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What does the future hold for IVF?

On Behalf of | Mar 10, 2023 | Assisted Reproduction

It’s been nearly five decades since Louise Brown became the world’s first “test tube baby,” ushering in the age of assisted reproductive technology (ART). Brown was the first child conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) when she was born in Manchester, England, in 1978.

ART has experienced significant progress in the years since, but many of the techniques remain unchanged, such as growing embryos in a petri dish. However, fertility specialists expect one monumental change in the next 10 years that may have several beneficial effects.

Artificial intelligence will play a large role

Fertility experts say choosing an embryo to transfer into a prospective mother’s womb is similar to a beauty contest. Experienced embryologists know which characteristics to look for, but two specialists in the same laboratory may differ in choosing the most viable option.

Artificial intelligence (AI) may be able to examine embryos more efficiently to determine the most suitable options and do it faster, cheaper, and more accurately. One expert compares the technology to facial recognition software currently used on smartphones.

AI may make ART more affordable and available

Using statistics from 2015 to 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 13% of women ages 15 to 49 experienced infertility problems, but less than 1% attempted IVF or other ART methods. That’s because they either couldn’t afford it or had no access to treatment.

A single cycle of IVF typically runs from $12,000 to $17,000, and several cycles may be necessary for pregnancy to occur. Seventeen states currently require insurance companies to cover infertility treatments or some related costs. Minnesota is not one of them, although there is a bill being introduced this legislative session to mandate such coverage. Experts say integrating AI measures, together with possible mandated coverage, could help lower costs and increase access.

AI may ease the emotional toll

While the experts concede that the technology is not available just yet, they predict AI and other upgrades will play a significant role in the next five to 10 years. One added benefit of these improvements will be helping individuals and couples better cope with the physically and emotionally draining ART process.

It’s important to note that another source of stress can be the confusing nature of laws and regulations concerning assisted reproduction. If you are considering IVF or another type of treatment, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced assisted reproduction attorney. The need for knowledgeable legal guidance will likely not change for decades to come.