Women who are undergoing in vitro fertilization usually have to suffer through repeated blood tests, in order to measure hormone levels. Researchers at Boston IVF, however, may help women escape all that pain and inconvenience, through a new saliva test.
Women undergoing IVF may need to go through as many as seven blood tests per cycle, while on hormone injections on a daily basis. According to Dr. Michael Alper, medical director of Boston IVF, the hormone injections stimulate egg production in women undergoing treatment, and the blood tests help them adjust the dose of their hormone injections, so as not to over-stimulate their ovaries.
The blood tests are used to measure estradiol, a form of estrogen which is also found in saliva. Dr. Alper said that the saliva test costs just as much as the blood test, at $150. It should be covered by insurance in states where coverage for IVF is mandatory, which includes Massachusetts.
The new saliva test is already being offered to patients at the Waltham office of Boston IVF. Dr. Alper said that other locations, including Boston, will follow suit in the next few weeks, while other fertility centers nationwide will probably offer the test over the next year or two.
While the saliva test presents a painless alternative to blood tests, it still cannot be done at home. Women will have to drop off samples at the doctor’s office every day or two, and come back later in the day for the results.