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Fertility Docs Cut Costs of IVF Conception by 60 Percent

IVF innovator introduces alternative to artificial insemination for less than $5,000

LAS VEGAS, April 9 /PRNewswire/ -- For decades women struggling to conceive a child usually have had but two stark choices for fertility treatments: the high-tech but high-cost process of in vitro fertilization (IVF), or the much lower-priced alternative of intra-uterine insemination (IUI), also known as artificial insemination - a clinical technique that fertility doctors generally consider a hit-and-miss proposition.

Now one of the nation's most visible innovators in fertility medicine - indeed, a pioneer in the development of IUI a quarter-century ago - is offering a third option: IVF priced competitively with artificial insemination.

This week the Sher Institutes for Reproductive Medicine (SIRM), a coast-to-coast network of private fertility clinics, began airing local TV and radio advertisements on for "Micro-IVF," a new offering that lowers the cost of in vitro treatment by more than 60 percent but is expected to triple the roughly 10-percent chance of pregnancy from a single IUI course.

The $4,950 price tag for a single Micro-IVF treatment contrasts sharply to the $13,000 to $15,000 national average that patients usually pay for a round of IVF (including medications). Yet with most fertility clinics charging from $3,000 to $4,000 for IUI, SIRM doctors believe they have the makings of a breakthrough offering.

"The truth is, IUI has often been an over-used process that's for years given false hope of success," said Dr. Geoffrey Sher, the founder of SIRM and, in 1984, the lead author of the first research paper on IUI ever published in the professional journal Fertility and Sterility.

"IUI is suitable only for a very limited group of women," Sher said. "In terms of success, in vitro fertilization is greatly superior to IUI, and now it's much more within the financial reach of the same population of infertile patients."

How can SIRM slash costs so dramatically? By targeting patients who otherwise are good candidates for IUI but deserve better odds - those who have the best chances of a successful outcome - and by avoiding expensive and time-intensive, high-tech processes and procedures needed for more difficult candidates.

"Many of these women might well get pregnant through IUI but in most cases, only after trying two, three, or four times or more," Sher said. "In the end, it is the cost per baby, not the cost per treatment, that must be considered, and a single Micro-IVF is three times more likely to succeed than one try at IUI."

Candidates for the program must meet certain conditions which would streamline their treatment, thus improving cost efficiencies: they must be under 36 years of age and have regular menstrual periods, and they must have no evidence of abnormally low reserves of eggs, no severe infertility in their male partners, and no health insurance coverage of IVF treatments.

SOURCE Sher Institutes for Reproductive Medicine
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