Decision Tools For IVF

I know that I've been slow on updates recently -- for lack of a better excuse, I'll blame it on the holiday season. But things are back in full swing now, and I'll have a number of new stories in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

A few days ago, I wrote a piece for Slate's DoubleX blog, on a PLoS Medicine study where researchers created a prediction model that they say will accurately determine if someone will get pregnant with in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Rather than externally validating their model, the researchers are crowdsourcing their new tool, and have opened it up on the web and a soon-to-be-released iPhone app. I wrote:

By answering nine questions about pregnancy history, the source of the eggs, and the types of fertility medications used, couples can find out their odds of successful IVF, as well as learn how each variable affects their risk profile. For instance, imagine a 33-year-old woman who’s never been pregnant and is using IVF for the first time after a year of trying to get pregnant on her own. Her fertility problems are caused by cervical issues, but she’s still using her own eggs (and has had gonadotropin hormone therapy treatment). According to IVFPredict, her chance of having a baby with her partner via in vitro fertilization is 13 percent. If the couple decides to go with intracytoplasmic sperm injection instead of the normal IVF method of combining multitudes of sperm and eggs in a dish, their odds jump to 42 percent, according to the model.

It's great to see clinical decision/patient education tools emerge for couples trying to get pregnant, especially those turning to IVF -- a procedure that costs about $12,000 for each procedure, and is often not covered by health insurance.

Image via Flickr / Yutaka Tsutano