Medical Minute 10-26: Baby Steps: Fertility Findings

By: Andrew McIntosh Email
By: Andrew McIntosh Email

Being a mom is what Valerie Simpson always wanted. At 37, she got pregnant-- but the baby died during birth.

"The cord was wrapped around my son's neck, and I lost him."

Valerie struggled to get pregnant again, but had a miscarriage. That's when she decided to try in-vitro fertilization. Doctor William Schoolcraft offered Valerie a new procedure known as CCS. It screens embryos for chromosome problems before they're transferred to the patient -- allowing doctors to implant only healthy embryos.

"We can get pregnancy rates similar to younger women when we transfer these normal embryos back," said William Schoolcraft, M.D., Founder and Medical Director of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine.

Doctor Schoolcraft says with CCS, women 35 to 37 have a 78% chance of pregnancy. Those 38 to 40: A 68 percent chance. And women up to 42 have a 62 percent chance. Another technique known as vitrification is making IVF more effective when embryos have to be frozen.

"You put it in a cooling solution, and very, very rapidly, so it cools within seconds," said James Goldfarb, M.D., Reproductive Endocrinology and Fertility Specialist Cleveland Clinic.

With conventional, slow freezing -- about 30 percent of embryos do not survive. With the rapid freezing -- embryos have more than a 95-percent chance of surviving. Another method called ICSI is making in-vitro a possibility for more men. Instead of placing thousands of sperm around the egg and hoping one will fertilize it, doctors take just one sperm and inject it into each egg. It's about 75 to 85 percent successful.

After having the chromosome test, one of Valerie's eight embryos tested healthy.

"We have a perfect baby boy."

A dream come true for his mom.

For more information on other series produced by Ivanhoe Broadcast News contact John Cherry at (407) 691-1500,


BACKGROUND: Infertility refers to not being able to become pregnant after years of trying to do so. If a woman has multiple miscarriages, it is also called infertility. About one-third of the time, infertility can be traced to the woman. In another third of cases, infertility is due to the man. About two-thirds of couples that are treated for infertility go on to have children.
(SOURCE: National Women’s Health Information Center)

IVF: In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a procedure to treat fertility problems. During IVF, a woman’s mature eggs are retrieved from her ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. The fertilized egg, which is known as an embryo, is then implanted in the woman’s uterus. One cycle of IVF takes about two weeks. It is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology available. According to a New York Times article, more than 50,000 children are born each year to parents who undergo IVF.
(SOURCE: Mayo Clinic)

IMPROVING IVF: There are several new techniques doctors are using to improve the success of IVF. These include:
• CCS: Comprehensive chromosomal screening (CCS) is a new method doctors are using to screen embryos before they are transferred to the patient via IVF. The procedure allows doctors to implant only healthy embryos, thus allowing women, especially older women, to achieve higher pregnancy rates. The technique also helps women who suffer miscarriages due to chromosomal abnormalities.
• Vitrification: Sometimes, embryos are frozen before they are transferred to a patient. Doctors used to slowly freeze the embryos, but now, they have seen better results by performing a rapid freeze, which is known as vitrification. With this technique, embryos have more than a 95 percent chance of surviving.
• ICSI: Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a method developed to help couples with severe male factor infertility. The technique involves very precise maneuvers to pick up a single, live sperm and inject it directly into the center of a human egg. The method is about 85 percent successful.

Sarah Stavros
Marketing/Public Relations
Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine
(303) 761-0579

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