Dr. Shayne Plosker, who sees patients at SGF’s Brandon, FL location, joined ABC’s The Morning Blend in Tampa Bay to explain the IVF process and how it’s changed over the years. In the last decade, advanced freezing technology has allowed more patients to have multiple children as a result of one IVF cycle, thereby reducing the cost and easing the process for patients.
Watch the full segment: here.
Host: What is IVF and how are you able to help patients build their families?
Dr. Plosker: In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process where the woman is given fertility drugs. The goal of the fertility drugs is to get the ovaries to release as many eggs as they possibly can during that particular month. In normal circumstances, women will release one egg at a time and have one baby at a time. The goal here is to get as many [eggs] as we can. We do ultrasound monitoring and blood testing, and with that, we can determine when the eggs are mature. Once they’re mature, we retrieve them in a 15-20 minute procedure, fertilize them with her partner’s sperm, and at some point in the future, transfer a certain number of fertilized eggs back into the uterus. Usually in this day and age, that’s one fertilized egg at a time.
Host: Are you seeing more people seeking out IVF?
Dr. Plosker: Without a doubt, more people are utilizing IVF. If you look at the number of IVF cycles in the United States annually, it’s well over 200,000 now. And I can remember not so long ago, 10 to 15 years ago, when it was closer to 100,000 or even less, so it’s become a much more accessible treatment.
Host: How has the IVF process changed and improved over time?
Dr. Plosker: Huge improvements. I’ve been around since the beginning of IVF actually. Back in the mid-80s, the procedure to get the eggs was a laparoscopy so it required general anesthesia, and a couple of little abdominal incisions. It was very uncontrolled.
We were at the mercy of when the woman was going to ovulate. Back then, it wasn’t beyond the possibility of sitting there at two in the morning doing an egg retrieval. Things have improved tremendously. Even in the mid-80s we were able to do ultrasound-guided retrievals, which is a much less invasive procedure for the patient.
Host: Do women have to go through the retrieval process multiple times?
Dr. Plosker: It’s possible, although that is one of the other improvements. As technology has become more sophisticated, it’s not beyond the realm now that women will go through one retrieval, get all of the eggs they need, and then have those embryos available to build the rest of their family. So, they have their baby and there are some frozen embryos available and they’re able to come back and have another embryo transfer with the frozen embryos, so that is one of the improvements that we’ve seen.
Host: When is it time to seek help from a fertility specialist?
Dr. Plosker: If you’re under the age of 35, I think it’s reasonable to try for a year on your own before seeing a physician. Between 35 and 40, I probably wouldn’t give it much longer than 6 months. And once you’re 40, in my opinion, it doesn’t hurt to call and get an evaluation.
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