Monday, September 29, 2008

Millions Affected by Infertility: How Atlantans Have Overcome the Issues

PRNewswire/ -- National Infertility Awareness Week(R), Oct. 19-25, is a movement to raise awareness about the condition which affects 7.3 million Americans. Metro Atlantans grappling with infertility can consider options available to them that others here have had success.

Infertility, which touches both men and women, is defined as the inability to conceive after one year of trying with unprotected intercourse for couples in which the female is younger than age 35 and six months of trying for couples in which the female is older than 35.

"The good news is that nearly 90 percent of infertility cases are overcome through today's advanced techniques," said Michael Tucker, scientific director at Georgia Reproductive Specialists (GRS), Atlanta. Recognized as one of the world's top 10 scientists in early human reproduction, Tucker is responsible for pioneering the world's first birth from frozen donor eggs. This breakthrough freezing is offered at GRS.

There are many faces of infertility. Take for example, Shane McCord, a recent patient of GRS. At age 3, he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a disease frequently leaving the patient infertile. After tests revealed McCord lacked a vas deferens, he and his wife were able to conceive using in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Another patient, Susan Stegall, and her partner wanted to raise a family. Stegall received through IVF her partner's egg, which had been inseminated by a sperm donor. Together, they had a son. Five years later, the same process involved Stegall's egg and the same sperm donor and resulted in a baby girl.

Aware that age is a factor in influencing fertility, patient Kurena Hill came to GRS after she and her husband were unable to conceive. After several unsuccessful attempts at intrauterine insemination, also called artificial insemination, and a miscarriage, the doctor of then 35-year-old Hill extracted nearly a dozen eggs from her, froze them and then transferred thawed, fertilized eggs to Hill. As a result, at age 36, she gave birth to a daughter.

While IVF is far from the only solution to infertility, a recent survey by GRS of couples facing infertility issues indicates it was the most widely known treatment among respondents. Virtually all -- 97 percent -- of the women and men surveyed said that prior to receiving infertility counseling they were familiar with IVF. Conversely, only 37 percent were aware of intracytoplasmic sperm injection, which involves the direct injection of sperm into eggs obtained through IVF. Some 57 percent were aware of the process of freezing eggs for later use.

Age is a factor with infertility for both women and men. Almost half -- 45 percent -- of the survey respondents were 35, the age at which fertility starts declining significantly, or older. These respondents reported they had been trying to conceive an average of 23 months.

"Our message to couples facing infertility is that most infertility issues can be overcome with the proper diagnosis and treatment," said Dr. Mark Perloe, GRS medical director. "A structure as we have provides the patient with the utmost in testing, counseling and treatment options. Our renowned physicians are here to help fulfill our patients desire to start or expand a family."

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