Fertility researchers have developed a technique that may help reduce the failure rate of in vitro fertilization (IVF) by identifying chromosomal abnormalities in embryos. The technique, called "comparative genomic hybridization" is performed on a single cell obtained from the early developing embryo. And all of the cell's chromosomes are evaluated for abnormalities.
There has been a great deal of excitement and interest in the claim that Viagra® (sildenafil citrate), the popular breakthrough treatment for impotence in males, can now be used in treating some fertility problems in women. The theory is that since Viagra increases blood flow, it may also improve endometrial thickness, since a thin uterine lining prevents embryos from successful implantation. While results of one small study, initiated at the Sher Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Las Vegas, appeared to confirm the theory, critics pointed out that the study was limited to only four individuals acting outside of a controlled research environment. Clearly, further study is warranted. There is, in fact, concern among researchers and health care professionals that false claims made now will lead women to use the drug on their own, without their physician's advice, and before more concrete research is conducted.
At the 57th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (Oct. 20-25, 2001, Orlando, FL) researchers at the University of Toronto, Canada presented results of a study investigating letrazole as a single-dose treatment of infertility in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) patients and patients with unexplained infertility. Unlike clomiphene, it has no adverse, antiestrogenic effects on the endometrium. Currently, it is available in the United States as an adjuvant treatment for breast cancer. Further large, prospective studies will have to evaluate letrazole as an ovulation-inducing agent, but the data presented so far are promising. Letrazole could become another treatment option for unexplained infertility and PCOS. However, safety data is limited.