High-tech fertility treatment growing
A high tech treatment for infertility has become the most common therapy in Europe to help couples have children, according to figures released on Wednesday.
Scientists are not sure why ever more fertility clinics are carrying out ICSI, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection, but it could be due to rising infertility in men.
The technique involves injecting a single sperm - selected for its quality - directly into an egg. In regular IVF treatment, thousands of sperm are mixed with the egg in the laboratory but still have to get through the egg wall.
“For the first time, ICSI was more prevalent than IVF (in vitro fertilisation),” Dr. Anders Nyboe Andersen, of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, told a fertility conference.
Private clinics are more likely to use ICSI, which has a lower risk of failure, than public clinics. More infertile men may also be coming forward now because there is a treatment to help them.
“It could be that there is a relative increase in male infertility,” Andersen added.
An estimated one in six couples has an infertility problem.
The latest figures, released at a meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), show the proportion of ICSI treatments versus IVF in Europe in 2002 was 52 percent.
Compared to IVF, which was perfected 27 years ago with the birth of the first test tube baby Louise Brown, ICSI is relatively new. The first ICSI baby was born in 1992.
The new figures show Germany, Britain and France perform the most fertility treatments in Europe. But Denmark offers the most treatments per million inhabitants.
About 6 percent of children born in Denmark in 2002 were conceived through fertility treatments such as ICSI and IVF.
The availability of treatments varies between countries. Belgium offers six free cycles. Denmark is not far behind with five. The British government has promised one free treatment for infertile couples.
“The UK is lagging behind,” said Andersen.
About 70-80 percent of treatment for infertility in Britain is done in private clinics. The average cost of an IVF treatment is about 3,000 pounds, according to Clare Brown, the chief executive of Infertility Network UK.
Tell-a-Friend comments powered by Disqus