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article imageHow infertility has changed in modern times Special

By Tim Sandle     Oct 14, 2014 in Health
Infertility is a major concern for many families. Although the problem can cause distress, resolution of the situation is much better these days than it was a few years ago. Digital Journal has spoken to a leading fertility expert to find out more.
Heidi Hayes knows about infertility first hand. As someone who has been through infertility, Hayes knows how hard it can be. Her family of five came to be after many IVF cycles, an egg donor, and an adoption.
Hedi is now CEO of Donor Egg Bank USA. She has more than 20 years of healthcare experience and has worked extensively in the field of reproductive endocrinology.
Speaking with Digital Journal Hayes describes several ways that infertility has changed in modern times – for the better. Hedi briefly described her mission: “My journey inspired me to help others overcome infertility and have a family, and led me to my current role as CEO at Donor Egg Bank USA. But when you compare 2014 to years past, being infertile now is a whole new ball game. And believe it or not, it’s much better to be infertile now.”
According to Hayes, these key factors are:
Information Overload
If you’re looking for information and not sure where to start, there is a wealth of information available today. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies can provide a state-by-state clinic success rate report, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has a site dedicated to giving patients reproductive facts, and RESOLVE, The National Infertility Association, works to promote reproductive health and ensure equal access to all family building options for men and women.
Awareness
Did you know that approximately 1 in 100 babies are born through IVF? And that 1 in 8 couples struggles to conceive? Infertility is more common than you think. People have never been more aware of infertility as a result of the on going conversation with the media, medical community and infertility organizations. The odds are that you know several people who have infertility and children born through IVF.
Community & Support
There are an endless amount of community resources accessible to help you on your journey. RESOLVE provides a wealth of information and resources, online forums connect you to people who can relate, and fertility bloggers offer online camaraderie. Fertility counselors tailor treatment specifically to the fertility patient, community groups provide face-to-face support and there are even yoga, meditation and acupuncture classes created just for those going through infertility.
Convenience
Fertility treatment is much more convenient than it used to be. There is probably a fertility center (or three) nearby. Women can choose to freeze their eggs for future use, use their own eggs now or select an egg donor from an on-line database and have the eggs shipped. Frozen donor eggs lead the way in the ultimate fertility treatment convenience.
Scientific Advancements
According to the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology, nearly 113,000 fertility treatment cycles were performed in 2003, compared to over 165,000 cycles in 2012. Since the first IVF birth in 1978, IVF has flourished as a successful infertility treatment option. Additional advancements in genetic testing and screening of embryos as well as improved medicinal and treatment modalities have improved treatment. Each day, thousands of fertility specialists across the globe strive to make treatment better and more effective for those seeking to grow a family.
Freezing Methods Have Never Been Better
In the past, eggs and embryos were preserved using slow freezing methods, resulting in the formation of ice crystals. Now fast freezing using vitrification is more widely adopted, which lessens the presence of ice crystals and has proven to help eggs and embryos survive the delicate thawing process. This translates to increased viability of eggs and embryos as well as higher success rates. Vitrification methods are so advanced that the comparison of success rates for IVF using frozen and fresh eggs are nearly the same. This makes a world of difference for those using donor egg to have a baby, and has paved the way for frozen donor egg as a cost and time-effective treatment option. Important Note: Vitrification is a highly technical process that has taken years to develop, and requires the skill of experienced laboratory professionals to be successful. Work with a fertility center that has an in-house laboratory and publishes their success rates using vitrified eggs.
Lots of Doctors
There are roughly 500 reproductive endocrinologists in the U.S., with an additional 800 physicians that are board eligible in reproductive endocrinology (meaning they have completed all the training to become an RE with the exception of the oral tests). With so many doctors to choose from, you can do research and find the one that is right for you.
Hollywood is On Board
What do UP, The Back Up Plan, Baby Mama, Raising Arizona, The Switch, Mother and Child and The Babymakers have in common? They all involve some aspect of infertility and a desire to have a family. Hollywood stars are sharing their experiences with infertility –Sarah Jessica Parker and Elizabeth Banks had babies through surrogacy, Gordon Ramsay openly discussed his low sperm count, and Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman have not shied away from sharing their struggles with infertility. While she has not confirmed using donor egg to have her twins, Marcia Cross has openly discussed donor egg as an option for older women who cannot use their own eggs.
Mandated Infertility Coverage
Infertility mandates requiring insurance coverage for infertility treatment are in place for 15 states in the U.S. (Arkansas, Louisiana, New York, California, Maryland, Ohio, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Montana, Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, West Virginia). If your state isn’t on the list, contact your local representative and ask them to introduce legislation to require infertility treatment coverage.
Nifty Gadgets and Apps
Before you even set foot in a doctor’s office, there are an endless amount of tools at your fingertips. You can chart ovulation through over the counter kits, monitor your fertility potential through apps like Kindara and Glow, check sperm count with a pharmacy test, get a reminder alarm from a thermometer to chart your basal body temperature, wear a fertility-predicting watch that monitors chloride ions in your skin, and at-home pregnancy tests have never been more accurate.
The Law Continues to Evolve
Third party reproduction (egg donation, sperm donation, embryo donation, surrogacy) and the legal system have evolved in modern times, although we still have a long way to go. There are now lawyers who specialize in third party reproduction and can ensure your family’s security and safety. The Family Act, a bill to create a tax credit for the out-of-pocket costs associated with IVF and fertility preservation, also continues to gain support.
A Multitude of Financial Options
Most fertility centers may have one or several different financial programs to choose from. Some guarantee the delivery of a baby or a full refund, while others offer discounted cycles or self-pay discounts. Couples can also apply for grants with the CADE Foundation, BabyQuest Foundation or apply for a scholarship at The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination.
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