Controversial New Fertility Treatment 'Recharges' Moms Eggs

IVF

Any mom who's ever heard of IVF knows there's no 100 percent guarantee it works. Well, a new new IVF procedure called "Augment" claims it could boost the success rate of this procedure. That's the good news for moms struggling with infertility, only there's some not-so-good news, too. 

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For starters: Currently, "Augment" (developed by a company called OvaScience) is not offered in the U.S., but is available in Canada. Robert Casper, a reproductive endocrinologist who runs the Toronto Center for Advanced Reproductive Technology, says 60 women have signed up; he's treated 20 and produced eight pregnancies, with the first babies due in August.

Here's how "Augment" works: A woman goes through surgery to have a small piece of her ovarian tissue removed, which contains immature egg cells, which are "fresher" than her mature eggs. Doctors then remove mitochondria from these immature eggs and inject them into her mature eggs, where they effectively act like new batteries, supercharging them and upping the odds that they'll be successfully fertilized. From there, the couple follows the standard IVF protocol and hopes for the best.

More from The Stir: IVF Being Overused -- Patience, People, Patience!

Aside from the fact that you'll have to fly to Canada for this, here's the other catch: The procedure costs an extra $25,000 on top of the usual costs of IVF. Given no births have resulted from this procedure yet, I've gotta say, that's one pricey, iffy upgrade!

What concerns me about this scenario is that selling new, unproven IVF techniques to women desperate to get pregnant is akin to selling scammy weight loss elixirs to the obese. It's really easy to get taken for a ride and end up thousands of dollars in the hole with nothing to show for it.

Granted, as long as women know the real success rates and risks, then it's their money and their body so they are welcome to try whatever they want. Still, I'd really prefer that doctors not make such a killing offering such a new procedure. They should do a clinical trial, or take only enough to cover his costs, and also be VERY clear about the success rate and risks -- in other words, no advertising on late-night TV!

Buyer beware, ladies. Women are often willing to sacrifice all for a shot at motherhood, but this may be too much of a gamble until we see some results.

How much money would you be willing to wager to get pregnant?

 

Image via nevodka/shutterstock

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