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New Hope for Infertile Couples: Assisted Natural Conception

Katlyn Joy | 8, August 2013


While everyone's heard of IVF and other assistive reproductive procedures, a new UK company has come up with a lower tech method for assisting couples attempting to conceive and call it "assisted natural conception."

The company, DuoFertility, made waves in the reproductive field when a paper was presented at the 2010 World Association of Reproductive Medicine Annual Congress detailing success rates rivaling IVF but at a cost that is a mere fraction of the more high tech procedures of in vitro or artificial insemination.

The paper presented statistics on 99 couples who had either previously tried IVF or were awaiting their first attempt at in vitro. The research showed comparable pregnancy rates after 6 months of DuoFertility as a cycle of IVF. However, DuoFertility costs a little over 10 percent the cost of IVF however and about half of artificial insemination.

The company made bigger noise in reproductive circles when rumors circulated that William and Kate conceived the future king through this method.

The company wants people to understand the reality of success rates, first by knowing that 80 percent of couples will conceive within their first month of trying. However, for couples with fertility issues, the rate is far lower, at 12 percent in the first year having achieved pregnancy.

DuoFertility only advertises their success rate with couples with established fertility problems, so their success rates are truly encouraging and not inflated. The success rates are especially noticeable with older mothers age 37 and up. Also, another group with a higher success rate is those with secondary infertility. Secondary infertility is when a couple has trouble conceiving after having one or more pregnancies that resulted in healthy births. Those using DuoFertility had success rates of 28.5 versus 21.5 for IVF for this group.

It's believed this can be attributed to lowered psychological stress with assisted natural conception and the lack of hormone regulation and shots required with IVF. Plus couples will handle their own fertility and feel more in control which can also lead to reduced stress levels associated with attempting to get pregnant.

How DuoFertility Works

Developed by Cambridge scientists, DuoFertility allows women to know when they are most fertile up to one week in advance, utilizing new methods of monitoring physiological signs.

A sensor is worn by the woman under her arm day and night. This sensor stays in place with an adhesive patch and measures a woman's temperature and movement thousands of times each day. From these readings, the monitor determines a woman's deep sleep core temperature.

A handheld reader unit receives this data every few days and calculates odds of future fertility. Women can also enter other data such as medical illness or tests for the unit to compare.This reader connects to a home computer via a USB and displays past fertility and upcoming fertility patterns. All the info is downloaded to the company's servers in the UK for expert analysis.

By monitoring thousands of women, and looking at each women individually as well the company can develop algorithms, so patterns can be detected in certain types of groups of women to help further with determining ideal conception conditions.

The goal is to find a 42 to 78 hour window for each woman when conception is most likely in each monthly cycle. Because human error is not a factor, fertility can even be predicted in more difficult cases such as irregular cycles or hormone conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS.

DuoFertility offers couples expert fertility coaching that is based on each woman's individual cycle and needs. Users receive detailed fertility reports which can be shared with the couple's fertility doctor which can save time, money and tears.

Most impressive, the company is so confident of their product that they offer couples a 12 month money back guarantee if no pregnancy is achieved. However, such close fertility coaching is offered through DuoFertility so that if pregnancy hasn't occurred within four or five months, the experts will look closely to determine if using the product is still recommended for the couple.

However, unlike the costly nature of IVF, and the invasive methods involve, DuoFertility may be continued by some couples despite a less than encouraging profile. In other words, while there may not be a high chance of success, there is still some and not much to lose in continuing to try. Couples will at least have a clear idea of how good their chances are and whether to keep at it or not.

The UK company has received FDA approval and is looking to expand its business in the US.

Katlyn Joy is a mother to 7 children, and a freelance writer. She earned her Master of Arts in Creative Writing and Poetry, and a Bachelor of Arts in English and was previously an adviser to new mothers on breastfeeding through a maternity home program. She currently resides in Colorado with her family.

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