Improvements in IVF help older couples facing fertility challenges

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

Babies bring so much joy.  

But trying for a baby can bring so much pain.

Kristen Price, who struggled with infertility, adding that seeing friends have babies was hard. 

"Still have to find a way to function in life," she said. "You have friends that are having baby showers and you have to find a way to keep going."

Kristen and her husband, Aaron Price, spent years trying to have a baby, and their fertility issues led them to Dr. Chris Williams.

His practice is seeing a shift in patients, who are now more often older couples.

"Everybody's waiting to get married and waiting to start their families," Williams said. "You're not old when you're 35, but we start talking in terms of advanced maternal age and some issues in terms of aging that may affect your ability to get pregnant and risks of miscarriages, etc."

Kristen Price held up a big plastic bag filled with hypodermic needles.

"These were all the needles that I actually injected myself with," she said.

After exhausting some less aggressive fertility treatments, Kristen Price went through IVF, that's short for in vitro fertilization.

"It's not for the weary of the heart," she said. "You have to be 100% invested before you start IVF. You don't want to think, 'Maybe I want a baby.' No it's, 'I want a baby. This is it for me."

She had to give up her job because it didn't work with all the testing, medicine, and driving hundreds of miles back and forth for treatment.

"This is a way I was able to keep myself organized," she said while showing a cabinet filled with neatly stacked boxes.

After weeks of shots and waiting, she didn't get any embryos that could develop into a baby.

The embryos were all genetically abnormal, meaning she most likely would miscarry.

"It's literally one of the hardest days of my life, to date," she said of getting that news. "Yeah, I was a puddle on the floor for hours. To go through all of that and then to have nothing to show for it, it's hard."

It was also hard on Aaron Price. 

"Watching her go through that was extremely difficult," he said.

Despite that, they decided to do another round.

"She was all in, so I was all in. So I said, 'We'll do it as many times as you're up for it,"' Aaron Price said.

After more shots and tests, just one embryo made it through genetic testing, giving the couple their first daughter.

"It's surreal to know everything you've gone through to get her here," Kristen Price said.

Scott Purcell is the lab director who performs biopsies cell to find a normal embryo.

"Improvements in genetic screening make a big difference for older couples," he said. "We used to only be able to test for a handful of chromosomes. Now we can test for all chromosomes so you get more information. It's more accurate information, and it's less harmful on the embryo than it was 10 years ago."

That is leading to joy for couples like Kristen and Aaron Price.

"I would do it a thousand times over just to know her," Kristen Price said of her daughter.

Williams said testing for abnormalities improves pregnancy rates and reduces miscarriages to just 5%.

He said with the genetic research going on now, the idea is one day doctors will be able to correct any abnormalities, hopefully enabling even more couples to have children.

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