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: Irit L

Dear Dr. Sher,

Thank you for your answer.
I did take ivig before pregnancy was diagnosed. Took 30g ivig on ovulation and on positive hgc test but it faild to relax my immune system.

I refuse to take steroids as i was provided with 20mg prednison for 8 months. I had adison crises and ovarian shutdown with extremly elevated fsh. Took me a year to heal my ovaries and get pregnant again after i did a big research how to heal my ovaries and it luckily worked.

I want to try treatments that wont affect egg quality at all like ivig, lit, intralipids and plasmapheresis. I hope that i’ll manage to bank embryos for surrogacy but i am 44 so i need to see if ivf works for me.

I have a few questions:
1. I Did 3 lit treatments 1.5 years ago. Lads were negative.
After the last pregnancy loss I did the 4th lit. Finally lad became weak positive 40%. Do you think that positive lads gives me a better chance to carry a pregnancy?

2. Do you think tacro can be a good option after failing with ivig? Does it have horrible side effects like steroids?

Thanks a lot for your advises and terrific website. It helped me a lot.
Irit

This is my original message:
Just had my 6th miscarriage, natural conception with ivig and lit.

I am disgnosed with partial dq-alpha gene match (0301) and elevated nk cells.
We have a 4.5 years old son concieved naturaly and easily.

My miscarriages are very early.
We had 3 LITs a year and a half ago however LAD is still negative.
I took 30g IVIG on ovulution and on positive hgc test.
Aldo added ovidral on positive hgc test.

Immune pannel taken a day after the second ivig showed elevated tnf-alpha, elevated nk cell activity and 29.4% nk cell count.

We lost the pregnancy, the sac was empty and matched 4 weeks size.

Answer:

I Did 3 lit treatments 1.5 years ago. Lads were negative.
After the last pregnancy loss I did the 4th lit. Finally lad became weak positive 40%. Do you think that positive lads gives me a better chance to carry a pregnancy?

A: I do not believe this to be so

2. Do you think tacro can be a good option after failing with ivig? Does it have horrible side effects like steroids?

A: Sorry, I have no experience with this treatment.

Name: Arielle M

I’ve had ECF ever since a d&c and forcep removal of rpoc in Jan 2022. I’ve taken prophylactic abx, hysteroscopy with loa and normal lap, 2.5 months lupron and letrozole for adeno. Failed medicated FET.
1) should I do a modified natural right away or do more lupron first?
2) I assume fluid is from adenomyosis (mri confirmed) but I’ve been trying to push my rei to do Emma and Alice to make sure no bacterial cause of fluid and inflammation but he doesn’t do. How can I find a doctor who will do it near me or is fertilysis of menstrual blood as good?
You can reply with med terms as I am a physician thanks!

Answer:

There is too much here to discuss with a short response. We should talk. If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or email her at <a href="mailto:concierge@sherivf.com.

GS

Name: Tasha T

For thin lining I am considering trying viagra suppositories. Is there a difference between just using the regular tablet vs. Having it compounded?

As info, with just estradiol, my lining seems to max out at about 7.2, hoping based on your research that Viagra can help push me to over 8!

Answer:

Back in 1989, I conducted a study that examined how the thickness of a woman’s uterine lining, known as the endometrium, affected the successful implantation of embryos in IVF patients. The study revealed that when the uterine lining measured less than 8mm in thickness by the day of the “hCG trigger” in fresh IVF cycles, or at the start of progesterone therapy in embryo recipient cycles (such as frozen embryo transfers or egg donation IVF), the chances of pregnancy and birth were significantly improved. In my opinion, an ideal estrogen-promoted endometrial lining should measure at least 9mm in thickness, while a lining of 8-9mm is considered “intermediate.” In most cases, an estrogenic lining of less than 8mm is unlikely to result in a viable pregnancy.
A “poor” uterine lining typically occurs when the innermost layer of the endometrium, called the basal or germinal endometrium, fails to respond to estrogen and cannot develop a thick enough outer “functional” layer to support optimal embryo implantation and placenta development. The “functional” layer makes up two-thirds of the total endometrial thickness and is the layer that sheds during menstruation if no pregnancy occurs.
The main causes of a “poor” uterine lining include:
1. Damage to the basal endometrium due to:
o Inflammation of the endometrium (endometritis) often resulting from retained products of conception after abortion, miscarriage, or birth.
o Surgical trauma caused by aggressive uterine scraping during procedures like D&C.
2. Insensitivity of the basal endometrium to estrogen due to:
o Prolonged or excessive use of clomiphene citrate.
o Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a drug given to pregnant women in the 1960s to prevent miscarriage.
3. Overexposure of the uterine lining to ovarian male hormones, mainly testosterone, which can occur in older women, women with diminished ovarian reserve, and women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) who have increased LH biological activity. This hormonal imbalance leads to the overproduction of testosterone in the ovary’s connective tissue, further exacerbated by certain ovarian stimulation methods used in IVF.
4. Reduced blood flow to the basal endometrium, often caused by:
o Multiple uterine fibroids, especially those located beneath the endometrium (submucosal).
o Uterine adenomyosis, an abnormal invasion of endometrial glands into the uterine muscle.
“The Viagra Connection”
Eighteen years ago, I reported on the successful use of vaginal Sildenafil (Viagra) in treating women with implantation dysfunction caused by thin endometrial linings. This breakthrough led to the birth of the world’s first “Viagra baby.” Since then, thousands of women with thin uterine linings have been treated with Viagra, and many have gone on to have babies after multiple unsuccessful IVF attempts.
Viagra gained popularity in the 1990s as an oral treatment for erectile dysfunction. Inspired by its mechanism of action, which increases penile blood flow through enhanced nitric oxide activity, I investigated whether vaginal administration of Viagra could improve uterine blood flow, deliver more estrogen to the basal endometrium, and promote endometrial thickening. Our findings confirmed that vaginal Viagra achieved these effects, while oral administration did not provide significant benefits. To facilitate treatment, we collaborated with a compound pharmacy to produce vaginal Viagra suppositories.
In our initial trial, four women with a history of poor endometrial development and failed conception underwent IVF treatment combined with vaginal Viagra therapy. The Viagra suppositories were administered four times daily for 8-11 days and stopped 5-7 days before embryo transfer. This treatment resulted in a rapid and significant improvement in uterine blood flow, leading to enhanced endometrial development in all four cases. Three of these women subsequently conceived. In 2002, I expanded the trial to include 105 women with repeated IVF failure due to persistently thin endometrial linings. About 70% of these women responded positively to Viagra therapy, with a notable increase in endometrial thickness. Forty-five percent achieved live births after a single cycle of IVF with Viagra treatment, and the miscarriage rate was only 9%. Women who did not show improvement in endometrial thickness following Viagra treatment did not achieve viable pregnancies.
When administered vaginally, Viagra is quickly absorbed and reaches the uterine blood system in high concentrations. It then dilutes as it enters the systemic circulation, explaining why treatment is virtually free from systemic side effects.
It is important to note that Viagra may not improve endometrial thickness in all cases. Approximately 30-40% of women treated may not experience any improvement. In severe cases of thin uterine linings where the basal endometrium has been permanently damaged and becomes unresponsive to estrogen, Viagra treatment is unlikely to be effective. This can occur due to conditions such as post-pregnancy endometritis, chronic inflammation resulting from uterine tuberculosis (rare in the United States), or extensive surgical damage to the basal endometrium.
In my practice, I sometimes recommend combining vaginal Viagra administration with oral Terbutaline (5mg). Viagra relaxes the muscle walls of uterine spiral arteries, while terbutaline relaxes the uterine muscle itself. The combination of these medications synergistically enhances blood flow through the uterus, improving estrogen delivery to the endometrial lining. However, it’s important to monitor potential side effects of Terbutaline such as agitation, tremors, and palpitations. Women with cardiac disease or irregular heartbeat should not use Terbutaline.
Approximately 75% of women with thin uterine linings respond positively to treatment within 2-3 days. Those who do not respond well often have severe inner ( (basal) endometrial lining damage, where improved uterine blood flow cannot stimulate a positive response. Such cases are commonly associated with previous pregnancy-related endometrial inflammation, occurring after abortions, infected vaginal deliveries, or cesarean sections.
Viagra therapy has been a game-changer for thousands of women with thin uterine linings, allowing them to successfully overcome infertility and build their families.

If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or email her at <a href="mailto:concierge@sherivf.co

PS: You need to use specially compounded vaginal Viagra suppositories. The pill wont work.

Name: Ayesha A

Hi Dr Sher

Ive watched the egg whisper Dr aimee talk to you about implantation failure and I wanted to ask you your advice, I messaged you a few years ago and was very grateful for your response and advice, Im not sure if you recall me, my name is Ayesha from South Africa, im happy to report that I have subsequently and through many many tries of IVF been successful, we started when I was 30 years old…. It took us 6 Fresh cycles and 2 frozen to have 2 healthy girls aged now 7 and 3 years over a period of a few years.. we have always wanted a bigger family and hence I don’t want to give up on our dream of another baby … a little background .. we have male factor low morphology, low motility, sperm fragmentation etc and I have pcos, at 33 after 4 fresh IVFs and 1 frozen we had 1 mc 5.5 weeks where the twins never developed heartbeats (untested blasts) and 1 mc at 5 weeks (also untested ) as the Dr felt I was young enough to not need testing on embryos at that time, finally on our 4th FRESH round of IVF we did CGH testing in 2016 I got pg and had a healthy normal baby (34 years old at the time), subsequently in 2019 we did a FET of 2 frozen CGH normals but they didn’t take, in 2020 after 2 fresh cycles with PGS I got pg and at 38 years old at the time I had a 2nd healthy normal baby (amid the pandemic ) … I am now 41 so this year in September 2023 we used our frozen normal blast that we had from 2020 cycle we had but it was unsuccessfulI unfortunately I know age is against me and my eggs (quality is my issue and male factor) and we subsequently did 1 fresh Cycle now in November 2023 (short protocol) and sadly even though we had 13 eggs and 8 were mature, 6 making it to blast day 5, NGS revealed that none were normal and 1 was a low mosaic so we took our chances and transferred it but unfortunately it did not implant … what id like to know is, We both have started coq10 and both added diet and lifestyle changes .. our RE says it maybe worth another fresh cycle as he says our problem seems more embryo quality than anything else, and he said another cycle maybe worth it with perhaps a change in protocol ie long protocol, please advise us next steps and would another cycle be worth it considering I have been successful in the past?? .. thank you in advance I really appreciate it

Answer:

I am so happy that you ultimately succeeded. But now you do have the biological clock working against your egg/embryo quality. The most important determinant is no doubt the issue of egg/embryo quality. Here,age, ovarian reserve and your husband’s sperm dysfunction all are the most important operative variables.

If you would like to discuss this with me, I suggest you contact Pattie Converse, my assistant who could set up an online consultation with me. Email her at concierge@sherivf.com or call her at 702-533-2691 to set this up.

GS
_________________________________________________________________________

Name: Danie L

Buenas tardes tras azoospermia y un mes tomando citrato de clomifeno por tener la lsh fsh y testosterona baja me he realizado una analitica y han subido los tres parametros, ¿ eso quiere decir que el seminograba mejorara? Gracias un saludo

Answer:

Please post your inquiry in English!

Geoff Sher
__________________________________________________________________________________________________PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH OTHERS AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD!!

Herewith are online links to 2 E-books 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

2. Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link ;https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

I invite you to visit my very recently launched “Podcast”, “HAVE A BABY” on RUMBLE; https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480
If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or email her at concierge@sherivf.com\

Name: Rebecca S

Hello,
I am currently on day 14 of taking estrogen in preparation for a FET, but since Day 12, a small mount of fluid has been seen in the lining. The estrogen is working to build the lining an Friday at day 14 I’m up to 6.5mm, but my doctor says cycle may be cancelled and I may just be referred for hysteroscopy if fluid is still there in 3 days time. The fluid was also present in the last few days before my egg retrieval and on day of retrieval, hence the FET. Ive never been pregnant, using donor sperm due to MFI, and have never had surgery or any problems, other than thin lining at baseline. Thanks so much.

Answer:

In many cases, the fluid will absorb after a few days of progesterone. If it fails to absorb, the FET should be canceled and a hysteroscopy performed to look for a surface lesion in the uterine cavity.

Please also note that if the endometrium was <8mm in thickness on the day progesterone administration began, the cycle should likewise be canceled.

Good luck!

Geoff Sher
__________________________________________________________________________________________

PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH OTHERS AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD!!

Herewith are online links to 2 E-books 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

2. Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link ;https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

I invite you to visit my very recently launched “Podcast”, “HAVE A BABY” on RUMBLE; https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480
If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or email her at concierge@sherivf.com\

Name: Sheyla M

I just had a miscarriage at 5 weeks 4 days of a tested normal embryo 5 day AA PGT . And I tried to get pregnant for over 10 years. I was told I had an immunity disorder years ago, and to check every few years. I’d like to eliminate any immunity issues since I’m 47 years old 🙁 I’d love to have Dr

Answer:

Implantation dysfunction is often overlooked as a significant reason for IVF failure. This is especially true when IVF failure is unexplained, or when there are recurring pregnancy losses or underlying issues with the uterus, such as endo-uterine surface lesions, thin uterine lining (endometrium), or immunological factors.
IVF success rates have been improving in the past decade. Currently, in the United States, the average live birth rate per embryo transfer for women under 40 years old using their own eggs is about 2:5 per woman undergoing embryo transfer. However, there is a wide range of success rates among different IVF programs, varying from 20% to almost 50%. Based on these statistics, most women in the United States need to undergo two or more IVF-embryo transfer attempts to have a baby. Many IVF practitioners in the United States attribute the differences in success rates to variations in expertise among embryology laboratories, but this is not entirely accurate. Other factors, such as differences in patient selection, the failure to develop personalized protocols for ovarian stimulation, and the neglect of infectious, anatomical, and immunological factors that affect embryo implantation, are equally important.
Approximately 80% of IVF failures occur due to “embryo incompetency,” mainly caused by ( irregularities in chromosome number (aneuploidy), which is often related to the advancing age of the woman, diminished ovarian reserve ( DOR) but can also be influenced by the ovarian stimulation protocol chosen, and sperm dysfunction (male infertility). However, in around 20% of cases with dysfunction, failure is caused by problems with embryo implantation.
This section will focus on embryo implantation dysfunction and IVF failure which in the vast majority of cases is caused by:
1. 1. Anatomical irregularities of the inner uterine surface:
2. a) Surface lesions such as polyps/fibroids/ scar tissue
3. b)endometrial thickness
4.
5. 2. Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction ( IID)lesions
6. a)Autoimmune IID
7. b) Alloimmune IID

1. ANATOMICAL IMPLANTATION DYSFUNCTION
a) Surface lesions such as polyps/fibroids/ scar tissue
When there are problems with the structure of the uterus, it can lead to difficulties in getting pregnant. While uterine fibroids usually don’t cause infertility, they can affect fertility when they distort the uterine cavity or protrude through the lining. Even small fibroids located just beneath the lining and protruding into the cavity can decrease the chances of the embryo attaching. Multiple fibroids within the uterine wall that encroach upon the cavity can disrupt blood flow, impair estrogen delivery, and prevent proper thickening of the lining. These issues can be identified through ultrasound during the menstrual cycle’s proliferative phase. Any lesion on the uterine surface, such as submucous fibroids, adhesions, endometrial polyps, or placental polyps, can interfere with implantation by causing a local inflammatory response similar to the effect of an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD).
Clearly, even small uterine lesions can have a negative impact on implantation. Considering the high costs and emotional toll associated with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and related procedures, it is reasonable to perform diagnostic tests like hysterosalpingography (HSG), fluid ultrasound examination (hysterosonogram), or hysteroscopy before starting IVF. Uterine lesions that can affect implantation often require surgical intervention. In most cases, procedures like dilatation and curettage (D&C) or hysteroscopic resection are sufficient. Rarely a laparotomy may be needed. Such interventions often lead to an improvement in the response of the uterine lining.
Hysterosonogram( HSN/saline ultrasound) is a procedure where a sterile saline solution is injected into the uterus through the cervix using a catheter. Vaginal ultrasound is then used to examine the fluid-filled cavity for any irregularities that might indicate surface lesions like polyps, fibroid tumors, scarring, or a septum. When performed by an expert, HSN is highly effective in detecting even the smallest lesions and can supplant hysteroscopy in certain cases. HSN is less expensive, less invasive/traumatic, and equally effective as hysteroscopy. The only drawback is that if a lesion is found, hysteroscopy may still be needed for treatment.
Hysteroscopy is a diagnostic procedure performed in an office setting with minimal discomfort to the patient. It involves inserting a thin, lighted instrument called a hysteroscope through the vagina and cervix into the uterus to examine the uterine cavity. Normal saline is used to distend the uterus during the procedure. Like HSN, hysteroscopy allows for direct visualization of the inside of the uterus to identify defects that could interfere with implantation. We have observed that around one in eight IVF candidates have lesions that need attention before undergoing IVF to optimize the chances of success. I strongly recommend that all patients undergo therapeutic surgery, usually hysteroscopy, to correct any identified issues before proceeding with IVF. Depending on the severity and nature of the problem, hysteroscopy may require general anesthesia and should be performed in a surgical facility equipped for laparotomy if necessary.
b) Thickness of the uterine lining (endometrium)
As far back as In 1989, I and my team made an important discovery about using ultrasound to assess the thickness of the endometrium during the late proliferative phase of both “ natural” and hormone-stimulated cycles. The assessment helped predict the chances of conception. We found that an ideal thickness of over 9mm at the time of ovulation , egg retrieval or with the commencement of progesterone therapy in embryo recipient cycles ( e.g., IVF with egg donation, gestational, surrogacy and embryo adoption) was associated with optimal implantation rates, while an endometrial thickness of less than 8 mm was associated with failure to implant or early pregnancy loss in the vast majority of cases. An endometrium measuring <8mm was almost invariably associated with failure to implant or early pregnancy loss in the while an endometrium measuring 8 to 9 mm was regarded as being intermediate, and while pregnancies did occur in this range, the rates were only slightly lower than with an optimal lining of 9 mm
A "poor" uterine lining typically occurs when the innermost layer of the endometrium (basal or germinal endometrium) is unable to respond to estrogen by developing a thick enough outer "functional" layer to support successful embryo implantation and placental development. The “functional” layer, which accounts for two-thirds of the total endometrial thickness, is shed during menstruation if pregnancy does not occur.
The main causes of a poor uterine lining are:
1. Damage to the basal endometrium due to:
o Inflammation of the endometrium (endometritis), often resulting from retained products of conception after abortion, miscarriage, or childbirth.
o Surgical trauma caused by aggressive dilatation and curettage (D&C).
2. Insensitivity of the basal endometrium to estrogen due to:
o Prolonged (back to back) use of clomiphene citrate for ovarian stimulation or…
o Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a drug given to prevent miscarriage in the 1960s.
3. Overexposure of the uterine lining to male hormones produced by the ovaries or administered during ovarian stimulation (primarily testosterone):
o Older women, women with DOR (poor responders), and women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) often have increased biological activity of luteinizing hormone (LH), leading to testosterone overproduction by the ovarian connective tissue (stroma/theca). This effect can be further amplified when certain ovarian stimulation protocols were high doses of menotropins ( e.g., Menopur) are used.
4. Reduced blood flow to the basal endometrium caused by:
o Multiple uterine fibroids, especially if they are located beneath the endometrium (submucosal).
o Uterine adenomyosis, which involves extensive abnormal invasion of endometrial glands into the uterine muscle.
In 1996 I introduced the Vaginal administration of Sildenafil (Viagra) to improve endometrial thickening. The selective administration of Sildenafil has shown great promise in improving uterine blood flow and increasing endometrial thickening in cases of thin endometrial linings. When administered vaginally, it is quickly absorbed and reaches high concentrations in the uterine blood system, diluting as it enters the systemic circulation. This method has been found to have minimal systemic side effects. However, it is important to note that Viagra may not be effective in all cases, as some cases of thin uterine linings may involve permanent damage to the basal endometrium, rendering it unresponsive to estrogen.
Severe endometrial damage leading to poor responsiveness to estrogen can occur in various situations. These include post-pregnancy endometritis (inflammation after childbirth), chronic granulomatous inflammation caused by uterine tuberculosis (rare in the United States), and significant surgical injury to the basal endometrium (which can happen after aggressive D&C procedures).

2. IMMUNOLOGIC IMPLANTATION DYSFUNCTION (IID)
There is a growing recognition that problems with the immune function in the uterus can lead to embryo implantation dysfunction. The failure of proper immunologic interaction during implantation has been implicated as a cause of recurrent miscarriage, late pregnancy fetal loss, IVF failure, and infertility. Some immunologic factors that may contribute to these issues include antiphospholipid antibodies (APA), antithyroid antibodies (ATA) , and activated natural killer cells (NKa).
• Activated natural Killer Cells (NKa):
During ovulation and early pregnancy, the uterine lining is frequented by NK cells and T-cells, which together make up more than 80% of the immune cells in the uterine lining. These cells travel from the bone marrow to the endometrium where they proliferate under hormonal regulation. When exposed to progesterone, they produce TH-1 and TH-2 cytokines. TH-2 cytokines help the trophoblast (embryo's "root system") to penetrate the uterine lining, while TH-1 cytokines induce apoptosis (cell suicide), limiting placental development to the inner part of the uterus. The balance between TH1 and TH-2 cytokines is crucial for optimal placental development. NK cells and T-cells contribute to cytokine production. Excessive TH-1 cytokine production is harmful to the trophoblast and endometrial cells, leading to programmed cell death and ultimately to implantation failure. Functional NK cells reach their highest concentration in the endometrium around 6-7days after ovulation or exposure to progesterone, which coincides with the time of embryo implantation. It’s important to note that measuring the concentration of blood NK cells doesn't reflect NK cell activation (NKa). The activation of NK cells is what matters. In certain conditions like endometriosis, the blood concentration of NK cells may be below normal, but NK cell activation is significantly increased.
There are several laboratory methods to assess NK cell activation (cytotoxicity), including immunohistochemical assessment of uterine NK cells and measuring TH-1 cytokines in the uterus or blood. However, the K-562 target cell blood test remains the gold standard. In this test, NK cells isolated from a woman's blood are incubated with specific "target cells," and the percentage of killed target cells is quantified. More than 12% killing indicates a level of NK cell activation that usually requires treatment. Currently, there are only a few Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories in the USA capable of reliably performing the K-562 target cell test.
There is a common misconception that adding IL (intralipid) or Intravenous gammaglobulin (IVIg) to NK cells can immediately downregulate NK cell activity. However, neither IL and IVIg cannot significantly suppress already activated NK cells. They are believed to work by regulating NK cell progenitors, which then produce downregulated NK cells. To assess the therapeutic effect, IL/IVIg infusion should be done about 14 days before embryos are transferred to the uterus to ensure a sufficient number of normal functional NK cells are present at the implantation site during embryo transfer. Failure to recognize this reality has led to the erroneous demand from IVF doctors for Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories to report on NK cell activity before and immediately after exposure to IVIg or IL at different concentrations. However, since already activated NK cells cannot be deactivated in the laboratory, assessing NKa suppression in this way has little clinical benefit. Even if blood is drawn 10-14 days after IL/IVIg treatment, it would take another 10-14 days to receive the results, which would be too late to be practically advantageous.
• Antiphospholipid Antibodies:
Many women who struggle with IVF failure or recurrent pregnancy loss, as well as those with a personal or family history of autoimmune diseases like lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and dermatomyositis, often test positive for antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs). Over 30 years ago, I proposed a treatment for women with positive APA tests. This involved using a low dose of heparin to improve the success of IVF implantation and increase birth rates. Research indicated that heparin could prevent APAs from affecting the embryo's "root system" ( the trophoblast), thus enhancing implantation. We later discovered that this therapy only benefits women whose APAs target specific phospholipids (phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylserine). Nowadays, longer-acting low molecular weight heparinoids like Lovenox and Clexane have replaced heparin.
• Antithyroid Antibodies ( thyroid peroxidase -TPO and antithyroglobulin antibodies (TGa)
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 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.

Almost 50% of women with antithyroid antibodies do not have activated cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) or natural killer cells (NK cells). This suggests that the antibodies themselves may not be the direct cause of reproductive dysfunction. Instead, the activation of CTL and NK cells, which occurs in about half of the cases with thyroid autoimmunity (TAI), is likely an accompanying phenomenon that damages the early "root system" (trophoblast) of the embryo during implantation.
Treating women who have both antithyroid antibodies and activated NK cells/CTL with intralipid (IL) and steroids improves their chances of successful reproduction. However, women with antithyroid antibodies who do not have activated NK cells/CTL do not require this treatment.
• Treatment Options for IID:
1. Intralipid (IL) Therapy: IL is a mixture of soybean lipid droplets in water, primarily used for providing nutrition. When administered intravenously, IL supplies essential fatty acids that can activate certain receptors in NK cells, reducing their cytotoxic activity and enhancing implantation. IL, combined with corticosteroids, suppresses the overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines by NK cells, improving reproductive outcomes. IL is cost-effective and has fewer side effects compared to other treatments like IVIg.
2. Intravenous immunoglobulin-G (IVIg) Therapy: In the past, IVIg was used to down-regulate activated NK cells. However, concerns about viral infections and the high cost led to a decline in its use. IVIg can be effective, but IL has become a more favorable and affordable alternative.
3. Corticosteroid Therapy: Corticosteroids, such as prednisone and dexamethasone, are commonly used in IVF treatment. They have an immunomodulatory effect and reduce TH-1 cytokine production by CTL. When combined with IL or IVIg, corticosteroids enhance the implantation process. Treatment typically starts 10-14 days before embryo transfer and continues until the 10th week of pregnancy.
4. Heparinoid Therapy: Low molecular weight heparin (Clexane, Lovenox)can improve IVF success rates in women with antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs) and may prevent pregnancy loss in certain thrombophilias when used during treatment. It is administered subcutaneously once daily from the start of ovarian stimulation.
5. TH-1 Cytokine Blockers (Enbrel, Humira): TH-1 cytokine blockers have limited effectiveness in the IVF setting and, in my opinion, no compelling evidence supports their use. They may have a role in treating threatened miscarriage caused by CTL/NK cell activation, but not for IVF treatment. TH-1 cytokines are needed for cellular response, during the early phase of implantation, so completely blocking them could hinder normal implantation.
5. Baby Aspirin and IVF: Baby aspirin doesn't offer much value in treating implantation dysfunction (IID) and may even reduce the chance of success. This is because aspirin thins the blood and increases the risk of bleeding, which can complicate procedures like egg retrieval or embryo transfer during IVF, potentially compromising its success.
6. Leukocyte Immunization Therapy (LIT):LIT involves injecting the male partner's lymphocytes into the mother to improve the recognition of the embryo as "self" and prevent rejection. LIT can up-regulate Treg cells and down-regulate NK cell activation, improving the balance of TH-1 and TH-2 cells in the uterus. However, the same benefits can be achieved through IL (Intralipid) therapy combined with corticosteroids. IL is more cost-effective, and the use of LIT is prohibited by law in the USA.
Types of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) and NK Cell Activation:
1. Autoimmune Implantation Dysfunction: Women with a personal or family history of autoimmune conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus Erythematosus, thyroid autoimmune disease (Hashimoto's disease and thyrotoxicosis), and endometriosis (in about one-third of cases) may experience autoimmune IID. However, autoimmune IID can also occur without any personal or family history of autoimmune diseases. Treatment for NK cell activation in IVF cases complicated by autoimmune IID involves a combination of daily oral dexamethasone from the start of ovarian stimulation until the 10th week of pregnancy, along with 20% intralipid (IL) infusion 10 days to 2 weeks before embryo transfer. With this treatment, the chance of a viable pregnancy occurring within two completed embryo transfer attempts is approximately 70% for women <40 years old who have normal ovarian reserve.
2. Alloimmune Implantation Dysfunction: NK cell activation occurs when the uterus is exposed to an embryo that shares certain genotypic (HLA/DQ alpha) similarities with the embryo recipient.
• Partial DQ alpha/HLA genetic matching: Couples who share only one DQ alpha/HLA gene are considered to have a "partial match." If NK cell activation is also present, this partial match puts the couple at a disadvantage for IVF success. However, it's important to note that DQ alpha/HLA matching, whether partial or total, does not cause IID without associated NK cell activation. Treatment for partial DQ alpha/HLA match with NK cell activation involves IL infusion and oral prednisone as adjunct therapy. IL infusion is repeated every 2-4 weeks after pregnancy is confirmed and continued until the 24th week of gestation. In these cases, only one embryo is transferred at a time to minimize the risk of NK cell activation.
• Total (Complete) Alloimmune Genetic Matching: A total alloimmune match occurs when the husband's DQ alpha genotype matches both that of the partner. Although rare, this total match along with NK cell activation significantly reduces the chance of a viable pregnancy resulting in a live birth at term. In some cases, the use of a gestational surrogate may be necessary.
It should be emphasized that poor embryo quality is not always the main cause of reproductive dysfunction and that the complex interaction between embryonic cells and the lining of the uterus plays a critical role in successful implantation. Women with personal or family histories of autoimmune disease or endometriosis and those with unexplained (often repeated) IVF failure or recurrent pregnancy loss, often have immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID as the underlying cause . For such women, it is important to understand how IID leads to reproductive failure and how selective treatment options such as intralipid (IL), corticosteroid and heparinoid therapy, can dramatically improve reproductive outcomes. Finally, there is real hope that proper identification and management of IID can significantly improve the chance of successful reproduction and ultimately contribute to better quality of life after birth.
________________________________________________________________________

PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH OTHERS AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD!!

Herewith are online links to 2 E-books 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

2. Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link ;https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

I invite you to visit my very recently launched “Podcast”, “HAVE A BABY” on RUMBLE; https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480
If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or email her at concierge@sherivf.com\

Name: Polona B

Hi, dr. Sher! Do you recomend PGT (NGS) on day 3 embryos? I m 51 and have two day 3 embryos and my clinic want to biopsy now, because they think they won’ t make it to day 5. I asked them to wait until day5 and biopsy then and if non survive they were not good anyway. What s your opinion?

Answer:

Absolutely not! They should wait to see if they reach blastocyst and then biopsy for PGS/PGT. Remember, embryos that do not reach blastocysts are all abnormal anyway and would never have propagated a viable pregnancy had they been transferred earlier.

Geoff Sher
____________________________________________________________________
PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH OTHERS AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD!!

Herewith are online links to 2 E-books 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

2. Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link ;https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

I invite you to visit my very recently launched “Podcast”, “HAVE A BABY” on RUMBLE; https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480
If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or email her at concierge@sherivf.com\

Name: Jen M

Hi Dr Sher

I have recently discovered your work and am curious if you think I should pursue an autoimmune protocol for IVF. 

I’m 40 years old and have undergone 2 unsuccessful cycles of IVF this year. I have been pregnant twice before, one at 18 y/o which I chose to terminate, and a pregnancy in March 2022 which ended in miscarriage at 6 weeks gestation. I have low AMH, under-active thyroid which is managed with Levothyroxine and have endometriosis which I have managed via laparoscopic ablation this summer, and adenomyosis in the front wall of the uterus. 

My first cycle of IVF in May 2023 I received just 5 days of stimulation but ovulated spontaneously and so this cycle was abandoned. I then underwent the laporoscopic ablation. In July 2023 my second IVF cycle began, I had one lead follicle which turned out to be ’empty’. I then continued with stimulation and one mature egg was collected. This one egg unfortunately fertilised abnormally as 2 sperm fertilised the egg. The clinic suggested that ICSI should be used going forward. 

I am currently following a medicated protocol with Neo Fertility to optomize my menstrual cycles and prepare for conception. I am taking Naltrexone 3mg every night. I previously took 75mg DHEA daily, but have stopped this recently due to some side effects. My most recent testosterone level was 1.3.

I recently had leucocyte antibody test which came back as low. IgG antibodies were 3.8.

I have also been taking CoQ10 for 4 months and was advised to stop taking for 4 months before taking it again, is there any benefit to stopping and starting antioxidant supplements in this way?

Given my history do you think I should have autoimmune fertility tests carried out before starting another IVF cycle? Which tests should be focused on?

I’m based in the UK but a friend had a consultation with yourself in 2019 and you were able to advise on further tests and give an IVF protocol that she could potentially use with a local clinic. Is this something that you still offer for International patients as I would be keen to have a consultation but am unsure if we could travel to the US for treatment. 

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Answer:

The fact that you have conceived before does not rule out an immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID). If so, you endometriosis and hypothyroid states would favor an autoimmune IID rather than alloimmune. However since treatment differs for each of these, a diagnosis is imperative. Your diminished ovarian reserve merely accentuates the need to be proactive so that you might try to “make hay while the sun still shines”. I think your premature ovulation most likely was the result of “premature luteinization” which is most commonly seen when the protocol for ovarian stimulation was sub-optimal, it is also associated withpoor egg/embryo quality. I do not believe the stop-start usage of supplements has any relevance to your case.

Indeed, I would be happy to discuss your case with you and thereupon offer advice. Please call my assistant Patti (her contact information is below) to set up an online consultation with me , read the article below on implantation dysfunction, and refer to the books that you can download free (see below).

A. IVF FAILURE WITH “NORMAL” EMBRYOS: EXAMINING AND ADDRESSING ANATOMICAL AND IMMUNOLOGIC CAUSES.

Geoffrey Sher MD

Implantation dysfunction is often overlooked as a significant reason for IVF failure. This is especially true when IVF failure is unexplained, or when there are recurring pregnancy losses or underlying issues with the uterus, such as endo-uterine surface lesions, thin uterine lining (endometrium), or immunological factors.
IVF success rates have been improving in the past decade. Currently, in the United States, the average live birth rate per embryo transfer for women under 40 years old using their own eggs is about 2:5 per woman undergoing embryo transfer. However, there is a wide range of success rates among different IVF programs, varying from 20% to almost 50%. Based on these statistics, most women in the United States need to undergo two or more IVF-embryo transfer attempts to have a baby. Many IVF practitioners in the United States attribute the differences in success rates to variations in expertise among embryology laboratories, but this is not entirely accurate. Other factors, such as differences in patient selection, the failure to develop personalized protocols for ovarian stimulation, and the neglect of infectious, anatomical, and immunological factors that affect embryo implantation, are equally important.
Approximately 80% of IVF failures occur due to “embryo incompetency,” mainly caused by ( irregularities in chromosome number (aneuploidy), which is often related to the advancing age of the woman, diminished ovarian reserve ( DOR) but can also be influenced by the ovarian stimulation protocol chosen, and sperm dysfunction (male infertility). However, in around 20% of cases with dysfunction, failure is caused by problems with embryo implantation.
This section will focus on embryo implantation dysfunction and IVF failure which in the vast majority of cases is caused by:
1. 1. Anatomical irregularities of the inner uterine surface:
2. a) Surface lesions such as polyps/fibroids/ scar tissue
3. b)endometrial thickness
4.
5. 2. Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction ( IID)lesions
6. a)Autoimmune IID
7. b) Alloimmune IID

1. ANATOMICAL IMPLANTATION DYSFUNCTION
a) Surface lesions such as polyps/fibroids/ scar tissue
When there are problems with the structure of the uterus, it can lead to difficulties in getting pregnant. While uterine fibroids usually don’t cause infertility, they can affect fertility when they distort the uterine cavity or protrude through the lining. Even small fibroids located just beneath the lining and protruding into the cavity can decrease the chances of the embryo attaching. Multiple fibroids within the uterine wall that encroach upon the cavity can disrupt blood flow, impair estrogen delivery, and prevent proper thickening of the lining. These issues can be identified through ultrasound during the menstrual cycle’s proliferative phase. Any lesion on the uterine surface, such as submucous fibroids, adhesions, endometrial polyps, or placental polyps, can interfere with implantation by causing a local inflammatory response similar to the effect of an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD).
Clearly, even small uterine lesions can have a negative impact on implantation. Considering the high costs and emotional toll associated with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and related procedures, it is reasonable to perform diagnostic tests like hysterosalpingography (HSG), fluid ultrasound examination (hysterosonogram), or hysteroscopy before starting IVF. Uterine lesions that can affect implantation often require surgical intervention. In most cases, procedures like dilatation and curettage (D&C) or hysteroscopic resection are sufficient. Rarely a laparotomy may be needed. Such interventions often lead to an improvement in the response of the uterine lining.
Hysterosonogram( HSN/saline ultrasound) is a procedure where a sterile saline solution is injected into the uterus through the cervix using a catheter. Vaginal ultrasound is then used to examine the fluid-filled cavity for any irregularities that might indicate surface lesions like polyps, fibroid tumors, scarring, or a septum. When performed by an expert, HSN is highly effective in detecting even the smallest lesions and can supplant hysteroscopy in certain cases. HSN is less expensive, less invasive/traumatic, and equally effective as hysteroscopy. The only drawback is that if a lesion is found, hysteroscopy may still be needed for treatment.
Hysteroscopy is a diagnostic procedure performed in an office setting with minimal discomfort to the patient. It involves inserting a thin, lighted instrument called a hysteroscope through the vagina and cervix into the uterus to examine the uterine cavity. Normal saline is used to distend the uterus during the procedure. Like HSN, hysteroscopy allows for direct visualization of the inside of the uterus to identify defects that could interfere with implantation. We have observed that around one in eight IVF candidates have lesions that need attention before undergoing IVF to optimize the chances of success. I strongly recommend that all patients undergo therapeutic surgery, usually hysteroscopy, to correct any identified issues before proceeding with IVF. Depending on the severity and nature of the problem, hysteroscopy may require general anesthesia and should be performed in a surgical facility equipped for laparotomy if necessary.
b) Thickness of the uterine lining (endometrium)
As far back as In 1989, I and my team made an important discovery about using ultrasound to assess the thickness of the endometrium during the late proliferative phase of both “ natural” and hormone-stimulated cycles. The assessment helped predict the chances of conception. We found that an ideal thickness of over 9mm at the time of ovulation , egg retrieval or with the commencement of progesterone therapy in embryo recipient cycles ( e.g., IVF with egg donation, gestational, surrogacy and embryo adoption) was associated with optimal implantation rates, while an endometrial thickness of less than 8 mm was associated with failure to implant or early pregnancy loss in the vast majority of cases. An endometrium measuring <8mm was almost invariably associated with failure to implant or early pregnancy loss in the while an endometrium measuring 8 to 9 mm was regarded as being intermediate, and while pregnancies did occur in this range, the rates were only slightly lower than with an optimal lining of 9 mm
A "poor" uterine lining typically occurs when the innermost layer of the endometrium (basal or germinal endometrium) is unable to respond to estrogen by developing a thick enough outer "functional" layer to support successful embryo implantation and placental development. The “functional” layer, which accounts for two-thirds of the total endometrial thickness, is shed during menstruation if pregnancy does not occur.
The main causes of a poor uterine lining are:
1. Damage to the basal endometrium due to:
o Inflammation of the endometrium (endometritis), often resulting from retained products of conception after abortion, miscarriage, or childbirth.
o Surgical trauma caused by aggressive dilatation and curettage (D&C).
2. Insensitivity of the basal endometrium to estrogen due to:
o Prolonged (back to back) use of clomiphene citrate for ovarian stimulation or…
o Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a drug given to prevent miscarriage in the 1960s.
3. Overexposure of the uterine lining to male hormones produced by the ovaries or administered during ovarian stimulation (primarily testosterone):
o Older women, women with DOR (poor responders), and women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) often have increased biological activity of luteinizing hormone (LH), leading to testosterone overproduction by the ovarian connective tissue (stroma/theca). This effect can be further amplified when certain ovarian stimulation protocols were high doses of menotropins ( e.g., Menopur) are used.
4. Reduced blood flow to the basal endometrium caused by:
o Multiple uterine fibroids, especially if they are located beneath the endometrium (submucosal).
o Uterine adenomyosis, which involves extensive abnormal invasion of endometrial glands into the uterine muscle.
In 1996 I introduced the Vaginal administration of Sildenafil (Viagra) to improve endometrial thickening. The selective administration of Sildenafil has shown great promise in improving uterine blood flow and increasing endometrial thickening in cases of thin endometrial linings. When administered vaginally, it is quickly absorbed and reaches high concentrations in the uterine blood system, diluting as it enters the systemic circulation. This method has been found to have minimal systemic side effects. However, it is important to note that Viagra may not be effective in all cases, as some cases of thin uterine linings may involve permanent damage to the basal endometrium, rendering it unresponsive to estrogen.
Severe endometrial damage leading to poor responsiveness to estrogen can occur in various situations. These include post-pregnancy endometritis (inflammation after childbirth), chronic granulomatous inflammation caused by uterine tuberculosis (rare in the United States), and significant surgical injury to the basal endometrium (which can happen after aggressive D&C procedures).

2. IMMUNOLOGIC IMPLANTATION DYSFUNCTION (IID)
There is a growing recognition that problems with the immune function in the uterus can lead to embryo implantation dysfunction. The failure of proper immunologic interaction during implantation has been implicated as a cause of recurrent miscarriage, late pregnancy fetal loss, IVF failure, and infertility. Some immunologic factors that may contribute to these issues include antiphospholipid antibodies (APA), antithyroid antibodies (ATA) , and activated natural killer cells (NKa).
• Activated natural Killer Cells (NKa):
During ovulation and early pregnancy, the uterine lining is frequented by NK cells and T-cells, which together make up more than 80% of the immune cells in the uterine lining. These cells travel from the bone marrow to the endometrium where they proliferate under hormonal regulation. When exposed to progesterone, they produce TH-1 and TH-2 cytokines. TH-2 cytokines help the trophoblast (embryo's "root system") to penetrate the uterine lining, while TH-1 cytokines induce apoptosis (cell suicide), limiting placental development to the inner part of the uterus. The balance between TH1 and TH-2 cytokines is crucial for optimal placental development. NK cells and T-cells contribute to cytokine production. Excessive TH-1 cytokine production is harmful to the trophoblast and endometrial cells, leading to programmed cell death and ultimately to implantation failure. Functional NK cells reach their highest concentration in the endometrium around 6-7days after ovulation or exposure to progesterone, which coincides with the time of embryo implantation. It’s important to note that measuring the concentration of blood NK cells doesn't reflect NK cell activation (NKa). The activation of NK cells is what matters. In certain conditions like endometriosis, the blood concentration of NK cells may be below normal, but NK cell activation is significantly increased.
There are several laboratory methods to assess NK cell activation (cytotoxicity), including immunohistochemical assessment of uterine NK cells and measuring TH-1 cytokines in the uterus or blood. However, the K-562 target cell blood test remains the gold standard. In this test, NK cells isolated from a woman's blood are incubated with specific "target cells," and the percentage of killed target cells is quantified. More than 12% killing indicates a level of NK cell activation that usually requires treatment. Currently, there are only a few Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories in the USA capable of reliably performing the K-562 target cell test.
There is a common misconception that adding IL (intralipid) or Intravenous gammaglobulin (IVIg) to NK cells can immediately downregulate NK cell activity. However, neither IL and IVIg cannot significantly suppress already activated NK cells. They are believed to work by regulating NK cell progenitors, which then produce downregulated NK cells. To assess the therapeutic effect, IL/IVIg infusion should be done about 14 days before embryos are transferred to the uterus to ensure a sufficient number of normal functional NK cells are present at the implantation site during embryo transfer. Failure to recognize this reality has led to the erroneous demand from IVF doctors for Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories to report on NK cell activity before and immediately after exposure to IVIg or IL at different concentrations. However, since already activated NK cells cannot be deactivated in the laboratory, assessing NKa suppression in this way has little clinical benefit. Even if blood is drawn 10-14 days after IL/IVIg treatment, it would take another 10-14 days to receive the results, which would be too late to be practically advantageous.
• Antiphospholipid Antibodies:
Many women who struggle with IVF failure or recurrent pregnancy loss, as well as those with a personal or family history of autoimmune diseases like lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and dermatomyositis, often test positive for antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs). Over 30 years ago, I proposed a treatment for women with positive APA tests. This involved using a low dose of heparin to improve the success of IVF implantation and increase birth rates. Research indicated that heparin could prevent APAs from affecting the embryo's "root system" ( the trophoblast), thus enhancing implantation. We later discovered that this therapy only benefits women whose APAs target specific phospholipids (phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylserine). Nowadays, longer-acting low molecular weight heparinoids like Lovenox and Clexane have replaced heparin.
• Antithyroid Antibodies ( thyroid peroxidase -TPO and antithyroglobulin antibodies (TGa)
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 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.

Almost 50% of women with antithyroid antibodies do not have activated cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) or natural killer cells (NK cells). This suggests that the antibodies themselves may not be the direct cause of reproductive dysfunction. Instead, the activation of CTL and NK cells, which occurs in about half of the cases with thyroid autoimmunity (TAI), is likely an accompanying phenomenon that damages the early "root system" (trophoblast) of the embryo during implantation.
Treating women who have both antithyroid antibodies and activated NK cells/CTL with intralipid (IL) and steroids improves their chances of successful reproduction. However, women with antithyroid antibodies who do not have activated NK cells/CTL do not require this treatment.
• Treatment Options for IID:
1. Intralipid (IL) Therapy: IL is a mixture of soybean lipid droplets in water, primarily used for providing nutrition. When administered intravenously, IL supplies essential fatty acids that can activate certain receptors in NK cells, reducing their cytotoxic activity and enhancing implantation. IL, combined with corticosteroids, suppresses the overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines by NK cells, improving reproductive outcomes. IL is cost-effective and has fewer side effects compared to other treatments like IVIg.
2. Intravenous immunoglobulin-G (IVIg) Therapy: In the past, IVIg was used to down-regulate activated NK cells. However, concerns about viral infections and the high cost led to a decline in its use. IVIg can be effective, but IL has become a more favorable and affordable alternative.
3. Corticosteroid Therapy: Corticosteroids, such as prednisone and dexamethasone, are commonly used in IVF treatment. They have an immunomodulatory effect and reduce TH-1 cytokine production by CTL. When combined with IL or IVIg, corticosteroids enhance the implantation process. Treatment typically starts 10-14 days before embryo transfer and continues until the 10th week of pregnancy.
4. Heparinoid Therapy: Low molecular weight heparin (Clexane, Lovenox)can improve IVF success rates in women with antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs) and may prevent pregnancy loss in certain thrombophilias when used during treatment. It is administered subcutaneously once daily from the start of ovarian stimulation.
5. TH-1 Cytokine Blockers (Enbrel, Humira): TH-1 cytokine blockers have limited effectiveness in the IVF setting and, in my opinion, no compelling evidence supports their use. They may have a role in treating threatened miscarriage caused by CTL/NK cell activation, but not for IVF treatment. TH-1 cytokines are needed for cellular response, during the early phase of implantation, so completely blocking them could hinder normal implantation.
5. Baby Aspirin and IVF: Baby aspirin doesn't offer much value in treating implantation dysfunction (IID) and may even reduce the chance of success. This is because aspirin thins the blood and increases the risk of bleeding, which can complicate procedures like egg retrieval or embryo transfer during IVF, potentially compromising its success.
6. Leukocyte Immunization Therapy (LIT):LIT involves injecting the male partner's lymphocytes into the mother to improve the recognition of the embryo as "self" and prevent rejection. LIT can up-regulate Treg cells and down-regulate NK cell activation, improving the balance of TH-1 and TH-2 cells in the uterus. However, the same benefits can be achieved through IL (Intralipid) therapy combined with corticosteroids. IL is more cost-effective, and the use of LIT is prohibited by law in the USA.
Types of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) and NK Cell Activation:
1. Autoimmune Implantation Dysfunction: Women with a personal or family history of autoimmune conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus Erythematosus, thyroid autoimmune disease (Hashimoto's disease and thyrotoxicosis), and endometriosis (in about one-third of cases) may experience autoimmune IID. However, autoimmune IID can also occur without any personal or family history of autoimmune diseases. Treatment for NK cell activation in IVF cases complicated by autoimmune IID involves a combination of daily oral dexamethasone from the start of ovarian stimulation until the 10th week of pregnancy, along with 20% intralipid (IL) infusion 10 days to 2 weeks before embryo transfer. With this treatment, the chance of a viable pregnancy occurring within two completed embryo transfer attempts is approximately 70% for women <40 years old who have normal ovarian reserve.
2. Alloimmune Implantation Dysfunction: NK cell activation occurs when the uterus is exposed to an embryo that shares certain genotypic (HLA/DQ alpha) similarities with the embryo recipient.
• Partial DQ alpha/HLA genetic matching: Couples who share only one DQ alpha/HLA gene are considered to have a "partial match." If NK cell activation is also present, this partial match puts the couple at a disadvantage for IVF success. However, it's important to note that DQ alpha/HLA matching, whether partial or total, does not cause IID without associated NK cell activation. Treatment for partial DQ alpha/HLA match with NK cell activation involves IL infusion and oral prednisone as adjunct therapy. IL infusion is repeated every 2-4 weeks after pregnancy is confirmed and continued until the 24th week of gestation. In these cases, only one embryo is transferred at a time to minimize the risk of NK cell activation.
• Total (Complete) Alloimmune Genetic Matching: A total alloimmune match occurs when the husband's DQ alpha genotype matches both that of the partner. Although rare, this total match along with NK cell activation significantly reduces the chance of a viable pregnancy resulting in a live birth at term. In some cases, the use of a gestational surrogate may be necessary.
It should be emphasized that poor embryo quality is not always the main cause of reproductive dysfunction and that the complex interaction between embryonic cells and the lining of the uterus plays a critical role in successful implantation. Women with personal or family histories of autoimmune disease or endometriosis and those with unexplained (often repeated) IVF failure or recurrent pregnancy loss, often have immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID as the underlying cause . For such women, it is important to understand how IID leads to reproductive failure and how selective treatment options such as intralipid (IL), corticosteroid and heparinoid therapy, can dramatically improve reproductive outcomes. Finally, there is real hope that proper identification and management of IID can significantly improve the chance of successful reproduction and ultimately contribute to better quality of life after birth.

B. ADDRESSING ADVANCING AGE AND DIMINISHING OVARIAN RESERVE (DOR) IN IVF
Geoffrey Sher MD
Understanding the impact of age and ovarian reserve on the success of in vitro fertilization (IVF) is crucial when it comes to reproductive health. This article aims to simplify and clarify these concepts, emphasizing their significance in the selection of ovarian stimulation protocols for IVF. By providing you with this information, we hope to shed light on the importance of considering these factors and making informed decisions regarding fertility treatments.
1. The Role of Eggs in Chromosomal Integrity: In the process of creating a healthy embryo, it is primarily the egg that determines the chromosomal integrity, which is crucial for the embryo's competency. A competent egg possesses a normal karyotype, increasing the chances of developing into a healthy baby. It's important to note that not all eggs are competent, and the incidence of irregular chromosome numbers (aneuploidy) increases with age.
2. Meiosis and Fertilization: Following the initiation of the LH surge or the hCG trigger shot, the egg undergoes a process called meiosis, halving its chromosomes to 23. During this process, a structure called the polar body is expelled from the egg, while the remaining chromosomes are retained. The mature sperm, also undergoing meiosis, contributes 23 chromosomes. Fertilization occurs when these chromosomes combine, resulting in a euploid embryo with 46 chromosomes. Only euploid embryos are competent and capable of developing into healthy babies.
3. The Significance of Embryo Ploidy: Embryo ploidy, referring to the numerical chromosomal integrity, is a critical factor in determining embryo competency. Aneuploid embryos, which have an irregular number of chromosomes, are often incompetent and unable to propagate healthy pregnancies. Failed nidation, miscarriages, and chromosomal birth defects can be linked to embryo ploidy issues. Both egg and sperm aneuploidy can contribute, but egg aneuploidy is usually the primary cause.
4. Embryo Development and Competency: Embryos that develop too slowly or too quickly, have abnormal cell counts, contain debris or fragments, or fail to reach the blastocyst stage are often aneuploid and incompetent. Monitoring these developmental aspects can provide valuable insights into embryo competency.
5. Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): As women advance in their reproductive age, the number of remaining eggs in the ovaries decreases. Diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) occurs when the egg count falls below a certain threshold, making it more challenging to respond to fertility drugs effectively. This condition is often indicated by specific hormone levels, such as elevated FSH and decreased AMH. DOR can affect women over 40, but it can also occur in younger

Why IVF should be regarded as treatment of choice for older women an those who have diminished ovarian reserve ( DOR):
Understanding the following factors will go a long way in helping you to make an informed decision and thereby improve the chances of a successful IVF outcome.
1. Age and Ovarian Reserve: Chronological age plays a vital role in determining the quality of eggs and embryos. As women age, there is an increased risk of aneuploidy (abnormal chromosome numbers) in eggs and embryos, leading to reduced competency. Additionally, women with declining ovarian reserve (DOR), regardless of their age, are more likely to have aneuploid eggs/embryos. Therefore, it is crucial to address age-related factors and ovarian reserve to enhance IVF success.
2. Excessive Luteinizing Hormone (LH) and Testosterone Effects: In women with DOR, their ovaries and developing eggs are susceptible to the adverse effects of excessive LH, which stimulates the overproduction of male hormones like testosterone. While some testosterone promotes healthy follicle growth and egg development, an excess of testosterone has a negative impact. Therefore, in older women or those with DOR, ovarian stimulation protocols that down-regulate LH activity before starting gonadotropins are necessary to improve egg/embryo quality and IVF outcomes.
3. Individualized Ovarian Stimulation Protocols: Although age is a significant factor in aneuploidy, it is possible to prevent further decline in egg/embryo competency by tailoring ovarian stimulation protocols. Here are my preferred protocols for women with relatively normal ovarian reserve:
a. Conventional Long Pituitary Down Regulation Protocol:
• Begin birth control pills (BCP) early in the cycle for at least 10 days.
• Three days before stopping BCP, overlap with an agonist like Lupron for three days.
• Continue daily Lupron until menstruation begins.
• Conduct ultrasound and blood estradiol measurements to assess ovarian status.
• Administer FSH-dominant gonadotropin along with Menopur for stimulation.
• Monitor follicle development through ultrasound and blood estradiol measurements.
• Trigger egg maturation using hCG injection, followed by egg retrieval.
b. Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol (A/ACP):
• Similar to the conventional long down regulation protocol but replace the agonist with a GnRH antagonist from the onset of post-BCP menstruation until the trigger day.
• Consider adding supplementary human growth hormone (HGH) for women with DOR.
• Consider using “priming” with estrogen prior to gonadotropin administration
c. Protocols to Avoid for Older Women or Those with DOR: Certain ovarian stimulation protocols may not be suitable for older women or those with declining ovarian reserve:
• Microdose agonist "flare" protocols
• High dosages of LH-containing fertility drugs such as Menopur
• Testosterone-based supplementation
• DHEA supplementation
• Clomiphene citrate or Letrozole
• Low-dosage hCG triggering or agonist triggering for women with DOR

Preimplantation Genetic Screening/Testing(PGS/T): PGS/T is a valuable tool for identifying chromosomal abnormalities in eggs and embryos. By selecting the most competent (euploid) embryos, PGS/T significantly improves the success of IVF, especially in older women or those with DOR.
Understanding the impact of advancing age and declining ovarian reserve on IVF outcomes is essential when making decisions about fertility treatments. Age-related factors can affect egg quality and increase the likelihood of aneuploid embryos with resultant IVF failure. Diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) further complicates the process. By considering these factors, you can make informed choices and work closely with fertility specialists to optimize your chances of success. Remember, knowledge is power, and being aware of these aspects empowers you to take control of your reproductive journey.

C. Premature Luteinization: A Hurdle in Ovarian Stimulation

Geoffrey Sher MD

Premature luteinization, is a condition where a progressive increase in LH (luteinizing hormone) disrupts the development and maturation of follicles and eggs before the planned hCG trigger is initiated. This phenomenon is not an isolated occurrence; it results from a series of ovarian events, often affecting susceptible women, particularly older women and those with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR). It is more likely to happen when the ovarian stimulation protocol fails to keep LH levels low throughout the stimulation process.

Once premature luteinization sets in during a stimulation cycle, it cannot be reversed by altering the ongoing stimulation or by administering GnRH antagonists like Ganirelix, Cetrotide, or Orgalutron midway through the cycle in the hope of rescuing the developing eggs. Unfortunately, once it starts, the cycle is likely to fail. This condition raises the risk of premature ovulation, unsuccessful egg retrieval (referred to as “empty follicle syndrome”), and the occurrence of chromosomal abnormalities in eggs and embryos.

This issue is most commonly observed in older women and those with severe DOR. However, its impact can be mitigated through personalized and strategic protocols for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS), along with optimizing the type, timing, and dosage of the “hCG trigger shot.”

Typically, the “trigger shot” is administered after optimal ovarian stimulation to initiate meiosis (reproductive division) within 36- 40 hours, reducing the chromosome count from 46 to 23. Additionally, it enables the egg to detach from the follicle wall for easy retrieval.

Older women and those with DOR tend to have higher levels of biologically active LH, which promotes the production of excessive male hormones ( predominantly, testosterone) by ovarian connective tissue. A controlled amount of testosterone is necessary for healthy follicle development and egg development ( oogenesis) induced by FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone). Excessive LH activity can result in overproduction of ovarian testosterone, compromising oogenesis and leading to a higher likelihood of chromosomal abnormalities in eggs following meiosis.

Women with increased LH activity due to age or DOR are particularly vulnerable to the effects of prolonged exposure to LH-induced ovarian testosterone. Medications or protocols that further stimulate pituitary LH release, contain LH or hCG, or promote increased exposure to the woman’s own pituitary LH can be detrimental.

To address this issue effectively, it is crucial to tailor COS protocols, choose the appropriate hCG trigger dosage and type, and administer it at the right time. For urinary-derived hCG (such as Novarel, Pregnyl, and Profasi), 10,000U is the ideal dosage. When using recombinant DNA-derived hCG (like Ovidrel), 500mcg is recommended. Using lower dosages can increase the risk of egg chromosomal abnormalities and affect the overall outcome of IVF treatments.
__________________________________________________________________
PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH OTHERS AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD!!

Herewith are online links to 2 E-books 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

2. Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link ;https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

I invite you to visit my very recently launched “Podcast”, “HAVE A BABY” on RUMBLE; https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480
If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or email her at concierge@sherivf.com\

i

Name: Diana R

Ya que mi esposo no tiene yo creo que una niña

Answer:

Please re-post in English!

Geoff Sher

Name: Irit L

Dear Dr. Sher,

Just had my 6th miscarriage, natural conception with ivig and lit.

I am disgnosed with partial dq-alpha gene match (0301) and elevated nk cells.
We have a 4.5 years old son concieved naturaly and easily.

My miscarriages are very early.
We had 3 LITs a year and a half ago however LAD is still negative.
I took 30g IVIG on ovulution and on positive hgc test.
Aldo added ovidral on positive hgc test.

Immune pannel taken a day after the second ivig showed elevated tnf-alpha, elevated nk cell activity and 29.4% nk cell count.

We lost the pregnancy, the sac was empty and matched 4 weeks size.

I am way over 40 however I plan to bank embreyos for surrogocy.
We did another LIT after the miscarriage as my doctor thinks it can still work if lad turns positive.

Given my condition, Do you think there are other treatments that can work given my condition?
I refuse to take steroids and other medication which can harm egg quality due to past experience.

What do you think about neupogen / tacro / intralipids?

Thanks a lot for your time
Irit

Answer:

Firstly,

In order for treatment with IVIG or intralipid to work optimally, it must begin long before pregnancy is established. From your report it sounds as if the IVIG therapy only started after the pregnancy was diagnosed and that is too late. Second, treatment must of necessity also include steroids (e.g., Prednisone).

UNDERSTANDING RECURRENT PREGNANCY LOSS ( RPL): CAUSES AND SOLUTIONS.
Geoffrey Sher MD
When it comes to reproduction, humans face challenges compared to other mammals. A significant number of fertilized eggs in humans do not result in live births, with up to 75% failing to develop, and around 30% of pregnancies ending within the first 10 weeks (first trimester). Recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) refers to two or more consecutive failed pregnancies, which is relatively rare, affecting less than 5% of women for two losses and only 1% for three or more losses. Understanding the causes of pregnancy loss and finding solutions is crucial for those affected. This article aims to explain the different types of pregnancy loss and shed light on potential causes.
Types of Pregnancy Loss: Pregnancy loss can occur at various stages, leading to different classifications:
1. Early Pregnancy Loss: Also known as a miscarriage, this typically happens in the first trimester. Early pregnancy losses are usually sporadic, not recurring. In over 70% of cases, these losses are due to chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo, where there are more or fewer than the normal 46 chromosomes. Therefore, they are not likely to be repetitive.
2. Late Pregnancy Loss: Late pregnancy losses occur after the first trimester (12th week) and are less common (1% of pregnancies). They often result from anatomical abnormalities in the uterus or cervix. Weakness in the cervix, known as cervical incompetence, is a frequent cause. Other factors include developmental abnormalities of the uterus, uterine fibroid tumors, intrauterine growth retardation, placental abruption, premature rupture of membranes, and premature labor.
Causes of Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL): Recurrent pregnancy loss refers to multiple consecutive miscarriages. While chromosomal abnormalities are a leading cause of sporadic early pregnancy losses, RPL cases are mostly attributed to non-chromosomal factors. Some possible causes include:
1. Uterine Environment Problems: Issues with the uterine environment can prevent a normal embryo from properly implanting and developing. These problems may include inadequate thickening of the uterine lining, irregularities in the uterine cavity (such as polyps, fibroid tumors, scarring, or adenomyosis), hormonal imbalances (progesterone deficiency or luteal phase defects), and deficient blood flow to the uterine lining.
2. Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID): IID is a significant cause of RPL, contributing to 75% of cases where chromosomally normal embryos fail to implant. It involves the immune system’s response to pregnancy, which can interfere with successful implantation.
3. Blood Clotting Disorders: Thrombophilia, a hereditary clotting disorder, can disrupt the blood supply to the developing fetus, leading to pregnancy loss.
4. Genetic and Structural Abnormalities: Genetic abnormalities are rare causes of RPL, while structural chromosomal abnormalities occur infrequently (1%). Unbalanced translocation, where part of one chromosome detaches and fuses with another, can lead to pregnancy loss. Studies also suggest that damaged sperm DNA can negatively impact fetal development and result in miscarriage.

IMMUNOLOGIC IMPLANTATION DYSFUNCTION AND RPL:

Autoimmune IID: Here an immunologic reaction is produced by the individual to his/her body’s own cellular components. The most common antibodies that form in such situations are APA and antithyroid antibodies (ATA). But it is only when specialized immune cells in the uterine lining, known as cytotoxic lymphocytes (CTL) and natural killer (NK) cells, become activated and start to release an excessive/disproportionate amount of TH-1 cytokines that attack the root system of the embryo, that implantation potential is jeopardized. Diagnosis of such activation requires highly specialized blood test for cytokine activity that can only be performed by a handful of reproductive immunology reference laboratories in the United States. Alloimmune IID, (i.e., where antibodies are formed against antigens derived from another member of the same species), is believed to be a common immunologic cause of recurrent pregnancy loss. Autoimmune IID is often genetically transmitted. Thus, it should not be surprising to learn that it is more likely to exist in women who have a family (or personal) history of primary autoimmune diseases such as lupus erythematosus (LE), scleroderma or autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s disease), autoimmune hyperthyroidism (Grave’s disease), rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Reactionary (secondary) autoimmunity can occur in conjunction with any medical condition associated with widespread tissue damage. One such gynecologic condition is endometriosis. Since autoimmune IID is usually associated with activated NK and T-cells from the outset, it usually results in such very early destruction of the embryo’s root system that the patient does not even recognize that she is pregnant. Accordingly, the condition usually presents as “unexplained infertility” or “unexplained IVF failure” rather than as a miscarriage. Alloimmune IID, on the other hand, usually starts off presenting as unexplained miscarriages (often manifesting as RPL). Over time as NK/T cell activation builds and eventually becomes permanently established the patient often goes from RPL to “infertility” due to failed implantation. RPL is more commonly the consequence of alloimmune rather than autoimmune implantation dysfunction. However, regardless, of whether miscarriage is due to autoimmune or alloimmune implantation dysfunction the final blow to the pregnancy is the result of activated natural killer cells (NKa) and cytotoxic lymphocytes (CTL B) in the uterine lining that damage the developing embryo’s “root system” (trophoblast) so that it can no longer sustain the growing conceptus. This having been said, it is important to note that autoimmune IID is readily amenable to reversal through timely, appropriately administered, selective immunotherapy, and alloimmune IID is not. It is much more difficult to treat successfully, even with the use of immunotherapy. In fact, in some cases the only solution will be to revert to selective immunotherapy plus using donor sperm (provided there is no “match” between the donor’s DQa profile and that of the female recipient) or alternatively to resort to gestational surrogacy.

DIAGNOSING THE CAUSE OF RPL.
In the past, women who miscarried were not evaluated thoroughly until they had lost several pregnancies in a row. This was because sporadic miscarriages are most commonly the result of embryo numerical chromosomal irregularities (aneuploidy) and thus not treatable. However, a consecutive series of miscarriages points to a repetitive cause that is non-chromosomal and is potentially remediable. Since RPL is most commonly due to a uterine pathology or immunologic causes that are potentially treatable, it follows that early chromosomal evaluation of products of conception could point to a potentially treatable situation. Thus, I strongly recommend that such testing be done in most cases of miscarriage. Doing so will avoid a great deal of unnecessary heartache for many patients. Establishing the correct diagnosis is the first step toward determining effective treatment for couples with RPL. It results from a problem within the pregnancy itself or within the uterine environment where the pregnancy implants and grows. Diagnostic tests useful in identifying individuals at greater risk for a problem within the pregnancy itself include Karyotyping (chromosome analysis) both prospective parents Assessment of the karyotype of products of conception derived from previous miscarriage specimens Ultrasound examination of the uterine cavity after sterile water is injected or sonohysterogram, fluid ultrasound, etc.) Hysterosalpingogram (dye X-ray test) Hysteroscopic evaluation of the uterine cavity Full hormonal evaluation (estrogen, progesterone, adrenal steroid hormones, thyroid hormones, FSH/LH, etc.) Immunologic testing to include Antiphospholipid antibody (APA) panel Antinuclear antibody (ANA) panel Antithyroid antibody panel (i.e., antithyroglobulin and antimicrosomal antibodies) Reproductive immunophenotype Natural killer cell activity (NKa) assay (i.e., K562 target cell test) Alloimmune testing of both the male and female partners

TREATMENT OF RPL
• Treatment for Anatomic Abnormalities of the Uterus:
This involves restoration through removal of local lesions such as fibroids, scar tissue, and endometrial polyps or timely insertion of a cervical cerclage (a stitch placed around the neck of the weakened cervix) or the excision of a uterine septum when indicated. Treatment of Thin Uterine Lining: A thin uterine lining has been shown to correlate with compromised pregnancy outcome. Often this will be associated with reduced blood flow to the endometrium. Such decreased blood flow to the uterus can be improved through treatment with sildenafil and possibly aspirin. sildenafil (Viagra) Therapy. Viagra has been used successfully to increase uterine blood flow. However, to be effective it must be administered starting as soon as the period stops up until the day of ovulation and it must be administered vaginally (not orally). Viagra in the form of vaginal suppositories given in the dosage of 25 mg four times a day has been shown to increase uterine blood flow as well as thickness of the uterine lining. To date, we have seen significant improvement of the thickness of the uterine lining in about 70% of women treated. Successful pregnancy resulted in 42% of women who responded to the Viagra. It should be remembered that most of these women had previously experienced repeated IVF failures. Use of Aspirin: This is an anti-prostaglandin that improves blood flow to the endometrium. It is administered at a dosage of 81 mg orally, daily from the beginning of the cycle until ovulation.

Treating Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction with Selective Immunotherapy:
Modalities such as intralipid (IL), intravenous immunoglobulin-G (IVIG), heparinoids (Lovenox/Clexane), and corticosteroids (dexamethasone, prednisone, prednisolone) can be used in select cases depending on autoimmune or alloimmune dysfunction. The Use of IVF in the Treatment of RPL In the following circumstances, IVF is the preferred option: When in addition to a history of RPL, another standard indication for IVF (e.g., tubal factor, endometriosis, and male factor infertility) is superimposed and in cases where selective immunotherapy is needed to treat an immunologic implantation dysfunction. The reason for IVF being a preferred approach when immunotherapy is indicated is that in order to be effective, immunotherapy needs to be initiated well before spontaneous or induced ovulation. Given the fact that the anticipated birthrate per cycle of COS with or without IUI is at best about 15%, it follows that short of IVF, to have even a reasonable chance of a live birth, most women with immunologic causes of RPL would need to undergo immunotherapy repeatedly, over consecutive cycles. Conversely, with IVF, the chance of a successful outcome in a single cycle of treatment is several times greater and, because of the attenuated and concentrated time period required for treatment, IVF is far safer and thus represents a more practicable alternative Since embryo aneuploidy is a common cause of miscarriage, the use of preimplantation genetic screening/ testing (PGS/T), with tests such as next generation gene sequencing (NGS), can provide a valuable diagnostic and therapeutic advantage in cases of RPL. PGS/T requires IVF to provide access to embryos for testing. There are a few cases of intractable alloimmune dysfunction due to absolute DQ alpha gene matching ( where there is a complete genotyping match between the male and female partners) where Gestational Surrogacy or use of donor sperm could represent the only viable recourse, other than abandoning treatment altogether and/or resorting to adoption. Other non-immunologic factors such as an intractably thin uterine lining or severe uterine pathology might also warrant that last resort consideration be given to gestational surrogacy. Conclusion:

Understanding the causes of pregnancy loss is crucial for individuals experiencing recurrent miscarriages. While chromosomal abnormalities are a common cause of sporadic early pregnancy losses, other factors such as uterine environment problems, immunologic implantation dysfunction, blood clotting disorders, and genetic or structural abnormalities can contribute to recurrent losses. By identifying the underlying cause, healthcare professionals can provide appropriate interventions and support to improve the chances of a successful pregnancy. The good news is that if a couple with RPL is open to all of the diagnostic and treatment options referred to above, a live birthrate of 70%–80% is ultimately achievable.
____________________________________________________________________________

PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH OTHERS AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD!!

Herewith are online links to 2 E-books 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

2. Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link ;https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

I invite you to visit my very recently launched “Podcast”, “HAVE A BABY” on RUMBLE; https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480
If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or email her at concierge@sherivf.com\

Name: Dean W

Hi my wife and I have a partial dq alpha gene match our first child was Ivf my wife did intralipids and steroids clexane we conceived our son naturally 9 months after our daughter was born and she went back on the steroids and intralipid therapy we are currently trying for baby no 3 should we consider lmit treatment or just the autoimmune protocol this time around she has always had high nk cells in the uterus

Answer:

You were very lucky to conceive and have a successful pregnancy without using IVF with your immunotherapy. You are best advised to combine the two for this attempt!

IMMUNOLOGIC IMPLANTATION DYSFUNCTION (IID)
There is a growing recognition that problems with the immune function in the uterus can lead to embryo implantation dysfunction. The failure of proper immunologic interaction during implantation has been implicated as a cause of recurrent miscarriage, late pregnancy fetal loss, IVF failure, and infertility. Some immunologic factors that may contribute to these issues include antiphospholipid antibodies (APA), antithyroid antibodies (ATA) , and activated natural killer cells (NKa).
• Activated natural Killer Cells (NKa):
During ovulation and early pregnancy, the uterine lining is frequented by NK cells and T-cells, which together make up more than 80% of the immune cells in the uterine lining. These cells travel from the bone marrow to the endometrium where they proliferate under hormonal regulation. When exposed to progesterone, they produce TH-1 and TH-2 cytokines. TH-2 cytokines help the trophoblast (embryo’s “root system”) to penetrate the uterine lining, while TH-1 cytokines induce apoptosis (cell suicide), limiting placental development to the inner part of the uterus. The balance between TH1 and TH-2 cytokines is crucial for optimal placental development. NK cells and T-cells contribute to cytokine production. Excessive TH-1 cytokine production is harmful to the trophoblast and endometrial cells, leading to programmed cell death and ultimately to implantation failure. Functional NK cells reach their highest concentration in the endometrium around 6-7days after ovulation or exposure to progesterone, which coincides with the time of embryo implantation. It’s important to note that measuring the concentration of blood NK cells doesn’t reflect NK cell activation (NKa). The activation of NK cells is what matters. In certain conditions like endometriosis, the blood concentration of NK cells may be below normal, but NK cell activation is significantly increased.
There are several laboratory methods to assess NK cell activation (cytotoxicity), including immunohistochemical assessment of uterine NK cells and measuring TH-1 cytokines in the uterus or blood. However, the K-562 target cell blood test remains the gold standard. In this test, NK cells isolated from a woman’s blood are incubated with specific “target cells,” and the percentage of killed target cells is quantified. More than 12% killing indicates a level of NK cell activation that usually requires treatment. Currently, there are only a few Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories in the USA capable of reliably performing the K-562 target cell test.
There is a common misconception that adding IL (intralipid) or Intravenous gammaglobulin (IVIg) to NK cells can immediately downregulate NK cell activity. However, neither IL and IVIg cannot significantly suppress already activated NK cells. They are believed to work by regulating NK cell progenitors, which then produce downregulated NK cells. To assess the therapeutic effect, IL/IVIg infusion should be done about 14 days before embryos are transferred to the uterus to ensure a sufficient number of normal functional NK cells are present at the implantation site during embryo transfer. Failure to recognize this reality has led to the erroneous demand from IVF doctors for Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories to report on NK cell activity before and immediately after exposure to IVIg or IL at different concentrations. However, since already activated NK cells cannot be deactivated in the laboratory, assessing NKa suppression in this way has little clinical benefit. Even if blood is drawn 10-14 days after IL/IVIg treatment, it would take another 10-14 days to receive the results, which would be too late to be practically advantageous.
• Antiphospholipid Antibodies:
Many women who struggle with IVF failure or recurrent pregnancy loss, as well as those with a personal or family history of autoimmune diseases like lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and dermatomyositis, often test positive for antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs). Over 30 years ago, I proposed a treatment for women with positive APA tests. This involved using a low dose of heparin to improve the success of IVF implantation and increase birth rates. Research indicated that heparin could prevent APAs from affecting the embryo’s “root system” ( the trophoblast), thus enhancing implantation. We later discovered that this therapy only benefits women whose APAs target specific phospholipids (phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylserine). Nowadays, longer-acting low molecular weight heparinoids like Lovenox and Clexane have replaced heparin.
• Antithyroid Antibodies ( thyroid peroxidase -TPO and antithyroglobulin antibodies (TGa)
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 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.

Almost 50% of women with antithyroid antibodies do not have activated cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) or natural killer cells (NK cells). This suggests that the antibodies themselves may not be the direct cause of reproductive dysfunction. Instead, the activation of CTL and NK cells, which occurs in about half of the cases with thyroid autoimmunity (TAI), is likely an accompanying phenomenon that damages the early “root system” (trophoblast) of the embryo during implantation.
Treating women who have both antithyroid antibodies and activated NK cells/CTL with intralipid (IL) and steroids improves their chances of successful reproduction. However, women with antithyroid antibodies who do not have activated NK cells/CTL do not require this treatment.
• Treatment Options for IID:
1. Intralipid (IL) Therapy: IL is a mixture of soybean lipid droplets in water, primarily used for providing nutrition. When administered intravenously, IL supplies essential fatty acids that can activate certain receptors in NK cells, reducing their cytotoxic activity and enhancing implantation. IL, combined with corticosteroids, suppresses the overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines by NK cells, improving reproductive outcomes. IL is cost-effective and has fewer side effects compared to other treatments like IVIg.
2. Intravenous immunoglobulin-G (IVIg) Therapy: In the past, IVIg was used to down-regulate activated NK cells. However, concerns about viral infections and the high cost led to a decline in its use. IVIg can be effective, but IL has become a more favorable and affordable alternative.
3. Corticosteroid Therapy: Corticosteroids, such as prednisone and dexamethasone, are commonly used in IVF treatment. They have an immunomodulatory effect and reduce TH-1 cytokine production by CTL. When combined with IL or IVIg, corticosteroids enhance the implantation process. Treatment typically starts 10-14 days before embryo transfer and continues until the 10th week of pregnancy.
4. Heparinoid Therapy: Low molecular weight heparin (Clexane, Lovenox)can improve IVF success rates in women with antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs) and may prevent pregnancy loss in certain thrombophilias when used during treatment. It is administered subcutaneously once daily from the start of ovarian stimulation.
5. TH-1 Cytokine Blockers (Enbrel, Humira): TH-1 cytokine blockers have limited effectiveness in the IVF setting and, in my opinion, no compelling evidence supports their use. They may have a role in treating threatened miscarriage caused by CTL/NK cell activation, but not for IVF treatment. TH-1 cytokines are needed for cellular response, during the early phase of implantation, so completely blocking them could hinder normal implantation.
5. Baby Aspirin and IVF: Baby aspirin doesn’t offer much value in treating implantation dysfunction (IID) and may even reduce the chance of success. This is because aspirin thins the blood and increases the risk of bleeding, which can complicate procedures like egg retrieval or embryo transfer during IVF, potentially compromising its success.
6. Leukocyte Immunization Therapy (LIT):LIT involves injecting the male partner’s lymphocytes into the mother to improve the recognition of the embryo as “self” and prevent rejection. LIT can up-regulate Treg cells and down-regulate NK cell activation, improving the balance of TH-1 and TH-2 cells in the uterus. However, the same benefits can be achieved through IL (Intralipid) therapy combined with corticosteroids. IL is more cost-effective, and the use of LIT is prohibited by law in the USA.
Types of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) and NK Cell Activation:
1. Autoimmune Implantation Dysfunction: Women with a personal or family history of autoimmune conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus Erythematosus, thyroid autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s disease and thyrotoxicosis), and endometriosis (in about one-third of cases) may experience autoimmune IID. However, autoimmune IID can also occur without any personal or family history of autoimmune diseases. Treatment for NK cell activation in IVF cases complicated by autoimmune IID involves a combination of daily oral dexamethasone from the start of ovarian stimulation until the 10th week of pregnancy, along with 20% intralipid (IL) infusion 10 days to 2 weeks before embryo transfer. With this treatment, the chance of a viable pregnancy occurring within two completed embryo transfer attempts is approximately 70% for women <40 years old who have normal ovarian reserve.
2. Alloimmune Implantation Dysfunction: NK cell activation occurs when the uterus is exposed to an embryo that shares certain genotypic (HLA/DQ alpha) similarities with the embryo recipient.
• Partial DQ alpha/HLA genetic matching: Couples who share only one DQ alpha/HLA gene are considered to have a "partial match." If NK cell activation is also present, this partial match puts the couple at a disadvantage for IVF success. However, it's important to note that DQ alpha/HLA matching, whether partial or total, does not cause IID without associated NK cell activation. Treatment for partial DQ alpha/HLA match with NK cell activation involves IL infusion and oral prednisone as adjunct therapy. IL infusion is repeated every 2-4 weeks after pregnancy is confirmed and continued until the 24th week of gestation. In these cases, only one embryo is transferred at a time to minimize the risk of NK cell activation.
• Total (Complete) Alloimmune Genetic Matching: A total alloimmune match occurs when the husband's DQ alpha genotype matches both that of the partner. Although rare, this total match along with NK cell activation significantly reduces the chance of a viable pregnancy resulting in a live birth at term. In some cases, the use of a gestational surrogate may be necessary.
___________________________________________________________________________

PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH OTHERS AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD!!

Herewith are online links to 2 E-books 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

2. Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link ;https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iYKz-EkAjMqwMa1ZcufIloRdxnAfDH8L/view

I invite you to visit my very recently launched “Podcast”, “HAVE A BABY” on RUMBLE; https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480
If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or email her at concierge@sherivf.com\

Name: Maria S

Dear Dr. George

I am a 36-year-old female struggling with fertility issues and preparing for IVF. My recent tests have shown an AMH level of 5 pmol/L in UK units, indicating possible low ovarian reserve. I typically experience late ovulation and a short luteal phase, but my progesterone levels on day 21 of my cycle are normal. An antral follicle count revealed 6 follicles on one side and 10 on the other. Additionally, my serum DHEA is 3.6 umol/L. I am currently on 100 mcg of Levothyroxine for hypothyroidism, my TSH is at 2, and I don’t have Hashimoto’s disease.

I have a 5-year-old son, conceived after 2 years of trying, and I’ve had one miscarriage at 7 weeks. To prepare for IVF, I’m taking 200mg of ubiquinol, myo-inositol, and vitamin D supplements. I am also planning to take vaginal probiotics to prepare for the ivf.

Given my history and current regimen, what additional steps or supplements would you recommend to improve my chances of success with IVF? Are there specific strategies or treatments we should consider to address my late ovulation, short luteal phase, or low AMH levels to optimize my fertility?

Thank you for your guidance.

Answer:

WHY DID MY IVF FAIL: HOW CAN I OPTIMIZE THE CHANCE OF SUCCEEDING NEXT TIME ROUND

Geoffrey Sher MD

If you’ve undergone in vitro fertilization (IVF) and didn’t achieve a successful pregnancy, you may be wondering why. It’s important to know that IVF outcomes can be unpredictable, but there are factors that can affect your chances. Let’s explore some common reasons for IVF failure in simpler terms.

  1. Age: A woman’s age is a significant factor in IVF success. Generally, women under 35 have a higher chance of getting pregnant through IVF, around 35-40% per embryo transfer. However, this success rate decreases as women get older. For women in their mid-forties, the success rate drops to under 5%. This decline is mainly because the quality of eggs decreases as women age, affecting their ability to develop normally.

 

  1. Egg/Embryo Competency: Apart from age, the quality and competency of embryos also affect IVF success. The quality of eggs and embryos is influenced by a woman’s age. However, for older women or those with fewer eggs, the specific IVF protocol used to stimulate the ovaries becomes crucial. A more aggressive approach may be needed to maximize the chances of success. Previously, it was thought that the uterus was better for embryo development than the lab environment. So, early-stage embryos were transferred to the uterus based on their appearance. However, we now know that embryos that have progressed further in development are more likely to be successful. Embryos that don’t reach the blastocyst stage within 5-6 days after fertilization are considered less competent and not suitable for transfer. Additionally, Preimplantation Genetic Sampling / Testing (PGS/T) allows us to check the chromosomes of embryos. This technique helps select the most competent embryos for transfer, especially for older women, those with fewer eggs, repeated IVF failures, and recurrent pregnancy loss.

 

  1. Number of Embryos Transferred: Some people believe that transferring more embryos increases the chances of success. While this may have some truth, it’s essential to know that if the problem lies with the ovarian stimulation protocol, transferring more embryos won’t solve it. Also, transferring more embryos doesn’t fix issues related to embryo implantation dysfunction, such as anatomical or immunologic problems. Moreover, multiple embryos can lead to higher-order multiple pregnancies, which pose risks. To minimize these risks, it’s generally recommended to transfer a maximum of two embryos, or even just one, especially when using eggs from young women.
  1. Implantation Dysfunction (ID): Implantation dysfunction is often overlooked as a cause of unexplained IVF failure, especially in young women with normal ovarian reserve and fertile partners. Failure to identify and address these issues can result in repeated IVF failures. If transferring competent embryos repeatedly fails to result in a viable pregnancy, implantation dysfunction should be considered. The most common causes include:
    1. Thin Uterine Lining: When the lining of the uterus is too thin, it can affect the embryo’s ability to implant and grow.
    2. Surface Lesions in the Uterus: Polyps, fibroids, or scar tissue in the uterus can interfere with embryo implantation.
    3. Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID): Sometimes, the immune system can mistakenly attack the embryo, preventing successful implantation.
    4. Endocrine/Molecular Endometrial Receptivity Issues: Hormonal or molecular issues in the uterine lining can impact the embryo’s ability to attach and develop.
    5. Ureaplasma Urealyticum (UU) Infection: This infection in the cervical mucous and uterine lining can lead to unexplained early pregnancy loss or IVF failure. Both partners should be tested and treated if positive to prevent transmission.

Certain causes of infertility are difficult or impossible  to reverse, e.g.; advanced age of the woman, severe male infertility, and immunologic implantation dysfunction associated with certain specific genetic factors.

Understanding the common factors contributing to IVF failure can help you have informed discussions with your doctor and make decisions for future attempts. Factors like the number of embryos transferred and implantation dysfunction play significant roles. While success cannot be guaranteed, knowing these factors can guide you in maximizing your chances and addressing potential issues.

_____________________________________________________________________

PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH OTHERS AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD!!

 

Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books 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

 

I invite you to visit my very recently launched “Podcast”,  “HAVE A BABY” on RUMBLE;   https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480

If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or email her at concierge@sherivf.com\

 

Name: J H

Hi. I did multiple rounds of egg freezing and two times although 6 follicles showed on ultrasound the lab retrieved just one. The doctor said i should consider donor eggs. I did these procedures in Lebanon and i was wondering if the quality of the lab or the skills of the doctor could be the issue. I am now 42 years old and i would like to have a biological child. Do you think it is worth trying in the states?

Answer:

Empty Follicle Syndrome” is a misleading term because follicles always contain eggs. However, some eggs may have difficulties detaching and being retrieved. This is more likely to happen when multiple attempts are needed to retrieve an egg from a follicle, indicating the egg may have chromosomal abnormalities.

The hormonal environment created during controlled ovarian stimulation plays a significant role in egg development. In certain cases, follicles may not release their eggs during retrieval, leading to the misconception of “empty” follicles.

This situation is most commonly encountered in older women, those with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR), and women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). To address this problem, personalized protocols for controlled ovarian stimulation and careful administration of the hCG trigger shot are important.

The hCG trigger shot is given after optimal ovarian stimulation to initiate the process of reducing the number of chromosomes in the egg. It also helps the egg detach from the follicle’s inner wall. This allows for easier retrieval during the egg retrieval procedure.

Women with increased LH activity, such as older women, those with DOR, and women with PCOS, are more susceptible to the negative effects of LH-induced ovarian testosterone. Excessive LH activity can compromise egg development and increase the chances of chromosomal abnormalities. Medications like clomiphene and Letrozole can stimulate LH release, and certain drugs containing LH or hCG can have negative consequences.

Individualizing the controlled ovarian stimulation protocol, determining the correct dosage and type of hCG trigger, and administering it at the right time are crucial. The recommended dosage of urinary-derived hCG products is 10,000 units, while for recombinant DNA-derived hCG, the optimal dosage is 500 micrograms. A lower dosage of hCG can increase the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in the eggs and negatively impact the outcome of IVF.

Understanding the role of LH activity, the effects of medications on hormone release, and the importance of personalized protocols are vital. By optimizing these factors, the risk of failed egg retrieval and “empty follicle syndrome” can be minimized, improving the chances of successful IVF outcomes.

________________________________________________________________

PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH OTHERS AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD!!

 

Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books 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

 

I invite you to visit my very recently launched “Podcast”,  “HAVE A BABY” on RUMBLE;   https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480

If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or email her at concierge@sherivf.com\

 

 

 

Name: Susan K

Hi i recently just had a blighted ovum and was wondering wht really causes blighted ovums? The embryo was tested and it was a donor egg with my husband’s sperm… can a normal embryo still b “normal ” if the sperm isn’t good quality??

Answer:

If the embryo was chromosomally normal, then you should consider the possibility that this due to implantation dysfunction.

 

___________________________________________________________________________

IVF FAILURE WITH “NORMAL” EMBRYOS:  EXAMINING AND ADDRESSING  ANATOMICAL AND IMMUNOLOGIC CAUSES.

 

Geoffrey Sher MD

 

Implantation dysfunction is often overlooked as a significant reason for IVF failure. This is especially true when IVF failure is unexplained, or when there are recurring pregnancy losses or underlying issues with the uterus, such as endo-uterine surface lesions, thin uterine lining (endometrium), or immunological factors.

IVF success rates have been improving in the past decade. Currently, in the United States, the average live birth rate per embryo transfer for women under 40 years old using their own eggs is about 2:5 per woman undergoing embryo transfer. However, there is a wide range of success rates among different IVF programs, varying from 20% to almost 50%. Based on these statistics, most women in the United States need to undergo two or more IVF-embryo transfer attempts to have a baby. Many IVF practitioners in the United States attribute the differences in success rates to variations in expertise among embryology laboratories, but this is not entirely accurate. Other factors, such as differences in patient selection, the failure to develop personalized protocols for ovarian stimulation, and the neglect of infectious, anatomical, and immunological factors that affect embryo implantation, are equally important.

Approximately 80% of IVF failures occur due to “embryo incompetency,” mainly caused by ( irregularities in chromosome number (aneuploidy), which is often related to the advancing age of the woman, diminished ovarian reserve ( DOR) but can also be influenced by the ovarian stimulation protocol chosen, and sperm dysfunction (male infertility). However, in around 20% of cases with dysfunction, failure is caused by problems with embryo implantation.

This section will focus on embryo implantation dysfunction and IVF failure which in the vast majority of cases is caused by:

  1. 1. Anatomical irregularities of the inner uterine surface:
  2. a) Surface lesions such as polyps/fibroids/ scar tissue
  3. b)endometrial thickness
  4.  
  5. 2. Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction ( IID)lesions
  6. a)Autoimmune IID
  7. b) Alloimmune IID

  1. ANATOMICAL IMPLANTATION DYSFUNCTION
  2. a) Surface lesions such as polyps/fibroids/ scar tissue

When there are problems with the structure of the uterus, it can lead to difficulties in getting pregnant. While uterine fibroids usually don’t cause infertility, they can affect fertility when they distort the uterine cavity or protrude through the lining. Even small fibroids located just beneath the lining and protruding into the cavity can decrease the chances of the embryo attaching. Multiple fibroids within the uterine wall that encroach upon the cavity can disrupt blood flow, impair estrogen delivery, and prevent proper thickening of the lining. These issues can be identified through ultrasound during the menstrual cycle’s proliferative phase. Any lesion on the uterine surface, such as submucous fibroids, adhesions, endometrial polyps, or placental polyps, can interfere with implantation by causing a local inflammatory response similar to the effect of an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD).

Clearly, even small uterine lesions can have a negative impact on implantation. Considering the high costs and emotional toll associated with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and related procedures, it is reasonable to perform diagnostic tests like hysterosalpingography (HSG), fluid ultrasound examination (hysterosonogram), or hysteroscopy before starting IVF. Uterine lesions that can affect implantation often require surgical intervention. In most cases, procedures like dilatation and curettage (D&C) or hysteroscopic resection are sufficient. Rarely a laparotomy may be needed. Such interventions often lead to an improvement in the response of the uterine lining.

Hysterosonogram( HSN/saline ultrasound) is a procedure where a sterile saline solution is injected into the uterus through the cervix using a catheter. Vaginal ultrasound is then used to examine the fluid-filled cavity for any irregularities that might indicate surface lesions like polyps, fibroid tumors, scarring, or a septum. When performed by an expert, HSN is highly effective in detecting even the smallest lesions and can supplant hysteroscopy in certain cases. HSN is less expensive, less invasive/traumatic, and equally effective as hysteroscopy. The only drawback is that if a lesion is found, hysteroscopy may still be needed for treatment.

Hysteroscopy is a diagnostic procedure performed in an office setting with minimal discomfort to the patient. It involves inserting a thin, lighted instrument called a hysteroscope through the vagina and cervix into the uterus to examine the uterine cavity. Normal saline is used to distend the uterus during the procedure. Like HSN, hysteroscopy allows for direct visualization of the inside of the uterus to identify defects that could interfere with implantation. We have observed that around one in eight IVF candidates have lesions that need attention before undergoing IVF to optimize the chances of success. I strongly recommend that all patients undergo therapeutic surgery, usually hysteroscopy, to correct any identified issues before proceeding with IVF. Depending on the severity and nature of the problem, hysteroscopy may require general anesthesia and should be performed in a surgical facility equipped for laparotomy if necessary.

  1. b) Thickness of the uterine lining (endometrium)

As far back as In 1989, I and my team made an important discovery about using ultrasound to assess the thickness of the endometrium during the late proliferative phase of both “ natural” and hormone-stimulated cycles. The assessment helped predict the chances of conception. We found that an ideal thickness of over 9mm at the time of ovulation , egg retrieval or with the commencement of progesterone therapy in embryo recipient cycles ( e.g., IVF with egg donation, gestational, surrogacy and embryo adoption) was associated with optimal implantation rates, while an endometrial thickness of less than 8 mm was associated with failure to implant or early pregnancy loss in the vast majority of cases. An endometrium measuring <8mm was almost invariably associated with failure to implant or early pregnancy loss in the while an endometrium measuring 8 to 9 mm was regarded as being intermediate, and while pregnancies did occur in this range, the rates were only slightly lower than with an optimal lining of 9 mm

A “poor” uterine lining typically occurs when the innermost layer of the endometrium (basal or germinal endometrium) is unable to respond to estrogen by developing a thick enough outer “functional” layer to support successful embryo implantation and placental development. The “functional” layer, which accounts for two-thirds of the total endometrial thickness, is shed during menstruation if pregnancy does not occur.

The main causes of a poor uterine lining are:

  1. Damage to the basal endometrium due to:
    • Inflammation of the endometrium (endometritis), often resulting from retained products of conception after abortion, miscarriage, or childbirth.
    • Surgical trauma caused by aggressive dilatation and curettage (D&C).
  1. Insensitivity of the basal endometrium to estrogen due to:
    • Prolonged (back to back) use of clomiphene citrate for ovarian stimulation or…
    • Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a drug given to prevent miscarriage in the 1960s.
  1. Overexposure of the uterine lining to male hormones produced by the ovaries or administered during ovarian stimulation (primarily testosterone):
    • Older women, women with DOR (poor responders), and women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) often have increased biological activity of luteinizing hormone (LH), leading to testosterone overproduction by the ovarian connective tissue (stroma/theca). This effect can be further amplified when certain ovarian stimulation protocols were high doses of menotropins ( e.g., Menopur) are used.
  1. Reduced blood flow to the basal endometrium caused by:
    • Multiple uterine fibroids, especially if they are located beneath the endometrium (submucosal).
    • Uterine adenomyosis, which involves extensive abnormal invasion of endometrial glands into the uterine muscle.

In 1996 I introduced the Vaginal administration of Sildenafil (Viagra) to improve endometrial thickening. The selective administration of Sildenafil has shown great promise in improving uterine blood flow and increasing endometrial thickening in cases of thin endometrial linings. When administered vaginally, it is quickly absorbed and reaches high concentrations in the uterine blood system, diluting as it enters the systemic circulation. This method has been found to have minimal systemic side effects. However, it is important to note that Viagra may not be effective in all cases, as some cases of thin uterine linings may involve permanent damage to the basal endometrium, rendering it unresponsive to estrogen.

Severe endometrial damage leading to poor responsiveness to estrogen can occur in various situations. These include post-pregnancy endometritis (inflammation after childbirth), chronic granulomatous inflammation caused by uterine tuberculosis (rare in the United States), and significant surgical injury to the basal endometrium (which can happen after aggressive D&C procedures).

 

  1. IMMUNOLOGIC IMPLANTATION DYSFUNCTION (IID)

There is a growing recognition that problems with the immune function in the uterus can lead to embryo implantation dysfunction. The failure of proper immunologic interaction during implantation has been implicated as a cause of recurrent miscarriage, late pregnancy fetal loss, IVF failure, and infertility. Some immunologic factors that may contribute to these issues include antiphospholipid antibodies (APA), antithyroid antibodies (ATA) , and activated natural killer cells (NKa).

  • Activated natural Killer Cells (NKa):

During ovulation and early pregnancy, the uterine lining is frequented by NK cells and T-cells, which together make up more than 80% of the immune cells in the uterine lining. These cells travel from the bone marrow to the endometrium where they proliferate under hormonal regulation. When exposed to progesterone, they produce TH-1 and TH-2 cytokines. TH-2 cytokines help the trophoblast (embryo’s “root system”) to penetrate the uterine lining, while TH-1 cytokines induce apoptosis (cell suicide), limiting placental development to the inner part of the uterus. The balance between TH1 and TH-2 cytokines is crucial for optimal placental development. NK cells and T-cells contribute to cytokine production. Excessive TH-1 cytokine production is harmful to the trophoblast and endometrial cells, leading to programmed cell death and ultimately to implantation failure. Functional NK cells reach their highest concentration in the endometrium around 6-7days after ovulation or exposure to progesterone, which coincides with the time of embryo implantation. It’s important to note that measuring the concentration of blood NK cells doesn’t reflect NK cell activation (NKa). The activation of NK cells is what matters. In certain conditions like endometriosis, the blood concentration of NK cells may be below normal, but NK cell activation is significantly increased.

There are several laboratory methods to assess NK cell activation (cytotoxicity), including immunohistochemical assessment of uterine NK cells and measuring TH-1 cytokines in the uterus or blood. However, the K-562 target cell blood test remains the gold standard. In this test, NK cells isolated from a woman’s blood are incubated with specific “target cells,” and the percentage of killed target cells is quantified. More than 12% killing indicates a level of NK cell activation that usually requires treatment. Currently, there are only a few Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories in the USA capable of reliably performing the K-562 target cell test.

There is a common misconception that adding IL (intralipid) or Intravenous gammaglobulin (IVIg) to NK cells can immediately downregulate NK cell activity. However, neither IL and IVIg cannot significantly suppress already activated NK cells. They are believed to work by regulating NK cell progenitors, which then produce downregulated NK cells. To assess the therapeutic effect, IL/IVIg infusion should be done about 14 days before embryos are transferred to the uterus to ensure a sufficient number of normal functional NK cells are present at the implantation site during embryo transfer. Failure to recognize this reality has led to the erroneous demand from IVF doctors for Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories to report on NK cell activity before and immediately after exposure to IVIg or IL at different concentrations. However, since already activated NK cells cannot be deactivated in the laboratory, assessing NKa suppression in this way has little clinical benefit. Even if blood is drawn 10-14 days after IL/IVIg treatment, it would take another 10-14 days to receive the results, which would be too late to be practically advantageous.

  • Antiphospholipid Antibodies:

Many women who struggle with IVF failure or recurrent pregnancy loss, as well as those with a personal or family history of autoimmune diseases like lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and dermatomyositis, often test positive for antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs). Over 30 years ago, I proposed a treatment for women with positive APA tests. This involved using a low dose of heparin to improve the success of IVF implantation and increase birth rates. Research indicated that heparin could prevent APAs from affecting the embryo’s “root system” ( the trophoblast), thus enhancing implantation. We later discovered that this therapy only benefits women whose APAs target specific phospholipids (phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylserine). Nowadays, longer-acting low molecular weight heparinoids like Lovenox and Clexane have replaced heparin.

  • Antithyroid Antibodies ( thyroid peroxidase  -TPO and antithyroglobulin antibodies (TGa)

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 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.


Almost 50% of women with antithyroid antibodies do not have activated cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) or natural killer cells (NK cells). This suggests that the antibodies themselves may not be the direct cause of reproductive dysfunction. Instead, the activation of CTL and NK cells, which occurs in about half of the cases with thyroid autoimmunity (TAI), is likely an accompanying phenomenon that damages the early “root system” (trophoblast) of the embryo during implantation.

Treating women who have both antithyroid antibodies and activated NK cells/CTL with intralipid (IL) and steroids improves their chances of successful reproduction. However, women with antithyroid antibodies who do not have activated NK cells/CTL do not require this treatment.

  • Treatment Options for IID:
  1. Intralipid (IL) Therapy: IL is a mixture of soybean lipid droplets in water, primarily used for providing nutrition. When administered intravenously, IL supplies essential fatty acids that can activate certain receptors in NK cells, reducing their cytotoxic activity and enhancing implantation. IL, combined with corticosteroids, suppresses the overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines by NK cells, improving reproductive outcomes. IL is cost-effective and has fewer side effects compared to other treatments like IVIg.
  2. Intravenous immunoglobulin-G (IVIg) Therapy:In the past, IVIg was used to down-regulate activated NK cells. However, concerns about viral infections and the high cost led to a decline in its use. IVIg can be effective, but IL has become a more favorable and affordable alternative.
  3. Corticosteroid Therapy: Corticosteroids, such as prednisone and dexamethasone, are commonly used in IVF treatment. They have an immunomodulatory effect and reduce TH-1 cytokine production by CTL. When combined with IL or IVIg, corticosteroids enhance the implantation process. Treatment typically starts 10-14 days before embryo transfer and continues until the 10th week of pregnancy.
  4. Heparinoid Therapy: Low molecular weight heparin (Clexane, Lovenox)can improve IVF success rates in women with antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs) and may prevent pregnancy loss in certain thrombophilias when used during treatment. It is administered subcutaneously once daily from the start of ovarian stimulation.
  5. TH-1 Cytokine Blockers (Enbrel, Humira):TH-1 cytokine blockers have limited effectiveness in the IVF setting and, in my opinion, no compelling evidence supports their use. They may have a role in treating threatened miscarriage caused by CTL/NK cell activation, but not for IVF treatment. TH-1 cytokines are needed for cellular response, during the early phase of implantation, so completely blocking them could hinder normal implantation.
  6. Baby Aspirin and IVF:Baby aspirin doesn’t offer much value in treating implantation dysfunction (IID) and may even reduce the chance of success. This is because aspirin thins the blood and increases the risk of bleeding, which can complicate procedures like egg retrieval or embryo transfer during IVF, potentially compromising its success.
  7. Leukocyte Immunization Therapy (LIT):LIT involves injecting the male partner’s lymphocytes into the mother to improve the recognition of the embryo as “self” and prevent rejection. LIT can up-regulate Treg cells and down-regulate NK cell activation, improving the balance of TH-1 and TH-2 cells in the uterus. However, the same benefits can be achieved through IL (Intralipid) therapy combined with corticosteroids. IL is more cost-effective, and the use of LIT is prohibited by law in the USA.

Types of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) and NK Cell Activation:

  1. 1.Autoimmune Implantation Dysfunction: Women with a personal or family history of autoimmune conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus Erythematosus, thyroid autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s disease and thyrotoxicosis), and endometriosis (in about one-third of cases) may experience autoimmune IID. However, autoimmune IID can also occur without any personal or family history of autoimmune diseases. Treatment for NK cell activation in IVF cases complicated by autoimmune IID involves a combination of daily oral dexamethasone from the start of ovarian stimulation until the 10th week of pregnancy, along with 20% intralipid (IL) infusion 10 days to 2 weeks before embryo transfer. With this treatment, the chance of a viable pregnancy occurring within two completed embryo transfer  attempts is approximately 70% for women <40 years old who have  normal ovarian reserve.
  2. Alloimmune Implantation Dysfunction:NK cell activation occurs when the uterus is exposed to an embryo that shares certain genotypic (HLA/DQ alpha) similarities with the embryo recipient.
      • Partial DQ alpha/HLA genetic matching: Couples who share only one DQ alpha/HLA gene are considered to have a “partial match.” If NK cell activation is also present, this partial match puts the couple at a disadvantage for IVF success. However, it’s important to note that DQ alpha/HLA matching, whether partial or total, does not cause IID without associated NK cell activation. Treatment for partial DQ alpha/HLA match with NK cell activation involves IL infusion and oral prednisone as adjunct therapy. IL infusion is repeated every 2-4 weeks after pregnancy is confirmed and continued until the 24th week of gestation. In these cases, only one embryo is transferred at a time to minimize the risk of NK cell activation.
      • Total (Complete) Alloimmune Genetic Matching: A total alloimmune match occurs when the husband’s DQ alpha genotype matches both that of the partner. Although rare, this total match along with NK cell activation significantly reduces the chance of a viable pregnancy resulting in a live birth at term. In some cases, the use of a gestational surrogate may be necessary.

It should be emphasized that poor embryo quality is not always the main cause of reproductive dysfunction and that the complex interaction between embryonic cells and the lining of the uterus  plays a critical role in successful implantation. Women with personal or family histories of autoimmune disease or endometriosis and those with unexplained (often repeated) IVF failure or recurrent pregnancy loss, often have immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID as the underlying cause . For such women, it is important to understand how IID leads to reproductive failure and how selective treatment options such as intralipid (IL), corticosteroid and heparinoid therapy, can dramatically  improve reproductive outcomes. Finally, there is real hope that proper identification and management of IID can  significantly improve the chance of successful reproduction and ultimately contribute to better quality of life after birth.

 

 

______________________________________________________________

PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH OTHERS AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD!!

 Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books 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

 

I invite you to visit my very recently launched “Podcast”,  “HAVE A BABY” on RUMBLE;   https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480

If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or email her at concierge@sherivf.com\

Name: Sophie T

Hi there

I am 39 and since 33 have had recurrent miscarriages.

I had two at 6.5 weeks and then a live baby and then 1 at 6.5 weeks that had two trisomies when tested. During that third miscarriage I had to have a manual vacuum aspiration and I developed a uterus infection that was treated straightaway with antibiotics. This was a year ago and since the procedure I’ve had 5 chemical pregnancies.

They now do not get past a faint shadow on a test, they certainly do not get as far as 6.5 weeks. I got diagnosed in July through ultrasound with an adenomyosis cyst and told I have adenomyosis. I wasn’t aware of this. I do not think I can currently implant but I get pregnant immediately any month I try, perhaps I am super fertile. I tried IVF back in Sept for PGT an and despite an AMH of 12.5 and 12 eggs collected, our embryos were too granular and didn’t make it past day 3.

My question is do you think the adenomyosis was caused by the procedure I had a year ago and do you think it can be treated enough for me to implant? If so, how? I am desperate for a sibling for my son and have spent all my savings and years focussed on conceiving and miscarriages – I’m wondering if I should now give up now that I cannot get past a chemical pregnancy each month. It is quite sad.

I also think the IVF drugs have made the adenomyosis worse as I am now bent double in pain while implantation tries to happen.

Many thanks
Sophie

Answer:

Adenomyosis can compromise implantation, but in my opinion this only occurs when the endometrial lining at the time of ovulation, hCG “trigger” or when progesterone treatment begins in cases of FET/embryo adoption etc. In fact in most cases adenomyosis is found in women who have had several babies, not in infertile women.

This having been said, I do believe that your problem, probably  relates tom implantation dysfunction and the previous retained products of conception might have caused attenuated endometrial thickening. Alternatively but somewhat less likely in your case, there could be an underlying immunologic implantation dysfunction leading to the implantation issue (see below.).

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

A.  IVF FAILURE WITH “NORMAL” EMBRYOS:  EXAMINING AND ADDRESSING  ANATOMICAL AND IMMUNOLOGIC CAUSES.

Implantation dysfunction is often overlooked as a significant reason for IVF failure. This is especially true when IVF failure is unexplained, or when there are recurring pregnancy losses or underlying issues with the uterus, such as endo-uterine surface lesions, thin uterine lining (endometrium), or immunological factors.

IVF success rates have been improving in the past decade. Currently, in the United States, the average live birth rate per embryo transfer for women under 40 years old using their own eggs is about 2:5 per woman undergoing embryo transfer. However, there is a wide range of success rates among different IVF programs, varying from 20% to almost 50%. Based on these statistics, most women in the United States need to undergo two or more IVF-embryo transfer attempts to have a baby. Many IVF practitioners in the United States attribute the differences in success rates to variations in expertise among embryology laboratories, but this is not entirely accurate. Other factors, such as differences in patient selection, the failure to develop personalized protocols for ovarian stimulation, and the neglect of infectious, anatomical, and immunological factors that affect embryo implantation, are equally important.

Approximately 80% of IVF failures occur due to “embryo incompetency,” mainly caused by ( irregularities in chromosome number (aneuploidy), which is often related to the advancing age of the woman, diminished ovarian reserve ( DOR) but can also be influenced by the ovarian stimulation protocol chosen, and sperm dysfunction (male infertility). However, in around 20% of cases with dysfunction, failure is caused by problems with embryo implantation.

This section will focus on embryo implantation dysfunction and IVF failure which in the vast majority of cases is caused by:

  1. 1. Anatomical irregularities of the inner uterine surface:
  2. a) Surface lesions such as polyps/fibroids/ scar tissue
  3. b)endometrial thickness
  4.  
  5. 2. Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction ( IID)lesions
  6. a)Autoimmune IID
  7. b) Alloimmune IID

ANATOMICAL IMPLANTATION DYSFUNCTION

  1. a) Surface lesions such as polyps/fibroids/ scar tissue

When there are problems with the structure of the uterus, it can lead to difficulties in getting pregnant. While uterine fibroids usually don’t cause infertility, they can affect fertility when they distort the uterine cavity or protrude through the lining. Even small fibroids located just beneath the lining and protruding into the cavity can decrease the chances of the embryo attaching. Multiple fibroids within the uterine wall that encroach upon the cavity can disrupt blood flow, impair estrogen delivery, and prevent proper thickening of the lining. These issues can be identified through ultrasound during the menstrual cycle’s proliferative phase. Any lesion on the uterine surface, such as submucous fibroids, adhesions, endometrial polyps, or placental polyps, can interfere with implantation by causing a local inflammatory response similar to the effect of an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD).

Clearly, even small uterine lesions can have a negative impact on implantation. Considering the high costs and emotional toll associated with in vitro fertilization (IVF) and related procedures, it is reasonable to perform diagnostic tests like hysterosalpingography (HSG), fluid ultrasound examination (hysterosonogram), or hysteroscopy before starting IVF. Uterine lesions that can affect implantation often require surgical intervention. In most cases, procedures like dilatation and curettage (D&C) or hysteroscopic resection are sufficient. Rarely a laparotomy may be needed. Such interventions often lead to an improvement in the response of the uterine lining.

Hysterosonogram( HSN/saline ultrasound) is a procedure where a sterile saline solution is injected into the uterus through the cervix using a catheter. Vaginal ultrasound is then used to examine the fluid-filled cavity for any irregularities that might indicate surface lesions like polyps, fibroid tumors, scarring, or a septum. When performed by an expert, HSN is highly effective in detecting even the smallest lesions and can supplant hysteroscopy in certain cases. HSN is less expensive, less invasive/traumatic, and equally effective as hysteroscopy. The only drawback is that if a lesion is found, hysteroscopy may still be needed for treatment.

Hysteroscopy is a diagnostic procedure performed in an office setting with minimal discomfort to the patient. It involves inserting a thin, lighted instrument called a hysteroscope through the vagina and cervix into the uterus to examine the uterine cavity. Normal saline is used to distend the uterus during the procedure. Like HSN, hysteroscopy allows for direct visualization of the inside of the uterus to identify defects that could interfere with implantation. We have observed that around one in eight IVF candidates have lesions that need attention before undergoing IVF to optimize the chances of success. I strongly recommend that all patients undergo therapeutic surgery, usually hysteroscopy, to correct any identified issues before proceeding with IVF. Depending on the severity and nature of the problem, hysteroscopy may require general anesthesia and should be performed in a surgical facility equipped for laparotomy if necessary.

  1. b) Thickness of the uterine lining (endometrium)

As far back as In 1989, I and my team made an important discovery about using ultrasound to assess the thickness of the endometrium during the late proliferative phase of both “ natural” and hormone-stimulated cycles. The assessment helped predict the chances of conception. We found that an ideal thickness of over 9mm at the time of ovulation , egg retrieval or with the commencement of progesterone therapy in embryo recipient cycles ( e.g., IVF with egg donation, gestational, surrogacy and embryo adoption) was associated with optimal implantation rates, while an endometrial thickness of less than 8 mm was associated with failure to implant or early pregnancy loss in the vast majority of cases. An endometrium measuring <8mm was almost invariably associated with failure to implant or early pregnancy loss in the while an endometrium measuring 8 to 9 mm was regarded as being intermediate, and while pregnancies did occur in this range, the rates were only slightly lower than with an optimal lining of 9 mm

A “poor” uterine lining typically occurs when the innermost layer of the endometrium (basal or germinal endometrium) is unable to respond to estrogen by developing a thick enough outer “functional” layer to support successful embryo implantation and placental development. The “functional” layer, which accounts for two-thirds of the total endometrial thickness, is shed during menstruation if pregnancy does not occur.

The main causes of a poor uterine lining are:

  1. Damage to the basal endometrium due to:
    • Inflammation of the endometrium (endometritis), often resulting from retained products of conception after abortion, miscarriage, or childbirth.
    • Surgical trauma caused by aggressive dilatation and curettage (D&C).
  1. Insensitivity of the basal endometrium to estrogen due to:
    • Prolonged (back to back) use of clomiphene citrate for ovarian stimulation or…
    • Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a drug given to prevent miscarriage in the 1960s.
  1. Overexposure of the uterine lining to male hormones produced by the ovaries or administered during ovarian stimulation (primarily testosterone):
    • Older women, women with DOR (poor responders), and women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) often have increased biological activity of luteinizing hormone (LH), leading to testosterone overproduction by the ovarian connective tissue (stroma/theca). This effect can be further amplified when certain ovarian stimulation protocols were high doses of menotropins ( e.g., Menopur) are used.
  1. Reduced blood flow to the basal endometrium caused by:
    • Multiple uterine fibroids, especially if they are located beneath the endometrium (submucosal).
    • Uterine adenomyosis, which involves extensive abnormal invasion of endometrial glands into the uterine muscle.

In 1996 I introduced the Vaginal administration of Sildenafil (Viagra) to improve endometrial thickening. The selective administration of Sildenafil has shown great promise in improving uterine blood flow and increasing endometrial thickening in cases of thin endometrial linings. When administered vaginally, it is quickly absorbed and reaches high concentrations in the uterine blood system, diluting as it enters the systemic circulation. This method has been found to have minimal systemic side effects. However, it is important to note that Viagra may not be effective in all cases, as some cases of thin uterine linings may involve permanent damage to the basal endometrium, rendering it unresponsive to estrogen.

Severe endometrial damage leading to poor responsiveness to estrogen can occur in various situations. These include post-pregnancy endometritis (inflammation after childbirth), chronic granulomatous inflammation caused by uterine tuberculosis (rare in the United States), and significant surgical injury to the basal endometrium (which can happen after aggressive D&C procedures).

 IMMUNOLOGIC IMPLANTATION DYSFUNCTION (IID)

There is a growing recognition that problems with the immune function in the uterus can lead to embryo implantation dysfunction. The failure of proper immunologic interaction during implantation has been implicated as a cause of recurrent miscarriage, late pregnancy fetal loss, IVF failure, and infertility. Some immunologic factors that may contribute to these issues include antiphospholipid antibodies (APA), antithyroid antibodies (ATA) , and activated natural killer cells (NKa).

  • Activated natural Killer Cells (NKa):

During ovulation and early pregnancy, the uterine lining is frequented by NK cells and T-cells, which together make up more than 80% of the immune cells in the uterine lining. These cells travel from the bone marrow to the endometrium where they proliferate under hormonal regulation. When exposed to progesterone, they produce TH-1 and TH-2 cytokines. TH-2 cytokines help the trophoblast (embryo’s “root system”) to penetrate the uterine lining, while TH-1 cytokines induce apoptosis (cell suicide), limiting placental development to the inner part of the uterus. The balance between TH1 and TH-2 cytokines is crucial for optimal placental development. NK cells and T-cells contribute to cytokine production. Excessive TH-1 cytokine production is harmful to the trophoblast and endometrial cells, leading to programmed cell death and ultimately to implantation failure. Functional NK cells reach their highest concentration in the endometrium around 6-7days after ovulation or exposure to progesterone, which coincides with the time of embryo implantation. It’s important to note that measuring the concentration of blood NK cells doesn’t reflect NK cell activation (NKa). The activation of NK cells is what matters. In certain conditions like endometriosis, the blood concentration of NK cells may be below normal, but NK cell activation is significantly increased.

There are several laboratory methods to assess NK cell activation (cytotoxicity), including immunohistochemical assessment of uterine NK cells and measuring TH-1 cytokines in the uterus or blood. However, the K-562 target cell blood test remains the gold standard. In this test, NK cells isolated from a woman’s blood are incubated with specific “target cells,” and the percentage of killed target cells is quantified. More than 12% killing indicates a level of NK cell activation that usually requires treatment. Currently, there are only a few Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories in the USA capable of reliably performing the K-562 target cell test.

There is a common misconception that adding IL (intralipid) or Intravenous gammaglobulin (IVIg) to NK cells can immediately downregulate NK cell activity. However, neither IL and IVIg cannot significantly suppress already activated NK cells. They are believed to work by regulating NK cell progenitors, which then produce downregulated NK cells. To assess the therapeutic effect, IL/IVIg infusion should be done about 14 days before embryos are transferred to the uterus to ensure a sufficient number of normal functional NK cells are present at the implantation site during embryo transfer. Failure to recognize this reality has led to the erroneous demand from IVF doctors for Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories to report on NK cell activity before and immediately after exposure to IVIg or IL at different concentrations. However, since already activated NK cells cannot be deactivated in the laboratory, assessing NKa suppression in this way has little clinical benefit. Even if blood is drawn 10-14 days after IL/IVIg treatment, it would take another 10-14 days to receive the results, which would be too late to be practically advantageous.

  • Antiphospholipid Antibodies:

Many women who struggle with IVF failure or recurrent pregnancy loss, as well as those with a personal or family history of autoimmune diseases like lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and dermatomyositis, often test positive for antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs). Over 30 years ago, I proposed a treatment for women with positive APA tests. This involved using a low dose of heparin to improve the success of IVF implantation and increase birth rates. Research indicated that heparin could prevent APAs from affecting the embryo’s “root system” ( the trophoblast), thus enhancing implantation. We later discovered that this therapy only benefits women whose APAs target specific phospholipids (phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylserine). Nowadays, longer-acting low molecular weight heparinoids like Lovenox and Clexane have replaced heparin.

  • Antithyroid Antibodies ( thyroid peroxidase  -TPO and antithyroglobulin antibodies (TGa)

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 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.


Almost 50% of women with antithyroid antibodies do not have activated cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) or natural killer cells (NK cells). This suggests that the antibodies themselves may not be the direct cause of reproductive dysfunction. Instead, the activation of CTL and NK cells, which occurs in about half of the cases with thyroid autoimmunity (TAI), is likely an accompanying phenomenon that damages the early “root system” (trophoblast) of the embryo during implantation.

Treating women who have both antithyroid antibodies and activated NK cells/CTL with intralipid (IL) and steroids improves their chances of successful reproduction. However, women with antithyroid antibodies who do not have activated NK cells/CTL do not require this treatment.

  • Treatment Options for IID:
  1. Intralipid (IL) Therapy: IL is a mixture of soybean lipid droplets in water, primarily used for providing nutrition. When administered intravenously, IL supplies essential fatty acids that can activate certain receptors in NK cells, reducing their cytotoxic activity and enhancing implantation. IL, combined with corticosteroids, suppresses the overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines by NK cells, improving reproductive outcomes. IL is cost-effective and has fewer side effects compared to other treatments like IVIg.
  2. Intravenous immunoglobulin-G (IVIg) Therapy:In the past, IVIg was used to down-regulate activated NK cells. However, concerns about viral infections and the high cost led to a decline in its use. IVIg can be effective, but IL has become a more favorable and affordable alternative.
  3. Corticosteroid Therapy: Corticosteroids, such as prednisone and dexamethasone, are commonly used in IVF treatment. They have an immunomodulatory effect and reduce TH-1 cytokine production by CTL. When combined with IL or IVIg, corticosteroids enhance the implantation process. Treatment typically starts 10-14 days before embryo transfer and continues until the 10th week of pregnancy.
  4. Heparinoid Therapy: Low molecular weight heparin (Clexane, Lovenox)can improve IVF success rates in women with antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs) and may prevent pregnancy loss in certain thrombophilias when used during treatment. It is administered subcutaneously once daily from the start of ovarian stimulation.
  5. TH-1 Cytokine Blockers (Enbrel, Humira):TH-1 cytokine blockers have limited effectiveness in the IVF setting and, in my opinion, no compelling evidence supports their use. They may have a role in treating threatened miscarriage caused by CTL/NK cell activation, but not for IVF treatment. TH-1 cytokines are needed for cellular response, during the early phase of implantation, so completely blocking them could hinder normal implantation.
  6. Baby Aspirin and IVF:Baby aspirin doesn’t offer much value in treating implantation dysfunction (IID) and may even reduce the chance of success. This is because aspirin thins the blood and increases the risk of bleeding, which can complicate procedures like egg retrieval or embryo transfer during IVF, potentially compromising its success.
  7. Leukocyte Immunization Therapy (LIT):LIT involves injecting the male partner’s lymphocytes into the mother to improve the recognition of the embryo as “self” and prevent rejection. LIT can up-regulate Treg cells and down-regulate NK cell activation, improving the balance of TH-1 and TH-2 cells in the uterus. However, the same benefits can be achieved through IL (Intralipid) therapy combined with corticosteroids. IL is more cost-effective, and the use of LIT is prohibited by law in the USA.

Types of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) and NK Cell Activation:

  1. 1.Autoimmune Implantation Dysfunction: Women with a personal or family history of autoimmune conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus Erythematosus, thyroid autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s disease and thyrotoxicosis), and endometriosis (in about one-third of cases) may experience autoimmune IID. However, autoimmune IID can also occur without any personal or family history of autoimmune diseases. Treatment for NK cell activation in IVF cases complicated by autoimmune IID involves a combination of daily oral dexamethasone from the start of ovarian stimulation until the 10th week of pregnancy, along with 20% intralipid (IL) infusion 10 days to 2 weeks before embryo transfer. With this treatment, the chance of a viable pregnancy occurring within two completed embryo transfer  attempts is approximately 70% for women <40 years old who have  normal ovarian reserve.
  2. Alloimmune Implantation Dysfunction:NK cell activation occurs when the uterus is exposed to an embryo that shares certain genotypic (HLA/DQ alpha) similarities with the embryo recipient.
      • Partial DQ alpha/HLA genetic matching: Couples who share only one DQ alpha/HLA gene are considered to have a “partial match.” If NK cell activation is also present, this partial match puts the couple at a disadvantage for IVF success. However, it’s important to note that DQ alpha/HLA matching, whether partial or total, does not cause IID without associated NK cell activation. Treatment for partial DQ alpha/HLA match with NK cell activation involves IL infusion and oral prednisone as adjunct therapy. IL infusion is repeated every 2-4 weeks after pregnancy is confirmed and continued until the 24th week of gestation. In these cases, only one embryo is transferred at a time to minimize the risk of NK cell activation.
      • Total (Complete) Alloimmune Genetic Matching: A total alloimmune match occurs when the husband’s DQ alpha genotype matches both that of the partner. Although rare, this total match along with NK cell activation significantly reduces the chance of a viable pregnancy resulting in a live birth at term. In some cases, the use of a gestational surrogate may be necessary.

It should be emphasized that poor embryo quality is not always the main cause of reproductive dysfunction and that the complex interaction between embryonic cells and the lining of the uterus  plays a critical role in successful implantation. Women with personal or family histories of autoimmune disease or endometriosis and those with unexplained (often repeated) IVF failure or recurrent pregnancy loss, often have immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID as the underlying cause . For such women, it is important to understand how IID leads to reproductive failure and how selective treatment options such as intralipid (IL), corticosteroid and heparinoid therapy, can dramatically  improve reproductive outcomes. Finally, there is real hope that proper identification and management of IID can  significantly improve the chance of successful reproduction and ultimately contribute to better quality of life after birth.

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B. 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 optiions referred to above…(including IVF) might as a last resort consider  Gestational surro resort consider  Gestational surrogacy..

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH OTHERS AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD!!

 Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books 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

 

I invite you to visit my very recently launched “Podcast”,  “HAVE A BABY” on RUMBLE;   https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480

If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or email her at concierge@sherivf.com\

Name: Jennifer P

Hi Dr. Sher,

I was diagnosed with endometriosis and 2 ovarian endometriomas 2yrs ago after I started having aching in my left pelvis.

I’ve been reading PubMed and NIH articles and I’m searching for a doctor who can do the catheter-directed sclerotherapy treatment. So far, I haven’t found anyone who can do it, nor do they know of another doctor who can.

I’m wondering if you offer this treatment, or if you could point me in the direction of someone who does?

My main reasons for searching for this treatment are its efficacy, it’s doesn’t require full sedation, I don’t want surgery so that is a last resort option, and the catheter method can treat larger endometriomas (it’s my understanding the needle sclerotherapy approach can only be done in small ones).

I don’t have updated scans yet, but I’m a very petite person and I can see the cyst when I lay down. It extends from just above my pubic bone up to my belly button level, so it’s probably around 5-6 inches long, and around 3 inches wide. (Yes, I understand this is very large)

I’ve reached the point with pain and discomfort levels that I would like help, but I’d like to begin with the least invasive options first. I know this method is newer (2018) but it sounds incredibly successful so far from the studies and articles.

Is this something you can help me with?

Thank you for taking the time to read my message and respond.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Answer:

I suggest you contact Dr. Aykut Bayrak at LA-IVF Cinic, Century City, CA

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Sclerotherapy of Ovarian Endometriomas

Geoffrey Sher MD

The precise mechanism by which ovarian endometrioma causes infertility is unknown. In women with ovarian endometriomas, infertility is potentially associated with a decreased oocyte retrieval rate, reduced oocyte quality and reduced embryo quality. I personally believe that it is local irritation caused by the cystic space occupying lesion within the ovary that irritates surrounding connective tissue increasing ovarian testosterone production which in turn permeates ovarian follicles resulting in compromised follicle and egg development in the affected ovary (ies)

 

Traditional surgical treatment of endometriomas involves gaining access to the ovary (ies) through an abdominal incision, or via laparoscopy, for drainage of the cyst contents and subsequent removal or ablation of the cyst wall. Unfortunately, in many cases, normal ovarian tissue is inadvertently removed along with the cyst wall, which may decrease the number of available oocytes for subsequent fertility treatment. A large percentage of such women have advanced stage disease and have had multiple previous surgeries. In the presence of pelvic adhesions, visualization of anatomic structures may be inadequate, leading to a higher incidence of cyst recurrence. This may further diminish the potential response to ovarian stimulation with gonadotropins. Additionally, women with advanced endometriosis are more likely to develop pelvic adhesions as well as an increased risk of surgical complications.

 

About 15 years ago I introduced sclerotherapy to treat women who had endometriomas and were preparing for IVF treatment. Sclerotherapy is an effective non-surgical treatment for endometriosis of the ovary. Ovarian sclerotherapy involves ultrasound-guided aspiration of endometrioma content followed by the introduction into the cyst cavity of a sclerosing agent such as 5% tetracycline hydrochloride (my preference), 95% ethanol or methotrexate either under local anesthesia or with the patient receiving conscious sedation. The sclerosing agent destroys the endometrium lining the inside of the endometrioma and prevents cyst recurrence. Sclerotherapy is much less invasive than laparoscopic surgery and takes approximately 20–30 min to perform. Unlike other treatment options, it will not damage healthy surrounding ovarian tissue and is thus also less likely to reduce ovarian reserve. Risks of sclerotherapy treatment are uncommon but they include infection, pain (due to leaking of the sclerosing agent into the pelvic cavity, internal bleeding, and recurrence in about 10% of cases. To prevent this, I infuse about 250cc of sterile normal saline solution into the pelvic cavity before performing sclerotherapy so that any leakage of the sclerosing agent into the pelvis will be diluted. Thereupon at the conclusion of the procedure, I aspirate the solution from the pelvis and with it , most of the potentially irritating sclerosing agent. In more than 70% of cases, treatment will result in disappearance of the lesion within 6 to 8 weeks. In 20% of cases, residual seroma develops within 6 weeks. Simple transvaginal drainage of the residual cyst will in most cases lead to permanent dissolution.

Ovarian sclerotherapy can be performed under local anesthesia or under general anesthesia. It has the advantage of being an ambulatory office-based procedure at a low cost, with a low incidence of significant post-procedural pain or complications, and the avoidance of the need for surgery.

Sclerotherapy is a safe and effective alternative to surgery. It is a definitive treatment, even for recurrent ovarian endometriomas, in properly selected patients planning to undergo IVF. Since the procedure is associated with a small, but realistic possibility of adhesion formation, it should only be used in cases where IVF is the only fertility treatment appropriate for a patient. Women who intend to try and conceive through natural conception or intrauterine insemination will be better off undergoing standard laparotomy or laparoscopy to treat their endometriomas.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books 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

 

I invite you to visit my very recently launched “Podcast”,  “HAVE A BABY” on RUMBLE;   https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480

If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or email her at concierge@sherivf.com\

 

Name: Lorena L

Buenas.. Un gusto saludarlo doctor. Disculpe que me haya tomado el atrevimiento en escribirle . Quería consultarle un tema, me realizaron una ecografia transvaginal donde me detectaron una posible hidrosalping en la trompa derecha . Luego me mandaron realizar cultivos donde se evidencia una infección y me recetaron antibiótico el cual hoy sería mi último día que los tomo. Quería consultarte si existe alguna medicina alternativa para poder evitar la cirugía y por ende sanarme para poder quedarme embarazada . Podrías ayudarme ..?

Answer:

Please re-post this in English!

 

Geoff Sher

________________________________________________________________________________

PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH OTHERS AND HELP SPREAD THE WORD!!

 

Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books 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

 

I invite you to visit my very recently launched “Podcast”,  “HAVE A BABY” on RUMBLE;   https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480

If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or email her at concierge@sherivf.com\

 

Name: Daniela G

Hi my husband and I got told we are a partial match in dq alpha I am 05:05 and he is 05:01 has my doctor made an error as I thought he would have to have the exact same 05:05 to be a Match which now has me confused . Thank you for this forum .

Answer:

No! This is indeed  a partial DQ alpha match and is only relevant if in addition to this match, you haver activated natural killer cells:

IMMUNOLOGIC IMPLANTATION DYSFUNCTION (IID)

There is a growing recognition that problems with the immune function in the uterus can lead to embryo implantation dysfunction. The failure of proper immunologic interaction during implantation has been implicated as a cause of recurrent miscarriage, late pregnancy fetal loss, IVF failure, and infertility. Some immunologic factors that may contribute to these issues include antiphospholipid antibodies (APA), antithyroid antibodies (ATA) , and activated natural killer cells (NKa).

  • Activated natural Killer Cells (NKa):

During ovulation and early pregnancy, the uterine lining is frequented by NK cells and T-cells, which together make up more than 80% of the immune cells in the uterine lining. These cells travel from the bone marrow to the endometrium where they proliferate under hormonal regulation. When exposed to progesterone, they produce TH-1 and TH-2 cytokines. TH-2 cytokines help the trophoblast (embryo’s “root system”) to penetrate the uterine lining, while TH-1 cytokines induce apoptosis (cell suicide), limiting placental development to the inner part of the uterus. The balance between TH1 and TH-2 cytokines is crucial for optimal placental development. NK cells and T-cells contribute to cytokine production. Excessive TH-1 cytokine production is harmful to the trophoblast and endometrial cells, leading to programmed cell death and ultimately to implantation failure. Functional NK cells reach their highest concentration in the endometrium around 6-7days after ovulation or exposure to progesterone, which coincides with the time of embryo implantation. It’s important to note that measuring the concentration of blood NK cells doesn’t reflect NK cell activation (NKa). The activation of NK cells is what matters. In certain conditions like endometriosis, the blood concentration of NK cells may be below normal, but NK cell activation is significantly increased.

There are several laboratory methods to assess NK cell activation (cytotoxicity), including immunohistochemical assessment of uterine NK cells and measuring TH-1 cytokines in the uterus or blood. However, the K-562 target cell blood test remains the gold standard. In this test, NK cells isolated from a woman’s blood are incubated with specific “target cells,” and the percentage of killed target cells is quantified. More than 12% killing indicates a level of NK cell activation that usually requires treatment. Currently, there are only a few Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories in the USA capable of reliably performing the K-562 target cell test.

There is a common misconception that adding IL (intralipid) or Intravenous gammaglobulin (IVIg) to NK cells can immediately downregulate NK cell activity. However, neither IL and IVIg cannot significantly suppress already activated NK cells. They are believed to work by regulating NK cell progenitors, which then produce downregulated NK cells. To assess the therapeutic effect, IL/IVIg infusion should be done about 14 days before embryos are transferred to the uterus to ensure a sufficient number of normal functional NK cells are present at the implantation site during embryo transfer. Failure to recognize this reality has led to the erroneous demand from IVF doctors for Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories to report on NK cell activity before and immediately after exposure to IVIg or IL at different concentrations. However, since already activated NK cells cannot be deactivated in the laboratory, assessing NKa suppression in this way has little clinical benefit. Even if blood is drawn 10-14 days after IL/IVIg treatment, it would take another 10-14 days to receive the results, which would be too late to be practically advantageous.

  • Antiphospholipid Antibodies:

Many women who struggle with IVF failure or recurrent pregnancy loss, as well as those with a personal or family history of autoimmune diseases like lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and dermatomyositis, often test positive for antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs). Over 30 years ago, I proposed a treatment for women with positive APA tests. This involved using a low dose of heparin to improve the success of IVF implantation and increase birth rates. Research indicated that heparin could prevent APAs from affecting the embryo’s “root system” ( the trophoblast), thus enhancing implantation. We later discovered that this therapy only benefits women whose APAs target specific phospholipids (phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylserine). Nowadays, longer-acting low molecular weight heparinoids like Lovenox and Clexane have replaced heparin.

  • Antithyroid Antibodies ( thyroid peroxidase  -TPO and antithyroglobulin antibodies (TGa)

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 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.


Almost 50% of women with antithyroid antibodies do not have activated cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) or natural killer cells (NK cells). This suggests that the antibodies themselves may not be the direct cause of reproductive dysfunction. Instead, the activation of CTL and NK cells, which occurs in about half of the cases with thyroid autoimmunity (TAI), is likely an accompanying phenomenon that damages the early “root system” (trophoblast) of the embryo during implantation.

Treating women who have both antithyroid antibodies and activated NK cells/CTL with intralipid (IL) and steroids improves their chances of successful reproduction. However, women with antithyroid antibodies who do not have activated NK cells/CTL do not require this treatment.

  • Treatment Options for IID:
  1. Intralipid (IL) Therapy: IL is a mixture of soybean lipid droplets in water, primarily used for providing nutrition. When administered intravenously, IL supplies essential fatty acids that can activate certain receptors in NK cells, reducing their cytotoxic activity and enhancing implantation. IL, combined with corticosteroids, suppresses the overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines by NK cells, improving reproductive outcomes. IL is cost-effective and has fewer side effects compared to other treatments like IVIg.
  2. Intravenous immunoglobulin-G (IVIg) Therapy:In the past, IVIg was used to down-regulate activated NK cells. However, concerns about viral infections and the high cost led to a decline in its use. IVIg can be effective, but IL has become a more favorable and affordable alternative.
  3. Corticosteroid Therapy: Corticosteroids, such as prednisone and dexamethasone, are commonly used in IVF treatment. They have an immunomodulatory effect and reduce TH-1 cytokine production by CTL. When combined with IL or IVIg, corticosteroids enhance the implantation process. Treatment typically starts 10-14 days before embryo transfer and continues until the 10th week of pregnancy.
  4. Heparinoid Therapy: Low molecular weight heparin (Clexane, Lovenox)can improve IVF success rates in women with antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs) and may prevent pregnancy loss in certain thrombophilias when used during treatment. It is administered subcutaneously once daily from the start of ovarian stimulation.
  5. TH-1 Cytokine Blockers (Enbrel, Humira):TH-1 cytokine blockers have limited effectiveness in the IVF setting and, in my opinion, no compelling evidence supports their use. They may have a role in treating threatened miscarriage caused by CTL/NK cell activation, but not for IVF treatment. TH-1 cytokines are needed for cellular response, during the early phase of implantation, so completely blocking them could hinder normal implantation.
  6. Baby Aspirin and IVF:Baby aspirin doesn’t offer much value in treating implantation dysfunction (IID) and may even reduce the chance of success. This is because aspirin thins the blood and increases the risk of bleeding, which can complicate procedures like egg retrieval or embryo transfer during IVF, potentially compromising its success.
  7. Leukocyte Immunization Therapy (LIT):LIT involves injecting the male partner’s lymphocytes into the mother to improve the recognition of the embryo as “self” and prevent rejection. LIT can up-regulate Treg cells and down-regulate NK cell activation, improving the balance of TH-1 and TH-2 cells in the uterus. However, the same benefits can be achieved through IL (Intralipid) therapy combined with corticosteroids. IL is more cost-effective, and the use of LIT is prohibited by law in the USA.

Types of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) and NK Cell Activation:

  1. 1.Autoimmune Implantation Dysfunction: Women with a personal or family history of autoimmune conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus Erythematosus, thyroid autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s disease and thyrotoxicosis), and endometriosis (in about one-third of cases) may experience autoimmune IID. However, autoimmune IID can also occur without any personal or family history of autoimmune diseases. Treatment for NK cell activation in IVF cases complicated by autoimmune IID involves a combination of daily oral dexamethasone from the start of ovarian stimulation until the 10th week of pregnancy, along with 20% intralipid (IL) infusion 10 days to 2 weeks before embryo transfer. With this treatment, the chance of a viable pregnancy occurring within two completed embryo transfer  attempts is approximately 70% for women <40 years old who have  normal ovarian reserve.
  2. Alloimmune Implantation Dysfunction:NK cell activation occurs when the uterus is exposed to an embryo that shares certain genotypic (HLA/DQ alpha) similarities with the embryo recipient.
      • Partial DQ alpha/HLA genetic matching: Couples who share only one DQ alpha/HLA gene are considered to have a “partial match.” If NK cell activation is also present, this partial match puts the couple at a disadvantage for IVF success. However, it’s important to note that DQ alpha/HLA matching, whether partial or total, does not cause IID without associated NK cell activation. Treatment for partial DQ alpha/HLA match with NK cell activation involves IL infusion and oral prednisone as adjunct therapy. IL infusion is repeated every 2-4 weeks after pregnancy is confirmed and continued until the 24th week of gestation. In these cases, only one embryo is transferred at a time to minimize the risk of NK cell activation.
      • Total (Complete) Alloimmune Genetic Matching: A total alloimmune match occurs when the husband’s DQ alpha genotype matches both that of the partner. Although rare, this total match along with NK cell activation significantly reduces the chance of a viable pregnancy resulting in a live birth at term. In some cases, the use of a gestational surrogate may be necessary.

It should be emphasized that poor embryo quality is not always the main cause of reproductive dysfunction and that the complex interaction between embryonic cells and the lining of the uterus  plays a critical role in successful implantation. Women with personal or family histories of autoimmune disease or endometriosis and those with unexplained (often repeated) IVF failure or recurrent pregnancy loss, often have immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID as the underlying cause . For such women, it is important to understand how IID leads to reproductive failure and how selective treatment options such as intralipid (IL), corticosteroid and heparinoid therapy, can dramatically  improve reproductive outcomes. Finally, there is real hope that proper identification and management of IID can  significantly improve the chance of successful reproduction and ultimately contribute to better quality of life after birth.

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Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books 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

 

I invite you to visit my very recently launched “Podcast”,  “HAVE A BABY” on RUMBLE;   https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480

If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or email her at concierge@sherivf.com\

 

 

Name: Carmen T

Cotización de insiminacion invitro o reconstrucción de trompas

Answer:

Please re-post in English!

 

Geoff Sher