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From Vampire Facials to Fertility: PRP May Increase Efficacy of IVF

Columbia University’s ongoing trial shows promising results with increased pregnancy rates.

Platelet rich plasma (PRP), which gained traction when the vampire facial rose to fame, could increase pregnancy rates.

The practice, which has also been used in dentistry and orthopedics, is gaining notoriety outside of the beauty and dermatology space in universities and fertility centers, including Columbia University in New York City, for its promising results when used in conjunction with fertility treatments, specifically in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Columbia, which has offered PRP in conjunction with IVF for the past two years to study the effects on fertility — with pregnancy rates increasing by 20 percent — is now conducting a randomized trial, in which half of the patients receive PRP before an embryo transfer. (Patients enrolled in the control portion of the trial may receive PRP, if the embryo transfer is unsuccessful.) 

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Similar to the vampire facial, which has been used by the likes of Kim Kardashian, when implementing PRP during IVF, a medical professional will draw the patient’s blood and spin it in a centrifuge device to separate the platelet rich plasma, which will be placed in the uterus before the embryo transfer — typically 48 hours before — in an effort to increase the patient’s chances of pregnancy. 

“It’s really only been in the last five years or so, [fertility clinics have] been looking at [PRP] from a fertility perspective to see, ‘Can it help women when they’re conceiving?’” said leading fertility expert, Dr. Jenna Turocy of Columbia University Fertility Center. 

This research comes on the heels of expansion in the fertility services market, as it is expected to grow by $8.3 billion globally by 2027, according to a report from Technavio. Furthermore, about 19 percent of people of reproductive age experience fertility issues, according to the CDC.

According to Turocy, Columbia has seen success specifically with people who have thin endometrial lining and those who have undergone several unsuccessful rounds of IVF. 

“By giving them these extra growth factors, we’ve seen that lining gets thicker and then [we] have higher pregnancy rates when we put the embryo in,” she said. “Other people that it can be really helpful for are the people who have had unsuccessful transfers before.” 

Turocy noted that oftentimes for a treatment like this to become standard practice, it requires at least one evidentiary trial. Several programs and trials have been conducted using PRP within IVF, including the ongoing one at Columbia, which are showing higher pregnancy rates. 

“Unfortunately, it really is only selective fertility centers that are offering PRP right now. As we get more evidence — and the evidence is building that this is something that can be helpful for at least certain groups of women — hopefully more centers will start offering it,” Turocy said. 

New Hope Fertility Center in New York, the New England Fertility Center in Connecticut and CNY Fertility, which has several locations across the U.S., currently offer PRP when using IVF. However, at this point, the practice is still experimental and therefore, not covered by insurance. 

“Insurance is usually a little bit behind, where first we need the evidence. It needs to be there for a few years and then insurance may change their policies from there,” Turocy said. “Each fertility center may be different in their costs. At Columbia, specifically, it’s $2,500 for PRP.” It is free for those enrolled in the trial.