A new development in IVF technology may make this normally costly treatment much more affordable to infertile couples worldwide. The United Kingdom’s Daily Mail reports that researchers in Belgium have developed an embryo culture method that costs around £170 (about $255) and so far appears to be just as effective as traditional IVF methods.
According to the story, “A conventional IVF lab contains expensive incubators in rooms with a purified air supply to keep everything sterile. Costs are increased by drugs to boost egg production, the selection of the best embryos and freezing of the rest, and the screening of embryos for genetic defects.” The researchers simplified this process down to two connected tubes, and used a cheaper method to generate the medical-grade carbon dioxide needed. The sperm and egg are injected into a tube containing a culture medium. If all goes well (failure rate for IVF treatments is quite high), the fertilized egg is transferred to the woman’s uterus in three to five days.
A typical infertility treatment in the U.S. costs around $12,400 per cycle, and researchers are hopeful that their new cost-effective method will bring such treatments to women in developing nations. Research on the health consequences of IVF to women should make all women, however, wary of this procedure—at whatever cost.