Today, older infertile women can opt for the new treatment option called Tandem IVF. This is a unique combination of fresh IVF using their own eggs and a back-up of frozen donor eggs, in the same cycle. This permits them the flexibility of attempting IVF with their own eggs. However, if they don’t grow eggs at all, the donor eggs act as the safety net.
How Does this Work?
Older women are aware that the key limiting factor in the success of their IVF is their eggs. Since ovarian reserve declines with age, there is a drop in the quantity and quality of their eggs and chances of a poor ovarian response increases. In turn, this significantly reduces their chances of success. Even though they fully understand that using donor eggs maximizes their chances of conceiving, it becomes difficult for them to accept the fact that they may need to use these.
Most women want to be able to get pregnant using their own eggs. The hope they cling to is that with the introduction of new IVF technology, the help of a more experienced clinic and better IVF success rates, they will be able to achieve their goal. In the past, the standard option for these patients was sequential IVF. We would do IVF with aggressive superovulation for them. In case this failed, donor egg IVF would be used in the next cycle. Though this assured them that they had done their best, it was a time-consuming and expensive proposition.
Now, we are able to offer Tandem IVF to these patients. Since we have a very active frozen donor egg IVF program, the patients can have their cake and eat it too! We start an IVF cycle for these patients, and reserve frozen donor eggs for them at this point. If the response is good & they produce good quality embryos (many older patients with poor ovarian reserve respond surprisingly well under careful monitoring), we transfer their own embryos in that cycle. No frozen donor eggs are used and the only additional cost is the reservation fee for the frozen egg.
Contrastingly, if they do not respond well, rather than cancelling the cycle , they can opt to use the frozen donor eggs in that same cycle. The only consideration is that their uterine lining should have grown well. This allows us to save the cycle and benefits older women who want to do IVF with their own eggs, and are willing to use donor eggs in the event of a poor ovarian response.
While this option does cost more compared to standard IVF, it’s considerably lower than doing a complete new cycle. What’s even more important is that it saves them time. However, before patients opt for Tandem IVF, they must consider all the pros and cons carefully.
The biggest advantage of Tandem IVF treatment is that it gives them the best chance of becoming pregnant in a single cycle without completely ruling out the use of their own eggs for pregnancy. At the start of the process you get to decide what combination of your own eggs and donor eggs to use. These new options help infertile couples maximize their chances of having a baby!
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