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Sperm injection method may be used too much

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Tuesday, July 24, 2007 | 0 comments

July 23, 2007 - FERTILITY
For many men with fertility problems, ICSI, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection, is a godsend. The technique, developed in the early 1990s, is used to insert a single sperm directly into an egg, enabling fertilization even if sperm are few or would have trouble penetrating by themselves. But in recent years, ICSI has become standard practice in fertility clinics even when men have no sperm problems, according to a study by University of Illinois researchers.


By 2004, the study found, nearly 58 percent of in vitro fertilization procedures included ICSI, even though male infertility remained steady at about 30 percent . ICSI use is particularly heavy in states where infertility treatments must be covered by insurance, including Massachusetts. The study's lead author, Dr. Tarun Jain of the University of Illinois at Chicago, says further research is needed to determine whether such frequent use of ICSI makes sense.

Physicians may believe it improves their patients' chances of conceiving, he said, but there is no good scientific data to back up that idea. The technique also has downsides: It can add about $1,500 to the price of fertility treatment; takes up lab time; and there is some concern that it may even result in lower pregnancy rates and possibly a slightly higher rate of birth defects.

BOTTOM LINE: Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is becoming a standard fertility procedure even when men have none of the sperm problems that it was designed to circumvent.

CAUTIONS: The study did not attempt to answer the question of why ICSI has become so common. It could be that clinics see noticeably better results with it, but have not published that data.

WHAT'S NEXT: Researchers hope to determine whether the broad use of ICSI improves a couple's chances of a successful pregnancy and healthy baby.

WHERE TO FIND IT: The New England Journal of Medicine, July 19

Source: http://www.boston.com/yourlife/health/other/articles/2007/07/23/sperm_injection_method_may_be_used_too_much/





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Catherine

About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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