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.
Antiphospholipid syndrome (phospholipid antibody syndrome or Hughes syndrome) is an immune system disorder with symptoms that include: excessive blood clotting, miscarriages unexplained fetal death, or premature birth. In antiphospholipid syndrome, these symptoms are accompanied by the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies (cardiolipin or lupus anticoagulant antibodies) in the blood. Treatment focuses on preventing clotting by thinning the blood with the use of anticoagulants and aspirin.
Vibratory stimulation or electric ejaculation: Vibratory stimulation is a painless and non-sedative procedure adapted to collect the sperms of men with spinal cord injuries who cannot experience natural ejaculation. Electric ejaculation is used for men who do not respond to vibratory stimulation process. The collected sperm is then transferred to the woman’s uterus for fertilization.
At RMA, once the embryos reach the blastocyst stage, they are tested through a process called Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidy (PGT-A), which lets doctors know which embryos have a normal number of chromosomes. While genetically normal embryos are much more likely to lead to pregnancy and healthy babies, the transfer of abnormal embryos will either result in no pregnancy, miscarriage, or an affected baby. While testing is occurring on a small part of the embryos, the embryos themselves are frozen, awaiting a receptive uterus. A large, prospective study performed recently at RMA confirmed that performing an embryo biopsy does not harm the embryo and does not decrease the likelihood of implantation.
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.
Regarding potential spread of HIV/AIDS, Japan's government prohibited the use of IVF procedures for couples in which both partners are infected with HIV. Despite the fact that the ethics committees previously allowed the Ogikubo, Tokyo Hospital, located in Tokyo, to use IVF for couples with HIV, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan decided to block the practice. Hideji Hanabusa, the vice president of the Ogikubo Hospital, states that together with his colleagues, he managed to develop a method through which scientists are able to remove HIV from sperm.
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.
Since each couple is unique in the cause of infertility, the answer as to whether ICSI or conventional IVF is more beneficial could vary. A retrospective cohort study published in 2015 is the most comprehensive study so far comparing the two strategies with different infertility factors, which will be the focus here1. A few other smaller-scale studies will also be discussed.
Heavy, as in a pad and a tampon still doesn’t feel like enough. Certain medical conditions, like thyroid problems or kidney disease, can cause excessive menstrual bleeding, medications (such as anti-inflammatory drugs or anti-coagulants) may as well; or the reason may be a condition linked to infertility. In a normal menstrual cycle, the hormones estrogen and progesterone work together to regulate the buildup of the lining of the uterus—that’s the stuff that sheds during your period. But if, for example, your ovaries don’t release an egg, the dominoes are tipped: your body produces less progesterone, hormones become imbalanced, the lining in your uterus over-develops, and you end up bleeding extra heavily. Fibroids in your uterus can also cause heavier or longer-than-normal periods; some types of these benign tumors can block fallopian tubes or interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg. Up to 10 percent of infertile women have fibroids, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. If you soak through at least one pad or tampon an hour for more than a few hours, see your doctor. This is the worst health advice gynecologists have ever heard.
Ovary stimulation. For eight to 14 days near the beginning of your menstrual cycle, you take a gonadotropin, a type of fertility drug that stimulates your ovaries to develop multiple mature eggs for fertilization (instead of just one). You also need to take a synthetic hormone like leuprolide or cetrorelix to keep your body from releasing the eggs too early.
Benign uterine growths are tissue enlargements of the female womb (uterus). Three types of benign uterine growths are uterine fibroids, adenomyosis, and uterine polyps. Symptoms include abdominal pressure and pain, pelvic pain, pain during intercourse, and pain during bowel movements. Diagnosis and treatment of benign uterine growths depends upon the type of growth.
Since marriage is a contract between the wife and husband during the span of their marriage, no third party should intrude into the marital functions of sex and procreation. This means that a third party donor is not acceptable, whether he or she is providing sperm, eggs, embryos, or a uterus. The use of a third party is tantamount to zina, or adultery.
Epigenetic testing may allow patients to forgo the cost of multiple rounds of IVF by predicting whether embryos will fail. Equipped with this information, couples can have their IVF cycles optimized to account for embryonic versus fertilization issues. This represents a significant leap for the medical community given that 36% of couples struggling with unexplained infertility are currently over-treated.
Infertility may have psychological effects. Partners may become more anxious to conceive, increasing sexual dysfunction. Marital discord often develops, especially when they are under pressure to make medical decisions. Women trying to conceive often have depression rates similar to women who have heart disease or cancer. Emotional stress and marital difficulties are greater in couples where the infertility lies with the man.
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.
Availability of IVF in England is determined by Clinical commissioning groups. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends up to 3 cycles of treatment for women under 40 years old with minimal success conceiving after 2 years of unprotected sex. Cycles will not be continued for women who are older than 40 years old. CCGs in Essex, Bedfordshire and Somerset have reduced funding to one cycle, or none, and it is expected that reductions will become more widespread. Funding may be available in "exceptional circumstances" – for example if a male partner has a transmittable infection or one partner is affected by cancer treatment. According to the campaign group Fertility Fairness at the end of 2014 every CCG in England was funding at least one cycle of IVF". Prices paid by the NHS in England varied between under £3,000 to more than £6,000 in 2014/5. In February 2013, the cost of implementing the NICE guidelines for IVF along with other treatments for infertility was projected to be £236,000 per year per 100,000 members of the population.
Give in to the grief. While you probably feel incredibly disappointed and sad about your infertility problems, you may feel guilty giving in to those emotions. Parents facing secondary infertility often feel they don’t have the “right” to feel sad about their struggles because they should be grateful for the child they already have. But if you want more children and are having trouble getting pregnant again, you are just as entitled as anyone else to feel depressed or angry. The last thing you need when you’re coping with secondary infertility is to let guilt weigh you down even more.
Your doctor will also monitor whether or not the treatment led to a multiple pregnancy. IVF has a higher risk of conceiving multiples, and a multiple pregnancy carries risks for both the mother and the babies. Risks of a multiple pregnancy include premature labor and delivery, maternal hemorrhage, C-section delivery, pregnancy induced high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes.
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.
The consequences of infertility are manifold and can include societal repercussions and personal suffering. Advances in assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF, can offer hope to many couples where treatment is available, although barriers exist in terms of medical coverage and affordability. The medicalization of infertility has unwittingly led to a disregard for the emotional responses that couples experience, which include distress, loss of control, stigmatization, and a disruption in the developmental trajectory of adulthood. One of the main challenges in assessing the distress levels in women with infertility is the accuracy of self-report measures. It is possible that women “fake good” in order to appear mentally healthier than they are. It is also possible that women feel a sense of hopefulness/increased optimism prior to initiating infertility treatment, which is when most assessments of distress are collected. Some early studies concluded that infertile women did not report any significant differences in symptoms of anxiety and depression than fertile women. The further into treatment a patient goes, the more often they display symptoms of depression and anxiety. Patients with one treatment failure had significantly higher levels of anxiety, and patients with two failures experienced more depression when compared with those without a history of treatment. However, it has also been shown that the more depressed the infertile woman, the less likely she is to start infertility treatment and the more likely she is to drop out after only one cycle. Researchers have also shown that despite a good prognosis and having the finances available to pay for treatment, discontinuation is most often due to psychological reasons.
May you accept your body – even if you are an infertile man. We struggled with male factor infertility in our marriage, and it strengthened our marriage and our faith in God. May you feel God’s blessing on you even if you can’t conceive children naturally. May you walk in faith, and trust that He knows what He is doing. Don’t give up on your God, for He is loving and compassionate.
Of course, if you have a history of infertility or any factors that might impede fertility, it makes sense to arm yourself with the right help right from the start. Once you make that appointment with a fertility specialist, you and your doctor will follow the same treatment plan that would be put into place if you were dealing with primary infertility.
Nope, infertility is not only about you: about one-third of all infertility cases treated in the United States are caused by a male problem. Varicocele is one of them, and it’s when the veins that drain the testicle become enlarged, similar to the varicose veins you get in your leg. It may cause the scrotum to swell or form a weird, twisted mass on the surface (kind of like a small bag of worms). The condition may decrease the quality of sperm, as well as how much is produced—thus impacting fertility. The good news: varicocele can be surgically repaired, which may improve sperm numbers and function or cure the infertility.
For couples who have no difficulty achieving a pregnancy, the natural chance of pregnancy per month of ovulation is largely dependent on the age of the woman. For women in their early 30s or younger, the natural pregnancy rate is about 20 to 25 percent per cycle. This drops off significantly through her mid-to late-30s; by her early 40s, the chance of pregnancy is about 5 percent per cycle. This age-related decrease is primarily due to a decline in the quality of the eggs within the ovaries.
The live birth rate is the percentage of all IVF cycles that lead to a live birth. This rate does not include miscarriage or stillbirth; multiple-order births, such as twins and triplets, are counted as one pregnancy. A 2017 summary compiled by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) which reports the average IVF success rates in the United States per age group using non-donor eggs compiled the following data:
^ Damian BB, Bonetti TC, Horovitz DD (January 2015). "Practices and ethical concerns regarding preimplantation diagnosis. Who regulates preimplantation genetic diagnosis in Brazil?". Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research = Revista Brasileira de Pesquisas Medicas e Biologicas. 48 (1): 25–33. doi:10.1590/1414-431X20144083. PMC 4288489. PMID 25493379.
It’s not because you just ate a whole lot of greasy food (myth!). Sudden, out-of-control acne could be blamed on fluctuating hormones (from your period or menopause), a whole lot of stress, or a medication side effect. It may also be a sign of polycystic ovarian syndrome. That’s because in women with PCOS, ovaries make more androgen—the “male hormone”—than normal. Elevated levels may lead to adult acne flare-ups, as well as excessive facial or body hair, and even male-patterned baldness. These natural acne remedies may help your skin.
IVF increasingly appears on NHS treatments blacklists. In August 2017 five of the 208 CCGs had stopped funding IVF completely and others were considering doing so. By October 2017 only 25 CCGs were delivering the three recommended NHS IVF cycles to eligible women under 40. Policies could fall foul of discrimination laws if they treat same sex couples differently from heterosexual ones. In July 2019 Jackie Doyle-Price said that women were registering with surgeries further away from their own home in order to get around CCG rationing policies.
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.
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.
Ovulation induction (in the sense of medical treatment aiming for the development of one or two ovulatory follicles) is an alternative for women with anovulation or oligoovulation, since it is less expensive and more easy to control. It generally involves antiestrogens such as clomifene citrate or letrozole, and is followed by natural or artificial insemination.