#Empowering #Women #Fertility #Choices
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) saw its first commercialization in the early 1980s, but it was not until the mid/late 1990s that it gained popularity. In 2015, as of writing this blog, IVF cycles performed around the world are at epic numbers. Some estimates go as high as 1.5 million cycles per year worldwide. European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in 2014 showed the following statistics of IVF cycles: “In 2011, the latest year for which figures are available, 588,629 treatment cycles were reported from 33 European countries. This compares globally (in 2011) with 151,923 cycles from the US and 66,347 cycles from Australia and New Zealand. The number of cycles performed in many developed countries has grown by 5-10% per annum over the last few years.”
According to a leading IVF specialist, Dr. Paul Magarelli M.D. reporting in the IFSymposium in May 2015 “in the past 10 years, and despite many advanced technological developments and acupuncture, the IVF success rate did not increase. In addition, all IVF clinics that use similar technologies have similar success rate.”
The CDC latest 2013 report states that 1.5% of all babies born in the USA are conceived using ART.
The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART) provides the following statistics from their member IVF clinics in the USA (467 clinics in 2013):
In 2003 Total IVF Cycles:112,988 (including fresh, frozen and donor cycles)
So what is the changing demographics of IVF cycles? The following data explains:
What was the reason for this enormous increase in the >42 age group? The following table suggests a clue.
Hunyuan Fertility medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment of infertility is on the rise. IVF cycles for Women <40 piqued in 2008 and then declined, while for women >40 it is still on the rise. From personal experience with thousands of IVF patients, the author speculates here that younger women, in recent years, allow themselves more fertility options and disagree with the pressing logic of ‘you are out of time’. It is also evidenced that the IVF industry is targeting now more than ever the >40 group, such as the following donor-egg statistic suggests.
Acupuncture was not introduced to IVF because the IVF clinics wanted it. For example, in 2005 the author participated in a TV segment with an IVF doctor, who, in the back room, exclaimed that he will never allow acupuncture in his clinic. But since 2010 his clinic is using acupuncture regularly to supplement IVF cycles. Women demanded it and the IVF clinic consented.
The future of infertility treatment is at the hands of the patient and especially at the hands of women who need it. To change the landscape of infertility treatment women need to be empowered with more fertility options. Women should not be “told” what to do, but rather they should be informed of more choices and then they can help alleviate the status quo of IVF success rate.
In sum, the following suggestions and observations are made:
- Small scale IVF acupuncture studies suggest an increase in IVF success; this may or may not prove accurate, depending on a large scale application of acupuncture in all IVF clinics in the USA for a number of years. Only then could the actual large scale efficacy be measured year after year. From 2003 to 2013 there is a slight improvement in success for younger patient groups, and this may very well be due to acupuncture.
- Hunyuan and Chinese herbal formulas is, in the eyes of many Chinese medicine and Hunyuan Fertility specialists, the preferred option supporting the enhancement of egg quality. This stands in sharp contrast to the egg and embryo banking strategy IVF is suggesting today. According to modern ART the only way to get a better egg is to harvest it sooner, which in turn will encourage more women to get pregnant even later in life. Despite technological advancement, and since IVF has plateaued its success rate over many years now, it is time to include Hunyuan and Chinese herbal formulas as a preparation for IVF cycles. It is time to think out of the box!
- Women should be allowed and encouraged to try natural methods first, especially women >40, as these can result in natural conception if and when health and egg quality are improved. This, if not pregnant, can also afford a better chance with IVF. Natural methods include Hunyuan Fertility medicine, Traditional Chinese medicine for infertility, diet modifications, Exercises, Meditation and other modalities aiming at increasing the person’s overall health in order to increase fertility. More studies are needed to determine which methods are more effective than others for this purpose.
- What prompt the writing of this blog was a patient seen at our office last week, 44 years old who just failed her first IVF and immediately is commencing the next IVF. She suggested to the doctor to try acupuncture this time around and the doctor consented. In other words, if the patient did not suggest it, she would have had no other option. The same is with herbal support and other fertility help, if patients don’t suggest it to the IVF clinics then they don’t have this option. 20 years ago there were a small number of women who conceived naturally with herbal formulas, but today there are thousands. The more women know about it the more they have choices, and just like with acupuncture and IVF, the more it becomes popular that it gives the opportunity to conduct large scale studies. It starts from the people who need it and goes up, not from the top down ‘being told what is best for you’.
- 2003-2013 IVF statistics is a vast study showing that IVF success rate is not improving and that for women >40 the success rate was and remained small. Why are there more and more cycles performed for this group? Why do online infertility directories that target the infertility community place acupuncturists in a small ‘mind-body’ sub-category and not together with IVF doctors? Clearly, the industry as a whole is not supportive of “more options”. It is time to empower women with more fertility choices. It is not appropriate to keep the IVF success rate at a status quo!