Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Ardice Lorscheider always wanted to be a mom. But after several years of trying she still couldn't get pregnant.
So she turned to in vitro fertilization. Now, at the age of 37, she is the mother of 6-year-old and 6-month-old daughters.
Lorscheider is emblematic of a growing trend both in Utah and in the United States. Last year, approximately 700 women in the Beehive State underwent IVF, a 15 percent increase from 2007 and more than double the 304 reported from 1998.
The in vitro fertilization procedure has changed dramatically since 1978, the year the first "test tube" baby, named Louise Brown, was born in England. The birth, which came after 12 years of research, made headlines all over the world. More than 3 million children have been born worldwide as a result of what is called assisted reproductive technology — injecting sperm into the egg outside the human body — accounting for about 4 percent of all live births.
Several years after Brown's birth, Dr. Richard Marrs made U.S. medical history in 1986 with the first pregnancy from a thawed frozen embryo. The medical breakthrough made it possible to collect and freeze the extra embryos that patients produce through the IVF procedure and store them until a later date.
"We had no knowledge of the female reproductive system back then," Marrs said. "But with IVF, we've had an exponential increase in learning because everything we saw was new information."
Marrs said the success rate during the early days of IVF was about one in 15 or 20 transfers to become pregnant, whereas today the rate up to the 50 percent to 60 percent range for young child-bearing-age women.
That growing breadth of knowledge has become instrumental in helping more couples overcome their infertility challenges, he said.
When Lorscheider could not get pregnant on her own, she and her husband, Sean, went to fertility specialists to determine what, if anything, was preventing them from having children.
Turns out that she had an autoimmune condition that made it difficult for her to carry a pregnancy. She lost two children to miscarriage, she said.
The couple eventually found David Richards at American Fork's Center for Advanced Reproductive Medicine, who encouraged the couple to pursue IVF. The process took months and required numerous tests and scores of injections.
"I had almost 600 shots to get my first daughter," she said with a laugh. "The things we do for kids."
And IVF treatment can be costly, with prices ranging from $7,000 to $10,000 for one "fresh" or unfrozen implantation. Implanting frozen samples is much less expensive, running about $1,500 each, Richards said.
Ardice Lorscheider said they are considering possibly going through IVF a third time next year, but if they are unable to have another baby, Lorscheider said, they are at peace with the two kids they are fortunate enough to have.
It's definitely a financial and emotional commitment, she warned.
"And physical … because you're taking all those shots, so you have to be ready to do it," she said.
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