In Vitro Fertilization Less Successful With Alternative Fertility Treatments
Women who are desperately trying to get pregnant might want to avoid complementary and alternative medicine.
The common belief is that it won’t hurt to try alternative fertility treatments before reverting to in vitro fertilization (IVF). But a new study from Denmark finds that the success of IVF treatment is 30% lower among women who have used alternative medicine. The researchers included over 700 IVF users over a 12-month period. Women who had first tried a combination of alternative treatments, such as reflexology, acupuncture, or herbal- and aroma therapy, had significantly lower pregnancy rates after IVF treatment.
Alex Polyakov and Beverley Vollenhoven of the Faculty of 1000 Medicine emphasize the relevance of the study for IVF clinics. “It is important, when discussing IVF treatment with couples, that their use of alternative therapies is also discussed, as this may have a bearing on treatment success.”
Whether the effect on IVF success is a direct result of the use of complementary medicine, or whether women who were already having more trouble conceiving were more likely to revert to alternative fertility treatments could not be determined in the present study. Nevertheless, Polyakov and Vollenhoven recommend being cautious: “Until further evidence is available, it is best to counsel couples against the use of alternative therapies when also having IVF.”
The article is titled, “Use of complementary and alternative medicines associated with a 30% lower ongoing pregnancy/live birth rate during 12 months of fertility treatment.”
Factors to Consider with In Vitro Fertilization
Age: Any woman who is still ovulating may try IVF, although success rates decline as a woman ages. Women under age 35 have the greatest chance of success with this technique.
Multiple births: Generally, in women who use IVF to establish a live birth, about 63% are single babies, 32% are twins, and 5% are triplets or more.
Cost: IVF is a costly procedure that, in many cases, is not covered by health insurance plans.
Reduced need for surgery: If a woman has IVF, she may not have to undergo surgery on her Fallopian tubes. It is estimated that the IVF technique has reduced such surgeries by half.
Safety: Studies suggest that in vitro fertilization is safe. A study covered nearly 1,000 children conceived through these methods in five European countries and found that the children monitored from birth to age 5 years, were as healthy as children conceived naturally. However, other studies have found a slightly increased risk of genetic disorders in children conceived through assisted reproductive technologies. However, adverse outcomes during pregnancy and the perinatal period are higher in pregnancies that resulted from IVF. Some or most of this increased risk is due to the fact that a greater proportion of IVF pregnancies involve multiple gestations. However, there is a slight increased risk of complications in singleton pregnancies resulting from IVF, possibly related to the age of the parents or to the underlying conditions which led to the infertility and need for IVF.
The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Faculty of 1000: Biology and Medicine, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
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