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Couples Ask: What's Wrong with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?

CA attorneys Anthony and Stephanie Epolite found out the hard way that in vitro fertilization (IVF) wasn't all it's cracked up to be.

After years of marriage, and facing her 39th birthday still without a baby, Stephanie turned to a fertility clinic. Two years and  $25,000 later, the couple had nothing but frustration and embarrassment to show for the time spent on IVF.

"We were emotionally, financially and spiritually spent," Stephanie said. "The clinic did no diagnostic tests. They loaded me up with fertility medication and determined the right time for retrieval of my eggs."

But, after the retrieval and the mixing of the eggs with Anthony's sperm in the lab, still no embryo developed. "In the end, they told me I just had old eggs," she said…

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, infertility affects more than 6 million American women and their spouses, or about 10 percent of the reproductive aged population. About 5 percent of infertile couples use IVF….

Studies suggest that children made through IVF have an elevated risk of birth defects.

"Studies have shown a six-fold elevated risk for in vitro fertilization children contracting an eye disease called retinal blastoma versus normally conceived babies", noted Tad Pacholczyk [dir, NCBC, Philadelphia].

"In vitro fertilization is very unnatural. You're extracting ova from the woman, culturing them and inspecting the developing embryo in a laboratory setting. They are in a completely unnatural environment for a very long time before they are put back into the womb"…

Dr. Thomas Hilgers has devoted his life to the study of human reproduction, developing the Creighton Model System of Natural Family Planning (NOT Rhythm), and eventually opening the Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction.

In 1991, Hilgers coined the term NaPro Technology (natural procreative technology), a reproductive and gynecologic medical science that seeks to evaluate and treat a host of women's health problems without the use of contraception, sterilization, abortion, or artificial reproductive technologies…


NaPro Technology: A reproductive and gynecologic medical science that seeks to evaluate and treat a host of women's health problems without contraception, sterilization, abortion, or  artificial reproductive technology.


NaPro Technology first identifies the causes of infertility and then seeks to treat them. That's not always the case at fertility clinics. "The aim of most fertility clinics is to skip over the abnormality to try to get women pregnant," Hilgers said.

"Yet when you skip over the causes, you end up dealing with them one way or another. It's ludicrous to promote in vitro fertilization as the help for the vast majority of 6.62 million with impaired fertility," he said. "When you listen to the national news and moring television shows, you think that in vitro fertilization is the only thing available to infertile couples; yet, less than 0.5 percent of infertile couples in the U.S. are helped by in vitro fertilization each year."

Regardless of the artificial method chosen, the cost of such techniques remains high and the success rates low. According to the 2001 Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Success Rates report compiled by the U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services, a survey of 384 fertility clinics showed a clinical pregnancy success rate of 32 percent.

In a 1990 article published in Social Justice Review, Richard Doerflinger noted that a survey of IVF clinics discovered that half of the clinics had never had a live birth after being in business at least 3 years, collectively treating more than 600 women and collecting $2.5 million for their services.

Not only do natural alternatives such as NaPro Technology cost far less, they are also more successful. Hilgers notes their success rates range from 38 percent to 80 percent, depending upon the condition being treated.

Following the Epolites' experience with IVF, Stephanie learned about the Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction from a Natural Family Planning counselor. In the fall of 2000, the couple applied to the institute, gathered charts they had kept that outlined vital signs related to fertility, and underwent diagnostic testing.

As it turned out, both had reproductive issues that their previous fertility clinic had never diagnosed. Anthony's sperm count was low, and Stephanie suffered from endometriosis and blocked fallopian tubes. Six months later, following treatment of their conditions at the institute, and at the age of 42, Stephanie conceived naturally. Their daughter was born in 11/02.

"At the…institute, we saw compassion, concern, help and love," Stephanie said. "They provided individualized treatment versus the empty feeling that we felt from the fertility clinic. Whereas the fertility clinic by-passed all the laws of nature, the institute works with the laws of nature."

[Tim Drake, NCR, 8/04; FRCN, 11/04]