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.
Insemination – This is done as close to the day of ovulation as possible. During insemination, washed and concentrated sperm is injected into the top of your uterus through a small catheter inserted through the vagina and cervix. Once injected, the catheter is removed. You can expect the insemination to take just a few minutes. It is possible to experience mild cramping post-procedure. The sperm used in your IUI can usually be collected at the office performing the IUI (preferred if possible), frozen and shipped to the center, collected fresh at your home and shipped to our centers using our sperm shipping kits (not advised), or ordered and sent to our office from a donor agency. Fresh semen samples are prepared in our laboratory to obtain a concentration of active sperm.
Assess your preconception prep. Have you been on top of the preconception game or are you just too busy for baby-planning activities like charting and timing baby-making sex (or any sex for that matter)? Given that you have a little one underfoot, it's understandable if you're more exhausted than ever. It’s not easy for wannabe second-time parents to devote as much time and energy to TTC as they likely did on the first go-around, but it would be helpful to take a step back (and a hard look) at what's going on. Are your cycles still regular, or have there been any changes that might be hurting your chances for conception success? Have you been able to pinpoint ovulation with accuracy, or are you just having sex whenever (which would make conception less likely)? Getting back on track with tracking your fertility signs may be enough to put you back in the game.
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.
At the same time, in older women, the IVF success rates can vary dramatically, and that’s why it’s so important to focus only on live births. For example, a clinic may have a very high pregnancy rate among older women, but a low live birth rate. Or, the rates may be quite high – 40% or even 50% – but only after four or five rounds. That makes a very big difference, especially in the overall cost of treatment!
In December 2015, the Ontario provincial government enacted the Ontario Fertility Program for patients with medical and non-medical infertility, regardless of sexual orientation, gender or family composition. Eligible patients for IVF treatment must be Ontario residents under the age of 43 and have a valid Ontario Health Insurance Plan card and have not already undergone any IVF cycles. Coverage is extensive, but not universal. Coverage extends to certain blood and urine tests, physician/nurse counselling and consultations, certain ultrasounds, up to two cycle monitorings, embryo thawing, freezing and culture, fertilisation and embryology services, single transfers of all embryos, and one surgical sperm retrieval using certain techniques only if necessary. Drugs and medications are not covered under this Program, along with psychologist or social worker counselling, storage and shipping of eggs, sperm or embryos, and the purchase of donor sperm or eggs.
The Fallopian tubes are the site for fertilization before the embryo makes its way to the uterine cavity for implantation. If the Fallopian tubes are damaged, fertilization may not occur. If one Fallopian tube is blocked, it may be due to inherent disease involving both Fallopian tubes; even if the other Fallopian tube is open, it may not be able to provide the appropriate nurturing environment for fertilization and early embryo growth to take place.
Consider your health status. Have you started any medications that might be interfering with conception? What about a change in your health status (a new chronic condition that’s cropped up since your first baby was born, for instance)? Any changes to your health could be putting a dent in your conception plans. Perhaps some simple health modifications — like switching to a more fertility-friendly medication, for instance, or getting your chronic condition under control — could bring you closer to the second baby of your dreams.
In 2008, a California physician transferred 12 embryos to a woman who gave birth to octuplets (Suleman octuplets). This led to accusations that a doctor is willing to endanger the health and even life of women in order to gain money. Robert Winston, professor of fertility studies at Imperial College London, had called the industry "corrupt" and "greedy" stating that "one of the major problems facing us in healthcare is that IVF has become a massive commercial industry," and that "what has happened, of course, is that money is corrupting this whole technology", and accused authorities of failing to protect couples from exploitation: "The regulatory authority has done a consistently bad job. It's not prevented the exploitation of women, it's not put out very good information to couples, it's not limited the number of unscientific treatments people have access to". The IVF industry has been described as a market-driven construction of health, medicine and the human body.
Risk of ectopic pregnancy. Women who have difficulty getting pregnant have an increased risk for ectopic pregnancy, regardless of how they conceive. And all assisted reproductive technology treatments, including IVF, also make an ectopic pregnancy more likely. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo implants in a fallopian tube or the abdominal cavity rather than in the uterus. It's treated with the medication methotrexate or by surgically removing the embryo to prevent it from severely injuring the mother by continuing to grow.
Medical treatment of infertility generally involves the use of fertility medication, medical device, surgery, or a combination of the following. If the sperm are of good quality and the mechanics of the woman's reproductive structures are good (patent fallopian tubes, no adhesions or scarring), a course of ovulation induction maybe used. The physician or WHNP may also suggest using a conception cap cervical cap, which the patient uses at home by placing the sperm inside the cap and putting the conception device on the cervix, or intrauterine insemination (IUI), in which the doctor or WHNP introduces sperm into the uterus during ovulation, via a catheter. In these methods, fertilization occurs inside the body.
^ Lasa, JS; Zubiaurre, I; Soifer, LO (2014). "Risk of infertility in patients with celiac disease: a meta-analysis of observational studies". Arq Gastroenterol. 51 (2): 144–50. doi:10.1590/S0004-28032014000200014. PMID 25003268. Undiagnosed celiac disease is a risk factor for infertility. Women seeking medical advice for this particular condition should be screened for celiac disease. Adoption of a gluten-free diet could have a positive impact on fertility in this group of patients.(...)According to our results, non-diagnosed untreated CD constitutes a risk factor significantly associated with infertility in women. When comparing studies that enrolled patients previously diagnosed with CD, this association is not as evident as in the former context. This could be related to the effect that adoption of a gluten-free diet (GFD) may have on this particular health issue.
^ 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.
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.
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.
Success rates for IVF also vary according to individual circumstances, with the most significant factor again being the age of the woman. At RMA, the likelihood of live birth after transfer of a single, genetically normal blastocyst is 60-65% on average. It is a legal requirement in the US for success rates of fertility clinics to be reported to the CDC. This includes live birth rates and other outcomes. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology also reports on these statistics. All of our RMA clinics report their results individually and you can check them in the published data. You should remember that results for different clinics are not always comparable with each other because of differences in the patient base.
Take a look at your lifestyle. Have any of your habits changed since you conceived baby number one? For instance, is your diet still on track, or is there room for improvement? Getting your eating plan up to baby-making speed may help you close in faster on conception. Has your caffeine consumption gone up now that you’re a mom? That’s understandable, but too much caffeine isn’t great for fertility. Has your smoking habit returned? If yes, it’s time to kick butt, since smoking ages your eggs and decreases fertility. Are you getting way too little sleep? That may be likely, especially if your first child is keeping you up at night, but skimping on sleep can mess with your hormones — and possibly your fertility. If any new unhealthy habit has slipped into your lifestyle, now’s a great time to put the brakes on it. And it’s not just about your habits. Is your partner kicking back one too many beers each night? That could be affecting his sperm quality. Ditto for smoking or an unhealthy diet. If your partner’s lifestyle needs a little fine-tuning, make efforts to get his back on track, too.
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.
Ovarian hyperstimulation also includes suppression of spontaneous ovulation, for which two main methods are available: Using a (usually longer) GnRH agonist protocol or a (usually shorter) GnRH antagonist protocol. In a standard long GnRH agonist protocol the day when hyperstimulation treatment is started and the expected day of later oocyte retrieval can be chosen to conform to personal choice, while in a GnRH antagonist protocol it must be adapted to the spontaneous onset of the previous menstruation. On the other hand, the GnRH antagonist protocol has a lower risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which is a life-threatening complication.
Secondary infertility is similar to other types of infertility and shares many of the same signs. However, in secondary infertility you’re unable to conceive or carry a baby to full-term after having a previous successful pregnancy. Infertility can be caused by either the man or woman. Treatment options can include medications to induce ovulation, in vitro fertilization (IVF) or surgery.
IVF has many steps, and it takes several months to complete the whole process. It sometimes works on the first try, but many people need more than 1 round of IVF to get pregnant. IVF definitely increases your chances of pregnancy if you’re having fertility problems, but there’s no guarantee — everyone’s body is different and IVF won’t work for everyone.
If both partners are young and healthy and have been trying to conceive for one year without success, a visit to a physician or women's health nurse practitioner (WHNP) could help to highlight potential medical problems earlier rather than later. The doctor or WHNP may also be able to suggest lifestyle changes to increase the chances of conceiving.
Complexity. IUI refers to one procedure. Prepared sperm is placed directly in the patient’s uterus when she is ovulating in order to aid fertilization. IUI may be performed in sync with a woman’s natural cycle or timed with fertility medications to stimulate ovulation. IVF, on the other hand, is a process which consists of several stages and requires more than one procedure: first the ovaries are stimulated using a series of fertility medications, then the patient undergoes egg retrieval in a day procedure under a mild anesthetic, then after embryos have been created and incubated in the lab, they are placed directly into her uterus in the embryo transfer procedure. Even with the use of fertility drugs, going through IUI is less physically demanding than undergoing IVF.
While many cases of infertility remain unexplained, there may be answers in the epigenome. Unlike one’s genetic code, the epigenome is dynamic and can be modified by environmental factors and lifestyle choices. Fertility in many cases is a state which changes throughout one’s life. Given the lack of clear genetic or physiological causes of unexplained infertility, the epigenome is thought to be altered in this subset of patients. As a result, looking into the epigenetic basis of infertility can help clinicians inform treatment.
Upwards of 30% of couples seeking fertility care are labeled with unexplained infertility. Given that over 50% of couples’ infertility struggles are at least partially attributable to the male, understanding the source of male infertility could allow for improved care. The limited set of male tests can only detect the major causes of infertility (i.e., azoospermia) leaving the less obvious factors invisible.
In the US, up to 20% of infertile couples have unexplained infertility. In these cases abnormalities are likely to be present but not detected by current methods. Possible problems could be that the egg is not released at the optimum time for fertilization, that it may not enter the fallopian tube, sperm may not be able to reach the egg, fertilization may fail to occur, transport of the zygote may be disturbed, or implantation fails. It is increasingly recognized that egg quality is of critical importance and women of advanced maternal age have eggs of reduced capacity for normal and successful fertilization. Also, polymorphisms in folate pathway genes could be one reason for fertility complications in some women with unexplained infertility. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that epigenetic modifications in sperm may be partially responsible.
Fertility has long been considered a “woman’s problem.” This is simply not true, and men are in fact, equally as infertile as women. Traditionally the metrics for male fertility have been mostly limited to sperm count, morphology, motility, and, occasionally, DNA fragmentation. For females, on the other hand, a vast array of tests are available. These include ultrasound, cervical position, basal body temperature, hysteroscopy, laparoscopy, cycle tracking and a diversity of hormonal tests.
Though there are some risk with older women pregnancies, there are some benefits associated with caesareans. A study has shown that births over 40 have a lower rate of birth trauma due to increased delivery by caesarean. Though caesarean is seen to benefit mothers over 40, there are still many risk factors to consider. Caesarean section may be a risk in the same way that gestational diabetes is.
While I’m not on the list to receive a Nobel Prize for mathematics any time soon, I do have enough understanding of how probabilities work to know that roulette isn’t a very viable long term career choice. Figuring that if I could make this costly error in analysis, there must be at least a few others out there that have, or will, make the same mistake as me…
Vzhledem k tomu, že vertikální přenos a vliv koronaviru SARS-CoV-2 na graviditu není dostatečně prozkoumán, mezinárodní odborné společnosti doporučují zvážit možná rizika spojená s těhotenstvím v oblastech zasažených onemocněním SARS-CoV-2. Z tohoto důvodu preferuje naše klinika zamražení získaných embryí a odložení transferu. Strategie léčby bude vždy posouzena individuálně ošetřujícím lékařem s ohledem na aktuální situaci v ČR a specifika léčeného páru.