New breakthrough or old news?

Issue date: 20 January 2016

Fertility news this week is dominated by a ‘breakthrough’ that is claimed will revolutionise IVF treatment. AneVivo has been heralded as the ‘next big thing’ in fertility medicine but can it really make such a difference?

EmbryoScope

So what is AneVivo and how does it work?

Potential parents are being offered a new form of IVF which allows fertilisation to take place inside the uterus instead of in a laboratory.

It is hoped the new technique will not only be a psychological boost to parents but also have health benefits, such as a higher birth weight, to IVF babies.

The technique, which uses a device called AneVivo, involves placing egg and sperm cells within a tiny capsule which is placed painlessly into the womb for 24 hours, during which time embryos begin to develop.

Doctors then remove the tiny device and, after two to four days, select the embryos that are healthy enough to be transferred into the uterus in the hope of achieving a pregnancy.

Is this all it claims to be however, or, have we seen all this before? Dr Lockwood, medical director of Midland Fertility tells us more.

“Over the years there have been several ‘fertilise in the uterus rather than in a test-tube’ devices, but they really have very little to offer!

Why?

  • Natural fertilisation actually takes place in the fallopian tube and the environment here is different from that within the uterus itself
  • Nearly 50% of all IVF cycles are ICSI and so this ’device’ would not be suitable for  couples with male factor fertility problems
  • Costs would not be reduced much because we would still need our wonderful embryologists and scientists to find the eggs in the follicular fluid, prepare the sperm and put them together (and then find the resulting embryos and load them for embryo transfer!)
  • The slightly smaller weight (a few  grams)  observed in IVF babies born following fresh transfers is not seen in babies born after frozen embryo transfers.  This suggests that it is the endometrium in a stimulated cycle rather than the process of fertilisation that is responsible.
  • One of the most recent developments that has significantly improved success rates has been the introduction of Embryoscope, our Time-lapse imaging system.  All the valuable information we learn about how the embryos are doing, and which are the best ones to transfer and freeze would be lost if we switched to this device.
  • With the extra device being inserted and removed, there would be an increased risk of infection .”

Still undecided?

Thought not.