^ GBD 2015 Disease and Injury Incidence and Prevalence, Collaborators. (8 October 2016). "Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 310 diseases and injuries, 1990-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015". Lancet. 388 (10053): 1545–1602. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(16)31678-6. PMC 5055577. PMID 27733282.
Egg Development – This step is either part of the woman’s natural egg development or stimulated with medications and lasts roughly 5-14 days. Once your follicles are optimal size, a trigger medication may be given to finalize egg maturation and trigger ovulation. This phase of egg development may or may not be accompanied by ultrasound and bloodwork monitoring.
For five to six days following fertilization, the developing embryos are cultured in the laboratory until the blastocyst stage of development has been reached. This represents growth of about 200 cells. We at RMA culture embryos exclusively to the blastocyst stage, because published data demonstrates that extended embryo culture results in improved implantation rates and pregnancy outcomes. This means we will never do an embryo biopsy – or an embryo transfer – at three days, or anything less than the blastocyst stage.
Progesterone elevation on the day of induction of final maturation is associated with lower pregnancy rates in IVF cycles in women undergoing ovarian stimulation using GnRH analogues and gonadotrophins. At this time, compared to a progesterone level below 0.8 ng/ml, a level between 0.8 and 1.1 ng/ml confers an odds ratio of pregnancy of approximately 0.8, and a level between 1.2 and 3.0 ng/ml confers an odds ratio of pregnancy of between 0.6 and 0.7. On the other hand, progesterone elevation does not seem to confer a decreased chance of pregnancy in frozen–thawed cycles and cycles with egg donation.
Having no period means ovulation isn’t taking place at all, so a pregnancy can’t happen because no eggs is making itself eligible to be fertilized. Similarly, having irregular periods makes achieving pregnancy difficult, because it’s hard to time intercourse properly -- if sperm and egg aren’t at the same place at the same time, there is no chance of pregnancy.
IVF may be used to overcome female infertility when it is due to problems with the fallopian tubes, making in vivo fertilisation difficult. It can also assist in male infertility, in those cases where there is a defect in sperm quality; in such situations intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be used, where a sperm cell is injected directly into the egg cell. This is used when sperm has difficulty penetrating the egg. In these cases the partner's or a donor's sperm may be used. ICSI is also used when sperm numbers are very low. When indicated, the use of ICSI has been found to increase the success rates of IVF.
Talk it out. Once you realize you’re entitled to your emotions, find an outlet for them. Talking about your feelings and your struggles can be a huge release and allow you to receive the support you need. If your family or friends don’t understand your sadness (or you find it hard to contain your baby envy around friends with more than one child), seek out people in your same situation. Find a support group for people with secondary infertility — online or in your area. And consider joining WTE's Trying to Conceive group to find moms who are also coping with secondary infertility.
The industry has been accused of making unscientific claims, and distorting facts relating to infertility, in particular through widely exaggerated claims about how common infertility is in society, in an attempt to get as many couples as possible and as soon as possible to try treatments (rather than trying to conceive naturally for a longer time). This risks removing infertility from its social context and reducing the experience to a simple biological malfunction, which not only can be treated through bio-medical procedures, but should be treated by them. Indeed, there are serious concerns about the overuse of treatments, for instance Dr Sami David, a fertility specialist, has expressed disappointment over the current state of the industry, and said many procedures are unnecessary; he said: "It's being the first choice of treatment rather than the last choice. When it was first opening up in late 1970s, early 80s, it was meant to be the last resort. Now it's a first resort. I think that it can harm women in the long run." IVF thus raises ethical issues concerning the abuse of bio-medical facts to 'sell' corrective procedures and treatments for conditions that deviate from a constructed ideal of the 'healthy' or 'normal' body i.e., fertile females and males with reproductive systems capable of co-producing offspring.
As with any medical procedure, there are some risks to keep in mind. When choosing between IUI and IVF, the risk is certainly something to consider. The chances of experiencing either a miscarriage or multiples are concerns many have when deciding to undergo fertility treatments. So let’s take a look at the odds of either of these things occurring, plus a few other risks to be aware of.
From the patient experience perspective, IVF is a more time-consuming process overall, although the length of time before pregnancy is achieved varies greatly according to how many cycles are necessary. However, because IVF is a more direct and effective route to pregnancy than IUI, it is often a less time-consuming process. For example, a patient could spend many months trying to succeed at IUI, only to succeed during the first cycle of IVF. While many patients opt for IUI at the start of their fertility journey because it is less invasive and more affordable, success rates for IVF are considerably higher.
Impaired sperm production or function. Below-average sperm concentration, weak movement of sperm (poor mobility), or abnormalities in sperm size and shape can make it difficult for sperm to fertilize an egg. If semen abnormalities are found, your partner might need to see a specialist to determine if there are correctable problems or underlying health concerns.
When the ovarian follicles have reached a certain degree of development, induction of final oocyte maturation is performed, generally by an injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Commonly, this is known as the "trigger shot." hCG acts as an analogue of luteinising hormone, and ovulation would occur between 38 and 40 hours after a single HCG injection, but the egg retrieval is performed at a time usually between 34 and 36 hours after hCG injection, that is, just prior to when the follicles would rupture. This avails for scheduling the egg retrieval procedure at a time where the eggs are fully mature. HCG injection confers a risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Using a GnRH agonist instead of hCG eliminates most of the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, but with a reduced delivery rate if the embryos are transferred fresh. For this reason, many centers will freeze all oocytes or embryos following agonist trigger.
^ Hozyasz, K (March 2001). "Coeliac disease and problems associated with reproduction". Ginekol Pol. 72 (3): 173–9. PMID 11398587. Coeliac men may have reversible infertility, and as in women, if gastrointestinal symptoms are mild or absent the diagnosis may be missed. It is important to make diagnosis because the giving of gluten free diet may result in conception and favourable outcome of pregnancy.
A recent large population-based study collected data from almost 5000 European patients. According to preliminary results presented at the 2019 European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, there is no benefit from ICSI in non-male factor cases. Importantly, the study reported no benefit of using ICSI regardless of how many eggs are retrieved after ovarian stimulation. Therefore, having a low oocyte yield should not be a reason for choosing ICSI over IVF.
There are many studies comparing success rates between clomid, letrozole, or gonadotropins for patients with unexplained infertility, but two stand out as the best and most informative. The first study was conducted at multiple sites across the country and was termed the AMIGOS trial. In this study, gonadotropins produced the highest pregnancy rate, followed by clomid, and then letrozole. However, almost one third of all pregnancies in the gonadotropin arm was either a twin or triplet gestation. This was significantly higher than the clomid or letrozole arms.
The grief and anxiety of SI is, of course, self-perpetuating. You find yourself in a double-bind: you're constantly told that the chances of conceiving are maximised if you can relax and eliminate stress, but it's hard to let go of something so all-consuming, so elemental, as infertility. People were always saying to me: "If you just forgot about it, you'd get pregnant straight away." For the record, this is the most unhelpful thing you can say to someone with fertility problems. West explains that "couples become more and more anxious about the gap [between children]".
Since most IVF cycles start with collecting a number of eggs after ovarian stimulation, you should have on average 12-15 eggs to use. This means that you do not need to use all of them for ICSI or conventional IVF. A Split-ICSI strategy incorporates both – some eggs are injected with selected sperms using ICSI, where the rest are incubated with sperm in the conventional way. Trying both provide a safety net against failed fertilization with either strategy.
Bloating: Fertility medications can heavily impact how your body retains water, leading to the dreaded side effect of bloating. This is especially common in your midsection, where fluid can build up near the ovaries (creating abdominal tenderness, too). You can combat bloating by increasing your fluid intake and participating in light exercise such as walking.
One of the biggest challenges is balancing enjoying the child you have with wondering if you'll ever get the larger family you want. "I watched my daughter take her first steps and thought, 'Maybe I'll never have this again,'"‰'' Bozinovich says. (Her problem was never pinpointed, but, happily, she went on to have two more children.) That is tough, the experts agree. "Worrying about what's happening next robs you of the pleasure of the moment," says Dr. Davidson. "It's not easy, but counseling and talking yourself through the rough moments can help you say, 'I'm doing the best I can, and meanwhile I'm living my life.'"‰"
After a year of trying to conceive, couples should consider infertility as a possible reason and seek professional help. Women actively trying to get pregnant may wish to consult a doctor earlier if they are over the age of 40, have irregular or painful periods, have a history of miscarriages, have been diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis, or have been treated for cancer.
For women, intake of antioxidants (such as N-acetyl-cysteine, melatonin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, myo-inositol, zinc or selenium) has not been associated with a significantly increased live birth rate or clinical pregnancy rate in IVF according to Cochrane reviews. The review found that oral antioxidants given to men in couples with male factor or unexplained subfertility may improve live birth rates, but more evidence is needed.
In 2006, Canadian clinics reported a live birth rate of 27%. Birth rates in younger patients were slightly higher, with a success rate of 35.3% for those 21 and younger, the youngest group evaluated. Success rates for older patients were also lower and decrease with age, with 37-year-olds at 27.4% and no live births for those older than 48, the oldest group evaluated. Some clinics exceeded these rates, but it is impossible to determine if that is due to superior technique or patient selection, since it is possible to artificially increase success rates by refusing to accept the most difficult patients or by steering them into oocyte donation cycles (which are compiled separately). Further, pregnancy rates can be increased by the placement of several embryos at the risk of increasing the chance for multiples.
Dr. Gorka Barrenetxea provides us with a practical case of secondary infertility that occurs more commonly than one may think. A couple, throughout their lifetime, can have children with 20, 25, 30 and 35 years, but when they decide to have a second or third child, they may encounter trouble conceiving due to the passage of time itself, Dr. Barrenetxea states.
Very slight elements of risk are associated with any medical intervention but for IVF the most notable risk in the past has been multiple births. The impact of multiple births on birth weight, premature delivery, and post-natal complications is well known. This is largely due to the practice over the past 30 years of transferring two or more embryos during IVF. Thanks to PGT-A testing and Single Embryo Transfer (SET), however, doctors can now feel confident about transferring just one normal embryo. At RMA, we have established SET as the standard of care going forward. With SET, the risk of multiple births is drastically reduced.
Other health related problems could also cause poor egg health, low ovarian reserve, or abnormal immunological responses, which can affect conception. Stress could also play a role. We all know that menstrual cycles can be altered during times of extreme duress- and this can be emotional, physical, or environmental stressors. In these instances, the first steps should be to avoid life stressors, maintain a healthy weight, routinely exercise, avoid smoking, and reduce alcohol intake, all of which may be contributing to unexplained infertility issues.