Thursday, February 16, 2006

New egg banking program in Bay area

The Reproductive Science Center of the San Francisco Bay Area announced a new program allowing women to freeze and store unfertilized eggs at RSC for non-medical reasons. Normally IVF centers freeze fertlized eggs, embryos, for use by women undergoing IVF who may have them implanted later if their early attempts do not result in a pregnancy, or at a future time to avoid undergoing costly hormone injections and egg harvesting. Embryos typically survive freezing and thawing much better than unfertilized eggs, but as techniques improve the option for freezing and banking eggs for future use becomes more viable. Doctors can then fertilize only the number of eggs used for each IVF cycle and avoid the moral dilemma of patients have of what to do with viable but unused embryos.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

IVM - new ART procedure - may be safer, cheaper

A new assisted reproduction technology (ART) procedure called in vitro egg maturation, IVM for short, may be safer and cheaper than the normal IVF regimen. Instead of removing fully mature eggs from the ovaries and then fertilizing them, physicians remove immature eggs, ripen them in a lab dish, then add sperm. With this approach, the woman requires only three days of fertility drugs to stimulate her ovaries - compared with up to two weeks under the conventional method. This may be particularly useful for women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome, a hormonal disorder that disrupts ovulation. It's a leading cause of female infertility and it makes infertility treatment extremely risky because the ovaries can easily be overstimulated.

In fact, IVM is not really new. It has been used successfully in some cases since 1994. But it is a challenge because during normal egg maturation the egg undergoes meiosis in which the nucleus jettisons half of its chromosones in preparation for receiving DNA from a sperm. But achieving meiosis in laboratory glassware instead of inside an ovary is not a perfected process. And even when it is achieved the egg often develops a hardened membrame that reduces the changes of a sperm penetrating and fertilizing it. Still, the process holds promise as it is developed further.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Sperm donor ordered to pay child support

This is not a new story, but only recently came to our attention. In Sweden a man who donated sperm to a lesbian couple has been ordered by the courts to pay child support. Although the donor donated sperm with the understanding and agreement by the recipient that he would not be involved in the raising of any children, the mother sued for child support after her and her lesbian partner parted ways. The case was appealed all the way to the supreme court and the ruling that he must pay child support was upheld.

This makes it clear that it is a bad idea, in Sweden at least, for a sperm donor to be known by the recipient.