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Monday, March 8, 2021

Affordable Fertility

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Almost all pregnancy difficulties are one of four things

Fertility treatments are notoriously known for being prohibitively expensive for couples trying to conceive a child, with many using savings, funds from retirement accounts and loans to cover costs.

Dr. John Preston Parry strives to keep costs low for families yearning for a child. He says the most important step is to get the correct diagnosis. “A lot of people are spinning their wheels and treating things that are the wrong source,” he said. Dr. Parry says fertility is dependent on four things: the man has to have sperm, the woman has to have eggs, sperm and egg have to meet in the fallopian tubes, and the fertilized egg must have a place to go in the uterus. “Almost all fertility [difficulties are] one of those four things,” he said.

Dr. Parry says it is important to understand the patient and figure out what is right for them in terms of effectiveness, how quickly they wish to conceive, and their budget. Parry says the dollars spent per pregnancy achieved are important. “Every dollar you spend takes away from another that could be more effectively used. So, if you’re not financially efficient, you’re less likely to bring home a baby,” he said. “I’m very mindful of how those economic resources are used. I see a lot of people ... spend all their money on testing, and they have nothing to get pregnant.”

Since expensive fertility treatments are often not covered completely or at all by insurance, Dr. Parry works to diagnose barriers to success quickly and inexpensively and says all of the fertility testings can be figured out in one visit for $1,000.

Typically, the male needs a semen analysis (also known as a sperm count test) to determine the health and viability of his sperm. For the woman, a blend of ultrasound and hysteroscopy is a systematic way of evaluating the eggs, fallopian tubes and uterus. The fallopian tubes can be checked with air-infused salines to see whether they are open with a procedure invented and pioneered by Dr. Parry called the ParryScope technique.

Typically, testing the fallopian tubes is done with hysterosalpingograms (HSGs). This is a radiologic procedure that looks at the shape of the uterine cavity and the shape and patency (whether they are open) of the fallopian tubes. “It’s incredibly painful. People describe it as worse than labor,” he said. “(Using the ParryScope technique) we can figure out most female fertility without having to go through something that’s uncomfortable or expensive.” The test also evaluates whether enough eggs remain in the ovaries and if the uterus can host a pregnancy. The goal of the ParryScope test is to quickly determine a woman’s chances to conceive and help her make an informed decision whether to continue with natural conception or to move to other methods such as oral medication and insemination or assisted reproductive technology like in vitro fertilization (IVF).

He says oral medication alone doesn’t radically increase the chances of a pregnancy. The value of medicines such as Clomiphene or Letrozole is insemination. According to Dr. Parry, insemination is equivalent to tripling the number of eggs and 50 times the number of sperms, which is often comparable to one year of trying to conceive in just one month. “That is a very powerful low-cost, low-tech approach to conception. We get about 40% of women pregnant within three months,” he said. Obstacles such as blocked tubes, fibroids in the uterine cavity, or no remaining eggs change the odds. “For most people with reasonable building blocks, there’s a lot that can be done in a short-time at low cost to successfully get them where they want to be,” he said.

“The number one thing for people to know is there is hope. There is the insight that things are more affordable than they realize,” he said. “There’s a lot that can be done without necessarily having to go to IVF. IVF is powerful, but there’s a lot people can think about without having to go big ticket.”

Dr. Parry’s Mississippi clinic, Positive Steps Fertility, saw such traffic from Shreveport that he has operated a satellite clinic here for years and traveled in once a month. He will be opening a full-service clinic in the city next month. He will fly in weekly to see patients, and a full team will be there every day. The official opening date is April 5. Positive Steps Fertility will be located at 9391 Ellerbe Road. In the meantime, hours of informative videos and free advice about fertility can be found on the Positive Steps Fertility Facebook page. Dr. Parry also streams live videos on the first Friday of every month.


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