Performance of treatment with minimum ovarian stimulation and considerations in selecting the right treatment for the IVF process - all this and more were the focus of the international conference held at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center by the IVF Unit in conjunction with the Israeli Fertility Association and the International Society for Mild Approaches in Assisted Reproduction. The conference brought together 180 specialists in the field from hospitals and universities in Israel and around the world. The title: Toward Friendly Stimulation in Assisted Reproductive Technologies. The main message: There are times when even with less treatment you can achieve good results, but the most important principle in fertility treatment is in personalizing the process for each woman and focusing on a healthy lifestyle as a highly significant contributing factor.
"Doctors involved in fertility and who perform IVF face an eternal dilemma regarding the nature of the treatment given to women," said Asst. Prof. A. Ellenbogen, Director of HYMC's IVF Unit and one of the organizers of the conference, which was held last week at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center.
In the morning, as part of the greetings, Prof. Meir Oren - Director General of HYMC, Prof. Eliezer Shalev - Dean of the Technion's Faculty of Medicine and Director of Emek Medical Center's Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, and Prof. Moti Halak - Director of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Hillel Yaffe, all emphasized the excellence of HYMC's IVF Unit as well as the importance of the conference and the subject matter being covered. Prof. Halak cited the verse from the Bible, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth" and referred to the fact that three of the four matriarchs had difficulty conceiving, the very same issues the field of fertility addresses.
Later in the day, the many participants enjoyed the wide array of diverse lectures. The well-respected lecturers included Prof. René Frydman, an IVF pioneer in France, who spoke about improving the results in IVF through minimal stimulation by explaining the importance of a healthy lifestyle (physical activity, healthy diet, cutting back on smoking, less use of cellular phones and more); Prof. Pasquale Patrizio - Director of Obstretrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale School of Medicine in the US, said that aggressive treatments with hormones are not necessary to obtain a large number of normal ova; Prof. J. Van Blerkom - Research Professor at University of Colorado Boulder in the US addressed mitochondrial function responsible for oocyte fertilization; Prof. Fuad Azem - Deputy Director of the IVF Unit and Director of the Fertility Preservation Service at Tel Aviv Medical Center and President of the Israeli Fertility Association, who discussed the importance of personalizing IVF protocols to the needs of each woman ("smart treatment"), and others.
IVF Unit staff with the main lecturers
One of the key lectures that stirred great interest and got people talking was delivered by Prof. Geeta Nargund, President of the International Society for Mild Approaches in Assisted Reproduction, who has worked as a physician in this field in the UK for many years. Prof. Nargund presented a new-old approach that advocates abandoning conventional treatment and reassessing how hormones are given when performing IVF. Prof. Nargund surveyed articles and studies conducted around the world in recent years which showed that while minimal or moderate ovarian stimulation (in other words, administering a small or moderate dose of hormones) results in the production of fewer ova, they are of higher quality and provide good results that equal the results of aggressive stimulation. Prof. Nargund noted that this approach is an option for women with low ovarian response to IVF both in physical and psychological terms. Additionally, Prof. Nargund stated that the advantage of such treatments is the welfare of the woman and that of the future child. Her remarks spurred debate among conference participants, as the approach discussed is constantly debated in the field of assisted reproduction.
"At the end of the day," said Asst. Prof. Ellenbogen, "Our goal as physicians is to achieve a normal pregnancy and healthy child. Certainly not to harm the woman. Without a doubt, the various approaches presented at the conference accurately reflect the current trends in the field. However, I believe that there was a consensus regarding the main message, namely that the treatment given to every woman must contain an element of personalization. Additionally, the woman's lifestyle - diet, physical activity, smoking and more - can also have an impact on treatment as a whole. As was stated, the foundation of every fertility treatment must be the concept of creating optimal conditions to create new life."
The conference, which as previously mentioned, brought together renowned experts in gynecology and fertility from Israel and the world over, received many compliments and ended with a broad discussion and visit to Hillel Yaffe's IVF Unit.
Prof. Geeta Nargund's lecture
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