While some environmentalists plan to never have children to save the world, most people at some point desire to have a child. Maybe you can help raise the next generation that will save our planet. But as the age of women who have their first child increases, fertility rates decrease. Some eventually turn to IVF and after many rounds of hormones, only about 30% of the cycles take. With the outrageous costs to the healthcare system and the moms-to-be, Israeli scientists have found a way to increase the odds of success. This is the second study we’ve reported on IVF this year. The first one is how anti-virals can freshen up IVF eggs.
Add hyaluronic acid for better IVF success
Worldwide, around 10 to 15% of couples have infertility problems. Many turn to artificial reproductive technologies (ARTs), most notably IVF (in vitro fertilization), in the hope of having a baby. However, a method of improving the success of IVF has been clearly identified in a systematic review of high-quality clinical trials – carried out by a team of researchers at Kaplan Hospital and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU), led by Dr. Devorah Heymann.
Their findings were published in Human Reproduction.
In IVF, an egg is removed from the woman, fertilized in a dish and then, a few days later, the embryo is implanted in her womb. While in the dish, the embryo is kept in a liquid, or culture medium, that supports its development. Scientists at the Hebrew University review established that the addition of hyaluronic acid (HA) to this medium enhances the ultimate success of IVF.
This significant finding was the result of a detailed systematic review and meta-analysis of the outcome of all high-quality clinical trials where HA was either added or not added to the culture medium.
“We found that exposing an embryo to HA for more than 10 minutes prior to its transfer to the womb, increased the likelihood of a birth from 32% to 39%,” shared Heymann. The most marked success was in cases for women who had a poor prognosis of success.
Furthermore, the increase in birth rate was only seen in cases where a woman was implanted with her own fertilized egg and not in cases where donor eggs were used. “This could be because donor eggs tend to be of higher quality,” explained Heymann. The main benefit being seen in poorer quality eggs.
Although HA naturally occurs in the female reproductive tract, its role in improving IVF outcomes is unclear and “more research is needed,” suggests Heymann. Meanwhile her prime concern is that IVF clinics act on the findings of this review. “However,” she noted, “hyaluronic acid is expensive, and this might mean it is not as widely used as it should be.”