TODAY   |  July 17, 2013

Navigating new infertility studies, technology

The world of fertility medicine is ever-growing, and with more than 7 million couples suffering from infertility, it’s closely watched by many families. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman and reproductive specialist Dr. James Grifo round up some of the most recent headlines in the field.

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>>> more than 7 million couples in the united states are struggling with the heart break and the stress of infertility but there's a lot of research emerging on causes and treatments.

>> for men and women trying to sort out the information can be confusing.

>> here to understand the headlines is a reproductive specialist and dr. nancy snyderman .

>> a lot of headlines the last couple of weeks.

>> first of all, when it comes to infertility, more and more women and men waiting until their late 30s and 40s. but not much difference in trying to get pregnant in your late 20s into your late 30s.

>> this is where i looked at it as a medical journalist and thought the article was junkie. i got pregnant at 42 but the odds are against me. women are born with a certain number of eggs. i didn't think it was very good science.

>> i think the science is lacking on that. based on 770 women which is a little weak. we have lots of data that clearly shows fertility declines with age. if you look at age 30 versus age 40, there's a 50% reduction in the ability to get pregnant. that doesn't mean you can't get pregnant. it means it's a lot harder and the abnormalities in embryos are prevalent in older women .

>> and for men and women bring genetic risks.

>> we hear about the biological clock all the time. when does it start ticking for a woman? what's the age.

>> every year it goes down.

>> but is there a certain age at which women start to worry i'm in the danger zone ? like at 35.

>> we know the risk of down syndrome and other abnormalities go up at the arbitrary age of 35 but the reality is with every year -- there's a risk for being too young and there's a risk for being too old. when we talk about careers and family and et cetera it's hard as to what's smart but we made these cutoffs that i'm not sure are smart.

>> they're highly individual. there's no one age for everybody. some women are fertile at 42 and some are infertile at 32. you have to make good decisions. we're not here to make people worry about waiting too long but they should know what they're doing.

>> and planning really means do i want to have a family and if so, what does that mean and for some 28 year olds that may never see themselves in a relationship. that may mean freezing their eggs.

>> something called next generation sequences. you have been involved in the research on this. what was it first of all?

>> we had a paper published last week and presented. the reason ivf fails is embryos are abnormal. an abnormal number of different chromosomes. because it looks good under the microscope doesn't make a pregnancy always. if you can identify them you can improve the out come of ivf and put back one healthy embryo and lower the miscarriage rate and avoid the heart break of getting to 16 weeks and finding out your baby have downs and making a tough decisions that patients make. some keep, some don't. it's challenging.

>> there's doctors in jamie's field that will put in five or six embryos and wait to see what happens. the uterus is not a condominium. you want one or two and you want to pick them as brilliantly as possible. if you know that mother nature is not going to be good host to the bad ones and you can figure that out before you implant them, this is a huge step forward.

>> that's good news. thank you so much.