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I Think I Need IVF

Dr. Keenan pioneered the only IVF program in Knoxville in 1992, and continues to have the most successful and respected program in the region. The SFC has achieved this outstanding success rate without "cherry-picking" the easiest patients. It is important to recognize the adage that "fertile patients do very well with IVF." This means that if you put a patient with only mild problems through an IVF cycle, she is quite likely to become pregnant. However, she has done so at a great investment of time and money, when she more than likely could have conceived with far lesser measures, albeit perhaps with a bit more time involved.

While it is appropriate to recommend, or even strongly encourage, IVF in some couples, we believe that it is an inappropriate use of this technology to recommend it after only a few meager attempted cycles with pills or other methods. While we never hesitate to offer IVF sooner if that is what the patient desires, we typically use assisted reproduction with IVF as a last resort, or when other methods carry no hope for success, such as with severe male factor infertility or blocked tubes.

Furthermore, the SFC is proud of it's life-affirming stance on embryo disposition. We never have, and never will, destroy any human embryos. All patients going through our program must sign a consent form stating that they will either use their embryos or donate them to another infertile couple. However, it is not necessary to freeze embryos during an IVF cycle, something that you may not know from reading or having been a patient at another fertility clinic:

"IVF without freezing embryos"

Most ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) clinics will fertilize all mature eggs that are collected from a woman. While this is very appropriate for some women, it is most inappropriate for others. For example, in the case of a 25 year old woman with PCOS, 30 or more eggs may be obtained, and more than 20 embryos could result. While not all embryos will come to birth, it is almost certain that in this situation the couple will have completed their family long before they have used all of their embryos. So, this couple has been unnecessarily put in a position where they have a large number of genetic siblings remaining in a liquid nitrogen tank, and they were never informed of this possibility at the start.

At the SFC, we take great pains to counsel each couple on the pros and cons of creating multiple embryos. We are also one of only a handful of clinics who will gladly limit the number of eggs inseminated so that NO embryos need to be frozen. This is the perfect lead-in to the option of freezing oocytes (see below). If you have any questions about this, please call and talk to our IVF nurse coordinator, or better yet, make an appointment!

Ooctye cryopreservation (egg freezing)

The SFC was the first ART clinic in the region to successfully freeze, and achieve pregnancies with, unfertilized eggs (oocytes). Why is this noteworthy?

Traditionally, freezing eggs was not performed for a number of reasons, including concerns for the resulting embryo/fetus/baby, and damage or death to the egg.

While our first freezing attempts were with the older "slow freeze" method, we quickly transitioned to a newer process called "vitrification," which also uses liquid nitrogen to cool the eggs, but the process is done much more quickly and results in a different type of hardening of the cell. This process has been found to be approximately twice as effective for oocytes, leading to a much higher chance for a live birth. While this process may or may not be comparable to freezing embryos, it definitely alleviates any concerns that a couple might have about freezing their embryos, having embryos remaining after treatment, or the possibility for injury or death to their embryos with various freezing techniques. While much more can be said about this, any questions you have are best answered in person during a confidential visit.

Would you like to know more?

You may wish to know more about IVF and ART. Please click here for more information and videos about IVF and assisted reproduction.

Related Information

  Optimal Timing for Elective Oocyte Cryopreservation (Egg Freezing) The aim of this study was to use decision-tree analysis to determine the benefit of oocyte cryopreservation in terms of probability of future live birth, dependent on the age of the woman at the time of cryopreservation and intended wait time to pursuing pregnancy. A secondary aim was to determine the cost- effectiveness of oocyte cryopreservation.