More IVF patients getting test to determine perfect timing

Infertility test cuts down on cost and the number of miscarriages for high-risk pregnancies.

Doctors are turning to fairly-new test to determine perfect timing for IVF transfers, offering it to more women.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Timing can be everything in a woman’s quest to become pregnant, especially if she struggles to conceive. But, doctors say there is one test on the market that can reveal the perfect time. And, they’re offering it to more women.

Endometrial Receptivity Asset or ERA, for short.

Christina Michaud’s little boy is beautiful and unborn and due in late June. Her doctor gave her the test a couple of months before she got pregnant.

It’s been a long road getting to this point for the 33-year old. She has had 10 pregnancies, eight miscarriages and several surgeries. And finally, a second child.

“It is the most magical thing,” Michaud said, looking at an ultrasound picture of her son who she conceived through in vitro fertilization. “I can just look at that and it makes my day happy.”

Michaud is a patient at the Texas Fertility Center. She conceived her first child, a daughter, using IVF, too. But, when she and her husband, Justin, decided to try again, sad days followed.

“I still had four more miscarriages, all from IVF,” she said.

Then her doctor switched gears and decided to use the fairly-new ERA test.

“I was very prepared for it not to work. I was thrilled and shocked that it did,” Michaud said.

It feels like a pap smear and it measures the amount of pregnancy-sustaining protein in a woman’s uterus, telling doctors the exact day that her body is ready to receive an embryo. It is personalized timing that’s unique and specific for each woman.

“Every patient who comes into our office, all the information we need is right there in her body,” said Dr. Kaylen Silverberg, the fertility center’s medical director. “We just need to be smart enough to know where to look.”

Silverberg said the test can cause patients to spend less money paying for more IVF attempts and it can lead to fewer miscarriages. In a sampling of his most recent high-risk IVF patients, pregnancy rates jumped from 44 percent to a little more than 70 percent.

“We’ve gotten to be so good in the IVF laboratory that we can get even better pregnancy rates transfering fewer embryos,” Silverberg said.

While this test is only for IVF patients right now, Silverberg believes in the coming years, he will use it on his other patients undergoing other infertility treatments.

“I think it’s just going to continue to explode,” he said.

Only about 30 percent of couples who see a fertility specialist undergo IVF. Basic IVF can range between $13 and $20,000. The Texas Fertility Center says when the ERA test first hit the market a few years ago, it cost at least $1,200. Now, the center offers it for about $700.

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