A team at one Iowa hospital has pioneered a particular type of in vitro fertilization (IVF) that aims to reduce the risk of multiple pregnancies or other complications.
The team, led by Dr. Brad Van Voorhis at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, offers "safe, ethical, evidence-based and effective treatment to each of our patients to help them achieve their dream of starting a family," according to Doctors Abey Eapen and Hakan Duran.
The Iowa medical facility has been in the lead in introducing elective single embryo transfer, which the hospital stated reduces the risk of multiple pregnancies.
"Assisted reproductive techniques have evolved by a great deal over the last 5-10 years. Some of the advances include effective diagnostic tests, ‘newer’ treatment protocols to reduce the risk of ovarian hyper-stimulation, better embryo culture techniques in the lab, advancement in screening embryos for chromosomal abnormalities and genetic diseases," the two doctors told Clive News.
"Worldwide, IVF clinicians and scientists are refining the process of gene editing which is considered to be the future of reproductive medicine."
In a piece published on the university's website, one couple, Elizabeth and Joe Rich, of Ottumwa, Iowa, described how they were helped after being referred to Van Hoorhis's team at the university hospital. They have two children, aged 10 and 6.
“At times I felt nervous but reminded myself that the team is a group of scientists, trained to see what I do not understand," Elizabeth told the site. "I put my complete trust in them. All of the staff either had an answer to your question or they went to the ends of the earth to find it for you.”
She added, “The doctors truly cared for us and our family,” Elizabeth says. “Dr. Van Voorhis may be a scientist, but I made it my mission to make him laugh.”
Van Voorhis, who has directed one of only two IVF programs in Iowa since 2003, said, "People seek us because we provide outstanding outcomes, and our success is historically much higher than the national average (by about 10 percent).
"Our reputation is strong and continues to build off our revolutionary treatment and care.”
Doctors Eapen and Duran said those individuals who may benefit from IVF are females aged 35 and younger unable to conceive after 12 months of trying, or for a period of 6 months if over that age.
For women in a same sex relationship, infertility is the inability to conceive after 6 cycles of artificial or intrauterine insemination using donor sperm within a hospital setting, the doctors said.
"Another indication for assisted conception treatment is for individuals who are diagnosed with cancer who need treatment which may render them sterile," they added.
"We can perform fertility cryopreservation (egg cryo-preservation, embryo cryo-preservation or sperm cryo-preservation) before their cancer treatment which provides them hope for the future."
The cost of basic IVF treatment ranges from $20,000 to $26,000. If genetic testing for embryos is added to IVF treatment program, it increases the cost to approximately $35,000, which includes medication,
At UI Hospitals & Clinics, approximate 70 percent of the treatment cycles are covered by insurance, though some need pre-authorization. A finance program is also available for those eligible and under 40.