Fertility treatments have vastly improved over the past few years, which are allowing women to conceive and have healthy children, some into their 50’s.
After a recent conversation with a friend who asked me the probabilities of a breast cancer survivor having children post chemotherapy, I thought a lot this weekend about an article from 2008 in Women & Cancer magazine. For my friend, and all the women who are cancer survivors, I wanted to re-post this article and feature it as my blog topic this week.
The article is the journey one of my patients took as she faced breast cancer, and she chose to preserve her fertility via egg freezing. The article can also be found at CancerConsultants.com, after a Q&A about fertility options for women facing cancer.
I recently put together an answer to the question “What Are Fertility Drugs?,” for the Sharecare.com online health network hosted by Dr. OZ. I wanted to post my answer her on my blog too to help my own clients understand more about the differences between the various fertility medications they may be prescribed here in my own clinic and practice.
There are a variety of drugs used for fertility treatment. Some are used to produce more ovarian egg follicles. Some are also used to suppress the pituitary gland and prevent ovulation. Others are used to support the uterine lining and early pregnancy.
Read my detailed answer here. . .
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a therapy that is designed to increase the chances of pregnancy for women who have difficulty conceiving naturally. It involves a series of steps that result in the development of viable embryos that can be reintroduced into the patient’s uterus. Currently, it is the most advanced and effective fertility treatment available. Success rates vary based on the age of the patient and the cause of infertility.
Technically, “in vitro fertilization” only refers to the process of fertilizing an egg outside the body. However, the term IVF is generally used to describe the entire treatment cycle. This involves three phases:
Multiple pregnancies seem to be the topic of the day. Twins represent the majority of multiple pregnancies. The chance of having twins naturally is approximately 1%. Most twins are fraternal (non-identical) meaning that they each come from one egg. Fraternal twinning appears to have a genetic basis since twins tend to occur repetitively in certain families and have increased incidences in certain ethnic groups. Naturally occurring fraternal twins occur when a woman ovulates at least two eggs and both are fertilized. Usually, women ovulate one egg each month.
Identical twins are the result of a single embryo splitting into two embryos during the first 15 days of life. Identical twinning is thought to represent a random event rather than having a genetic or racial basis.
The data regarding the effects of moderate alcohol intake on fertility is inconclusive at this time. The largest prospective studies conducted in Europe indicate that high levels of alcohol consumption are associated with greater difficulty conceiving.
One small Danish study identified a slight delay in conception even with alcohol ingestion of 5 drinks or less per week. However, this research relies on self-reporting of alcohol consumption which may be inaccurate. In many cases, the studies do not fully account for other factors that could be affecting fertility.
There has been intense international reaction to the birth of octuplets by a Southern California woman. While the details are not fully available, it appears that several frozen embryos were transferred to the uterus of a 33 year old woman resulting in the birth of 8 infants. Dr. Jain has been interviewed by news agencies from around the globe for his comments and perspective. The following is a summary of the most common questions and excerpts from his interviews: