Infertility Treatment Controversy
IVF doctors worry couples may choose less invasive method that restores natural fertility.
LONDON, UK – February 11, 2008 — Researchers from the International Institute of Restorative Reproductive Medicine (IIRRM) have responded to concerns expressed by infertility specialists that patients might choose NaProTechnology (NPT), over IVF treatment for infertility. NPT is a new medical approach focused on restoring natural reproductive function rather than bypassing the problem through artificial means. In their response, NPT researchers emphasized that cumulative live birth rates are similar to those from IVF, but with much healthier outcomes for the babies, with no increased risk of multiple births. The scholarly debate is published in the January/February issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, and responds to recent research on NPT published in that journal.
The original study looked at 1100 couples who sought medical help to conceive using natural procreative technology, called NaProTechnology or NPT. Overall, 52.8% of patients completing treatment could expect to have a successful live birth, most often a single healthy baby. For patients who hadn’t previously tried IVF before initiating NPT, the live birth rate rose to 61.5%. There were only a small number of twins, as would be expected naturally and no triplets or higher order births. Almost all the babies were born at a normal healthy weight and gestational age, avoiding the complications of prematurity and low-birth weight common in IVF. A third of the patients trying NPT had already failed IVF, and had on average already tried more than 5 years to have a baby.
The patients’ ages ranged from 25 to 48, with the average being over 35 years. Consistent with previous research, this study found that younger women were more likely to have a successful pregnancy; however, NPT was still successful for older women, as long as they were not in established menopause. The success rate over age 35 approached 50%. Despite this high rate of effectiveness, IVF doctors were concerned these patients would choose NPT instead of artificial treatments, which, they note, patients may find “too invasive, too expensive or inconsistent with their personal beliefs”.
NPT can often resolve infertility or miscarriages by detecting and correcting problems overlooked by standard approaches. “Nearly half the patients we see have been told they have unexplained infertility,” says Dr. Phil Boyle, one of the study authors and director of the Galway NaProTechnology Medical Centre. “After NPT investigations, 2/3 of the patients had a hormone abnormality and more than 1/4 were diagnosed with cervical mucus dysfunction, a critical factor for sperm survival and transport. Once these and other problems were identified and treated, NPT enabled the couples to conceive using a natural act of intercourse.” With NPT, hormones are assessed throughout pregnancy so women can receive support to lessen their chance of miscarriage or premature delivery.
The medical care in the study was provided by specially trained family physicians, heralding a breakthrough in improving access to effective infertility treatment. Many artificial infertility treatments are only available in specialist clinics. Specialized NPT surgical care was not available at this location during the study period. Integrated NPT surgical care is part of ongoing studies and is likely to result in even further improvements in the live birth rates.
Couple Category Cumulative Live Birth Rates
All couples 52.8%
<30 Woman’s age 59.1%
>30-35 Woman’s age 58.6%
>35-40 Woman’s age 46.1%
>40 Woman’s age 50.9%
No Previous IVF 61.5%
Previous Live Birth 73.9%
Professor Joseph Stanford, the paper’s lead author states: “This study represents a landmark publication that demonstrates that NPT is a safe and highly effective alternative to existing treatment options, even for patients who have unsuccessfully tried other reproductive treatments. GPs and Obstetricians who were previously not aware of NPT will now be able to inform patients that they have other viable and effective choices to help them have a baby without all the risks associated with IVF and other artificial reproductive approaches.”
For more information contact Dr. Tracey A. Parnell at [email protected] . More information on NPT and the International Institute of Restorative Reproductive Medicine is available at www.reproductiveinstitute.com. The paper was published as the lead article for original research in the September/October issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, and is available at www.jabfm.com. The letter and response are in the current January/February edition of JABFM.