Patients paying for unproven additional IVF treatments

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Although there is only limited evidence that fertility supplements increase the chances of having a baby, most women (82%) have used one or more of these treatments as part of their IVF.

This is the conclusion of a retrospective study of 1,590 Australian patients who also found more than seven out of 10 (72%) for these additional therapies and unproven techniques ranging from Chinese herbal medicine to endometrial scratching.

The results based on an online survey on the prevalence of these optional extras will be presented today by lead researcher Dr Sarah Lensen, a researcher at the University of Melbourne, Australia, at the 37th ESHRE Virtual Annual Meeting.

The findings, according to Lensen, suggest that patients “may not be adequately informed” about the lack of evidence supporting “the effectiveness and safety of supplements.” He adds that “accessible and transparent information” and great high-quality random trials are needed to help make decisions and minimize the grief felt by those who have not been successful in IVF.

This report on supplements is based on a questionnaire announced on Facebook, distributed to women undergoing IVF and completed between June and July 2020. Gestational surrogates or patients who used a surrogate as well as those who gave eggs were excluded. or were electively frozen. .

Participants were asked about their IVF and their medical history and details about the use of supplements over the past 3.5 years, including specific treatments and cost. They were also asked about the importance they gave to testing on safety and effectiveness.

In addition to the cost and prevalence of supplements, the results showed that the most used of these optional extras was acupuncture (45%) followed by preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A) (28%). and then Chinese herbal medicine (26%).

The cost associated with some of the supplements used, such as aspirin and heparin, is likely to be negligible. However, he notes that the costs are likely to be “significant” for PGT-A or for repeated complementary treatments over several cycles.

Overall, relatively few (18%) of women using additional fertility treatments reported having raised the issue for the first time, and more than half (54%) said they had heard of it for the first time. your fertility specialist. The majority (71%) said their specialist used to raise additional options during consultations.

What also emerged from the study is that women gave significant importance to the scientific evidence supporting the use of supplements. More than half (55%) rated more than 90 (out of 100) who consider it important that there is evidence that supplements improve live births and 73% gave the same score because their use was safe. This is despite associations to the contrary, Lensen says, as most supplements are not supported by tests that increase live birth rate (LBR), and some, such as immune therapies, have been linked to low birth weight. birth and other problems.

About one-third (30%) of women experienced moderate to severe grief over the use of supplements, compared with 34% who did not regret it. The level of suspicion about their decision was higher in women who had not conceived or achieved a live birth. In addition, those who reported that their fertility specialist had more than 50% of their decision to use a supplement lamented more than those with a minor role as a physician.

The results of the study are obtained at a time when complementary treatments are under increasing control. The British regulator, Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has introduced a traffic light system to assess complements, but none has received any green signal.

The use of some complementary therapies, Lensen says, is likely to be “associated with a significant financial burden” and may even “pose a risk to the patient.” It therefore states that impartial evidence-based information, such as the HFEA, should be available in other countries.


An additional treatment that is usually offered for IVF does not provide any benefit in a large randomized trial.


More information:
Presentation 0-215, Thursday 1 July 2021: How common is the use of supplements and how do patients decide whether to use them? A national survey of IVF patients

Citation: Patients who paid for additional untested IVF treatments (2021, July 1) recovered on July 1, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07-patients-unproven-ivf-add- on-treatments.html

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