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New Fertility Treatment Can Help Couples Conceive

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

As more couples delay childbearing, experts say infertility rates seem to be increasing. There is a range of medical treatments, including in vitro and artificial insemination. But some say a new low-tech treatment may be worth trying first.

It is a sobering statistic. Nearly one in five couples struggles with infertility.

Adrianne Diaz, Fertility Patient: "I have been actively trying, i would say , for about - for about the last year and a half, two years."

Janette Walker, MD/John Muir Ob-Gyn: "A lot of times it's unexplained, we can't really find a good reason why they can't get pregnant."

Adrianne: "They put me on Clomid and again I tried it and it didn't really work."

After two months of failed fertility drugs, Adrianne is coming to her doctor's office to try a new fertility device called the conception kit.

Walnut Creek ob-gyn Janette Walker says the concept is simple. After intercourse using a special condom semen is immediately transferred into a cervical cap.

Dr.Walker: "You pinch it shut and then you place it vaginally against your cervix and then it stays against your cervix for 6-8 hours."

Dr. Walker: "Basically it brings the sperm a higher concentration of the sperm much closer to the cervix, so more sperm can get into the uterus and find their way to the woman's egg and increase her chances of getting pregnant."

Eldon Shriock, MD, Pacific Fertility Center: "Compared to just placing the sperm in the top of the vagina or in the cervix - some people refer to that as turkey baster - this cap may have some benefit but those techniques probably aren't any more successful than having intercourse if that's an option."

Dr. Eldon Shriock is a reproductive endocrinologist with the Pacific Fertility center in San Francisco.

Eldon Shriock, MD: "They have shown this cup is safe to sperm, They have shown that more sperm will get into the cervix, but what I haven't seen is that it's shown that it will actually improve pregnancy rates."

Dr. Walker: "They did do one trial, in their trial they found that people in the trial  24-percent of them did get pregnant within the first month. I don't know if all these patients met strict infertility criteria."

The conception kit website says it's FDA-cleared - not FDA-approved. The FDA says, that simply means this kit is similar to other cervical cap devices already on the market.

Dr. Shriock: "FDA-cleared doesn't mean that this has been approved or proven to improve pregnancy rates."

He believes more sophisticated fertility techniques work better.

Dr. Shriock "Compared to the more common form of helping which is placing the sperm into the uterus which is called intrauterine insemination using the cap is less than half as effective."

But - intrauterine insemination is much more expensive.

Dr. Walker: "It's $300 dollars for the kit which is good three cycles versus intrauterine insemination can be up to a couple thousand dollars."

Dr. Walker feels the kit has a place in fertility treatments.

Dr. Walker: "They could try this as a first step - this would be a first step treatment kind of for them before we go up to the more invasive, more expensive procedures."

Adrianne agrees

Adrianne: "You can do it in your own home, it's private and you don't have to feel awkward about it, and so that's the most important part to me."

And she's hoping this kit will be the key to getting pregnant.

To learn more about conception kits, click here

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