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New saliva test for infertile women could replace blood tests

A new saliva test being rolled out by Boston IVF could save women undergoing infertility treatments from the pain and inconvenience of repeated blood tests to measure hormone levels.

Normally, women undergoing in vitro fertilization have to get up to seven blood tests per cycle while they give themselves daily hormone injections to stimulate their egg production. The blood tests measure a form of estrogen called estradiol -- also found in saliva -- allowing women to adjust the dose of their hormone injections to avoid over-stimulating their ovaries, according to Boston IVF medical director Dr. Michael Alper.

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The saliva test costs $150, the same as the blood test, said Alper, and should be covered by insurance in states like Massachusetts that mandate coverage for IVF.

Unfortunately, though, the saliva test can’t be done at home. Women still need to head to their doctor’s office every day or two to drop off the sample and get results later in the day.

Patients at the Waltham office of Boston IVF are now being offered the saliva test routinely and those in other locations, including Boston, will be offered the test starting in the next few weeks, said Alper. The test could see wider use in fertility centers across the country within the next year or two.

Deborah Kotz can be reached at dkotz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.
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