’t be shy – ask the medical billing staff how to budget for IVF. Lastly, there are lots of great resources on the RESOLVE website; check this site often to learn about great and exciting programs.

What are some questions people should ask when meeting with an IVF doctor for the first time?

Ask the doctor why you need IVF and what is your diagnosis. Ask about your prognosis.

Ask if it will be difficult to conceive child No. two and if there will be embryos preserved for future pregnancies. And ask the doctor your likelihood of success at each step of the process.

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