The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) recently released its latest report on data and trends in Assisted Reproductive Therapy (ART) in the United States for 2017.
According to the report, a total of 72,321 babies were born in the United States in 2017 ART. This was an increase from 2016's number of 71,362 babies born.
The report also noted an increasing trend in the number of egg freezing cycles performed for donor egg banking and fertility preservation. In 2017 there were 1,447 oocyte banking cycles, an increase from 905 in 2016. And the increase for freezing and banking eggs increased to 10,936 in 2017, up from 8,825 in 2016.
As there continue to be new breakthroughs in fertility year after year, here we highlighted 10 of the most innovative methods being used right now so you can see how the landscape is changing for hopeful parents around the world.
Founded in 1999, this Danish fertility clinic is leading the way with 'modern' amenities and atmosphere: it has extra-wide medical beds (without stirrups) that allow couples to lie together during insemination procedures so they feel the process is less clinical.
But it also offers acupuncture to patients before, during and after fertility treatments. According to the website, it states that "figures from a German trial show an increase from 26.3% to 42.5% in the number of registered pregnancies when IVF treatment is supplemented with acupuncture. These figures were later confirmed in Denmark."
On April 9, 2019, the first 3-parent baby was born to a woman in Greece that had used the Maternal Spindle Transfer method through the Institute of Life clinic.
The technique is also called spindle nuclear transfer. It happens when the nucleus from the mother is transferred into a donor egg that has had its nucleus removed. The donor egg is then fertilized with sperm from the father and returned to the mother, resulting in a child would possess genetic materials from the mother, father and a small number of genes from the donor.
You read that right: if you see KindBody's Fertility Bus driving around NYC, it's for real.
The company recently raised $15 million and will offer mobile testing and assessments to patients. Inside the mobile clinic, women can receive a free blood test for the anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), which helps assess their ovarian egg reserve. After getting the results, women then are advised to go to the KindBody clinic in Manhattan, where they can have full fertility assessment done for $250.
Acupuncture is an amazing treatment for women undergoing fertility treatments. And now a new type of laser acupuncture is hoping to help women boost their chances of conceiving. The new non-invasive treatment is called low level light laser therapy (LLLT). It claims to help women conceive by slowing down and possibly reversing some of the biological markers of reproductive aging. A growing number of studies (including this Japanese one) have found that LLLT may boost pregnancy rates women who have been unsuccessful with IVF.
According to a news release, LLT works by:
1. Stimulating the mitochondria to produce more ATP (energy)
2. Improving blood circulation
3. Regulating inflammation
4. Lowering oxidative stress (ROS)
5. Softening scar tissue
6. Increasing uterine receptivity
7. Regulating the autonomic nervous system and the immune system
8. Working synergistically with Co Q10
It is well-known that it costs an exorbitant amount of money to seek fertility treatment. And clinics are starting to offer lower cost treatment options. In 2016, Extend Fertility offered egg freezing at half cost ($5,000), and recently opened a full-service fertility clinic Expect Fertility, focused on offering affordable care, for 30-60% less than average national costs. You can find the cost expectations here.
California has quickly become one of the destinations sought around the world for fertility treatment. California Fertility Partners, a clinic in Los Angeles, is one of the clinics leading the way for fertility techniques. They have started using a new method that involves culturing frozen eggs, sperm and embryos in a nutrient-rich substance called 'media', and has increased the clinic's high-quality blastocyst rate. In a recent Vogue interview, it was noted:
"They've found that with egg-freezing specifically, using top-of-the-line devices and "media" (the liquid nutrient material in which eggs, sperm and embryos are cultured) from a Japanese company called Cryotec, has resulted in the best survival rates. Leaving embryos undisturbed from day one to day five—when the embryo becomes what's known as a blastocyst—rather than checking on them on day three, as many centers do, has been similarly revolutionary."
Couples that go through infertility treatments go through traumatic years that can deeply impact their relationship, and researchers are beginning to focus on ways to help couples remain string and healthy through the process. The Université de Montréal and Université de Sherbrooke are leading the way on research focusing on emotional trauma couple therapy research for couples undergoing infertility treatments together.
According to The Globe and Mail, researchers have studied "29 heterosexual couples that were offered cognitive behavioral therapy in group sessions with a psychologist and an infertility nurse. The 90-minute sessions highlighted issues such as stress, loss of control and relationship strain, as well as coping mechanisms. Afterward, participants reported that their depression had lessened. They grew closer to their partners and their relationships felt stronger." Their research has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy.
According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, 15,780 children between the birth and 19-years-old are diagnosed with cancer each year. And childhood cancer rates have increased over the past few decades, according to the American Cancer Society. As rates increase, patients and parents are looking to preserve their children's' fertility that can often be damaged by cancer treatments.
Now the Onco-Fertility Program at the Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders is leading the way to help children diagnosed with cancer. They treat 30-40 pediatric patients each year, with the help of pediatric and adolescent gynecologists and cryopreservation.
In 2013, the INVOcell device was piloted in a clinic in the United States by Drs. Kevin and Kathy Doody, who now practice at the Center For Assisted Reproduction (C.A.R.E.). The device was said to help women conceive by making their bodies into human incubators.
"About the size of a wine cork and made of clear polystyrene, the device uses the human body to replace expensive incubators that normally keep the eggs and sperm warm for around a week before doctors check to see which eggs fertilized, placing one in the mother's uterus," according to a magazine article.
INVOcell was approved by the FDA in 2015. And this year, the device made headlines after two women used the device to both carry their baby at some point in the pregnancy, referred to as a reciprocal effortless IVF treatment. Eggs were harvested from one partner, who kept the device with eggs and sperm inside her for the first five days. Then, they were transferred to her partner, who gave birth to the couple's son.
At-home testing is booming in 2019. Now, there is a test for women concerned about their fertility. Called Modern Fertility, the at-home testing kits measure levels for eight hormones that are associated with fertility for $159, which also includes a one-on-one phone consultation with a nurse.
"The company's goal is to make access to these tests—which can run as high as $1,500 in a clinic if not covered by insurance—easier to obtain and less costly," according to an interview with founders Afton Vechery and Carly Leahy in Inc. magazine.