In cases where the man's sperm count is extremely low or there is poor motility (movement of the sperm), doctors may combine IVF with a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection. In this procedure, a sperm is taken from semen -- or in some cases right from the testicles -- and inserted directly into the egg. Once a viable embryo is produced, it is transferred to the uterus using the usual IVF procedure.
Those fearful of conceiving with multiples should strongly consider IVF and only transferring one embryo at a time. In these circumstances, just 1% of pregnancies lead to twins, and triplets are even more rare. Alternatively, 8 - 30% of medicated IUI pregnancies lead to twins. Finally, the least preferable circumstance is do to IVF with multiple embryo transfer, where in women under 38 years of age, 30% of pregnancies culminate in a multiple birth.
A study presented at the British Fertility Society Annual Conference and covered by The Guardian reported that transferring two embryos where one is of poor quality would reduce the chance of pregnancy by 27%. It is thought that a bad embryo is rejected by the endometrium, compromising the implantation of both embryos. Cumulative research has supported the notion that egg quality outweighs quantity.
Step on the scale. Have you put on some extra pounds since your last baby was on board? Or maybe you’ve lost a lot of weight (because after all, who has time to eat when you’re running after a little one)? Your weight can impact your fertility, so getting as close as possible to a healthy BMI can also help get you closer to that second pregnancy you’re hoping for.
Mild IVF[64] is a method where a small dose of ovarian stimulating drugs are used for a short duration during a woman's natural cycle aimed at producing 2–7 eggs and creating healthy embryos. This method appears to be an advance in the field to reduce complications and side-effects for women and it is aimed at quality, and not quantity of eggs and embryos. One study comparing a mild treatment (mild ovarian stimulation with GnRH antagonist co-treatment combined with single embryo transfer) to a standard treatment (stimulation with a GnRH agonist long-protocol and transfer of two embryos) came to the result that the proportions of cumulative pregnancies that resulted in term live birth after 1 year were 43.4% with mild treatment and 44.7% with standard treatment.[65] Mild IVF can be cheaper than conventional IVF and with a significantly reduced risk of multiple gestation and OHSS.[66]
Certain kinds of IVF, in particular ICSI (first applied in 1991) and blastocyst transfer (first applied in 1984) have been shown to lead to distortions in the sex ratio at birth. ICSI leads to slightly more female births (51.3% female) while blastocyst transfer leads to significantly more boys (56.1% male) being born. Standard IVF done at the second or third day leads to a normal sex ratio.
After the retrieval procedure, you'll be kept for a few hours to make sure all is well. Light spotting is common, as well as lower abdominal cramping, but most feel better in a day or so after the procedure. You'll also be told to watch for signs of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a side effect from fertility drug use during IVF treatment in 10% of patients.
In the laboratory, for ICSI treatments, the identified eggs are stripped of surrounding cells (also known as cumulus cells) and prepared for fertilisation. An oocyte selection may be performed prior to fertilisation to select eggs that can be fertilized, as it is required they are in metaphase II. There are cases in which if oocytes are in the metaphase I stage, they can be kept being cultured so as to undergo a posterior sperm injection. In the meantime, semen is prepared for fertilisation by removing inactive cells and seminal fluid in a process called sperm washing. If semen is being provided by a sperm donor, it will usually have been prepared for treatment before being frozen and quarantined, and it will be thawed ready for use.
DNA damage reduces fertility in male sperm, as caused by oxidative DNA damage,[31] smoking,[28] other xenobiotic DNA damaging agents (such as drugs or chemotherapy)[32] or other DNA damaging agents including reactive oxygen species, fever or high testicular temperature.[33] The damaged DNA related to infertility manifests itself by the increased susceptibility to denaturation inducible by heat or acid [34] or by the presence of double-strand breaks that can be detected by the TUNEL assay.[35]
Our team here at the Center for Human Reproduction has recently developed an infographic explaining one of the most common causes of female infertility: unexplained infertility. This diagnosis is given to 30% of infertility cases and yet, we believe it really is a non-diagnosis. In our clinical experience, with proper testing, up to 90% of unexplained infertility diagnoses can be attributed to treatable causes.
Along with being physically demanding, fertility treatments can also spark a roller-coaster of emotions each month, including hope, anger, disappointment, sadness, and guilt. Just the sight of a pregnant woman can evoke strong negative and stressful feelings. During this time, those struggling with infertility may pull away from friends and family who remind them of their difficulty with reproduction; some of their closest relationships may suffer.
If you fit one of these profiles, your fertility team may agree that it makes sense to attempt IUI before considering IVF. Before you begin IUI, it’s good to have a conversation with your partner and doctor about how many cycles you want to attempt. Many people place a limit of three failed IUI cycles, but others may try up to six before moving on.
Infertility is, in all its forms, a most private, hidden anguish. Nobody wants to discuss the finer points of their reproductive system in public. And the desire to have a child can, if thwarted, be so overwhelming that just a glimpse from a car window of someone with a BabyBjorn can be enough to produce such a flood of tears that you have to pull over. How can you possibly articulate that level of pain to the casual inquirer?
Addressing lifestyle issues is not meant to be a quick fix, and typically does not lead to instant success. However, with unexplained infertility every little bit counts, so don’t fret or give up. Do not assume just because the cause of infertility is unexplained, it is untreatable or there is no pathway to parenthood. When a specific cause is not determined for women, and male infertility has also been ruled out, our fertility specialist may begin a course of treatment to improve the chances of conception and pregnancy. The speed with which interventions are offered depends on each individual’s own needs and desires as determined by age and other factors.
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