Frozen Embryos May Improve Pregnancy Odds for Women With PCOS

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 10, 2016 (HealthDay News) — For some women seeking infertility treatment, the use of frozen embryos rather than fresh ones appears to improve the chances for a successful pregnancy, researchers report.

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edge, had better odds of having a baby on the first try when frozen embryos were used (49 percent) than when fresh embryos were implanted (42 percent), the study authors found.

At the same time, there was a slightly higher risk of potentially dangerous high blood pressure during pregnancy, and newborn death, in women who received frozen embryos, the findings showed.

Lead researcher Dr. Richard Legro said, “Perhaps elective embryo freezing followed by frozen embryo transfer is a preferential treatment for women with polycystic ovary syndrome.” Legro is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and public health sciences at Pennsylvania State University.

Using fresh embryos is generally preferred over frozen embryos for in vitro fertilization (IVF). But, some evidence has suggested that using frozen embryos may improve the birth rate among women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

Using frozen embryos may also lower the rate of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, in which the ovaries swell and become painful, and other pregnancy complications, the researchers noted.

“We think that there may be adverse effects of ovarian stimulation when fresh embryos are used,” Legro explained. As part of IVF, women are treated with hormones to increase their production of eggs. However, this can affect the success of implanting embryos, he said.

“For example, estrogen levels are 10 times higher than normal during ovarian stimulation, and IVF at those high levels can prevent embryos from implanting in the uterus,” Legro explained.

Using frozen embryos allows time for hormone levels in the uterus to return to normal, thus improving the chances of successfully implanting an embryo, he added.

Legro cautioned that since only women with polycystic ovary syndrome were studied, more research is needed on using frozen embryos in women without the condition.

For the study, Legro and his colleagues randomly assigned more than 1,500 infertile Chinese women who had polycystic ovary syndrome and who were having their first IVF cycle to use either fresh embryo transfer or frozen embryo transfer.

In addition to a greater pregnancy success rate, women given frozen embryos had fewer miscarriages than women given fresh embryos (22 percent versus 33 percent), the investigators found.

Women given frozen embryos also had fewer instances of hyperstimulation syndrome than women given fresh embryos (2 percent versus 7 percent).

However, preeclampsia, a potentially dangerous high blood pressure condition during pregnancy, was more common among women given frozen embryos rather than fresh ones (4 percent versus 1 percent), the researchers reported.

And five newborns died among those in the frozen embryo group, while none died in the fresh embryo group, Legro’s team found.

Dr. Christos Coutifaris is chief of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. He said that “these findings might not apply to every woman going through IVF.”

Coutifaris, who wrote an editorial that accompanied the study, questioned whether the difference in pregnancy rates between using frozen or fresh embryos is significant enough to recommend using frozen embryos.

“Even women who got pregnant during the fresh IVF cycle, still their delivery rate was over 40 percent—that’s a very good rate,” he noted.

The question is whether it is enough of a difference to say to a patient, “‘This will cost you more not only in time but also money,’ ” Coutifaris said.

He thinks the distinction should be based on how many embryos a patient has.

“If a woman has 10 embryos, using one as a fresh transfer still has a 42 percent chance of being successful. If it isn’t, she still has nine others frozen to try again,” Coutifaris explained.

If a couple only has two embryos, then freezing them may give a woman a better chance of becoming pregnant, he added.

“In selected cases, especially for women who over-stimulate, the approach to freeze all the embryos is prudent,” Coutifaris suggested.

The report was published Aug. 11 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

More information

Visit the American Pregnancy Association for more on IVF.

Infertility a Serious Source of Anxiety, Depression, But Few Get Help

THURSDAY, Aug. 11, 2016 (HealthDay News) — People undergoing fertility treatment often suffer symptoms of depression or anxiety, but few get any formal help, a new study suggests.

The study, which followed patients at five fertility clinics in California, found that more than half of women and one-third of men had clinical-level depression symptoms at some point. Even more—76 percent of women and 61 percent of men—had symptoms of clinical anxiety.

Yet only about one-quarter of all patients said their fertility center had given them any information on mental health resources.

“It was very surprising to find that,” said lead researcher Lauri Pasch, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco.

Many studies have found that infertility patients often feel distressed. And, Pasch said, professional groups have underscored the need for patients’ emotional health to be addressed.

“It seems like we’re doing a terrible job of it,” Pasch said.

In the United States, about one in eight couples has trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy, according to Resolve: The National Infertility Association.

There are various treatment options for infertility—from drugs that stimulate ovulation to in vitro fertilization. But it often takes more than one treatment cycle, and if patients are emotionally distressed, they may give up when they still have a shot at success, Pasch said.

That’s one reason why clinics should pay attention to patients’ mental health, she said.

Dr. Brooke Hodes-Wertz, of the NYU Langone Fertility Center in New York City, agreed that it’s no secret that many infertility patients are emotionally distressed.

And it’s routine for patients to be asked about any history of depression or anxiety before they start treatment, said Hodes-Wertz, who was not involved in the study.

But what happens after that, she said, varies from one fertility center to another.

Based on the current findings, “there’s clearly room for improvement,” Hodes-Wertz said.

The study included 352 women and 274 men seen at one of five San Francisco-area fertility clinics. The participants were interviewed before starting treatment, and again four, 10 and 18 months later.

Pasch’s team found that most of the patients suffered from clinical-level depression or anxiety at some point during the study. And odds were higher for those who failed to conceive.

But only 27 percent of women and 24 percent of men said their fertility center had offered them information on mental health services. And those who’d suffered symptoms—even prolonged bouts—were no more likely to have received that kind of help.

Ultimately, 21 percent of women and 11 percent of men did receive some type of mental health therapy, the findings showed.

The patient interviews were done more than a decade ago, Hodes-Wertz pointed out. “Hopefully, we’ve made progress since then,” she said.

But she also said the findings did not particularly surprise her. For one thing, she explained, there is a “big time crunch” during fertility clinic visits, which is a barrier to mental health evaluations.

Even if problems are recognized, Hodes-Wertz said, patients may not have the time for mental health therapy in addition to their fertility treatment.

And then there’s cost, she added. Insurance plans often don’t cover fertility treatment, so many patients are paying for it themselves and can’t afford mental health therapy on top of that.

To Pasch, the solution is for clinics to have a mental health professional on site—so that patients know it’s available and a “normal” part of addressing infertility.

“I think we need a change in the culture at fertility clinics—where the focus is on getting pregnant, and treatment success rates,” Pasch said. “We also need to address the question, ‘How do we help patients through this?’ “

For now, she has advice for infertility patients who are feeling an emotional toll: Talk to your doctor and ask what kinds of services are available—either at the clinic itself or in your community.

Pasch and her colleagues reported the findings in the July issue of the journal Fertility and Sterility.

More information

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has more on infertility and mental health.

Blogger Bravely Posts Face

When you’re a woman, dealing with facial hair can be embarrassing and a little demoralizing; we’re taught from a young age that beautiful women are not hairy. But it’s one thing to stand frustrated in front of a mirror, tweezers in hand, trying to pluck a few stray hairs from your chin, and it’s another to have to lather up and shave your entire face. This is a daily reality for many women who deal with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS.

That’s why Tina-Marie Beznec felt compelled to share her own PCOS story on the Facebook page of Australian blogger Constance Hall, Cosmopolitan UK reports. Beznac, 26, a fitness blogger herself, has received an overwhelmingly positive response to her photo and her message:

“Hi my name is Tina and I have Polycystic ovary syndrome,” the Australian wrote. “As well as depressionanxietyinfertility, weight gain, hormonal imbalances, bloating, abdominal pains, acne, cysts, increased risk of cancer and everything else, a lot of woman including myself have to deal with facial hair! Do you know how UNFEMININE this can make a woman feel?!?” 

Later in her post, Beznec wrote that she hoped sharing her shaving photos would raise awareness for PCOS, a medical condition that affects between 1 and 10 and 1 and 20 women, according to the Office on Women’s Health, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

RELATED: 10 Celebrities on the Very Real Body Hair Struggle

A woman with PCOS has high levels of androgens (male hormones) and fluid-filled sacs (cysts) on her ovaries. Hirsutism—unwanted male-pattern hair growth on the face, like Beznec’s, or on the neck, chest, fingers, or toes—is one symptom. Symptoms vary from person to person, and can also include thinning hair on the head, weight gain, irregular periods, infertility, pelvic pain, anxiety, and depression.

Beznec joins the army of women taking to the Internet in an effort to normalize conditions seen as strange or ugly and to challenge traditional conceptions of femininity. Earlier this year, 39-year-old Rose Geil discussed her PCOS-related facial hair on the British talk show This Morning. The Portland, Ore. woman shaved her face for 26 years before letting the hair grow into a full beard, which she said inspired confidence and a sense of freedom. 

The Definition of Infertility Is Changing. Here’s Why That Matters

The World Health Organization wants to redefine “infertility,” so it’s not just a medical condition, the Telegraph reports.

The WHO currently describes infertility as “a disease of the reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a clinical pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.” But under the new revision, a person who wants to become a parent doesn’t have to be in a sexual relationship—or one that could lead to a pregnancy—to qualify as “infertile.”

David Adamson, MD, one of the authors of the new guidelines, told the Telegraph the change is designed to reflect “the rights of all individuals to have a family, and that includes single men, single women, gay men, gay women.”

The new wording is so meaningful because it could lead to policy changes around the world—specifically, greater access to fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization.

There’s no doubt the WHO will receive backlash for the controversial move. But this new definition of infertility has the potential to become a great equalizer of reproductive rights: “It fundamentally alters who should be [classified as infertile] and who should have access to healthcare,” said Dr. Adamson. “It sets an international legal standard.”

According to the Telegraph, the revision (which as not yet been publicly announced by the WHO) will be sent to health ministers next year.

How Many Kids You’ll Have (and When) May Be Written in Your DNA

A lot of factors contribute to how many kids you have, and at what age you have your first baby: your relationship status, career, socioeconomic position, cultural surroundings, and personal choice, to name a few. But a new study suggests that genetics may also play a small but significant role in family size and timing. In some cases, researchers say, a woman’s DNA could even help predict whether she has any children at all.

The study, led by scientists at the University of Oxford, found 12 regions of the human genome that seem to have an influence on reproductive behavior. Two of those regions were already suspected to be involved in sexual activity, the authors wrote, but 10 had not yet been identified as such.

The same genetic variants linked to having children at a later age were associated with other characteristics reflecting sexual development, such as the age at which girls have their first period, women experience , and boys’ voices change during puberty.

“For the first time, we now know where to find the DNA areas linked to reproductive behavior,” said lead author Melinda Mills, PhD, professor of sociology at Oxford’s Nuffield College, in a press release. “For example, we found that women with DNA variants for postponing parenthood also have bits of DNA code associated with later onset of menstruation and later menopause.”

RELATED: 15 Factors That Affect a Woman’s Fertility

Mills says these findings could potentially allow physicians and fertility specialists to personalize their advice for potential parents. “One day it may be possible to use this information so doctors can answer the important question: ‘How late can you wait?’ based on the DNA variants,” she said.

Several of the variants identified in the study appear to be related to biological processes (such as the production of follicle-stimulating hormone in women and sperm development in men) or conditions (such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome) that can affect fertility. The authors say that learning more about these genetic factors might also help predict the effectiveness of procedures such as in-vitro fertilization—which can be expensive and invasive, and don’t always work.

Of course, genetics don’t tell the whole story; anyone who’s made conscious decisions about whether or when to have children can attest to that. Researchers determined that, together, these variants influence only about 1% of the timing at which men and women have their first child, and only about 0.2% of the variability in number of children a person will have.

Those numbers are low, say the authors, but they are meaningful. In fact, in certain cases, those variants can affect a woman’s chances of remaining childless by up to 9%. (Their calculations did not find a similar effect for men.)

 “It is important to put this into perspective,” Mills said, “as having a child still strongly depends on many social and environmental factors that will always play a bigger role in whether or when we have babies.”

RELATED: Trying to Get Pregnant? 10 Proven Sperm Killers

In a video posted online by the University of Oxford, Mills stressed that the study does not mean people are “hardwired” to have a certain number of children at a certain age.

“Rather, everyone has a certain probability or propensity to start having problems with fertility at a particular age,” she says. With more men and women waiting longer to have children, she says, genetics is an important factor to consider.

As the human genome continues to be studied, the researchers anticipate that it will eventually be possible to predict 10 to 20% of variability, at most, in family planning.

 “You have to think about it like a big puzzle,” Mills said. “Predictors such as did you stay in education longer, did your mother work, how many siblings did you have—these variables, these perspectives, when they’re looked at alone are all one little piece of the puzzle. When we add in the genetic aspect, we increase the overall explanation, and we almost finish the puzzle.”

The study is co-authored by more than 250 sociologists, biologists, and geneticists from institutions around the world, and published today in Nature Genetics. It combined data from 62 previous studies involving more than 340,000 people.

Nicola Barban, PhD, first author on the paper and senior research associate in sociology at Oxford, summarized the findings in this way: “Our genes do not determine our behaviour, but for the first time, we have identified parts of the DNA code that influence it.”

It Takes an Average of 2 Years and 3 Doctors to Be Diagnosed With PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a chronic disorder that raises women’s risk of infertility, diabetes, and depression, is often ignored or misdiagnosed, according to a new international survey.

Nearly half of respondents in the online survey of 1,385 PCOS patients from 32 countries visited three or more doctors before getting answers, and a third of women said it took more than two years to get a proper diagnosis. The results were published last week in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

PCOS is estimated to affect up to 18% of women of childbearing age. Despite how common it is—and the fact that it’s the leading cause of infertility—it remains misunderstood and under-recognized by patients and doctors alike, say the study authors.

Women who have PCOS are at higher-than-normal risk for a variety of physical and emotional health problems. To be diagnosed, a woman with PCOS must have at least two of its three key features: small ovarian cysts, elevated levels of testosterone, and irregular or missed menstrual periods. A woman will usually realize when her period is out of whack, but unless she gets an ultrasound or hormone test, she may not even know she has cysts or elevated testosterone. She may be having related complications, however, including trouble getting pregnant, excess hair growth, miscarriage, weight gain, headaches, or mood changes.

RELATED: 12 Facts You Should Know About Ovarian Cysts

Those issues are often what prompt women to seek medical care. Even then, they don’t always get the answers they’re looking for.

Only a third of women surveyed reported feeling satisfied with their overall diagnosis experience. One reason for the low rate? About 35% said they saw three or four health professionals before finding someone who could help, and 12% saw five or more.

Another reason was the time it took: Only 43% of women were diagnosed within six months of seeking medical attention, while about 34% said it took more than two years.

Co-author Helena Teede, PhD, professor of women’s health at Monash University in Australia, says it’s important that awareness about PCOS be increased.

“Despite the misleading name, PCOS is not primarily an ovarian condition, but instead is a hormonal disturbance with diverse health effects that is largely inherited,” Teede said in a press release. “The process of diagnosing PCOS needs to be improved, and the diverse set of metabolic, reproductive and psychological features need to be understood and addressed.”

It was common for women in the survey to report waiting months or even years for a diagnosis of PCOS. When they finally got one, only about 16% of respondents said they were satisfied with the information they received about the condition.

RELATED: 10 Things That Mess With Your Period

While oral contraceptives are the first line of treatment for PCOS, lifestyle changes (such as exercise and healthy eating) are also recommended for losing or maintaining weight. However, 43% of women said they were dissatisfied or indifferent with the information they were given about lifestyle strategies, and 45% said they received nothing on this topic at all.  

And despite the fact that PCOS is a chronic condition, more than half of respondents reported getting no information about long-term complications or emotional counseling.

PCOS has long been known as a health condition doctors often miss, but this study shows just how frustrating it can be for the women affected by it—and why it’s so important to make sure your doctor takes you seriously if you suspect something’s wrong.

“There are clear opportunities to improve awareness, diagnosis, and health outcomes for women with PCOS,” Teede said. She adds that the survey results, along with new international guidelines and education initiatives currently in the works, should help improve care around the world. 

Secondary Infertility: What to Know About This Silent Fertility Problem

If there was one thing Jennifer Chaves always wanted, it was to someday “give birth to a baby from my body.” Chaves herself was adopted, but she hoped to have a biological connection to her own children.

So at age 34, a year after she got married, she and her husband got to work. Within a month, she was pregnant. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Thomas. Wanting a big family, the Clinton, Mass., couple tried again almost immediately, when Thomas was just a year old.

This time, however, they struggled. Chaves’ doctor suggested she lose 20 pounds. She did. Still not pregnant six months later, she tried acupuncture. After another six months with no success, she moved on to in vitro fertilization (IVF). Over the next three years, she watched her diet and did tai chi and qigong moving meditation to reduce stress. Out of four IVF cycles, one resulted in a miscarriage—the rest failed.

Through it all, she felt guilty, ashamed and isolated. “My mother-in-law told us to just have another,” she said. “Meanwhile, my acupuncturist told me to be grateful for the one child I already had.”

Most women assume that if they had no problem conceiving once, they won’t have trouble again. But secondary (commonly described as the inability to get pregnant after having had at least one child without fertility assistance) may be as common as primary infertility. The latest data from the National Survey of Family Growth estimates that more than 1.5 million married women in the United States ages 44 and younger are infertile—defined as not getting pregnant after 12 months of unprotected sex—and more than half of those women are mothers already.

RELATED: 9 Things Every Woman Needs to Know About Her Fertility

A Hidden Sorrow

Secondary infertility hides in plain sight because many women feel too guilty to talk about it, says Judy Becerra, supervisor of counseling at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM). “People with secondary infertility may feel that they’re being greedy by wanting a second and that they don’t deserve the sympathy of other women.”

That’s a feeling Jen Noonan could relate to when she first entered a CCRM support group for infertile women. “I was always the only one who had a child already,” she remembers. “I would mention the miscarriages I’d had before I would ever say I had another child.” (She finally had a second child at age 37, after two years of struggling to conceive.)

The pain of women who can’t have a second child shouldn’t be dismissed, says Catherine Birndorf, MD, a reproductive psychiatrist in New York City: “If your narrative is ‘I come from four kids and I wanted three kids,’ you may feel as much pain as someone who’s never had a child.”

RELATED: What Charting Your Basal Body Temperature Can Tell You About Your Fertility

The Search for Solutions

Age is the main cause of secondary infertility. The quality of eggs that a woman has begins to drop by age 35, regardless of whether she has given birth. “Getting pregnant is like a lottery,” explains Jesse Hade, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at Boston IVF in Scottsdale, Ariz. “The odds change depending on your age and ovarian reserve. Each egg in a healthy woman age 34 or younger has an 8.3 to 10 percent chance of creating a healthy live-born baby, or odds of about 1 in 12 to 1 in 10. By 40, that goes to about 5 percent, or 1 in 20, and by 45, it’s 1 or 2 in 100.”

Getting older is not the only culprit, of course. Sometimes there are problems that arose from a previous pregnancy, like scarring. Other conditions, such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, , or thyroid disease, may also play a role. In some cases, the woman is in a second marriage and the new husband has a low sperm count.

Most doctors will do essentially the same workup (checking sperm count, evaluating ovulation, looking for tubal blockages) for secondary infertility patients as they would for primary infertility patients, says William Schoolcraft, MD, the founder and medical director of CCRM. If no obvious cause is discovered, doctors may encourage an older woman to move quickly toward IVF, rather than spending a lot of time on more basic treatments (like taking the medication clomiphene, or Clomid) while the clock is ticking.

Of course, even IVF does not guarantee success, as Jennifer Chaves learned the hard way. But Dr. Schoolcraft notes that IVF failure isn’t necessarily the end of the road. Donor eggs may be a solution; women ages 45 and older will often require them to conceive, he points out.

Chaves and her husband took a lower-tech path to completing their family. “In the end,” she says, “we adopted the most perfect baby.”

8 Things You Should Never Say to Someone Who’s Going Through IVF

Chrissy Teigen is shutting down the haters again. On the red carpet this weekend she was asked about having another baby with husband John Legend. She replied, “A little boy is next, for sure,” and later took to Twitter to clarify:

One Twitter user took it upon herself to criticize Teigen, who responded:

Teigen has been open about her infertility struggles, including the fact that she was able to choose the sex of her first child, Luna. But just because she’s a super honest celebrity is no excuse for rudeness. Let’s have a little refresher about what not to say to someone who’s going through in vitro fertilization (or has done it in the past):

Did you try it naturally first?

Nope, I thought I’d empty my bank account and turn myself into a pincushion for fun instead of bothering with yucky old sex!

Seriously: Anyone doing IVF has already gone down a long road of timed intercourse, cycle tracking, and less-intense fertility treatments (like Clomid and/or intrauterine insemination). In most cases, there is a very good medical reason why IVF is necessary for them to conceive. And let’s not forget about lesbian couples, for whom “trying it naturally” isn’t an option.

Are you going to end up with triplets?

So often the big headline-making fertility cases are the exceptions—Octomom, Kate Gosselin. But advances in fertility treatment have made multiple births much rarer. P.S. If your friend or acquaintance is worried about multiples, getting all nosy about the topic is not going to help her feel better.

RELATED: 9 Things to Know If You’re Thinking About IVF

Why don’t you just adopt?

Adoption is not a treatment for . It’s another way of building a family—a wonderful one, but one that can be just as arduous and expensive as IVF. Some people need to mourn the possibility of having a biological child before they can even consider adoption; others may simply not want to go down that path at all. And by the way, infertile people are under no more obligation to adopt than anyone else.

I know someone who tried and tried with IVF and then she went on vacation and got pregnant naturally!

While stress can play a role in conception, relaxing or going to a spa are not cures for infertility (which is a medical condition). You would never tell someone with cancer to skip treatment and just go on vacation, would you?

Have you tried acupuncture/this crazy herb/eating yams/[fill in the blank]?

Are you a doctor who specializes in fertility? If not, keep your “treatment” suggestions to yourself.

Ugh, I could never do that.

Look, no one wants to give herself multiple injections a day for months on end, get a transvaginal ultrasound and blood test every morning, and have 5–25 eggs sucked out of her ovaries via a needle through the vagina. You do it because you have to, just like you would take your insulin injections if you had or get your chemo treatments if you had cancer. (Infertility is a medical condition, remember?)

RELATED: Maria Menounos Opens Up About IVF: “It’s Exhausting, Physically and Mentally”

How much does it cost?

A lot. A LOT lot. Like, some people ending up taking out second mortgages on their houses to pay for it. Even with excellent health insurance, the co-payments and prescription costs can run into the thousands. Without insurance, we’re talking five figures for a single cycle. Unless you’re close enough to the person to discuss your credit card debt in great detail, don’t even think about asking this question.

Maybe you weren’t meant to be a mom.

Come on. That’s just cruel.

5 Myths About Egg Freezing

Three former Bachelor contestants—Kaitlyn Bristowe, Carly Waddell, and Andi Dorfman—reunited in Chicago last week to promote boutique egg-freezing clinic Ova, where pal (and Bachelor winner) Whitney Bischoff works as a nurse. Waddell froze her eggs one year ago at Ova, and Bristowe is going through the process now.

Both women have talked about their experience on social media, and the sense of relief it has brought. In a post on Instagram, Waddell called egg-freezing “the best backup plan.” And Bachelorette star Bristowe wrote on Twitter that it has put her mind at ease: “I’m taking control of my future!” 

But the decision to freeze your eggs isn’t as simple as it might seem. To learn more, we spoke with Brooke Hodes-Wertz, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center. She walked us through some of the common misconceptions about the procedure, and what women need to know before they call a fertility clinic.

Myth: Egg freezing is a good insurance policy for women in their late 30s

It’s actually best to freeze your eggs before you turn 35, says Dr. Hodes-Wertz. rates gradually decline as we get older, she explains, so you have a higher chance of success if you freeze your eggs at a younger age. “Some women in their 20s aren’t really thinking about when they want to have kids, so it tends to be most beneficial for women in their early 30s,” she says. “Maybe they haven’t settled down yet, but they’re thinking about it and their eggs are still good.”

Myth: It’s a simple process

This is one of the biggest myths about egg freezing. “It’s not as easy or straightforward as people make it out to be,” says Dr. Hodes-Wertz. “It’s very time consuming.”

First, you’ll meet with a physician to go over your medical history. You’ll also get a blood test and a baseline ultrasound. You may need to go off birth control a month before the process begins.

Then you will give yourself hormone injections two to three times a day. At least every other day, you’ll return to your doctor’s office for more ultrasounds. After about two weeks, depending on your body’s response to the hormones, you will undergo the egg retrieval process. While you’re sedated, your doctor will insert a long needle into your vagina to pull out the eggs.

At Dr. Hodes-Wertz’s clinic, about 20% of patients end up doing a second round of egg retrieval, since a greater number of eggs raises the chances of getting .

RELATED: 9 Things Every Woman Must Know About Her Fertility

Myth: The recovery is no big deal

“The week after can be really uncomfortable,” says Dr. Hodes-Wertz. “The ovaries are very swollen, and you can feel really bloated and full.” Most doctors recommend avoiding exercise during this time, she adds, since the swollen ovaries can twist and cut off their own blood supply.

Myth: It’s at least partially covered by insurance

It’s not typical for most insurance providers to cover any part of egg freezing. And it can be pretty expensive. Dr. Hodes-Wertz says to expect a bill somewhere between $9,000 and $15,000 for the injections and procedure, plus about $1,000 per year to keep the eggs frozen. “Some centers do this exclusively and they offer much more economical rates, but it’s still expensive,” she adds.

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Myth: Freezing your eggs pretty much guarantees you’ll get pregnant later

At most clinics, about 40% of procedures result in a live birth, says Dr. Hodes-Wertz. “A lot of steps can go wrong,” she explains. “Not all the eggs are going to survive the thaw. Not all of them will be healthy eggs, take fertilization, or grow in culture.” 

And not all clinics are created equal. Dr. Hodes-Wertz encourages women to research a clinic’s success rate before they move forward with the procedure. “Some clinics are more experienced than others, and you want to make sure you pick a place that has a lot of experience with thawing [eggs] out,” she says.

This Smartphone App Can Analyze Semen Samples to Diagnose Infertility in Men

An estimated one in six couples struggle with fertility issues, according to the American Pregnancy Association; and in about one-third of those cases, the problem lies with the man. But diagnosing male infertility can be a complex and expensive process.

Now, a promising new smartphone device may soon allow men to test the health of their sperm in seconds, without ever leaving home. It involves a disposable microchip designed to hold a sample of semen. The chip gets inserted into a smartphone attachment, and the app then uses the phone’s camera to analyze two factors that affect : sperm concentration and motility.

In a new study published in Science Translational Medicine, the technology was used to test 350 semen samples. It was able to determine whether the samples met World Health Organization standards for healthy sperm count and motility with an accuracy rate of about 98%.

“We wanted to come up with a solution to make male infertility testing as simple and affordable as home pregnancy tests,” said co-author Hadi Shafiee, PhD, a principal investigator in the division of engineering in medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, in a press release. 

The technology is still in the prototyping stage. Shafiee’s team plans to do more testing to refine the app’s accuracy. They also need to file for approval from the United States Food and Drug Association before they can bring the device to market.

But the researchers have high hopes. “The ability to bring point-of-care sperm testing to the consumer, or health facilities with limited resources, is a true game changer,” said John Petrozza, MD, a co-author of the study and director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center, in the press release.