IVF is not the magic answer for everyone

FOR many reasons, some related to religion, there is a feeling among people with infertility that IVF is not the magic answer for everyone.

For many people they find it “invasive”, as it is an intimate procedure which can send your emotions sky high. It is also expensive, the odds are stacked against you and after a few failed attempts, many people begin to look at their options.

Foreign adoption, which can take years given the length of waiting lists, is a possibility for some while others choose to live with childlessness as it is “their own child” that they crave.

There are no known cases of IVF surrogacy in this country but British surrogacy websites show that Irish women have been involved with surrogacies in Britain where the practice is long regulated.

One of the recommendations of the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction was that surrogacy should be made legal and that the law should be changed to “recognise the commissioning mother as the legal mother of the child, not the birth mother”.

The commission members also recommended that the child born through surrogacy should have the right to know the identity of the surrogate mother.

A “cooling off” period between a woman agreeing to be a surrogate and becoming pregnant to ensure she has time to reconsider is also recommended.

According to infertility support groups, NaPhrotechnology, a technique used by Dr Phil Boyle, a GP at the Galway Clinic, has become an option for many women who do not want to use IVF or other assisted reproduction methods.

NaProtechnology is seen as a holistic method where couples are trained to identify abnormal menstrual bleeding patterns, poor cervical mucus flow and subtle hormonal deficiencies that are often not detected by routine gynaecologic evaluation.

Originally, it was used as a form of natural family planning.

It is a much longer procedure as programmes can last up to two years, and so it is not for everybody, but many couples get pregnant before then.

Couples meet with Dr Boyle and also meet with “teachers”, 40 of whom are based around the country, who teach them to recognise a series of “biomarkers.”

“Most people are around 35 when they come and often have spent five years trying, with 40% over the age of 38.

"Most people will have an average of two failed IVF attempts. The programme is all about looking at the menstrual cycle. Samples of blood are taken at different stages and we work out where it is compromised,” Dr Boyle explains.

Up to 400 couples from around the country are on the programme at present and there are a further 160 on a six-month waiting list. There is a 40% success rate and up to 1,400 couples have used the programme since it started in Galway seven years ago.

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