New hormone offers promising results for couples trying to conceive
British researchers reported that a naturally occurring hormone called kisspeptin could be used to stimulate egg maturation in women requiring in vitro fertilization (IVF). The modified IVF treatment on trial, which is hoped to be safer than standard IVF, has led to 12 healthy babies being born from 53 women undergoing a single IVF treatment.
More testing needed
With a record number of women turning to the IVF to improve their chance of conceiving, a safer alternative would definitely help thousands of women. But it’s important to bear in mind that this is just one small study. While the initial kisspeptin results are encouraging, larger clinical trials will eventually tell us whether success rates with this drug match those with drugs currently in use.
In standard IVF procedures, women are given fertility drugs such as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to trigger egg maturation and release from the ovaries. But hCG can sometimes cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which leads to swollen, painful ovaries plus weight gain, shortness of breath, stomach pains, and in small proportion of women (about one to two percent) a more severe form of OHSS develops that can require hospitalization from cardiovascular complications. About one-fourth of women undergoing IVF procedures get a mild form of OHSS which goes away after a week or so. A. Researchers suspect kisspeptin, which more naturally stimulates the release of reproductive hormones leading to egg maturation, and stays in a woman’s bloodstream for less time than hCG, has the potential to reduce the risk of a woman developing OHSS.
More and more couples turning to IVF
The latest annual report from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology said that doctors at IVF clinics performed 165,172 procedures, including IVF, with 61,740 babies born as a result of those efforts in 2012. That’s 2,000 more than the previous year. This, despite the fact that the birthrate in the U.S. has been steadily declining since 2007.
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