Thinking Tech

This gadget will get you pregnant or your money back

This gadget will get you pregnant or your money back

Posting in Technology

A recent study finds evidence that IVF might be unnecessary for many couples trying to conceive.

There is a new non-invasive alternative to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) that might be your best first step to getting knocked up. And it’s a lot cheaper.

DuoFertility is a small body-worn monitor that claims to give the same chance of viable pregnancy as one cycle of IVF. There is the added plus of saving thousands of dollars as well.

A typical cycle of IVF in the UK costs £4,500, while the DuoFertility program offers a year of monitoring and support for £495. The company is offered a money-back guarantee if you are not pregnant within a year of using the monitoring patch.

A recent study(PDF) following 500 couples, published in European Obstetrics & Gynaecology shows the first peer-reviewed academic study proving the viability of such monitoring patches. The study’s author and infertility expert, Oriane Chausiaux, notes in a release about the study:

“The results show that for couples suffering from unexplained infertility as well as a variety of other factors, six months using DuoFertility is as effective as a cycle of IVF and twelve months using DuoFertility yields a higher clinical pregnancy rate than a cycle of IVF – even at the 95% confidence level."

242 of the 500 test subjects, originally qualified for IVF treatment. The one-year pregnancy rate using DuoFertility for those who qualified for IVF was 39%, which is higher than either the UK or EU pregnancy rates for a cycle of IVF (which is 26% and 28% respectively.)

The sensor is a bit bigger than a quarter and attached to an adhesive patch, placed under your arm. It takes body temperature measurements continuously and determines when you are ovulating. It claims to be nearly 100% accurate at determining the most fertile days in a cycle. Data collected is sent to a reader wirelessly, so the user can see her fertility status at any time and plan ahead.

From the release about the UK study:

“One in Seven couples in the UK suffer from infertility problems, indeed more women attend GP surgeries to obtain advice on infertility than any issue other than pregnancy. This shows just how big an issue infertility is for so many people”.

It is perhaps not surprising therefore that Cambridge Temperature Concepts, the company behind DuoFertility, was recently recognised at Downing St as one of nine innovative small businesses to help reduce costs in the public sector through the Cabinet Office Innovation Launchpad programme.

To be sure, however, IVF is necessary for some couples (PDF.) “Comparing a monitoring patch to IVF is like comparing oranges to apples,” said Jamie Grifo, Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology at the NYU Fertility Center, in a phone interview.  “Couples who come to see me for IVF have already tried temperature monitoring kits. The big issue is time lost. You cannot linger with infertility because the chances only get worse with each year. Using a monitoring patch loses valuable time for those couples who ultimately require IVF.”

To get a full work up at a reproductive health clinic is Grifo’s advice, so you know your issues as you go into the process of trying to get pregnant. If you do not, then you are working blind and waiting a year to try decreases your chances significantly. At age 30 a woman has a 60% chance of becoming pregnant via IVF. But by age 40 that drops to a 27% chance, said Grifo. By age 43 it drops to 13%. By age 45 it's 2%.

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Christie Nicholson

Contributing Writer

Christie Nicholson produces and hosts Scientific American's podcasts 60-Second Mind and 60-Second Science and is an on-air contributor for Slate, Babelgum, Scientific American, Discovery Channel and Science Channel. She has spoken at MIT/Stanford VLAB, SXSW Interactive, the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council, the Space Studies Board and Brookhaven National Laboratory. She holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Dalhousie University in Canada. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure