Ask Our Doctors

Dear Patients,

I created this forum to welcome any questions you have on the topic of infertility, IVF, conception, testing, evaluation, or any related topics. I do my best to answer all questions in less than 24 hours. I know your question is important and, in many cases, I will answer within just a few hours. Thank you for taking the time to trust me with your concern.

– Geoffrey Sher, MD

Fill in the following information and we’ll get back to you.

Name: A. A

January 18, 2023
Hello doc. Our last euploid embryo is day 7 cc grade. We’re not very optimistic to be honest. What are the success rates of day 7 embryos? I have read some mixed data. I was 29 at time of egg retrieval.

Answer:

Respectfully, the success rate with day-7 blastocysts is very poor…even if it is assessed as being euploid

 

Geoff Sher

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am attaching online links to two E-books which I recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

1.From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

  1. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

………………………………………………………………..

Name: Cassidy O

January 17, 2023
Hi Dr Sher, I hope all is well. I just received my results for implantation tests and I was told that my vaginal microbiome was “low” – good bacteria content was low. The advice to do not do anything, just to wait a couple of months before transferring- which would be next month… I didn’t… Read More »

Answer:

I do not believe in Microbiome testing.

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Implantation dysfunction is unfortunately often overlooked as an important cause of IVF failure. This is especially relevant in cases of unexplained IVF failure, recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL), and in women with underlying endo-uterine surface lesions, thickness of the uterine lining (endometrium) and /or immunologic factors.

IVF success rates have been improving over the last decade. The average live birth rate per embryo transfer in the U.S.A for women under 40y using their own eggs is currently better than 1:3 women. However, there is still a wide variation from program to program for IVF live birth rates, ranging from 20% to near 50%. Based upon these statistics, most women undergoing IVF in the United States require two or more attempts to have a baby. IVF practitioners in the United States commonly attribute the wide dichotomy in IVF success rates to variability in expertise of the various embryology laboratories. This is far from accurate. In fact, other factors such as wide variations in patient selection and the failure to develop individualized protocols for ovarian stimulation or to address those infectious, anatomical, and immunologic factors that influence embryo implantation are at least equally important.

About 80% of IVF failures are due to “embryo incompetency” that is largely due to aneuploidy      usually related to advancing age of the woman and is further influenced by other factors such as the protocol selected for ovarian stimulation, diminished ovarian reserve (DOR), and severe male factor infertility. However, in about 20% of dysfunctional cases embryo implantation is the cause of failure.

This section will focus on implantation dysfunction and IVF failure due to:

ANATOMICAL ENDO-UTERINE SURFACE LESIONS

            It has long been suspected that anatomical defects of the uterus might result in infertility. While the presence of uterine fibroids, in general, are unlikely to cause infertility, an association between their presence and infertility has been observed in cases where the myomas distort the uterine cavity or protrude through the endometrial lining.  Even small fibroids that lie immediately under the endometrium (submucous fibroids) and protrude into the uterine cavity have the potential to lower embryo implantation.  Multiple fibroids in the uterine wall (intramural fibroids) that encroach upon the uterine cavity can sometimes so compromise blood flow that estrogen delivery is impaired, and the endometrium is unable to thicken properly. This can usually be diagnosed by ultrasound examination during the proliferative phase of the menstrual cycle.  It is likely that any surface lesion in the uterine cavity, whether submucous fibroids, intrauterine adhesions a small endometrial or a placental polyp, has the potential to interfere with implantation by producing a local inflammatory response, not too dissimilar in nature from that which is caused by an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD).       

            Clearly, since even small uterine lesions have the potential to adversely affect implantation, the high cost (financial, physical, and emotional) associated with IVF and related procedures, justifies the routine performance of diagnostic procedures such as an HSG, hysterosonogram (fluid ultrasound examination), or hysteroscopy prior to initiating IVF.  Identifiable uterine lesions that have the potential of impairing implantation usually require surgical intervention.  In most cases, dilatation and curettage (D & C) or hysteroscopic resection will suffice. Some cases might require the performance of a laparotomy.  Such intervention will often result in subsequent improvement of the endometrial response.      

Sonohysterography [Fluid ultrasonography (FUS)]: Fluid ultrasonography is a procedure whereby a sterile solution of saline is injected via a catheter through the cervix and into the uterine cavity. The fluid-distended cavity is examined by vaginal ultrasound for any irregularities that might point to surface lesions such as polyps, fibroid tumors, scarring, or a uterine septum. If performed by an expert, a FUS is highly effective in recognizing even the smallest lesion and can replace hysteroscopy under such circumstances. FUS is less expensive, less traumatic, and equally as effective as hysteroscopy. The only disadvantage lies in the fact that if a lesion is detected, it may require the subsequent performance of hysteroscopy to treat the problem anyway.

Hysteroscopy: Diagnostic hysteroscopy is an office procedure that is performed under intravenous sedation, general anesthesia, or paracervical block with minimal discomfort to the patient. This procedure involves the insertion of a thin, lighted, telescope like instrument known as a hysteroscope through the vagina and cervix into the uterus to fully examine the uterine cavity. The uterus is first distended with normal saline, which is passed through a sleeve adjacent to the hysteroscope. As is the case with FUS, diagnostic hysteroscopy facilitates examination of the inside of the uterus under direct vision for defects that might interfere with implantation. We have observed that approximately one in eight candidates for IVF have lesions that require attention prior to undergoing IVF in order to optimize the chances of a successful outcome. We strongly recommend that all patients undergo therapeutic surgery (usually by hysteroscopy) to correct the pathology prior to IVF.  Depending on the severity and nature of the pathology, therapeutic hysteroscopy may require general anesthesia and, in such cases, should be performed in an outpatient surgical facility or conventional operating room where facilities are available for laparotomy, a procedure in which an incision is made in the abdomen to expose the abdominal contents for diagnosis, or for surgery should this be required.       

THICKNESS OF THE UTERINE LINING (ENDOMETRIUM):

As far back as in 1989 we first reported on the finding that ultrasound assessment of the late proliferative phase endometrium can identify those candidates who are least likely to conceive. We noted that the ideal thickness of the endometrium at the time of ovulation or egg retrieval is >8 mm and that thinner linings are associated with decreased implantation rates.

More than 30 years ago we first showed that in normal and “stimulated” cycles, pre-ovulatory endometrial thickness and ultrasound appearance is predictive of embryo implantation (pregnancy) potential following ET. With conventional IVF and with FET, endometrial lining at the time of the “trigger shot” or with the initiation of progesterone needs to preferably be at least 8 mm in sagittal thickness with a triple line (trilaminar) appearance. Anything less than an 8mm endometrial thickness       is associated with a reduction in live birth rate per ET. An 8-9mm thickness represents a transitional measurement…a “gray zone”.  Hitherto, attempts to augment endometrial growth in women with poor endometrial linings by bolstering circulating estrogen blood levels (through the administration of increased doses of fertility drugs, aspirin administration and by supplementary estrogen therapy) yielded disappointing results.

            A “poor” uterine lining is usually the result of the innermost layer of endometrium (the basal or germinal endometrium from which endometrium grows) not being able to respond to estrogen by propagating an outer, “functional” layer thick enough to support optimal embryo implantation and development of a healthy placenta (placentation). The “functional” layer ultimately comprises 2/3 of the full endometrial thickness and is the layer that sheds with menstruation if no pregnancy occurs.

The main causes of a “poor” uterine lining are:

  • Damage to the basal endometrium because of:
  • Inflammation of the endometrium (endometritis) most commonly resulting from infected products left over following abortion, miscarriage, or birth
  • Surgical trauma due to traumatic uterine scraping, (i.e. due to an over-aggressive D & C)
  • Insensitivity of the basal endometrium to estrogen due to:
  • Prolonged, over-use/misuse of clomiphene citrate
  • Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES). This is a drug that was given to pregnant women in the 1960’s to help prevent miscarriage
  • Over-exposure of the uterine lining to ovarian male hormones (mainly testosterone): Older women, women with diminished ovarian reserve (poor responders) and women with polycystic ovarian syndrome -PCOS tend to have raised LH biological activity. This causes the connective tissue in the ovary (stroma/theca) to overproduce testosterone. The effect may be further exaggerated when certain methods for ovarian stimulation such as “flare” protocols and high dosages of Menopur are used in such cases.
  • Reduced blood flow to the basal endometrium: Examples include.
  • Multiple uterine fibroids – especially when these are present under the endometrium (submucosal)
  • Uterine adenomyosis (excessive, abnormal invasion of the uterine muscle by endometrial glands).

Vaginal Viagra: About 35 years ago, after reporting on the benefit of administering vaginal Sildenafil (Viagra) to women who had implantation dysfunction due to thin endometrial linings we announced the birth of the world’s first “Viagra baby.”  Viagra administered vaginally, but not orally, in affected women improves uterine blood flow causing more estrogen to be delivered to the basal endometrium and increasing the endometrial thickening.  Following vaginal administration, Viagra is rapidly absorbed and quickly reaches the uterine blood system in high concentrations. Thereupon it dilutes out as it is absorbed into the systemic circulation. This probably explains why treatment is virtually devoid of systemic side effects.  It is important to recognize that Viagra will NOT be effective in improving endometrial thickness in all cases. In fact, about one third of women treated fail to show any improvement. This is because in certain cases of thin uterine linings, the basal endometrium will have been permanently damaged and left unresponsive to estrogen. This happens in cases of severe endometrial damage due mainly to post-pregnancy endometritis (inflammation), chronic granulomatous inflammation due to uterine tuberculosis (hardly ever seen in the United States) and following extensive surgical injury to the basal endometrium (as sometimes occurs following over-zealous D&C’s).

  • Immunologic factors: These also play a role in IVF failure (see “Immunologic factors and Implantation” …see below.

IMMUNOLOGIC IMPLANTATION DYSFUNCTION (IID)

            Currently, with few exceptions, practitioners of assisted reproduction tend to attribute “unexplained and/or repeated” IVF failure(s), almost exclusively to poor embryo quality, advocating adjusted protocols for ovarian stimulation and/or gamete and embryo preparation as a potential remedy. The idea, having failed IVF, that all it takes to ultimately succeed is to keep trying the same recipe is over-simplistic.

            The implantation process begins six or seven days after fertilization of the egg. At this time, specialized embryonic cells (i.e., trophoblasts), that later become the placenta begin growing into the uterine lining. When the trophoblast and the uterine lining meet, they, along with immune cells in the lining, become involved in a “cross talk” through mutual exchange of hormone-like substances called cytokines. Because of this complex immunologic interplay, the uterus can foster the embryo’s successful growth. Thus, from the earliest stage, the trophoblast establishes the very foundation for the nutritional, hormonal and respiratory interchange between mother and baby.  In this manner, the interactive process of implantation is not only central to survival in early pregnancy but also to the quality of life after birth.

There is an ever growing realization, recognition, and acceptance of the fact that uterine immunologic dysfunction can lead to immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID) with “unexplained” infertility, IVF failure, and recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL).

DIAGNOSIS 

Because immunologic problems may lead to implantation failure, it is important to properly evaluate women with risk factors such as:

  • Unexplained or recurrent IVF failures
  • Unexplained infertility or a family history of autoimmune diseases (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus and hypothyroidism).
  • Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL)
  • Endometriosis
  • A personal or family history of autoimmune conditions, e.g., Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus erythematosus, autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s disease) etc.

            Considering its importance, it is not surprising that the failure of a properly functioning immunologic interaction during implantation has been implicated as a cause of recurrent miscarriage, late pregnancy fetal loss, IVF failure and infertility. A partial list of immunologic factors that may be involved in these situations includes:

  • Antiphospholipid antibodies (APA)
  • Antithyroid antibodies (ATA/AMA)
  • Activated natural killer cells (NKa)

ACTIVATED NATURAL KILLER CELLS (NKa):

Following ovulation and during early pregnancy, NK cells and T-cells comprise more than 80% of the lymphocyte-immune cells that frequent the uterine lining. These lymphocytes (white blood cells) journey from the bone marrow to the uterus and under hormonal regulation, proliferate there. After exposure to progesterone (due to induced /spontaneous exogenous administration), they begin to produce TH-1 and TH-2 cytokines. TH-2 cytokines are humoral in nature and induce the trophoblast (“root system of the embryo”) to permeate the uterine lining while TH-I cytokines induce a process referred to as apoptosis (cell suicide) thereby confining placental development to the inner part of the uterus. Optimal placental development (placentation) mandates that there be a balance between TH1 and TH-2 cytokines. Most of the cytokine production originates from NK cells (rather than from cytotoxic T-cells/Lymphocytes (CTL)). Excessive production/release of TH-1 cytokines, is toxic to the trophoblast and to endometrial cells, leading to programmed death/suicide (apoptosis) and subsequently to IID.

Functional NK cells reach a maximal concentration in the endometrium by about t day 6-7 days after exposure to progesterone …. This timing corresponds with when the embryo implants into the uterine lining (endometrium).

It is important to bear in mind that measurement of the concentration of blood NK cells has little or no relevance when it comes to assessing NK cell activation (NKa). Rather, it is the NK cell activation that matters. In fact, there are certain conditions (such as with endometriosis) where the NK cell blood concentration is below normal, but NK cell activation is markedly increased.

There are several methods by which NK cell activation (cytotoxicity) can be assessed in the laboratory. Methods such as immunohistochemical assessment of uterine NK cells and/or through measurement of uterine or blood TH-1 cytokines. However, the K-562 target cell blood test still remains the gold standard. With this test, NK cells, isolated from the woman’s blood using Flow Cytometry are incubated in the presence of specific “target cells”. The percentage (%) of “target cells” killed is then quantified. More than 12% killing suggests a level of NK cell activation that usually requires treatment.

Currently, there are less than a half dozen Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories in the U.S.A that are capable of performing the K-562 target cell test reliably.

There exists a pervasive but blatant misconception on the part of many, that the addition of IL or IVIg to a concentration of NK cells could have an immediate down-regulatory effect on NK cell activity. Neither IVIg nor IL is capable of significantly suppressing already activated “functional NK cells”. They are believed to work through “regulating” NK cell progenitors which only thereupon will start to propagate down-regulated NK cells. Thus, testing for a therapeutic effect would require that the IL/IVIg infusion be done about 14 days prior to ovulation or progesterone administration…  in order to allow for a sufficient number of normal (non-activated) “functional” NK cell” to be present at the implantation site when the embryos are transferred.

Failure to recognize this reality has, in our opinion, established an erroneous demand by practicing IVF doctors, that Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories report on NK cell activity before and again, immediately following laboratory exposure to IVIg and/or IL in different concentrations. Allegedly, this is to allow the treating physician to report back to their patient(s) on whether an IL or IVIG infusion will be effective in downregulating their Nka.  But, since already activated NK cells (NKa) cannot be deactivated in the laboratory, effective NKa down-regulation can only be adequately accomplished through deactivation of NK cell “progenitors /parental” NK cells in order to allow them thereupon, to s propagate normal “functional” NK cells and his takes about 10-14 days, such practice would be of little clinical benefit. This is because even if blood were to be drawn 10 -14 days after IL/IVIg treatment it would require at least an additional 10 -14days to receive results from the laboratory, by which time it would be far too late to be of practical advantage.

ANTIPHOSPHOLIPID ANTIBODIES:

 Many women who experience “unexplained” IVF failure, women with RPL, those with a personal or family history of autoimmune diseases such as lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and dermatomyositis (etc.)  as well as women who have endometriosis (“silent” or overt) test positive for APAs. More than 30 years ago, we were the first to propose that women who test positive for APA’s be treated with a mini-dose heparin to improve IVF implantation and thus birth rates. This approach was based upon research that suggested that heparin repels APAs from the surface of the trophoblast (the embryo’s “root system) thereby reducing its ant-implantation effects.  We subsequently demonstrated that such therapy only improved IVF outcome in women whose APAs were directed against two specific IgG and/or IgM phospholipids [i.e., phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and phosphatidylserine (PS)].  More recently low dosage heparin therapy has been supplanted using longer acting low molecular weight heparinoids such as Lovenox and Clexane.   It is very possible that APAs alone do not cause IID but that their presence might help to identify a population at risk due to concomitant activation of uterine natural killer cells (Nka) which through excessive TH-1 cytokine production causes in IID: This is supported by the following observations:

  • The presence of female APAs in cases of male factor cases appears to bear no relationship to IID.
  • Only APA positive women who also test positive for abnormal NK activity appear to benefit from selective immunotherapy with intralipid/IVIg/ steroids.
  • Most APA positive women who have increased NK cell activity also harbor IgG or IgM phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and phosphatidylserine (PS) antibodies.

ANTITHYROID ANTIBODIES: (ATA).

 A clear relationship has been established between ATA and reproductive failure (especially recurrent miscarriage and infertility).

Between 2% and 5% of women of the childbearing age have reduced thyroid hormone activity (hypothyroidism). Women with hypothyroidism often manifest with reproductive failure i.e., infertility, unexplained (often repeated) IVF failure, or recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). The condition is 5-10 times more common in women than in men. In most cases hypothyroidism is caused by damage to the thyroid gland resulting from of thyroid autoimmunity (Hashimoto’s disease) caused by damage done to the thyroid gland by antithyroglobulin and antimicrosomal auto-antibodies. 

The increased prevalence of hypothyroidism and thyroid autoimmunity (TAI) in women is likely the result of a combination of genetic factors, estrogen-related effects, and chromosome X abnormalities.  This having been said, there is significantly increased incidence of thyroid antibodies in non-pregnant women with a history of infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss and thyroid antibodies can be present asymptomatically in women without them manifesting with overt clinical or endocrinologic evidence of thyroid disease. In addition, these antibodies may persist in women who have suffered from hyper- or hypothyroidism even after normalization of their thyroid function by appropriate pharmacological treatment. The manifestations of reproductive dysfunction thus seem to be linked more to the presence of thyroid autoimmunity (TAI) than to clinical existence of hypothyroidism and treatment of the latter does not routinely result in a subsequent improvement in reproductive performance.

It follows, that if antithyroid autoantibodies are associated with reproductive dysfunction they may serve as useful markers for predicting poor outcome in patients undergoing assisted reproductive technologies.

Some years back, I reported on the fact that 47% of women who harbor thyroid autoantibodies, regardless of the absence or presence of clinical hypothyroidism, have activated uterine natural killer cells (NKa) cells and cytotoxic lymphocytes (CTL) and that such women often present with reproductive dysfunction. We demonstrated that appropriate immunotherapy with IVIG or intralipid (IL) and steroids, subsequently often results in a significant improvement in reproductive performance in such cases.

The fact that almost 50% of women who harbor antithyroid antibodies do not have activated CTL/NK cells suggests that it is NOT the antithyroid antibodies themselves that cause reproductive dysfunction. The activation of CTL and NK cells that occurs in half of the cases with TAI is probably an epiphenomenon with the associated reproductive dysfunction being due to CTL/NK cell activation that damages the early “root system” (trophoblast) of the implanting embryo. We have shown that treatment of those women who have thyroid antibodies + NKa/CTL using IL/steroids, improves subsequent reproductive performance while women with thyroid antibodies who do not harbor NKa/CTL do not require or benefit from such treatment

TEATMENT OF IID:

The mainstay of treatment involves the selective use of:

  • Intralipid (IL) infusion
  • IVIg therapy
  • Corticosteroids (Prednisone/dexamethasone)
  • Heparinoids (Lovenox/Clexane)

Intralipid (IL) Therapy:  IL is a suspension of soybean lipid droplets in water and is primarily used as source of parenteral nutrition. When administered intravenously, IL provides essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fatty acid, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid.     

It is thought that fatty acids within the emulsion serve as ligands that activate peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) expressed by the NK cells. This is believed to decrease NK cell cytotoxic activity, and thereby enhance implantation A growing number of IVF programs, including ours, perform egg retrieval under conscious sedation using Propofol, a short acting hypnotic agent.

            Whatever the exact mechanism of action might be, Intralipid acts primarily to suppress NK cell over-production of TH-I cytokines. It exerts a modulating effect on certain immune cellular mechanisms largely by down-regulating cytotoxic /activated natural killer cells (NKa). This effect is enhanced through the concomitant administration of corticosteroids such as dexamethasone, prednisolone and prednisone which augment immune modulation of T cells. The combined effect of IL + steroid therapy suppresses pro-inflammatory cellular TH1 cytokines such as interferon gamma and TNF-alpha that are produced in excess by activated NK cells and cytotoxic lymphocytes/T-cells (CTL).   IL will, in about 80% of cases, successfully down-regulate activated natural killer cells (NKa) over a period of 2-3 weeks. It is likely to be just as effective as IVIg in this respect but at a fraction of the cost and with a far lower incidence of side-effects. Its effect lasts for ~ 4-6 weeks when administered in early pregnancy.

Intralipid is a suspension of soybean lipid droplets in water and is primarily used as source of parenteral nutrition. When administered intravenously, IL provides essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fatty acid, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid.     

It is thought that fatty acids within the emulsion serve as ligands that activate peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) expressed by the NK cells. This is believed to decrease NK cell cytotoxic activity, and thereby enhance implantation A growing number of IVF programs, including ours, perform egg retrieval under conscious sedation using Propofol, a short acting hypnotic agent.

            Whatever the exact mechanism of action might be, Intralipid acts primarily to suppress NK cell over-production of TH-I cytokines. It exerts a modulating effect on certain immune cellular mechanisms largely by down-regulating cytotoxic /activated natural killer cells (NKa). This effect is enhanced through the concomitant administration of corticosteroids such as dexamethasone, prednisolone and prednisone which augment immune modulation of T cells. The combined effect of IL + steroid therapy suppresses pro-inflammatory cellular TH1 cytokines such as interferon gamma and TNF-alpha that are produced in excess by activated NK cells and cytotoxic lymphocytes/T-cells (CTL).   IL will, in about 80% of cases, successfully down-regulate activated natural killer cells (NKa) over a period of 2-3 weeks. It is likely to be just as effective as IVIg in this respect but at a fraction of the cost and with a far lower incidence of side-effects. Its effect lasts for ~ 4-6 weeks when administered in early pregnancy.

            Can laboratory testing be used to assess for an immediate effect of IL on Nka suppression?  Since the downregulation of NKa through IL (or IVIg) therapy can take several weeks to become measurable, it follows that there is really no benefit in trying to assess the potential efficacy of such treatment by retesting NKa in the laboratory after adding IL (or IVIg) to the cells being tested.

IVIg Therapy:  Until about a decade ago, the only effective and available way (in the US) to down-regulate activated NK cells was through the intravenous administration of a blood product known as immunoglobulin-G (IVIg). The fear (albeit unfounded) that the administration of this product might lead to the transmission of viral infections such as HIV and hepatitis C, plus the high cost of IVIG along with the fact that significant side effects occurred about 20% of the time, led to bad press and bad publicity for the entire field of reproductive immunology. It was easier for RE’s to simply say “I don’t believe IVIg works” and thereby avoid risk and bad publicity. But the thousands of women who had babies because of NK cell activity being downregulated through its use, attests to IVIg’s efficacy. But those of us who felt morally obligated to many desperate patients who would not conceive without receiving IVIg were facing an uphill battle. The bad press caused by fear mongering took its toll and spawned a malicious controversy. It was only through the introduction of IL less (about 15-20 years ago ), that the tide began to turn in favor of those patients who required low cost, safe and effective immunotherapy to resolve their IID.

 Corticosteroid Therapy (e.g., Prednisone, and Dexamethasone): Corticosteroid therapy has become a mainstay in the treatment of most women undergoing IVF. It is believed by most to enhance implantation due to an overall immunomodulatory effect. Corticosteroids reduce TH-1 cytokine production by CTL. When given in combination with IL or IVIG they augment the implantation process. The prednisone or dexamethasone therapy must commence (along with IL/IVIg) 10-14 days prior to egg retrieval and continue until pregnancy is discounted or until the 10th week of pregnancy.

 Heparinoid Therapy: There is compelling evidence that the subcutaneous administration of low molecular heparin (Clexane, Lovenox) once daily, (starting with the onset of ovarian stimulation) can improve IVF birthrate in women who test positive for APAs and might prevent later pregnancy loss when used to treat certain thrombophilias (e.g., homozygous MTHFR mutation)

What About Baby Aspirin? In our opinion, aspirin has little (if any) value when it comes to IID, and besides, it could even reduce the chance of success. The reason for this is that aspirin thins the blood and increases the potential to bleed. This effect can last for up to a week and could complicate an egg retrieval procedure or result in “concealed” intrauterine bleeding at the time of embryo transfer, thereby potentially compromising IVF success.

TH-1 Cytokine Blockers (Enbrel, Humira): TH-1 cytokine blockers, (Enbrel and Humira) are in our opinion relatively ineffective in the IVF setting. There has to date been no convincing data to support their use. However, these blockers could have a role in the treatment of a threatened miscarriage thought to be due to CTL/NK activation, but not for IVF. The reason is that the very initial phase of implantation requires a cellular response involving TH-1 cytokines. To block them completely (rather than simply restore a TH-1:TH-2 balance as occurs with IL therapy) so very early on could compromise rather than benefit implantation.

Leukocyte Immunization Therapy (LIT): The subcutaneous injection of the male partner’s lymphocytes to the mother is thought to enhance the ability for the mother’s decidua (uterus) to recognize the DQ alpha matching embryo as “self” or “friend” and thereby avert its rejection. LIT has been shown to up-regulate Treg cells and thus down-regulate NK cell activation thereby improving decidual TH-1:TH-2 balance. Thus, there could be a therapeutic benefit from such therapy. However, the same benefit can be achieved through the use of IL plus corticosteroids. Besides, IL is much less expensive, and the use of LIT is prohibited by law in the U.S.A.

There are two categories of immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID) linked to NK cell activation (NKa).

Autoimmune Implantation Dysfunction: Here, the woman will often have a personal or family history of autoimmune conditions such as Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus Erythematosus, and thyroid autoimmune activity (e.g., Hashimoto’s disease) etc. Autoimmune as well as in about one third of cases of endometriosis, regardless of severity.  Autoimmune sometimes also occurs in the absence of a personal or family history of autoimmune disease.

When it comes to treating  NKa in  IVF cases complicated by autoimmune implantation dysfunction,  the combination of daily oral dexamethasone commencing with the onset of ovarian stimulation and continuing until the 10th week of pregnancy, combined with an initial infusion of IL (100ml, 20% Il dissolved in 500cc of saline solution, 10-14  days prior to PGT-normal embryo transfer and repeated once more (only), as  soon as the blood pregnancy test is positive), the anticipated chance of a viable pregnancy occurring within 2 completed IVF attempts (including fresh + frozen ET’s)  in women under 39Y (who have normal ovarian reserve)  is approximately  65%.

Alloimmune Implantation Dysfunction: Here, NK cell activation results from uterine exposure to an embryo derived through fertilization by a spermatozoon that shares certain genotypic (HLA/DQ alpha) similarities with that of the embryo recipient.

Partial DQ alpha/HLA match:  Couples who upon genotyping are shown to share only one DQ alpha/HLA gene are labeled as having a “partial match”. The detection of a “partial match” in association with NKa puts the couple at a considerable disadvantage with regard to IVF outcome. It should be emphasized however, that in the absence of associated Nka, DQ alpha/HLA matching whether “partial” or “total (see below) will NOT cause an IID. Since we presently have no way of determining which embryo carries a matching paternal DQ alpha gene, it follows that each embryo transferred will have about half the chance of propagating a viable pregnancy. Treatment of a partial DQ alpha/HLA match (+ Nka) involves the same IL, infusion as for autoimmune-Nka with one important caveat, namely that here we prescribe oral prednisone as adjunct therapy (rather than dexamethasone) and the IL infusion is repeated every 2-4 weeks following the diagnosis of pregnancy and continued until the 24th week of gestation. Additionally, (as alluded to elsewhere) in such cases we transfer a single (1) embryo at a time. This is because, the likelihood is that one out of two embryos will “match” and we are fearful that if we transfer >1 embryo, and one transferred embryos “matches” it could cause further activation of uterine NK cells and so prejudice the implantation of all transferred embryos. Here it should be emphasized that if associated with Nka, a matching embryo will still be at risk of rejection even in the presence of Intralipid (or IVIg) therapy.

Total (complete) DQ alpha Match:   Here the husband’s DQ alpha genotype matches both of that of his partner’s. While this occurs very infrequently, a total alloimmune (DQ alpha) match with accompanying Nka, means that the chance of a viable pregnancy resulting in a live birth at term, is unfortunately greatly diminished.  Several instances in our experience have required the use of a gestational surrogate.

It is indeed unfortunate that so many patients are being denied the ability to go from “infertility to family” simply because (for whatever reason) so many reproductive specialists refuse to embrace the role of immunologic factors in the genesis of intractable reproductive dysfunction. Hopefully this will change, and the sooner the better.

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I urge you to  visit my website at  www.SherIVF.com. Then go to my Blog and access the “search bar”. Type in the titles of any/all of the articles listed below, one by one. “Click” and you will immediately be taken to those you select.  Please also take the time to post any questions or comments with the full expectation that I will (as always) respond promptly.

 

  • A Fresh Look at the Indications for IVF
  • The IVF Journey: The importance of “Planning the Trip” Before Taking the Ride”
  • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
  • IVF: Factors Affecting Egg/Embryo “competency” during Controlled Ovarian Stimulation(COS)
  • The Fundamental Requirements For Achieving Optimal IVF Success
  • Use of GnRH Antagonists (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) in IVF-Ovarian Stimulation Protocols.
  • Human Growth Hormone Administration in IVF: Does it Enhances Egg/Embryo Quality and Outcome?
  • IVF and the use of Supplementary Human Growth Hormone (HGH) : Is it Worth Trying and who needs it?
  • The BCP: Does Launching a Cycle of Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS). Coming off the BCP Compromise Response?
  • Blastocyst Embryo Transfers Should be the Standard of Care in IVF
  • Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
  • IVF: Approach to Selecting the Best Embryos for Transfer to the Uterus.
  • Fresh versus Frozen Embryo Transfers (FET) Enhance IVF Outcome
  • Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET): A Rational Approach to Hormonal Preparation and How new Methodology is Impacting IVF.
  • Genetically Testing Embryos for IVF
  • Staggered IVF
  • Staggered IVF with PGS- Selection of “Competent” Embryos Greatly Enhances the Utility & Efficiency of IVF.
  • Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGS) in IVF: It should be Used Selectively and NOT be Routine.
  • IVF: Selecting the Best Quality Embryos to Transfer
  • Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS) Using: Next Generation Gene Sequencing (NGS): Method of Choice.
  • PGS in IVF: Are Some Chromosomally abnormal Embryos Capable of Resulting in Normal Babies and Being Wrongly Discarded?
  • PGS and Assessment of Egg/Embryo “competency”: How Method, Timing and Methodology Could Affect Reliability
  • Endometrial Receptivity Array (ERA): Is There an actual “There, There”?
  • IVF Failure and Implantation Dysfunction:
  • Diagnosing and Treating Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
  • The Role of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 1-Background
  • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 2- Making a Diagnosis
  • Immunologic Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID):PART 3-Treatment
  • Thyroid autoantibodies and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
  • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction: Importance of Meticulous Evaluation and Strategic Management:(Case Report
  • Intralipid and IVIG therapy: Understanding the Basis for its use in the Treatment of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
  • Intralipid (IL) Administration in IVF: It’s Composition; How it Works; Administration; Side-effects; Reactions and Precautions
  • Natural Killer Cell Activation (NKa) and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction in IVF: The Controversy!
  • Endometrial Thickness, Uterine Pathology and Immunologic Factors
  • Vaginally Administered Viagra is Often a Highly Effective Treatment to Help Thicken a Thin Uterine Lining
  • A Thin Uterine Lining: Vaginal Viagra is Often the Answer (update)
  • Cervical Ureaplasma Urealyticum Infection: How can it Affect IUI/IVF Outcome?
  • The Role of Nutritional Supplements in Preparing for IVF
  • The Basic Infertility Work-Up
  • Defining and Addressing an Abnormal Luteal Phase
  • Male Factor Infertility
  • Routine Fertilization by Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): An Argument in Favor
  • Hormonal Treatment of Male Infertility
  • Hormonal Treatment of Male Infertility
  • Antisperm Antibodies, Infertility and the Role of IVF with Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
  • Endometriosis and Infertily
  • Endometriosis and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) and IVF
  • Endometriosis and Infertility: Why IVF Rather than IUI or Surgery Should be the Treatment of Choice.
  • Endometriosis and Infertility: The Influence of Age and Severity on Treatment Options
  • Early -Endometriosis-related Infertility: Ovulation Induction (with or without Intrauterine Insemination) and Reproductive Surgery  Versus IVF
  • Deciding Between Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): Who Needs it & who Does Not: Pro’s & Con’s!IUI-Reflecting upon its Use and Misuse: Time for a Serious “Reality Check
  • Clomiphene Mode of Action, Indications, Benefits, Limitations and Contraindications for its ue

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am attaching online links to two E-books which I recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

1.From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

  1. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

………………………………………………………………..

 

Name: Fiona F

January 15, 2023
Hi We are based in the UK and want to know your live birth success rates for patients using egg donor, with a diagnosis of Adenomyosis and Endometriosis. I am also age 47 yrs and understand that there are risks to be taken into account. We are considering embarking on a final round of IVF,… Read More »

Answer:

Adenomyosis-Related Infertility: A Therapeutic Challenge!

Geoffrey Sher MD

Adenomyosis is a condition where endometrial glands develop outside the uterine lining (endometrium), within the muscular wall of the uterus (myometrium). Definitive diagnosis of adenomyosis is difficult to make. The condition should be suspected when a premenopausal woman (usually>25 years of age) presents with pelvic pain, heavy painful periods, pain with deep penetration during intercourse, “unexplained infertility” or repeated miscarriages and thereupon, when on digital pelvic examination she is found to have an often smoothly enlarged (bulky) soft tender uterus. Previously, a definitive diagnosis was only possible after a woman had her uterus removed (hysterectomy) and it this was inspected under a microscope. However the use of uterine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) now permits reliable diagnosis. Ultrasound examination of the uterus on the other hand , while not permitting definitive diagnosis, is a very helpful tool in raising a suspicion of the existence of adenomyosis.

Criteria used to make a diagnosis of adenomyosis on transvaginal ultrasound:

  • Smooth generalized enlargement of the uterus.
  • Asymmetrical thickening of one side of the (myometrium) as compared to another side.
  • Thickening (>12mm) of the junctional zone between the endometrium and myometrium with increased blood flow.
  • Absence of a clear line of demarcation between the endometrium and the myometrium
  • Cysts in the myometrium
  • One or more non discrete (not encapsulated) tumors (adenomyomas) in the myometrium.

Since there is no proven independent relationship between adenomyosis and egg/embryo quality any associated reproductive dysfunction (infertility/miscarriages) might be attributable to an implantation dysfunction. It is tempting to postulate that this is brought about by adenomyosis-related anatomical pathology at the endometrial-myometrial junction. However, many women with adenomyosis, do go on to have children without difficulty. Given that 30%-70% of women who have adenomyosis also have endometriosis…. a known cause of infertility, it is my opinion that infertility caused by adenomyosis is likely linked to endometriosis where infertility is at least in part due to a toxic pelvic environment that compromises egg fertilization potential and/or due to an immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID) linked to activation of uterine natural killer cells (NKa). Thus, in my opinion all women who are suspected of having adenomyosis-related reproductive dysfunction (infertility/miscarriages) should be investigated for endometriosis and for IID. The latter, if confirmed would make them candidates for selective immunotherapy (using intralipid/steroid/heparin) in combination with IVF.

Surgery: Conservative surgery to address adenomyosis-related infertility involves excision of portions of the uterus with focal or nodular adenomyosis and/or excision of uterine adenomyomas. It is very challenging and difficult to perform because adenomyosis does not have distinct borders that distinguish normal uterine tissue from the lesions. In addition, surgical treatment for adenomyosis-related reproductive dysfunction is of questionable value and of course is  not an option for diffuse adenomyosis.

Medical treatment: There are three approaches.

  • GnRH agonists (Buserelin/Lupron) which is thought to work by lowering estrogen levels.
  • Aromatase inhibitors such as Letrozole have also been tried with limited success
  • Inhibitors of angiogenesis: The junctional zone in women with adenomyosis may grow blood vessels more readily that other women (i.e. angiogenesis). A hormone known as VEGF can drive this process. It is against this background that it has been postulated that use of drugs that reduce the action of VEGF and thereby counter blood vessel proliferation in the uterus could have a therapeutic benefit. While worth trying in some cases, thus far such treatment has been rather disappointing
  • Immunotherapy to counter IID: The use of therapies such as Intralipid (or IVIG)/steroids/heparin in combination with IVF might well hold promise in those women with adenomyosis who have NKa.

Fortunately, not all women with adenomyosis are infertile. For those who are, treatment presents a real problem. Even when IVF is used and the woman conceives, there is still a significant risk of miscarriage. Since the condition does not compromise egg/embryo quality, women with adenomyosis-related intractable reproductive dysfunction who fail to benefit from all options referred to above…(including IVF) might as a last resort consider  Gestational surro resort consider  Gestational surrogacy.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Endometriosis & IVF

Geoffrey Sher MD

When women with infertility due to endometriosis seek treatment, they are all too often advised to first try ovarian stimulation (ovulation Induction) with intrauterine insemination (IUI) ………as if to say that this would be just as likely to result in a baby as would in vitro fertilization (IVF). Nothing could be further from reality It is time to set the record straight. And hence this communication!

Bear in mind that the cost of treatment comprises both financial and emotional components and that it is the cost of having a baby rather than cost of a procedure. Then consider the fact that regardless of her age or the severity of the condition, women with infertility due to endometriosis are several fold more likely to have a baby per treatment cycle of IVF than with IUI. It follows that there is a distinct advantage in doing IVF first, rather than as a last resort.

So then, why is it that ovulation induction with or without IUI is routinely offered proposed preferentially to women with mild to moderately severe endometriosis? Could it in part be due to the fact that most practicing doctors do not provide IVF services but are indeed remunerated for ovarian stimulation and IUI services and are thus economically incentivized to offer IUI as a first line approach? Or is because of the often erroneous belief that the use of fertility drugs will in all cases induce the release (ovulation) of multiple eggs at a time and thereby increase the chance of a pregnancy. The truth however is that while normally ovulating women (the majority of women who have mild to moderately severe endometriosis) respond to ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs by forming multiple follicles, they rarely ovulate > 1 (or at most 2) egg at a time. This is because such women usually only develop a single dominant follicle which upon ovulating leaves the others intact. This is the reason why normally ovulating women who undergo ovulation induction usually will not experience improved pregnancy potential, nor will they have a marked increase in multiple pregnancies. Conversely, non-ovulating women (as well as those with dysfunctional ovulation) who undergo ovulation induction, almost always develop multiple large follicles that tend to ovulate in unison. This increases the potential to conceive along with an increased risk multiple pregnancies.

 

So let me take a stab at explaining why IVF is more successful than IUI or surgical correction in the treatment of endometriosis-related infertility:

  1. The toxic pelvic factor: Endometriosis is a condition where the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) grows outside the uterus. While this process begins early in the reproductive life of a woman, with notable exceptions, it only becomes manifest in the 2ndhalf of her reproductive life. After some time, these deposits bleed and when the blood absorbs it leaves a visible pigment that can be identified upon surgical exposure of the pelvis. Such endometriotic deposits invariably produce and release toxins” into the pelvic secretions that coat the surface of the membrane (the peritoneum) that envelops all abdominal and pelvic organs, including the uterus, tubes and ovaries. These toxins are referred to as “the peritoneal factor”. Following ovulation, the egg(s) must pass from the ovary (ies), through these toxic secretions to reach the sperm lying in wait in the outer part the fallopian tube (s) tube(s) where, the sperm lie in waiting. In the process of going from the ovary(ies) to the Fallopian tube(s) these eggs become exposed to the “peritoneal toxins” which alter s the envelopment of the egg (i.e. zona pellucida) making it much less receptive to being fertilized by sperm. As a consequence, if they are chromosomally normal such eggs are rendered much less likely to be successfully fertilized. Since almost all women with endometriosis have this problem, it is not difficult to understand why they are far less likely to conceive following ovulation (whether natural or induced through ovulation induction). This “toxic peritoneal factor impacts on eggs that are ovulated whether spontaneously (as in natural cycles) or following the use of fertility drugs and serves to explain why the chance of pregnancy is so significantly reduced in normally ovulating women with endometriosis.
  2. The Immunologic Factor: About one third of women who have endometriosis will also have an immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID) linked to activation of uterine natural killer cells (NKa).  This will require selective immunotherapy with Intralipid infusions, and/or heparinoids (e.g. Clexane/Lovenox) that is much more effectively implemented in combination with IVF.
  3. Surgical treatment of mild to moderate endometriosis does not usually improve pregnancy potential:. The reason is that endometriosis can be considered to be a “work in progress”. New lesions are constantly developing. So it is that for every endometriotic seen there are usually many non-pigmented deposits that are in the process of evolving but are not yet visible to the naked eye and such evolving (non-visible) lesions can also release the same “toxins that compromise fertilization. Accordingly, even after surgical removal of all visible lesions the invisible ones continue to release “toxins” and retain the ability to compromise natural fertilization. It also explains why surgery to remove endometriotic deposits in women with mild to moderate endometriosis usually will fail to significantly improve pregnancy generating potential. In contrast, IVF, by removing eggs from the ovaries prior to ovulation, fertilizing these outside of the body and then transferring the resulting embryo(s) to the uterus, bypasses the toxic pelvic environment and is therefore is the treatment of choice in cases of endometriosis-related infertility.
  4. Ovarian Endometriomas: Women, who have advanced endometriosis, often have endometriotic ovarian cysts, known as endometriomas. These cysts contain decomposed menstrual blood that looks like melted chocolate…hence the name “chocolate cysts”. These space occupying lesions can activate ovarian connective tissue (stroma or theca) resulting in an overproduction of male hormones (especially testosterone). An excess of ovarian testosterone can severely compromise follicle and egg development in the affected ovary. Thus there are two reasons for treating endometriomas. The first is to alleviate symptoms and the second is to optimize egg and embryo quality. Conventional treatment of endometriomas involves surgical drainage of the cyst contents with subsequent removal of the cyst wall (usually by laparoscopy), increasing the risk of surgical complications. We recently reported on a new, effective and safe outpatient approach to treating endometriomas in women planning to undergo IVF. We termed the treatment ovarian Sclerotherapy.  The process involves; needle aspiration of the “chocolate colored liquid content of the endometriotic cyst, followed by the injection of 5% tetracycline hydrochloride into the cyst cavity. Such treatment will, more than 75% of the time result in disappearance of the lesion within 6-8 weeks. Ovarian sclerotherapy can be performed under local anesthesia or under conscious sedation. It is a safe and effective alternative to surgery for definitive treatment of recurrent ovarian endometriomas in a select group of patients planning to undergo IVF

 

 

I am not suggesting that all women with infertility-related endometriosis should automatically resort to IVF. Quite to the contrary…. In spite of having reduced fertility potential, many women with mild to moderate endometriosis can and do go on to conceive on their own (without treatment). It is just that the chance of this happening is so is much lower than normal.

IN SUMMARY: For young ovulating women (< 35 years of age ) with endometriosis, who have normal reproductive anatomy and have fertile male partners, expectant treatment is often preferable to IUI or IVF. However, for older women, women who (regardless of their age) have any additional factor (e.g. pelvic adhesions, ovarian endometriomas, male infertility, IID or diminished ovarian reserve-DOR) IVF should be the primary treatment of choice.

 

I strongly recommend that you visit www.DrGeoffreySherIVF.com. Then go to my Blog and access the “search bar”. Type in the titles of any/all of the articles listed below, one by one. “Click” and you will immediately be taken to those you select.  Please also take the time to post any questions or comments with the full expectation that I will (as always) respond promptly.

  • The IVF Journey: The importance of “Planning the Trip” Before Taking the Ride”
  • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
  • IVF: Factors Affecting Egg/Embryo “competency” during Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS)
  • The Fundamental Requirements For Achieving Optimal IVF Success
  • Use of GnRH Antagonists (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) in IVF-Ovarian Stimulation Protocols.
  • Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF:
  • The Role of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID): PART 1-Background
  • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID): PART 2- Making a Diagnosis
  • Immunologic Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID): PART 3-Treatment
  • Thyroid autoantibodies and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
  • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction: Importance of Meticulous Evaluation and Strategic Management: (Case Report)
  • Intralipid and IVIG therapy: Understanding the Basis for its use in the Treatment of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
  • Intralipid (IL) Administration in IVF: It’s Composition; how it Works; Administration; Side-effects; Reactions and Precautions
  • Natural Killer Cell Activation (NKa) and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction in IVF: The Controversy!
  • Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas
  • Should IVF Treatment Cycles be provided uninterrupted or be Conducted in 7-12 Pre-scheduled “Batches” per Year
  • A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF
  • How Many Embryos should be transferred: A Critical Decision in IVF?
  • Endometriosis and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) and IVF
  • Endometriosis and Infertility: Why IVF Rather than IUI or Surgery Should be the Treatment of Choice.
  • Endometriosis and Infertility: The Influence of Age and Severity on Treatment Options
  • Early -Endometriosis-related Infertility: Ovulation Induction (with or without Intrauterine Insemination) and Reproductive Surgery Versus IVF
  • Treating Ovarian Endometriomas with Sclerotherapy.
  • Effect of Advanced Endometriosis with Endometriotic cysts (Endometriomas) on IVF Outcome & Treatment Options.
  • Deciding Between Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): Who Needs it & who Does Not: Pro’s &
  • Induction of Ovulation with Clomiphene Citrate: Mode of Action, Indications, Benefits, Limitations and Contraindications for its use
  • Clomiphene Induction of Ovulation: Its Use and Misuse!

 _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am attaching online links to two E-books which I recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

1.From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

  1. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

………………………………………………………………..

 

 

Name: Julie A

January 15, 2023
Hello, is the dietary supplement Pregnitude a good supplement to take to help conceive? It contains Folic acid 200mg and mayo-inositol 2000mg. Thank you

Answer:

Seems OK to me.

 

Geoff Sher

Name: Beth R

January 15, 2023
Dear Dr. Sher, I’d like to know if you have an age limit for assisting a post-menopausal woman to get pregnant with IVF? 50, 55, 60, 65 .. ? Thank you, ~Beth

Answer:

Our cut off using own eggs is 47y. In my opinion doing IVF with own eggs over 43y is not wise. However, there is no definitive cut-off when donor eggs are used. I believe this very much depends on the health of the individual patient.

Geoff Sher

____________________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am attaching online links to two E-books which I recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

1.From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

  1. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

………………………………………………………………..

 

 

Name: Gemma W

January 15, 2023
Hi I’m currently under the care of a Boston clinic (reside in Bermuda). I am considering transferring clinics and location but have one remaining embryo to transfer. Before doing so I would like a receptiva test carrying out for endometriosis. Is it possible to have this done at the clinic albeit I am not yet… Read More »

Answer:

It should not present a problem, in my opinion.

Geoff Sher

______________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am attaching online links to two E-books which I recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

1.From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

  1. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

………………………………………………………………..

 

Name: Julie A

January 15, 2023
Hello, is the dietary supplement Pregnitude a good supplement to take to help conceive? It contains Folic acid 200mg and mayo-inositol 2000mg. Thank you

Answer:

Yes! It is a good supplement in my opinion.

GS

The Role of Nutritional Supplements in Preparing for IVF

Geoffrey Sher MD

It is important to nurture and take care of yourself mentally and physically when preparing and going through your IVF journey. This starts with trying to have a positive attitude about what you are about to go through, creating a stress support system for yourself by using tools such as visualization, acupuncture and meditation, eating the right foods taking a few supplements (see below) and balancing exercise with sufficient rest. . Not only will it help your experience but it may also help to increase your chances for IVF success

This article will focus on the role of nutritional supplements in preparing for IVF. You’ve probably wondered whether commercially available fertility supplements could help you achieve your goal. The answer is complex.

Here is my take: Nutrition is indeed a vital prerequisite for optimal reproductive function. However, a well-balanced diet that meets food preferences, coupled with modest vitamin, mineral and antioxidant supplementation (as can be found in many prenatal vitamin preparations) should suffice.

This having been said, conceiving is a delicate process, and eating the right foods is essential to optimize reproductive potential. Indeed, a balanced diet (i.e. a lot of organic and brightly colored foods) will provide most of the nutrients you need. But the truth is that most people do not have a balanced diet and are unwittingly often deficient in important nutrients.

A balanced diet is one that is rich in good quality protein, low in sugar, salt, caffeine and industrially created trans-fats (trans-fatty acids or partially hydrogenated oils) and soy, uncontaminated by heavy metals, free of nicotine, alcohol and recreational drugs. This is why routine supplementation with the following nutrients could enhance preconception readiness:

  • Folic acid (400 micrograms daily)
  • Vitamins D-3 1,000U daily; Vitamin A (2565 IU daily); B3/Niacin (250mg daily); B6 (6mg -10 mg daily); B12 (12-20 mcg per day); C- (2,000 mg a day for both men and women); E (both sexes should get 150-200U daily); Vitamin D3 (2000U daily)
  • Co-enzyme Q10 (400-600mg daily )
  • Amino acids such as L-Carnitine (3 grams daily) and L-arginine (1 gram per day )
  • Omega 3 fatty acids (2,000mg per day)
  • Minerals, mainly zinc (15mg per day); selenium (70-100mcg per day); iron (up to 20mg per day ); magnesium (400mg per day )

There are likely to be significant reproductive health benefits (including enhanced fertility and intrauterine development) associated with the use of nutritional supplements. However there are also certain potential pitfalls associated with their use. Some supplements are not as safe as they would seem. For example, excessive intake of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) can even be dangerous to your health and may be associated with fetal malformations.

Additionally, numerous supplements have been found to contain contaminants such as toxic plant materials, heavy metals and even prescription medications that can compromise fetal development. Prior to the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, supplements (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and botanicals) were required to demonstrate safety. However, since passage of “the Act”, they are now presumed to be safe until shown otherwise, thus establishing a rather hazardous situation where a typical prenatal vitamin that will provide sufficient vitamins and minerals for a healthy early pregnancy and potentially dangerous supplements can and are being sold in the same store without product liability.

What about the use of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)?  DHEA is a male hormone supplement that is metabolized to androstenedione and testosterone in the ovaries.  While a small amount of ovarian testosterone is needed for optimal follicle and egg development, too much testosterone could be decidedly harmful. DHEA supplements probably won’t do harm if taken by healthy young women who have normal ovarian reserve, but they probably would not derive any benefit either. However, in my opinion, DHEA supplementation could be potentially harmful when taken by women with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR), women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and older women in their 40’s as such women often already tend to have increased LH-activity, leading to increased ovarian testosterone. Additional ovarian testosterone in such women, could thus potentially compromise follicle development and egg quality/competency.

In summary: Maximizing reproductive performance and optimizing outcome following fertility treatment requires a combined strategy involving a balanced diet (rich in protein, low in sugars, soy and trans-fats), modest nutritional supplementation, limiting/avoiding foods and contaminants that can compromise reproductive potential, and adopting disciplined lifestyle modification such as not smoking, reducing stress, minimizing alcohol intake, avoiding nicotine and recreational drug consumption, and getting down to a healthy weight through diet and exercise.

_____________________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am attaching online links to two E-books which I recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

1.From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

  1. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

………………………………………………………………..

 

 

Name: Sophie J

January 12, 2023
Hi Dr Sher, I’ve done 5 IUIs before and my AFC has varied between 13 and 18. I’m now doing IVF. After 13 days of taking BCP, my ultrasound only showed 9 follicles and I was asked to start stims. Is this change in AFC normal? After the 5th IUI, I took a month’s break… Read More »

Answer:

I would not take this AFC count as an accurate indication of how many follicles you might end up with. I suspect that with stimulation there will likely be more.

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

______________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am attaching online links to two E-books which I recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

1.From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

  1. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

………………………………………………………………..

 

Name: Rene S

January 11, 2023
Hi I did FET on December 30 2022 after 12 days post transfer Beta is 150. Is my pregnancy viable?

Answer:

You need to repeat the hCG in 2 days. If it doubles or better, it is likely a viable implantation.

Good luck!

 

Geoff Sher

Name: Maria S

January 10, 2023
My beta hcg is 5000 and it’s around 6th week I got my scan on 27th of dec in the scan it was showing 4 weeks Its 11 jan today and my beta hcg levels are 5311.13 The beta hcg levels on 24th dec were 1942 Is my pregnancy viable? Regards Thankyou

Answer:

My hunch is that all will turn out fine!. Wait  10 days and repeat the US.

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

 

 

Name: Jennifer M

January 10, 2023
Hi Dr. Sher- I just completed my first failed IVF cycle and I’m left shocked and confused by the results, for both egg retrieval and transfer. I am 38 years old, AMH is 5.12, FSH 6.3, follicle count around 40- No PCOS that we can see- normal appearing ovaries and pretty regular cycles. We went… Read More »

Answer:

One of the commonest questions asked by patients undergoing IVF relates to the likelihood of their eggs fertilizing and the likely “quality of their eggs and embryos. This is also one of the most difficult questions to answer. On the one hand many factors that profoundly influence egg quality; such as the genetic recruitment of eggs for use in an upcoming cycle, the woman’s age and her ovarian reserve, are our outside of our control. On the other hand the protocol for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) can also profoundly influence egg/embryo development and this is indeed chosen by the treating physician.

First; it should be understood that the most important determinant of fertilization potential, embryo development and blastocyst generation, is the numerical chromosomal integrity of the egg (While sperm quality does play a role, in the absence of moderate to severe sperm dysfunction this is (moderate or severe male factor infertility a relatively small one). Human eggs have the highest rate of numerical chromosomal irregularities (aneuploidy) of all mammals. In fact only about half the eggs of women in their twenties or early thirties, have the required number of chromosomes (euploid), without which upon fertilization they cannot propagate a normal pregnancy. As the woman advances into and beyond her mid-thirties, the percentage of eggs euploid eggs declines progressively such that by the age of 40 years, only about one out of seven or eight are likely to be chromosomally normal and by the time she reaches her mid-forties less than one in ten of her eggs will be euploid.

Second; embryos that fail to develop into blastocysts are almost always aneuploid and not worthy of being transferred to the uterus because they will either not implant, will miscarry or could even result in a chromosomally abnormal baby (e.g. Down syndrome). However, it is incorrect to assume that all embryos reaching the blastocyst stage will be euploid (“competent”).  ). It is true that since many aneuploid embryos are lost during development and that those failing to survive to the blastocyst stage are far more likely to be competent than are earlier (cleaved) embryos.  What is also true is that the older the woman who produces the eggs, the less likely it is that a given blastocyst will be “competent”. As an example, a morphologically pristine blastocyst derived from the egg of a 30-year-old woman would have about a 50:50 chance of being euploid and a 30% chance of propagating a healthy, normal baby, while a microscopically comparable blastocyst-derived through fertilization of the eggs from a 40-year-old, would be about half as likely to be euploid and/or propagate a healthy baby.

While the effect of species on the potential of eggs to be euploid at ovulation is genetically preordained and nothing we do can alter this equation, there is, unfortunately, a lot we can (often unwittingly) do to worsen the situation by selecting a suboptimal protocol of controlled ovarian stimulation (COS). This, by creating an adverse intraovarian hormonal environment will often disrupt normal egg development and lead to a higher incidence of egg aneuploidy than otherwise might have occurred.  Older women, women with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) and those with polycystic ovarian syndrome are especially vulnerable in this regard.

 

During the normal, ovulation cycle, ovarian hormonal changes are regulated to avoid irregularities in production and interaction that could adversely influence follicle development and egg quality. As an example, small amounts of androgens (male hormones such as testosterone), that are produced by the ovarian stroma (tissue surrounding ovarian follicles) during the pre-ovulatory phase of the cycle enhance late follicle development, estrogen production by the granulosa cells (that line the inner walls of follicles), and egg maturation. However, over-production of testosterone can adversely influence the same processes. It follows that COS protocols should be individualized and geared toward optimizing follicle growth and development time while avoiding excessive ovarian androgen (testosterone) production and that the hCG “trigger shot” should be carefully timed.

In summary, it is important to understand the influence species, age of the woman as well as the effect of the COS protocol can have on egg/embryo quality and thus on IVF outcome. The selection of an individualized protocol for ovarian stimulation is one of the most important decisions that the RE has to make and this becomes even more relevant when dealing with older women, those with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) and women with PCOS. Such factors will in large part determine egg competency, fertilization potential, the rate of blastocyst generation and indeed IVF outcome.

I strongly recommend that you visit www.SherIVF.com. Then go to my Blog and access the “search bar”. Type in the titles of any/all of the articles listed below, one by one. “Click” and you will immediately be taken to those you select.  Please also take the time to post any questions or comments with the full expectation that I will (as always) respond promptly.

 

  • The IVF Journey: The importance of “Planning the Trip” Before Taking the Ride”
  • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
  • The Fundamental Requirements For Achieving Optimal IVF Success
  • Use of GnRH Antagonists (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) in IVF-Ovarian Stimulation Protocols.
  • Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
  • The “Biological Clock” and how it should Influence the Selection and Design of Ovarian Stimulation Protocols for IVF.
  • A Rational Basis for selecting Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) protocols in women with Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
  • Diagnosing and Treating Infertility due to Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
  • Ovarian Stimulation in Women Who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): Introducing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion protocol
  • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in Older women and Women who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): A Rational Basis for Selecting a Stimulation Protocol
  • Optimizing Response to Ovarian Stimulation in Women with Compromised Ovarian Response to Ovarian Stimulation: A Personal Approach.
  • Egg Maturation in IVF: How Egg “Immaturity”, “Post-maturity” and “Dysmaturity” Influence IVF Outcome:
  • Commonly Asked Question in IVF: “Why Did so Few of my Eggs Fertilize and, so Many Fail to Reach Blastocyst?”
  • Human Growth Hormone Administration in IVF: Does it Enhances Egg/Embryo Quality and Outcome?
  • The BCP: Does Launching a Cycle of Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS). Coming off the BCP Compromise Response?
  • Staggered IVF
  • Staggered IVF with PGS- Selection of “Competent” Embryos Greatly Enhances the Utility & Efficiency of IVF.
  • Staggered IVF: An Excellent Option When. Advancing Age and Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) Reduces IVF Success Rate
  • Embryo Banking/Stockpiling: Slows the “Biological Clock” and offers a Selective Alternative to IVF-Egg Donation
  • Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGS) in IVF: It should be Used Selectively and NOT be Routine.
  • IVF: Selecting the Best Quality Embryos to Transfer
  • Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS) Using: Next Generation Gene Sequencing (NGS): Method of Choice.
  • PGS in IVF: Are Some Chromosomally abnormal Embryos Capable of Resulting in Normal Babies and Being Wrongly Discarded?
  • PGS and Assessment of Egg/Embryo “competency”: How Method, Timing and Methodology Could Affect Reliability
  • IVF outcome: How Does Advancing Age and Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) Affect Egg/Embryo “Competency” and How Should the Problem be addressed.

 

______________________________________________________

ADDENDUM: PLEASE READ!!

INTRODUCING SHER FERTILITY SOLUTIONS (SFS)

Founded in April 2019, Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) offers online (Skype/FaceTime) consultations to patients from > 40 different countries. All consultations are followed by a detailed written report presenting my personal recommendations for treatment of what often constitute complex Reproductive Issues.

 

If you wish to schedule an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant (Patti Converse) by phone (800-780-7437/702-533-2691), email (concierge@SherIVF.com) or,  enroll online on then home-page of my website (www.SherIVF.com). 

 

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

 

Geoff Sher

_______________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am attaching online links to two E-books which I recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

1.From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

  1. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

………………………………………………………………..

 

 

 

 

Name: Bethany Y

January 9, 2023
Hi Dr Sher, Thank you so much for all the wonderful work that you do. I’m in Australia, and have Stage 4 endo (excised via laproscopy) and have had two miscarriages (one at 7 weeks and a MMC after seeing the heartbeat at 8 weeks.) Before Christmas, we did our first round of IVF, where… Read More »

Answer:

That would be fine!

Good luck

Geoff Sher

_______________________________________________

More than half of women who have endometriosis harbor antiphospholipid antibodies (APA) that can compromise development of the embryo’s root system (trophoblast). In addition and far more serious, is the fact that in about one third of cases endometriosis, regardless of its severity is associated with NKa and cytotoxic uterine lymphocytes (CTL) which can seriously jeopardize implantation. This immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID) is diagnosed by testing the woman’s blood for APA, for NKa (using the K-562 target cell test or by endometrial biopsy for cytokine activity) and, for CTL (by a blood immunophenotype). Activated NK cells attack the invading trophoblast cells (developing “root system” of the embryo/early conceptus) as soon as it tries to gain attachment to the uterine wall. In most cases, this results in rejection of the embryo even before the pregnancy is diagnosed and sometimes, in a chemical pregnancy or an early miscarriage. As such, many women with endometriosis, rather than being infertile, in the strict sense of the word, often actually experience repeated undetected “mini-miscarriages”.

Women who harbor APA’s often experience improved IVF birth rates when heparinoids (Clexane/Lovenox) are administered from the onset of ovarian stimulation with gonadotropins until the 10th week of pregnancy. NKa is treated with a combination of Intralipid (IL) and steroid therapy: Intralipid (IL) is a solution of small lipid droplets suspended in water. When administered intravenously, IL provides essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid.IL is made up of 20% soybean oil/fatty acids (comprising linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, linolenic acid and stearic acid) , 1.2% egg yolk phospholipids (1.2%), glycerin (2.25%)  and water (76.5%).IL exerts a modulating effect on certain immune cellular mechanisms largely by down-regulating NKa.

The therapeutic effect of IL/steroid therapy is likely due to an ability to suppress pro-inflammatory cellular (Type-1) cytokines such as interferon gamma and TNF-alpha. IL/steroids down-regulates NKa within 2-3 weeks of treatment the vast majority of women experiencing immunologic implantation dysfunction. In this regard IL is just as effective as Intravenous Gamma globulin (IVIg) but at a fraction of the cost and with a far lower incidence of side-effects. Its effect lasts for 4-9 weeks when administered in early pregnancy.

The toxic pelvic environment caused by endometriosis, profoundly reduces natural fertilization potential. As a result normally ovulating infertile women with endometriosis and patent Fallopian tubes are much less likely to conceive naturally, or by using fertility agents alone (with or without intrauterine (IUI) insemination. The only effective way to bypass this adverse pelvic environment is through IVF. I am not suggesting here that all women who have endometriosis require IVF! Rather, I am saying that  in cases where  the condition is further compromised by an IID associated with NKa and/or for older women(over 35y)  who have  diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) where time is of the essence, it is my opinion that IVF is the treatment of choice.

 

 

I strongly recommend that you visit www.SherIVF.com  . Then go to my Blog and access the “search bar”. Type in the titles of any/all of the articles listed below, one by one. “Click” and you will immediately be taken to those you select.  Please also take the time to post any questions or comments with the full expectation that I will (as always) respond promptly.

  • The IVF Journey: The importance of “Planning the Trip” Before Taking the Ride”
  • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
  • IVF: Factors Affecting Egg/Embryo “competency” during Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS)
  • The Fundamental Requirements for Achieving Optimal IVF Success
  • Use of GnRH Antagonists (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) in IVF-Ovarian Stimulation Protocols.
  • Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF:
  • The Role of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID): PART 1-Background
  • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID): PART 2- Making a Diagnosis
  • Immunologic Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID): PART 3-Treatment
  • Thyroid autoantibodies and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
  • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction: Importance of Meticulous Evaluation and Strategic Management 🙁 Case Report)
  • Intralipid and IVIG therapy: Understanding the Basis for its use in the Treatment of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
  • Intralipid (IL) Administration in IVF: It’s Composition; how it Works; Administration; Side-effects; Reactions and Precautions
  • Natural Killer Cell Activation (NKa) and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction in IVF: The Controversy!
  • Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas
  • Should IVF Treatment Cycles be provided uninterrupted or be Conducted in 7-12 Pre-scheduled “Batches” per Year
  • A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF
  • How Many Embryos should be transferred: A Critical Decision in IVF?
  • Endometriosis and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) and IVF
  • Endometriosis and Infertility: Why IVF Rather than IUI or Surgery Should be the Treatment of Choice.
  • Endometriosis and Infertility: The Influence of Age and Severity on Treatment Options
  • Early -Endometriosis-related Infertility: Ovulation Induction (with or without Intrauterine Insemination-IUI) and Reproductive Surgery Versus IVF
  • Treating Ovarian Endometriomas with Sclerotherapy.
  • Effect of Advanced Endometriosis with Endometriotic cysts (Endometriomas) on IVF Outcome & Treatment Options.
  • Deciding Between Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): Who Needs it & who Does Not: Pro’s &
  • Induction of Ovulation with Clomiphene Citrate: Mode of Action, Indications, Benefits, Limitations and Contraindications for its use
  • Clomiphene Induction of Ovulation: Its Use and Misuse!

 

______________________________________________________

ADDENDUM: PLEASE READ!!

INTRODUCING SHER FERTILITY SOLUTIONS (SFS)

Founded in April 2019, Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) offers online (Skype/FaceTime) consultations to patients from > 40 different countries. All consultations are followed by a detailed written report presenting my personal recommendations for treatment of what often constitute complex Reproductive Issues.

 

If you wish to schedule an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant (Patti Converse) by phone (800-780-7437/702-533-2691), email (concierge@SherIVF.com) or,  enroll online on then home-page of my website (www.SherIVF.com). 

 

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

 

Geoff Sher

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am attaching online links to two E-books which I recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

1.From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

  1. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

 

 

 

Name: Jamie B

January 7, 2023
Can I please get clarification on what this means: Churchill and Comstock (2017) conclude:” In our preliminary observations, the non- receptive ERA group had similar live birth rates compared to the receptive ERA group. It appears the majority of the pregnancies conceived in the non-receptive group occurred during ovulatory cycles and thus a non-receptive ERA… Read More »

Answer:

Endometrial Receptivity Array (ERA): Is There an actual There, There?

Geoffrey Sher MD

The blastocyst and the endometrium are in a constant state of cross-talk. In order for successful implantation to take place, the blastocyst must be at the appropriate stage of development, and needs to signal a well synchronized endometrium to ‘accept it”. This dialogue between embryo and endometrium involves growth factors, cytokines, immunologic accommodations, cell adhesion molecules, and transcription factors. These are all mostly genetically driven but are also heavily influenced by numerous physiologic, pathophysiologic, hormonal and molecular mechanisms capable of profoundly affecting the receptivity of the secretory endometrium to the overtures made by the embryo, to implant. 

Embryo implantation takes place 6-9 days after ovulation. This period is commonly referred to as the “window of implantation (WOI)”. In the past it was believed that as long as the embryo reached the uterus in this 4 day time frame, its chance of implanting would not be affected.

In 2013, after evaluating 238 genes in the secretory endometrium and applying bioformatics, Ruiz-Alonzo, et all introduced the Endometrial Receptivity Array (ERA) . Using this test, they categorized mid-secretory endometria into 4 categories: “a) proliferative, b) pre-receptive, c) receptive or d) post-receptive”. They claimed that women with pre-receptive or post-receptive endometria were more likely to experience failed implantation post-embryo transfer (ET).

It was in large part this research which suggested that the concept of a relatively “wide” (4day) WOI, was flawed, that an optimal WOI is likely much narrower and could be a critical factor in determining the success or failure of implantation post-ET. Ruiz-Alonzo also  reported that about 25% of women with recurrent IVF failure (RIF), have pre, or post-receptive endometria. They presented data suggesting that  viable IVF pregnancy rates could be enhanced,

by deferring FET by about 24 hours in women who had pre-receptive endometria and bringing ET forward by the same amount of time, in women with post-receptive endometria,

 

There is no doubt that ERA testing has opened the door to an intriguing arena for research. Presently however, available data is inconclusive. Here, following  recent studies are 2 dissenting opinions regarding  the value for ERA:

  • Basil and Casper (2018) state: “Performing the ERA test in a mock cycle prior to a FET does not seem to improve the ongoing pregnancy rate in good prognosis patients. Further large prospective studies are needed to elucidate the role of ERA testing in both good prognosis patients and in patients with recurrent implantation failure”
  • Churchill and Comstock (2017)  conclude:” In our preliminary observations, the non-receptive ERA group had similar live birth rates compared to the receptive ERA group. It appears the majority of the pregnancies conceived in the non-receptive group occurred during ovulatory cycles and thus a non-receptive ERA in a medicated cycle likely does not have prognostic value for ovulatory cycles. Larger studies are needed to assess the prognostic value of ERA testing in the gen-eral infertility population.”

There are additional negatives that relate to the considerable emotional and financial cost of doing ERA testing:

  1. First, the process costs $600-$1000 to undertake
  2. , Second, it requires that the patient undergo egg retrieval, vitrify (cryobank) all blastocysts, res for 1 or more cycles to allow their hormonal equilibrium to restore, do an ERA biopsy to determine the synchronicity of the endometrium, wait a few weeks for the results of the test and thereupon engage in undertaking an additional natural or hormonal preparation cycle for timed FET. This represents a significant time lapse, emotional cost and additional expense.

Presently, ERA testing is only advocated for women who have experienced several IVF failures. However, some authorities are beginning to advocate that it become routine for women undergoing all IVF.

The  additional financial cost inherent in the performance of the ERA test ($600-$1000), the considerable time delay in getting results, the fact that awaiting results of testing and preparing the patient for FET, of necessity extends the completion of the IVF/ET process by at least a few months, all serve to increase the emotional and financial hardship confronting patients undergoing ERA. Such considerations, coupled with the current absence of conclusive data that confirm efficacy, are arguments against the widespread use of ERA . In my opinion, ERA testing should presently be considered as being  one additional diagnostic and be confined to women with “unexplained” RIF.

Gold standard statistical analyses require that all confounding variables be controlled while examining the effect of altering the one under assessment. There is an obvious interplay of numerous, ever changing variables involved in outcome following ET,  e.g. embryo competency, anatomical configuration of the uterus and the contour of the endometrial cavity, endometrial thickness, immunologic and molecular factors as well as the very important  effect of technical skill/expertise in performing the  ET procedure …(to mention but a few). It follows that it is virtually impossible to draw reliable conclusions from IVF-related randomized controlled studies that use outcome as the end-point. This applies equally to results reported following “ gold standard”  testing on the efficacy of ERA and, is one of the main reasons why I question the reliability of reported data (positive or negative).

The fact is that IVF (and related technologies) constitute neither a “pure science” nor a “pure art”. Rather they represent an “art-science blend”, where scientific principles applied to longitudinal experience and technical expertise coalesce to produce a biomedical product that will invariably differ (to a greater or lesser degree) from one set of clinical circumstances to another.

Since, the ultimate goal of applied Assisted Reproductive Medicine is to safely achieve the birth of a viable and healthy baby, the tools we apply, that are aimed at achieving this end-point, are honed through the adaptation of scientific principles and concepts, experience and expertise, examined and tested longitudinally over time. Needless to say, the entire IVF/ET process is of necessity subject to change and adaptation as new scientific and technical developments emerge.

This absolutely applies to the ERA as well!

Geoff Sher

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am attaching online links to two E-books which I recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

1.From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

  1. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

 

 

Name: Sarah E

January 7, 2023
Can Chinese herbal medicine help with egg quality? Is acupuncture effective for egg quality?

Answer:

I don’t believe anyone can answer that question with confidence. But it wont hurt!

Geoff Sher

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am attaching online links to two E-books which I recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

1.From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

  1. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

Name: Sarah E

January 7, 2023
I’m 38 years old and having difficulty conceiving. I developed Ashermans (moderate) in 2020. I got lysis of adhesions and conceived my daughter shortly after at 36 years old. I ovulate and haven’t regular cycles. My doctor is giving me tamoxifen day 5-9 to increase my lining and help me conceive. I’m doing timed intercourse… Read More »

Answer:

Respectfully,

. After Ashernan’s, endometrial thickness poses a real problem in many cases. In my opinion, Tamoxifen will make matters worse as far as the uterine lining is concerned. Look this up in my book,

From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

Geoff Sher

PS: Feel free to call my assistant, Patti (702-533-2691) if you wish to set up an online consultation to discuss this with me.

Name: Natalia B

January 7, 2023
Hello Dr Sherr, I’m 42 years old and I just had my first baby through IVF delivered through C section. How long would you recommend to wait before trying for the second baby. In my case my advanced age might play a role in determining the pregnancy complications Im interested to hear what is the… Read More »

Answer:

CONGRATULATIONS!!

I would suggest waiting until you have stopped breast feeding and have since experienced at least 2 regular menstrual cycles.

Geoff Sher

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am attaching online links to two E-books which I recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

1.From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

  1. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

………………………………………………………………..

Name: Justin McCarty

January 7, 2023
Hello, Wondering if you accept link inserts on existing posts on sherfertilitysolutions.com? How much would you charge for this? Also, do you have any other sites for link inserts? Justin If you’d like to unsubscribe click the following link. Opt Out

Answer:

Sorry!  We do not do this!~

Geoff Sher

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am attaching online links to two E-books which I recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

1.From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

  1. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

………………………………………………………………..

 

Mis

Name: Madelyn g

January 7, 2023
Necesito saber de la insiminaciom invitro Tengo 4 años intentando y quiero intentarlo de esa manera y quiero saber de los pagos como es

Answer:

Please re post this question in English and I will respond promptly!

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am attaching online links to two E-books which I recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

1.From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

  1. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

………………………………………………………………..

Name: Ruby H

January 7, 2023
What can you advise for me to do after my 5th embryo is unsuccessful? Thank you and appreciated your response.

Answer:

Whenever a patient fails to achieve a viable pregnancy following embryo transfer (ET), the first question asked is why! Was it simply due to, bad luck?, How likely is the failure to recur in future attempts and what can be done differently, to avoid it happening next time?.

It is an indisputable fact that any IVF procedure is at least as likely to fail as it is to succeed. Thus when it comes to outcome, luck is an undeniable factor. Notwithstanding, it is incumbent upon the treating physician to carefully consider and address the causes of IVF failure before proceeding to another attempt:

  1. Age: The chance of a woman under 35Y of age having a baby per embryo transfer is about 35-40%. From there it declines progressively to under 5% by the time she reaches her mid-forties. This is largely due to declining chromosomal integrity of the eggs with advancing age…”a wear and tear effect” on eggs that are in the ovaries from birth.
  2. Embryo Quality/”competency (capable of propagating a viable pregnancy)”. As stated, the woman’s age plays a big role in determining egg/embryo quality/”competency”. This having been said, aside from age the protocol used for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) is the next most important factor. It is especially important when it comes to older women, and women with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) where it becomes essential to be aggressive, and to customize and individualize the ovarian stimulation protocol.

 We used to believe that the uterine environment is more beneficial to embryo development than is the incubator/petri dish and that accordingly, the earlier on in development that embryos are transferred to the uterus, the better. To achieve this goal, we used to select embryos for transfer based upon their day two or microscopic appearance (“grade”).  But we have since learned that the further an embryo has advanced in its development, the more likely it is to be “competent” and that embryos failing to reach the expanded blastocyst stage within 5-6 days of being fertilized are almost invariably “incompetent” and are unworthy of being transferred. Moreover, the introduction into clinical practice about 15y ago, (by Levent Keskintepe PhD and myself) of Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS), which assesses for the presence of all the embryos chromosomes (complete chromosomal karyotyping), provides another tool by which to select the most “competent” embryos for transfer. This methodology has selective benefit when it comes to older women, women with DOR, cases of unexplained repeated IVF failure and women who experience recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL).

  1. The number of the embryos transferred: Most patients believe that the more embryos transferred the greater the chance of success. To some extent this might be true, but if the problem lies with the use of a suboptimal COS protocol, transferring more embryos at a time won’t improve the chance of success. Nor will the transfer of a greater number of embryos solve an underlying embryo implantation dysfunction (anatomical molecular or immunologic).Moreover, the transfer of multiple embryos, should they implant, can and all too often does result in triplets or greater (high order multiples) which increases the incidence of maternal pregnancy-induced complications and of premature delivery with its serious risks to the newborn. It is for this reason that I rarely recommend the transfer of more than 2 embryos at a time and am moving in the direction of advising single embryo transfers …especially when it comes to transferring embryos derived through the fertilization of eggs from young women.

 

  1. Implantation Dysfunction (ID): Implantation dysfunction is a very common (often overlooked) cause of “unexplained” IVF failure. This is especially the case in young ovulating women who have normal ovarian reserve and have fertile partners. Failure to identify, typify, and address such issues is, in my opinion, an unfortunate and relatively common cause of repeated IVF failure in such women. Common sense dictates that if ultrasound guided embryo transfer is performed competently and yet repeated IVF attempts fail to propagate a viable pregnancy, implantation dysfunction must be seriously considered. Yet ID is probably the most overlooked factor. The most common causes of implantation dysfunction are:

 

  1. A“ thin uterine lining”
  2. A uterus with surface lesions in the cavity (polyps, fibroids, scar tissue)
  3. Immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID)
  4. Endocrine/molecular endometrial receptivity issues
  5. Ureaplasma Urealyticum (UU) Infection of cervical mucous and the endometrial lining of the uterus, can sometimes present as unexplained early pregnancy loss or unexplained failure following intrauterine insemination or IVF. The infection can also occur in the man, (prostatitis) and thus can go back and forth between partners, with sexual intercourse. This is the reason why both partners must be tested and if positive, should be treated contemporaneously.

Certain causes of infertility are repetitive and thus cannot readily be reversed. Examples include advanced age of the woman; severe male infertility; immunologic infertility associated with alloimmune implantation dysfunction (especially if it is a “complete DQ alpha genetic match between partners plus uterine natural killer cell activation (NKa).

I strongly recommend that you visit www.DrGeoffreySherIVF.com. Then go to my Blog and access the “search bar”. Type in the titles of any/all of the articles listed below, one by one. “Click” and you will immediately be taken to those you select.  Please also take the time to post any questions or comments with the full expectation that I will (as always) respond promptly.

 

  • The IVF Journey: The importance of “Planning the Trip” Before Taking the Ride”
  • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
  • IVF: Factors Affecting Egg/Embryo “competency” during Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS)
  • The Fundamental Requirements for Achieving Optimal IVF Success
  • Use of GnRH Antagonists (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) in IVF-Ovarian Stimulation Protocols.
  • Ovarian Stimulation in Women Who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): Introducing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion protocol
  • Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
  • Human Growth Hormone Administration in IVF: Does it Enhances Egg/Embryo Quality and Outcome?
  • The BCP: Does Launching a Cycle of Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS). Coming off the BCP Compromise Response?
  • Blastocyst Embryo Transfers should be the Standard of Care in IVF
  • IVF: How Many Attempts should be considered before Stopping?
  • “Unexplained” Infertility: Often a matter of the Diagnosis Being Overlooked!
  • IVF Failure and Implantation Dysfunction:
  • The Role of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID): PART 1-Background
  • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID): PART 2- Making a Diagnosis
  • Immunologic Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID): PART 3-Treatment
  • Thyroid autoantibodies and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
  • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction: Importance of Meticulous Evaluation and Strategic Management 🙁 Case Report)
  • Intralipid and IVIG therapy: Understanding the Basis for its use in the Treatment of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
  • Intralipid (IL) Administration in IVF: It’s Composition; how it Works; Administration; Side-effects; Reactions and Precautions
  • Natural Killer Cell Activation (NKa) and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction in IVF: The Controversy!
  • Endometrial Thickness, Uterine Pathology and Immunologic Factors
  • Vaginally Administered Viagra is Often a Highly Effective Treatment to Help Thicken a Thin Uterine Lining
  • Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas:
  • A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF
  • How Many Embryos should be transferred: A Critical Decision in IVF?

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ADDENDUM: PLEASE READ!!

INTRODUCING SHER FERTILITY SOLUTIONS (SFS)

Founded in April 2019, Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) offers online (Skype/FaceTime) consultations to patients from > 40 different countries. All consultations are followed by a detailed written report presenting my personal recommendations for treatment of what often constitute complex Reproductive Issues.

 

If you wish to schedule an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant (Patti Converse) by phone (800-780-7437/702-533-2691), email (concierge@SherIVF.com) or,  enroll online on then home-page of my website (www.SherIVF.com). 

 

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

 

Geoff Sher

 

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am attaching online links to two E-books which I recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

1.From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

  1. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

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Name: Kay L

December 27, 2022

Answer:

Age could well be a factor, however, the protocol used for ovarian stimulation should be reviewed and if need be, revised. Also, I do suggest doing PGT on all blastocyst sand selective transferring only “competent” ones.

Geoff Sher

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The importance of the IVF stimulation protocol on egg/embryo quality cannot be overstated. This factor seems often to be overlooked or discounted by t IVF practitioners who use a “one-size-fits-all” approach to ovarian stimulation. My experience is that the use of individualized/customized COS protocols can greatly improve IVF outcome. While no one can influence underlying genetics or turn back the clock on a woman’s age, any competent IVF specialist should be able to tailor the protocol for COS to meet the individual needs of the patient.

Gonadotropins (LH and FSH), whether produced by the pituitary gland or administered by way of fertility drugs, have different “targeted” sites of action in the ovary. FSH targets cells that line the inner wall of the follicle (granulosa cells) and also form the cumulus cells that bind the egg to the inner surface of the follicle. Granulosa cells are responsible for estrogen production.

LH, on the other hand, targets the ovarian connective tissue (stroma/theca) that surrounds ovarian follicles resulting in the production of male hormones such as testosterone (predominantly), androstenedione and DHEA. These androgens are then transported to the granulosa cells of the adjacent follicles in a “bucket brigade fashion”. There FSH converts testosterone to estradiol, causing granulosa cells to multiply (proliferate) and produce estradiol, follicles to  grows and eggs to develop (ovogenesis) It follows that  ovarian androgens (mainly testosterone) is absolutely indispensable to follicle/ egg growth and development.

However, the emphasis is on a “normal” amount of testosterone. Over-exposure of the follicle to testosterone can in my opinion,  compromise egg development and lead to an increased likelihood of chromosomal irregularities (aneuploid) following LH/hCG-induced egg maturational division (meiosis) and compromise embryo “competency/quality.

Ovarian androgens can also reach the uterine lining where they sometimes will compromise estrogen receptor -induced endometrial growth and development.

A significant percentage of  older women and those who have diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) have increased LH activity is increased. Such women either over-produce LH and/or the LH produced is far more biologically active. Chronically increased LH activity leads to overgrowth of ovarian connective tissue (stroma/theca). This condition, which is often referred to as Stromal Hyperplasia or hyperthecosis can result in  excessive ovarian androgen/testosterone production and poorer egg-embryo quality/competency, Similarly, women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), also characteristically have Stromal hyperplasia/hyperthecosis due to chronically increased LH activity. Thus they too often manifest with increased ovarian androgen production. It is therefore not surprising that “poor egg/embryo quality” is often also a feature of PCOS.

In my opinion, the over-administration of LH-containing menotropins such as Menopur, [which is comprised of roughly equal amount of FSH and   hCG ,which acts similar to LH)], to older women, women with DOR and those who have PCOS can also lead to reduced egg/embryo competency . Similarly, drugs such as clomiphene or Letrozole that cause the pituitary gland to release excessive amounts of LH, are also potentially harmful to egg development and in my opinion, are best omitted from IVF COS protocols. This is especially the case when it comes to older women and those with DOR, who in my opinion should preferably be stimulated using FSH-dominant products such as Follistim, Puregon, Fostimon and Gonal-F. 

Gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa): GnRHa such as Lupron, Buserelin, Superfact, Gonopeptyl etc. are often used to launch ovarian stimulation cycles. They act by causing an initial outpouring followed by a depletion of pituitary gonadotropins. This results in LH levels falling to low concentrations, within 4-7 days, thereby establishing a relatively “LH-free environment”. When GnRHa are administered for about 7 days prior to initiating gonadotropin stimulation (“long” pituitary down-regulation”), the LH depletion that will exist when COS is initiated, will usually be protective of subsequent egg development. In contrast, when the GnRHa administration commences along with the initiation of gonadotropin therapy, there will be a resultant immediate surge in the release of pituitary LH with  the potential to increase ovarian testosterone to egg-compromising levels , from the outset of COS. This, in my opinion could be particularly harmful when undertaken in older women and those who have DOR.

GnRH-antagonists such as Ganirelix, Cetrotide and Orgalutron, on the other hand, act very rapidly (within hours) to block pituitary LH release. The purpose in using GnRH antagonists is to prevent the release of LH during COS. In contrast, the LH-lowering effect of GnRH agonists develops over a number of days.

GnRH antagonists are traditionally given, starting after  5th -7th day of gonadotropin stimulation. However, when this is done in older women and those (regardless of age) who have DOR, LH-suppression might be reached too late to prevent the deleterious effect of excessive ovarian androgen production on egg development in the early stage of ovarian stimulation. This is why, it is my preference to administer GnRH-antagonists, starting at the initiation of gonadotropin administration.

Preferred Protocols for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS):

  • Long GnRH Agonist Protocols: The most prescribed protocol for agonist/gonadotropin administration is the so-called “long protocol”. An agonist (usually, Lupron) is given either in a natural cycle, starting 5-7 days prior to menstruation or is overlapped with the BCP for two days whereupon the latter is stopped and the Lupron, continued until menstruation ensues. The agonist precipitates a rapid rise in FSH and LH level, which is rapidly followed by a precipitous decline in the blood level of both, to near zero. This is followed by uterine withdrawal bleeding (menstruation) within 5-7 days of starting the agonist treatment, whereupon gonadotropin treatment is initiated (preferably within 7-10 days of the onset of menses) while daily Lupron injections continue, to ensure a relatively “low LH- environment”. Gonadotropin administration continues until the hCG trigger.
  • Short (“Flare”) GnRH-agonist (GnRHa) Protocol: Another GnRHa usage for COS is the so called “(micro) flare protocol”. This involves initiating gonadotropin therapy commensurate with initiation of gonadotropin administration. The supposed objective is to deliberately allow Lupron to elicit an initial surge (“flare”) in pituitary FSH release in order to augment FSH administration by increased FSH production. Unfortunately, this “springboard effect” constitutes “a double-edged sword”. While it indeed increases the release of FSH, it at the same time causes a surge in LH release. The latter can evoke excessive ovarian stromal/thecal androgen production which could potentially compromise egg quality, especially when it comes to older women and women with DOR. I am of the opinion that by evoking an exaggerated ovarian androgen response, such “(micro) flare protocols” can harm egg/embryo quality and reduce IVF success rates, especially when it comes to COS in older women, and in women with diminished ovarian reserve. Accordingly, I do not prescribe such protocols to my IVF patients
  • Long-Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol (A/ACP):With a few (notable) exceptions I preferentially advocate this protocol for many of my patients. With the A/ACP, as with the long protocol (see above) the woman again prepares to launch her stimulation cycle by taking a BCP for at least ten days before overlapping with an agonist such as Lupron. However, when about 5-7 days later her menstruation starts, she supplants the agonist with a with 250 mcg) of an antagonist (e.g. Ganirelix, Orgalutron or Cetrotide). Within a few days of this switch-over, gonadotropin stimulation is commenced. Both the antagonist and the gonadotropins are then continued until the hCG trigger. The purpose in switching from agonist to antagonist is to intentionally allow only a very small amount of the woman’s own pituitary LH to enter her blood and reach her ovaries, while at the same time preventing a large amount of LH from reaching her ovaries. This is because while a small amount of LH is essential to promote and optimize FSH-induced follicular growth and egg maturation, a large concentration of LH can trigger over-production of ovarian stromal testosterone, with an adverse effect of follicle/egg/embryo quality. Moreover, since testosterone also down-regulates estrogen receptors in the endometrium, an excess of testosterone can also have an adverse effect on endometrial growth. Also, since agonists might suppress some ovarian response to the gonadotropin stimulation, antagonists do not do so. It is for this reason that the A/ACP is so well suited to older women and those with some degree of diminished ovarian reserve.
  • Agonist/antagonist conversion protocol with estrogen priming:Patients start their treatment cycle on a combined (monophasic) birth control pill-BCP (e.g., Marvelon, Desogen, Orthonovum 135; Low-Estrin…etc.)  for at least 8-10 days (depending on individual circumstances), before commencing controlled ovarian stimulation for IVF. With this approach, a GnRH agonist (e.g. Lupron/Superfact/Buserelin/Decapeptyl etc.) is continued until menstruation ensues (usually 5-7 days after commencement of the GnRH-agonist). At this point, the GnRH-agonist is SUPPLANTED with 250mcg GnRH antagonist (e.g. Ganirelix/Cetrotide, Orgalutron) and daily estradiol(E2) “priming” commences using either E2 skin-patches or intramuscular estradiol valerate (Delestrogen) injections, twice weekly while continuing the administration of the GnRH antagonist. Seven (7) days after commencing the E2 skin patches or intramuscular Delestrogen, daily injections of recombinant FSH-(e.g., Follistim/Gonal-F/Puregon)  + menotropin (e.g., Menopur)  therapy begins.. This is continued at a modified dosage, along with E2 patches or Delestrogen injections) until the “hCG trigger”. The egg retrieval is performed 36 hours later.

There are a few potential drawback to the use of the A/ACP. We have learned that prolonged use of a GnRH antagonist throughout the ovarian stimulation process can compromise the predictive value of serial plasma E2 measurements to evaluate follicle growth and development. It appears that when the antagonist is given throughout stimulation, the blood E2 levels tend to be significantly lower than when the agonist alone is used or where antagonist treatment is only commenced 5-7 days into the ovarian stimulation process. The reason for this is presently unclear. Accordingly, when the A/ACP is employed, we rely more on follicle size monitoring than on serial blood E2 trends to assess progress.

Also, younger women (under 30 years) and women with absent, irregular or dysfunctional ovulation, and those with polycystic ovarian syndrome are at risk of developing life-threatening Severe Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). The prediction of this condition requires daily access to accurate blood E2 levels. Accordingly, we currently tend to refrain from prescribing the A/ACP in such cases, preferring instead use the “standard long-protocol” approach.

  • Short-GnRH antagonist protocols:The use of GnRH antagonists as currently prescribed in ovarian stimulation cycles (i.e. the administration of 250mcg daily starting on the 6th or 7th day of stimulation with gonadotropins) may be problematic, especially in women over 39 yrs., women with diminished ovarian reserve (i.e. “poor responders” to gonadotropins), and women with PCOS. Such women tend to have higher levels of LH to start with and as such the initiation of LH suppression with GnRH antagonists so late in the cycle (usually on day 6-7) of stimulation fails to suppress LH early enough to avoid compromising egg development. This can adversely influence egg/embryo quality and endometrial development. As is the case with the “microflare” approach (see above) the use of GnRH antagonist protocols in younger women who have normal ovarian reserve, is acceptable. Again, for reasons of caution, and because I see no benefit in doing so, I personally never prescribe this approach for my patients. Presumably, the reason for the suggested mid-follicular initiation of high dose GnRH antagonist is to prevent the occurrence of the so called “premature LH surge”, which is known to be associated with “follicular exhaustion” and poor egg/embryo quality. However the term “premature LH surge” is a misnomer and the concept of this being a “terminal event” or an isolated insult is erroneous. In fact, the event is the culmination (end point) of the progressive escalation in LH (“a staircase effect”) which results in increasing ovarian stromal activation with commensurate growing androgen production. Trying to improve ovarian response and protect against follicular exhaustion by administering GnRH antagonists during the final few days of ovarian stimulation is like trying to prevent a shipwreck by removing the tip of an iceberg.
  • Short-GnRH-agonist (“micro-flare”) protocols:Another approach to COH is by way of so-called “microflare protocols”. This involves initiating gonadotropin therapy simultaneously with the administration of GnRH agonist. The intent is to deliberately allow Lupron to affect an initial surge (“flare”) in pituitary FSH release to augment ovarian response to the gonadotropin medication. Unfortunately, this approach represents “a double-edged sword” as the resulting increased release of FSH is likely to be accompanied by a concomitant (excessive) rise in LH levels that could evoke excessive production of male hormone by the ovarian stroma. The latter in turn could potentially compromise egg quality, especially in women over 39 years of age, women with diminished ovarian reserve, and in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – all of whose ovaries have increased sensitivity to LH. In this way, “microflare protocols” can potentially hinder egg/embryo development and reduce IVF success rates. While microflare protocols usually are not harmful in younger women and those with normal ovarian reserve, I personally avoid this approach altogether for safety’s sake. The follicles/eggs of women on GnRH-agonist “micro-flare protocols” can be exposed to exaggerated agonist-induced LH release, (the “flare effect”) while the follicles/eggs of women, who receive GnRH antagonists starting 6-8 days following the initiation of stimulation with gonadotropins can likewise be exposed to pituitary LH-induced ovarian male hormones (especially testosterone). While this is not necessarily problematic in younger women and those with adequate ovarian reserve (“normal responders”) it could be decidedly prejudicial in “poor responders” and older women where there is increased follicle and egg vulnerability to high local male hormone levels.
  • The “Trigger Shot”- A Critical Decision:The egg goes through maturational division (meiosis) during the 36-hour period that precedes ovulation or retrieval. The efficiency of this process will determine the outcome of reproduction. It follows that when it comes to ovulation induction, aside from selecting a suitable protocol for COS one of the most important decisions the clinician has to make involves choosing and implementing with logic and precision, the “trigger shot” by which to facilitate meiosis.
    • Urinary versus recombinant hCG:Until quite recently, the standard method used to initiate the “trigger shot” was through the administration of 10,000 units of hCGu. More recently, a recombinant form of hCGr (Ovidrel) was introduced and marketed in 250 mcg doses. But clinical experience strongly suggests that 250 mcg of Ovidrel is most likely not equivalent in biological potency to 10,000 units of hCG. It probably at best only has 60%of the potency of a 10,000U dose of hCGu and as such might not be sufficient to fully promote meiosis, especially in cases where the woman has numerous follicles. For this reason, I firmly believe that when hCGr is selected as the “trigger shot” the dosage should be doubled to 500 mcg, at which dosage it will probably have an equivalent effect on promoting meiosis as would 10,000 units of hCGu.
    • The dosage of hCG used: Some clinicians, when faced with a risk of OHSS developing will deliberately elect to reduce the dosage of hCG administered as a trigger in the hope that by doing so, the risk of developing critical OHSS will be lowered. It is my opinion that such an approach is not optimal because a low dose of hCG (e.g., 5000 units hCGu or 25omcg hCGr) is likely inadequate to optimize the efficiency of meiosis, particularly when it comes to cases such as this where there are numerous follicles. In my opinion a far better approach is to use a method that I first described in 1989, known as “prolonged coasting”
    • Use of hCG versus a GnRHa(e.g., Lupron/Buserelin/Superfact) as the trigger shot: It has been suggested that the use of an “agonist ( Lupron) trigger” in women at risk of developing severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) could potentially reduce the risk of the condition becoming critical and thereby placing the woman at risk of developing life-endangering complications. It is for this reason that many RE’s prefer to trigger meiosis in this way (using an agonist-Lupron) rather than through the use of hCG. The agonist promptly causes the woman’s pituitary gland to expunge a large amount of LH over a short period of time and it is this LH “surge” that triggers meiosis. The problem with this approach, in my opinion, is that it is hard to predict how much LH will be released in by the pituitary gland of a given patient receiving an agonist trigger shot, especially if the woman was down-regulated using an agonist, or in cases where an antagonist was used to block pituitary LH release. For this reason, I personally prefer to use hCGu for the trigger, even in cases of ovarian hyperstimulation, with one important proviso…that she underwent “prolonged coasting” in order to reduce the risk of critical OHSS prior to the 10,000 unit hCGu “trigger”.
    • Combined use of hCG +GnRHa; This approach is preferable to the use of a GnRHa, alone. However, in my opinion is inferior to the appropriate and correct use of hCG, alone.
    • The timing of the trigger shot to initiate meiosis:This should coincide with the majority of ovarian follicles being >15 mm in mean diameter with several follicles having reached 18-22 mm. Follicles of larger than 22 mm will usually harbor overdeveloped eggs which in turn will usually fail to produce good quality eggs. Conversely, follicles less than 15 mm will usually harbor underdeveloped eggs that are more likely to be aneuploid and incompetent following the “trigger”.

Severe Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) and prolonged Coasting”

OHSS is a life-endangering condition that usually occurs in women undergoing COS where the blood E2 level rises to above 4,000pg/ml. The risk escalates to greater than 80% in cases where the E2 level rises above 6,000pg/ml. It rarely occurs in normally ovulating women or older (>39Y) women and is more commonly encountered in:

  • Young women (under 30y) who have a high ovarian reserve(based upon basal FSH and AMH.
  • Women with polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Non-PCOS women who do not ovulate spontaneously

The treating physician should be alerted to the possibility of hyperstimulation when encountering a woman who develops >25 ovarian follicles of 14mm-16mm in mean diameter, in association with a blood E2 level of above 2,5000pg/ml prior to the hCG “trigger”.

OHSS is a self-limiting condition. Its development is linked to the effect of hCG and thus does not occur until the “hCG trigger” is administered. In fact, there is virtually no risk of OHSS until the hCG “trigger” is administered.

Prolonged Coasting” is a procedure I introduced in 1991. It involves abruptly stopping gonadotropin therapy while continuing to administer the GnRH agonist (e.g. Lupron, Buserelin) deferring the hCG “trigger” until the woman is out of risk (as evidenced by a fall in plasma estradiol level to below 2,500pg/ml).

It is important that “prolonged coasting” be initiated as soon as two or more follicles have attained a greater diameter than 18mm with at least 50% of the remaining follicles having attained 14-16mm. To start the process of “prolonged coasting” any earlier or any later, while it would still protect against the development of OHSS, would almost certainly result in compromised egg and embryo quality with ultimate failure of the IVF cycle. Simply stated, the precise timing of initiating the process is critical. Proper implementation of PC will almost always prevent OHSS without seriously compromising egg/embryo quality.

Use of the Birth Control Pill (BCP) to launch IVF-COS.

In natural (unstimulated) as well as in cycles stimulated with fertility drugs, the ability of follicles to properly respond to FSH stimulation is dependent on their having developed FSH-responsive receptors. Pre-antral follicles (PAF) do not have such primed FSH receptors and thus cannot respond properly to FSH stimulation with gonadotropins. The acquisition of FSH receptor responsivity requires that the pre-antral follicles be exposed to FSH, for a number of days (5-7) during which time they attain “FSH-responsivity” and are now known as antral follicles (AF). These AF’s are now able to respond properly to stimulation with administered FSH-gonadotropins. In regular menstrual cycles, the rising FSH output from the pituitary gland insures that PAFs convert tor AF’s. The BCP (as well as prolonged administration of estrogen/progesterone) suppresses FSH. This suppression needs to be countered by artificially causing blood FSH levels to rise in order to cause PAF to AF conversion prior to COS commencing, otherwise pre-antral-to –antral follicle conversion will not take place in an orderly fashion, the duration of ovarian stimulation will be prolonged and both follicle and egg development may be compromised. GnRH agonists cause an immediate surge in release of FSH by the pituitary gland thus causing conversion from PAF to SAF. This is why women who take a BCP to launch a cycle of COS need to have an overlap of the BCP with an agonist. By overlapping the BCP with an agonist for a few days prior to menstruation the early recruited follicles are able to complete their developmental drive to the AF stage and as such, be ready to respond appropriately to optimal ovarian stimulation. Using this approach, the timing of the initiation of the IVF treatment cycle can readily and safely be regulated and controlled by varying the length of time that the woman is on the BCP.

Since optimizing follicular response to COS requires that prior to stimulation with gonadotropins, FSH-induced conversion from PAF to AF’s first be completed and the BCP suppresses FSH, it follows when it comes to women launching COS coming off a BCP something needs to be done to cause a rise in FSH for 5-7 days prior to menstruation heralding the cycle of CO S. This is where overlapping the BCP with a GnRHa comes in. The agonist causes FSH to be released by the pituitary gland and if overlapped with the BCP for several days and this will (within 2-5 days) facilitate PAF to AF conversion…. in time to start COS with the onset of menstruation. Initiating ovarian stimulation in women taking a BCP, without doing this is suboptimal.

I strongly recommend that you visit www.SherIVF.com. Then go to my Blog and access the “search bar”. Type in the titles of any/all of the articles listed below, one by one. “Click” and you will immediately be taken to those you select.  Please also take the time to post any questions or comments with the full expectation that I will (as always) respond promptly.

  • The IVF Journey: The importance of “Planning the Trip” Before Taking the Ride”
  • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
  • The Fundamental Requirements For Achieving Optimal IVF Success
  • Use of GnRH Antagonists (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) in IVF-Ovarian Stimulation Protocols.
  • Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
  • The “Biological Clock” and how it should Influence the Selection and Design of Ovarian Stimulation Protocols for IVF.
  • A Rational Basis for selecting Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) protocols in women with Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
  • Diagnosing and Treating Infertility due to Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
  • Ovarian Stimulation in Women Who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): Introducing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion protocol
  • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in Older women and Women who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): A Rational Basis for Selecting a Stimulation Protocol
  • Optimizing Response to Ovarian Stimulation in Women with Compromised Ovarian Response to Ovarian Stimulation: A Personal Approach.
  • Egg Maturation in IVF: How Egg “Immaturity”, “Post-maturity” and “Dysmaturity” Influence IVF Outcome:
  • Commonly Asked Question in IVF: “Why Did so Few of my Eggs Fertilize and, so Many Fail to Reach Blastocyst?”
  • Human Growth Hormone Administration in IVF: Does it Enhances Egg/Embryo Quality and Outcome?
  • The BCP: Does Launching a Cycle of Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS). Coming off the BCP Compromise Response?
  • Staggered IVF
  • Staggered IVF with PGS- Selection of “Competent” Embryos Greatly Enhances the Utility & Efficiency of IVF.
  • Staggered IVF: An Excellent Option When. Advancing Age and Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) Reduces IVF Success Rate
  • Embryo Banking/Stockpiling: Slows the “Biological Clock” and offers a Selective Alternative to IVF-Egg Donation
  • Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGS) in IVF: It should be Used Selectively and NOT be Routine.
  • IVF: Selecting the Best Quality Embryos to Transfer
  • Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS) Using: Next Generation Gene Sequencing (NGS): Method of Choice.
  • PGS in IVF: Are Some Chromosomally abnormal Embryos Capable of Resulting in Normal Babies and Being Wrongly Discarded?
  • PGS and Assessment of Egg/Embryo “competency”: How Method, Timing and Methodology Could Affect Reliability
  • IVF outcome: How Does Advancing Age and Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) Affect Egg/Embryo “Competency” and How Should the Problem be addressed.

 

 

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ADDENDUM: PLEASE READ!!

INTRODUCING SHER FERTILITY SOLUTIONS (SFS)

Founded in April 2019, Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) offers online (Skype/FaceTime) consultations to patients from > 40 different countries. All consultations are followed by a detailed written report presenting my personal recommendations for treatment of what often constitute complex Reproductive Issues.

 

If you wish to schedule an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant (Patti Converse) by phone (800-780-7437/702-533-2691), email (concierge@SherIVF.com) or,  enroll online on then home-page of my website (www.SherIVF.com). 

 

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

 

Geoff Sher

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

I am attaching online links to two E-books which I recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

1.From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) “

https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

  1. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

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