Improving IVF Chances
The current success rate of in vitro fertilization (IVF) is 30% but new research conducted at Tel Aviv University suggests this rate could improve if doctors would start to use gravity and biomechanics to determine the precise time and angle at which to implant embryos. TAU's Professor David Elad from the biomedical engineering department of this institution published his findings in the journal Fertility and Sterility. Elad found that uterine contractions play an important part in maintaining the embryo inside the uterus and believes that knowing more about how this works can give doctors an edge on the right time and exact site for embryo implantation.
"I am specifically studying how the uterus contracts before the embryo implants itself onto the uterine wall," says Elad, who also believes that factors such as the form and dimensions of a woman's uterus and how she is positioned during the procedure all have an effect on whether or not IVF implantation will succeed. "We are all subject to the earth's gravity forces, and all biological process must also obey Newton's basic laws of physics," says Elad, a student of the biomechanical engineering of gestation for a decade and a half.
Elad explains that uterine contractions use peristalsis to propel fluids farther into the womb. This serves to aid the sperm in their journey toward the eggs contained within the fallopian tubes. This same peristaltic action continues after fertilization is achieved, thrusting the embryo toward the site of implantation along the uterine wall.
From A to Z, the entire process involves the mechanical movement of fluids inside the womb. Elad is convinced that more precise knowledge about such fluid mechanics will yield better outcomes for IVF patients. The researcher also comments that no two uteruses are alike and posits that his research will serve to aid women of every shape and size.
In an effort to increase the chances of a successful implantation, many women opt to have three or more embryos implanted during an IVF cycle. The ethics of this practice is dubious since it risks the possibility that some embryos may need to be aborted so as to secure the viability of another. But many women choose this road out of emotional and financial fatigue. Elad believes his research might help make this practice of implanting multiple embryos obsolete by giving a single embryo a greater chance of viability.
The latest reports show that babies born through the IVF process are at an increased risk for genetic diseases. Even though this increased risk is slight, a woman carrying more than one fetus to term risks the possibility that all of them will have medical issues. Elad's current research involves the creation of a computer simulation program which can show how the embryo will be carried to the uterus, no matter whether the method is by IVF or natural conception and hopes this program will help pinpoint the time and trajectory by which IVF is most likely to succeed.