Posts Tagged ‘ infertiity ’

Insurance Coverage for IVF May Reduce Multiple Births

Friday, May 16th, 2014

A study of insurance coverage of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in Canada has found that the more complete the coverage of the common fertility procedure, the fewer multiple births are recorded.  Multiple births–twins, triplets, or more–often happen when multiple embryos are transferred into a woman’s uterus as part of IVF.  And multiple-embryo transfers often happen when women have limited resources to pursue a number of IVF cycles.  Reuters has more on the Canadian study:

Quebec’s universal health insurance started covering all IVF-related costs in mid-2010. The new research is based on data from the first full year of coverage.

“Multiple pregnancies have important health consequences for pregnant women and their babies,” said lead author Dr. Maria Velez, from the University of Montreal.

Multiple pregnancies have an emotional and economic impact on families and cost the health system, which is a delicate point to bring up with patients dealing with fertility issues, she told Reuters Health by email. Patients are often misinformed about the negative consequences of multiple pregnancies, she said.

“Our obligation as medical doctors is to place the health of our patients above all,” Velez said. “Our role is to prevent a patient choosing a treatment that may cause harm if there is a safer alternative.”

Five fertility centers offer IVF in Quebec. The new study compared data from the Canadian Assisted Reproductive Technologies Register from those centers in 2009, before IVF was covered, and in 2011.

There were 1,875 fresh IVF cycles performed in 2009, which rose to 5,489 cycles in 2011. The number of clinical pregnancies and projected live births increased, while the rate of multiple pregnancies decreased from 29 percent to six percent.

And although public coverage of IVF led to more government spending per treatment cycle, the cost per live birth decreased, according to results published in Human Reproduction.

Researchers said the rate of multiple pregnancies likely fell because in Quebec, as in other areas with covered IVF, public policy requires that only one embryo be transferred at a time into women under age 36, called single-embryo transfer (SET). There were no restrictions on the number of embryos transferred at one time before the public coverage policy.

Under the policy, women who undergo IVF can still have several eggs harvested and embryos produced at once, but only one fresh one is implanted. The rest are frozen, and if the first embryo does not survive, another can be thawed and implanted.

Single-embryo transfer was much more common under universal coverage: 32 percent of cycles were elective SET in 2011, compared to two percent in 2009.

“This confirms what a lot of IVF practitioners have held in the U.S., that with insurance coverage single-embryo transfers are more likely to be done which is going to lower multiple birth rates which is safer and less expensive,” said Dr. Bradley J. Van Voorhis, director of the IVF Program at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City.

Image: Test tubes, via Shutterstock

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Study: Smoking, Drinking May Not Harm Male Fertility

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Researchers in the United Kingdom have made some surprising findings when it comes to lifestyle changes that have long been believed to help improve male fertility.  Smoking, drinking, and body weight were found in a recent study to have no impact on fertility–and in fact, if couples delay treatment while waiting for the male partner to improve on these measures, their chances of achieving a pregnancy might actually decline because time continues to go by. reports:

Based on the data, researchers further found that lifestyle factors like use of recreational drugs, smoking, drinking and body weight had little effect. For instance, the proportion of men with low swimming sperm counts was similar whether they smoked over 20 cigarettes a day or if they had never smoked before. Alcohol use was also unrelated to fertility among men.

“The message of ‘No smoking, drinking in moderation, no street drugs and not be too overweight’ is clearly sound and should be offered to men as good health advice,” says study author Dr. Andrew Povey of University of Manchester’s School of Community Based Medicine. ”However, the evidence from this study is that even if the man changes his lifestyle in such a fashion, such changes are unlikely to improve his chances of conceiving a child.”

The findings came as a surprise to the researchers. “I expected to find a link with smoking, as studies have often reported that smoking is bad for semen quality,” says Povey. “When I looked again at the evidence for such statements, I found that it wasn’t necessarily that strong and that if there was an effect of smoking, it was more likely to occur within the normal range of semen quality and not then directly affect whether a man was likely to be infertile or not.”

Image: Man drinking alcohol, via Shutterstock
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