There are several fertility treatment add-ons. Which one is right for you?
In-vitro fertilization (IVF) technology has been in use since 1981 and has resulted in more than 200,000 babies born in the United States (SART). If you happen to have a blocked or absent fallopian tube or your partner has a low sperm count, IVF is an effective procedure. But on average, IVF is successful only 30% of the time and most couples need at least three IVF cycles to conceive.
Over time, various fertility treatment add-ons have been developed that are designed to improve the outcome of IVF treatment. However, recent research has questioned the effectiveness of many of these IVF add-on services, treatments, and procedures.
Lack of Evidence to Show Effectiveness of Most IVF Add-ons
A study published in the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal and conducted by the Centre for Evidence-based Medicine at The University of Oxford suggests that most fertility treatment add-ons routinely offered to couples seeking in-vitro fertilization treatments may not work. The study concludes that the existing evidence does not support routine use of some IVF add-ons for the purpose of improving IVF success. And 26 of the 27 “add-ons” typically promoted to infertile couples that are considering or undergoing IVF are not backed up by scientific evidence. Some of their IVF treatment add-ons include:
preimplantation genetic screening
use of additional drugs that affect clotting and immune systems
blood tests to measure the immune system
mock embryo transfer
time-lapse embryo imaging
ovarian tissue freezing
segmented-IVF (separating collection and transfer cycles)
High Cost of Most Add-ons is Not Justified
These IVF add-on treatments can significantly add to the already high cost of an IVF cycle. The average IVF cycle costs $12,000 before medication, which typically cost an additional $3,000 to $5,000. The IVF add-on treatments can add up to $10,000 per IVF cycle.
New Add-on Information Creates Consumer Confusion
This new information and evidence creates confusion, misunderstanding, and lack of clear-path decision making for prospective parents who have an infertility diagnosis and are about to start or are already experiencing an emotionally difficult, and potential expensive and lengthy fertility treatment journey.
It is often unclear to patients which IVF add-ons are recommended for which infertility condition. Likewise, it is often not known to patients if for a particular add-on there is existing evidence recommending its use to improve IVF treatment outcome. For example, the endometrial scratch add-on, aimed to help the embryo implant successfully into the womb lining, is moderately beneficial only in women with more than two previous embryo transfers. Thus, its use in early IVF cycles is not recommended.
Add-on Fertility Treatments Vary By Fertility Clinic
Patients are often unaware that fertility clinics come with different flavors regarding their use of fertility treatment add-ons. Some clinics apply some of the IVF add-ons to all their patients while other clinics only recommend and use a particular add-on for a patient depending on the patient’s medical condition and family history. Patients should be aware of this discrepancy as they choose their fertility clinic.
Individuals undergoing or already receiving IVF may want to get the right information at the right time from the right source that will empower them to make informed treatment choices. This can optimize their treatment outcome, overall length, and total cost.
Here Are Some Questions to Ask About Fertility Treatment Add-ons
Which IVF add-ons are most appropriate for our current medical condition? Why?
Is there scientific evidence to support the add-on use in our particular case?
Is the recommended treatment add-on safe and will it improve my IVF treatment outcome?
How many patients in your clinic opt to use this particular IVF add-on?
What is the exact cost of the treatment add-on? Is it a one-time cost or a per treatment cycle add-on cost?
Opionato (www.opionato.com) is your trusted go-to fertility expert accessible at anytime from anywhere. We assess your fertility potential and provide next-step fertility advice so your path to pregnancy is short and stress-free.
Opionato started with one woman’s personal fertility experience and the vision to give others what she lacked. Read Maja’s story here: https://www.opionato.com/blog/what-i-wish-i-knew-my-fertility-journey.