Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Seminar Explains Variety of Infertility Options; Four Groups Educate Women and Offer Chance at Free Treatments

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Seminar Explains Variety of Infertility Options; Four Groups Educate Women and Offer Chance at Free Treatments

Article excerpt

Byline: DEIRDRE CONNER

Heightened interest in infertility treatments and a slumping economy may draw more people than ever to an annual seminar designed for women trying to get pregnant.

Some people are having a harder time getting medical treatment for infertility, which can be quite expensive and often is not covered by health insurance. At the same time, such treatments have been increasing in popularity - and getting much attention in the news.

A person is considered infertile if having unprotected sex for a year hasn't resulted in pregnancy. But it took nine years of trying and treatment for Angela Stalvey, 30, of Fruit Cove. Stalvey went from patient to employee after undergoing fertility treatments at the Jacksonville Center for Reproductive Medicine.

A nurse practitioner who used to be a labor and delivery nurse, Stalvey went through a process known as in vitro fertilization.

"I always had hope," said Stalvey, who is now six months pregnant but well-versed in the roller coaster of hope and disappointment that fertility treatments often entail.

Educating people interested in such treatments - and the importance of seeking help early - is the idea behind the third annual Fertility Awareness Seminar scheduled for Saturday in Jacksonville.

The center and three other Jacksonville-based clinics - Assisted Fertility Program, Brown Fertility Associates and the Florida Institute for Reproductive Medicine - are the sponsors of the event, which is free and open to the public.

But there is a draw beyond just educational sessions with doctors: The seminar, which is free, is offering a drawing for four free IVF cycles to attendees.

Such offers should give pause to people who are just beginning to learn about infertility treatment, say medical ethicists.

Raffles give well-informed but cash-strapped couples a chance at getting pregnant, but people need to be educated, said Alissa Swota, a bioethicist in the philosophy department at the University of North Florida. In vitro fertilization, which is when an egg and a sperm are manually combined in a laboratory dish and then implanted in a woman's uterus, is an invasive process that has a widely varying success rate.

Combined with the cost, which can run above $10,000 per cycle, taking on such treatment gives people pause when they consider their options. That careful consideration is a good thing, Swota said, because IVF is a big deal.

"It's a highly charged emotional issue," she said. "You're dealing with a vulnerable population."

Justin Conway, a South Georgia man, knows about the emotional ups and downs. Conway, speaking from a man's perspective on fertility treatments at the seminar, said that he and his wife initially were stunned when they first sought fertility treatment. They went through four in vitro fertilization treatments before having a baby girl, but not before going through some tough times together. …

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