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: Marie F

Hi, quick background info- 37 years old, husband is 48 years old. I have stage 4 endometriosis with bilateral endometriomas about 4-5 cm on both ovaries. AMH of 3.8, FSH 5.5, Estradiol 45. Sperm analysis is above normal. I just had my first egg retrieval that results in no abnormal embryos. 12 retrieved, 10 mature, 6 fertilized, 5 made it to blast.. and 4 were aneuploid with 1 being a LLM. Do you think the endometriomas on both ovaries caused my high rate of aneuploid embryos? Do you think having ovarian sclerotherapy will help achieve better results? Also, what are your thoughts on not testing the embryos. Thanks!

Answer:

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

_________________________________________________________

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: ruth j

hello, i am very concerned about my heavy bleeding despite being pregnant. my hcg numbers went from 624 to 737 in 5 days. is this normal

Answer:

Sadly, this suggests that the pregnancy is non-viable.

 

Geoff Sher

___________________________________________________________

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: Elia F

Dear Dr Sher,

I am a 33 year old European woman currently TTC.
I had my first conception success in 2022, in about 9 months period time and had a pregnancy loss before 8 weeks.
Since then I was not able to get pregnant again.
I performed hysteroscopy and the results were clear.
I also performed hormonal analysis which are also reasonable in numbers.
I was recently diagnosed with unexplained infertility.
We performed DQ Alpha testing and we are a complete match that is 03*01, 05*05 for both of us.

Can you please tell me if this constitutes a problem and its seriousness? Are there any recent studies or cases that can provide any insights?

Best Wishes
Thank you

Answer:

The complete match is only a problem if in addition you have activated natural killer cells. …see below.

 

Geoff Shedr

___________________________________________________________

In the world of assisted reproduction, when IVF fails repeatedly or without explanation, it’s often assumed that poor embryo quality is the main culprit. However, this view oversimplifies the situation. The process of embryo implantation, which begins about six or seven days after fertilization, involves a complex interaction between embryonic cells and the lining of the uterus. These specialized cells, called trophoblasts, eventually become the placenta. When the trophoblasts meet the uterine lining, they engage in a communication process with immune cells through hormone-like substances called cytokines. This interaction plays a critical role in supporting the successful growth of the embryo. From the earliest stages, the trophoblasts establish the foundation for the exchange of nutrients, hormones, and oxygen between the mother and the baby. The process of implantation not only ensures the survival of early pregnancy but also contributes to the quality of life after birth.

There are numerous uterine factors that can impede embryo implantation potential. However, the vast majority relate to the following three (3) factors:

  1. Thin uterine lining (endometrium) . A lining that is <8mm in thickness at the time of ovulation, and/ or the administration of progesterone
  2. Irregularity the inner surface of the uterine cavity (caused by protruding sub-mucous fibroids, scar  tissue or polyps )
  • Immunologic factors that compromise implantation

Of these 3 factors, the one most commonly overlooked (largely because of the highly complex nature of the problem) is immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID), a common cause of “unexplained (often repeated) IVF failure and recurrent pregnancy loss. This article will focus on the one that most commonly is overlooked ….namely, 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 6-7 days 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 IVIg to NK cells can immediately downregulate NK cell activity. However, 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 Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

_________________________________________________________

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\

Ivf

Name: James C

Hello my name is James my wife and I been trying to conceive for the last year . The clinic we went said my wife would have to lose 60lbs before treatment. What is the Bmi requirements at your clinic and is living out of state an issue.

Answer:

Obviously women that are much overweight will have more difficulty in pregnancy. However we have no absolute BMI cut=-off requirements presently!

 

Geoff Sher

__________________________________________________________________

 

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: Jumna P

I had follicle measuring 15mm with estrogen 155 and 5 days later estrogen dropped to 106. This is from natural cycle using no stimulation. The clinic wanted to aspirate and fertilize then decided not to due drop in estrogen and told me it was a cyst? I thought cyst needs to measure greater the 22 mm.

Answer:

Your RE made the right decision. That follicle would not have propagated a good egg!

 

Geoff Sher

_________________________________________________

 

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: Caitlin D

Hello Dr. Sher,
After having two miscarriages (1 natural and 1 IUI), I found out that I have a robertsonian balanced translocation (13:14). My RE said that my best bet would be to do IVF with PGT-SR testing. I did two egg retrievals. The first retrieval resulted in 13 eggs and only one day 7 embryo to test. That embryo was euploid. The second retrieval resulted in 19 eggs and 2 day 7 embryos to test. One is euploid and one is HLM that likely has to do with my BT. I just recently transferred my only embryo from the first retrieval that ended with a chemical pregnancy.

I had to do a mini stim cycle because my lining did not respond to regular medicated cycle. I took doxy and medrolx 5 days leading up to transfer and was on blood thinner because of a positive test for a clotting disorder at one point.

I also had a uterine septum removed before starting fertility treatment.

1. Why would a euploid embryo fail with a chemical pregnancy? I thought we had done all we could to prevent this.

2. What could be the cause of egg retrievals only resulting in day 7 embryos?

3. What would you recommend my next steps be?

Thank you in advance!

Answer:

The fact that the embryo transferred was euploid does not guarantee that it is was normal. There are genetic and metabolic factors that also can play a role.

As for the low yield of “competent embryos, that likely has to do with the protocol used for ovarian stimulation.

I would need a great deal more information to advise informatively and specifically.

This having been said, please consider the following:

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

 First; it should be understood that the most important determinant of fertilization potential, embryo development and blastocyst generation, is the numerical chromosomal integrity of the egg (While sperm quality does play a role, in the absence of moderate to severe sperm dysfunction this is (moderate or severe male factor infertility a relatively small one). Human eggs have the highest rate of numerical chromosomal irregularities (aneuploidy) of all mammals. In fact only about half the eggs of women in their twenties or early thirties, have the required number of chromosomes (euploid), without which upon fertilization the cannot propagate a normal pregnancy. As the woman advances into and beyond her mid-thirties, the percentage of eggs euploid eggs declines progressively such that by the age of 40 years, only about one out of 5-6 are likely to be chromosomally normal and by the time she reaches her mid-forties less than one in ten of her eggs will be euploid.

 So, the woman’s age certainly impacts egg “quality. In addition diminished  ovarian reserve (DOR) as assessed by measuring the blood AMH level,  is another factor that. Women with DOR often have disruption of the ovarian hormonal environment which can compromise egg/embryo development. This is also seen in women with a condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) where the woman has very high ovarian reserve (elevated AMH).

 

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

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

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

_____________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

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

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

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

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

  • If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or go to concierge@sherivf.com .
  • Also, I have just started a new Podcast https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480. Feel free to take a look-see……… And please spread the word!

Geoff Sher

 

Name: Lisa W

Dear Dr Sher, I have a history of 5 natural pregnancies complicated by pre-eclampsia, 2 previous csection births. After my last birth via csection, i have had 3 first trimester miscarriages. I’m now undergoing ivf with donor eggs due to age and have had 4 embryos fail to implant. I’m doing medicated cycles and have done the ERA test (result was needed 48 hrs more progesterone). My lining is always around 14mm after estrogen exposure. They don’t test for NKcells in the country I live in, do you think it’s worth me doing intralipid infusions and steroid treatment. I have Von willebrand disease so a blood thinner is probably not a good idea. There is an immediate family history of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, asthma and also thyroid (hyper and hypo thyroid, but my thyroid tests are normal). I have at times had reactions of hive and get hayfever allergy. We are also doing hcg infusion at transfer. Thank you so much for your time Dr Sher

Answer:

It is indeed possible that you have acquired an immunologic implantation dysfunction.

In the world of assisted reproduction, when IVF fails repeatedly or without explanation, it’s often assumed that poor embryo quality is the main culprit. However, this view oversimplifies the situation. The process of embryo implantation, which begins about six or seven days after fertilization, involves a complex interaction between embryonic cells and the lining of the uterus. These specialized cells, called trophoblasts, eventually become the placenta. When the trophoblasts meet the uterine lining, they engage in a communication process with immune cells through hormone-like substances called cytokines. This interaction plays a critical role in supporting the successful growth of the embryo. From the earliest stages, the trophoblasts establish the foundation for the exchange of nutrients, hormones, and oxygen between the mother and the baby. The process of implantation not only ensures the survival of early pregnancy but also contributes to the quality of life after birth.

There are numerous uterine factors that can impede embryo implantation potential. However, the vast majority relate to the following three (3) factors:

  1. Thin uterine lining (endometrium) . A lining that is <8mm in thickness at the time of ovulation, and/ or the administration of progesterone
  2. Irregularity the inner surface of the uterine cavity (caused by protruding sub-mucous fibroids, scar  tissue or polyps )
  • Immunologic factors that compromise implantation

Of these 3 factors, the one most commonly overlooked (largely because of the highly complex nature of the problem) is immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID), a common cause of “unexplained (often repeated) IVF failure and recurrent pregnancy loss. This article will focus on the one that most commonly is overlooked ….namely, 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 6-7 days 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 IVIg to NK cells can immediately downregulate NK cell activity. However, 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 Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

_______________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

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

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

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

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

  • If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or go to concierge@sherivf.com .
  • Also, I have just started a new Podcast https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480. Feel free to take a look-see……… And please spread the word!

 

Name: Daniela M

Could this be a early sing of miscarriage?
HGC levels have growth 35% form 3 days ago.

Answer:

I am afraid that bhis does not look promising. I hope I am proven wrong but I think you are likely t5o lose this pregnancy.

Geoff Sher

_______________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

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

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

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

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

  • If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or go to concierge@sherivf.com .
  • Also, I have just started a new Podcast https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480. Feel free to take a look-see……… And please spread the word!

 

Name: Mia P

Do you recommend to trigger with 10,000 IU of Pregnyl ( containing HCG and LH) or Novarel ( containing only HCG ) for females over 40 with high LH?

Answer:

T%hey are in fact identical and interchangeable. Either would be fine!

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

________________________________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

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

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

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

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

  • If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or go to concierge@sherivf.com .
  • Also, I have just started a new Podcast https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480. Feel free to take a look-see……… And please spread the word!

 

Name: Cassidy O

Hello Dr,

At my baseline scan there was a cyst measured 11mm, i.e. borderline acceptable. Nurses took my blood to check oestradiol level in case Doctor wanted to check it – but the Doctor reported back and said blood test wasn’t needed, before FET transfer is attempted – would you share that same view? I understand anything over 10mm is a potential concern. I’ve not had any issues with thickness of lining previously – I’ll be doing a natural modified cycle with a Euploid embryo and my lining was check last month it was circa 12mm at day 22 of my cycle. I assume if there is an issue with the cyst then my lining will be impacted and they will cancel the cycle, if it doesn’t reach it’s optimal thickness? Many thanks for your time and help in advance.

Best regards,
Cassidy

Answer:

Especially since you are doing an FET and there has been no impact on your cycle thus far, I would tend to agree with your RE that the 10mm follicle/cyst is probably irrelevant!

Good Luck!

Geoff Sher

______________________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

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

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

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

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

  • If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or go to concierge@sherivf.com .
  • Also, I have just started a new Podcast https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480. Feel free to take a look-see……… And please spread the word!

 

Name: Adam L

My wife was diagnoses last year with Adenomyosis after having a miscarriage, and had a DNC. We’ve been having trouble getting pregnant ever since, and would like to know all options. We saw this on a show, and wondering if this is another option. Thank you.

Answer:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

Medical treatment: There are three approaches.

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

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

___________________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

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

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

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

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

  • If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or go to concierge@sherivf.com .
  • Also, I have just started a new Podcast https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480. Feel free to take a look-see……… And please spread the word!

 

RIF

Name: Devan K

Hello, I am a healthy, active 34 year old who has been trying to conceive for 5 years. I’ve had 5 PGT tested embryos transferred with 4 implantation failures and one a very low chemical. One healthy embryo and one low mosaic embryo left frozen. Laparoscopy and hysteroscopy shows no issues. Current doctor has told me surrogacy or adoption is my best next step. Have you treated cases similar to mine with success? Or would you give me the same recommendation?

Answer:

Indeed, I often deal with cases such as yours.

Implantation dysfunction is unfortunately often overlooked as an important cause of IVF failure. In the pursuit of optimizing outcome with IVF, the clinician has a profound responsibility to meticulously assess and address this important issue if IVF success is to be optimized. This is especially relevant in cases of “unexplained IVF failure, Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and in women suspected of having underlying anatomical and immunologic factors. Doing so  will not only maximize the chance of a viable pregnancy but enhancing placentation, will at the same time  promote the noble objective of optimizing the quality of life after birth.”

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

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

Anatomical Endo-uterine Lesions: This blog article will focus on implantation dysfunction and IVF failure due to:

  • Anatomical abnormalities in the uterine cavity (e.g. scarring, polyps and encroaching fibroid tumors)
  • A thin endometrial lining
  • Immunologic rejection of the embryos

Several studies performed both in the United States and abroad have confirmed that a dye X-Ray or hysterosalpingogram (HSG) will fail to identify small endouterine surface lesions in >20% of cases. This is significant because even small uterine lesions have the potential to adversely affect implantation. Hysteroscopy is the traditional method for evaluating the integrity of the uterine cavity in preparation for IVF. It also permits resection of most uterine surface lesions, such as submucous uterine fibroids (myomas), intrauterine adhesions and endometrial or placental polyps. All of these can interfere with implantation by producing a local “inflammatory- type” response similar in nature to that which is caused by an intrauterine contraceptive device. Hysterosonography (syn; HSN/ saline ultrasound examination) and hysteroscopy have all but supplanted HSG to assess the uterine cavity in preparation for IVF. HSN which is less invasive and far less expensive than is than hysteroscopy involves  a small amount of a sterile saline solution is injected into the uterine cavity, whereupon a vaginal ultrasound examination is performed to assess the contour of the uterine cavity.

Endometrial Thickness: As far back as in 1989 I first reported  on the finding  that ultrasound assessment of the late proliferative phase endometrium following ovarian stimulation in preparation for IVF, permits better identification of those candidates who are least likely to conceive. We noted that the ideal thickness of the endometrium at the time of ovulation or egg retrieval is >9 mm and that a thickness of less than 8 mm bodes poorly for a successful outcome following IVF.

Then in 1993, I demonstrated that sildenafil (Viagra) introduced into the vagina prior to hCG administration can improve endometrial growth in many women with poor endometrial development. Viagra’s mechanism of action is improvement in uterine blood flow with improved estrogen delivery…thereby enhancing endometrial development.

Immunologic factors: These also play a role in IVF failure. Some women develop antibodies to components of their own cells. This “autoimmune” process involves the production of antiphospholipid, antithyroid, and/or anti-ovarian antibodies – all of which may be associated with activation of Natural Killer (NK) cells in the uterine lining. Activated NK cells (NKa) release certain cytokines (TH-I) that if present in excess, often damage the trophoblast (the embryo’s root system) resulting in immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID). This can manifest as “infertility” or as early miscarriages). In other cases (though less common), the problem is due to “alloimmune” dysfunction. Here the genetic contribution by the male partner renders the embryo “too similar” to the mother. This in turn activates NK cells leading to implantation dysfunction. These IID’s are treated using combinations of medications such as heparin, Clexane, Lovenox, corticosteroids and intralipid (IL).

_______________________________________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

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

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

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

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

  • If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or go to concierge@sherivf.com .
  • Also, I have just started a new Podcast https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480. Feel free to take a look-see……… And please spread the word!

 

 

Name: Mikie D

I am doing my first FET prep cycle – I am on oral estrogen (2mg) and estrogen patches (0.1mg/day) I started at 2 patches and 1 pill per day and then gradually bumped up to 3 pills and 3 patches per day. During STIMs, my lining was beautiful and I had no problems with fluid. Now after two weeks at my lining check, my lining was 6.6mm and I had a little less than 2mm of fluid in my lining. My Estrogen level was also 479 (again at two weeks of estrogen prep) I have no tubal factors, or any of the reasons this could happen that I find when I Google why fluid occurs. My doctor said some people’s body just don’t like the estrogen – but I did fine during STIMs and my estrogen level was higher than 2000. Why is this happening and what can be done to correct it? Will injectable estrogen work better for me?

Answer:

There are different approaches to hormonal preparation of the uterine lining for FET. In my practice, the following is the approach I take.. I think using this might prevent the kind of response you experienced last time.

Until less than 3 decades ago, most women undergoing IVF would have embryos transferred to the uterus in the same cycle that the egg retrieval was performed (“Fresh” Embryo Transfer). This was because embryo cryopreservation (freezing) was a hazardous undertaking.  In fact, it resulted in about 30% not surviving the freezing process and those that did, having about one half the potential of “fresh embryos to implant and propagate a viable pregnancy. The main reason for the high attrition rate associated with embryo cryopreservation is that the “conventional” freezing” process that was done slowly and this resulted in ice forming within the embryo’s cells, damaging or destroying them. The introduction of an ultra-rapid cryopreservation process (vitrification) freezes the embryos so rapidly as to avoid ice crystals from developing. As a result, >90% survive the freeze/thaw process in as good a condition as they were prior to being frozen and thus without being compromised in their ability to propagate a viable pregnancy.

Recently, there have been several articles that have appeared in the literature suggest that an altered hormonal environment may be the reason for this effect.  There have also been reports showing that when singletons (pregnancy with one baby) conceived naturally are compared to singletons conceived through a “fresh” embryo transfers they tend to have a greater chance of low birth weight/prematurity. This difference was not observed in babies born following FET.  Hence, there is a suspicion that the altered hormonal environment during the fresh cycle may be the causative factor.

Available evidence suggests that FET (of pre-vitrified blastocysts) is at least as successful as is the transfer of “fresh” embryos and might even have the edge. The reason for this is certainly unlikely to have anything to do with the freezing process itself. It more than likely  has to do with two factors:

  1. An ever increasing percentage of FET’s involve the transfer of PGS-tested, fully karyotyped, euploid blastocysts that have a greater potential to propagate viable pregnancies, than is the case with “fresh” ET’s where the embryos have rarely undergone prior PGS selection for “competency”…and,
  2. With targeted hormone replacement therapy for FET, one is far better able to better to optimally prepare the endometrium for healthy implantation than is the case where embryos are transferre3d following ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs.

There are additional factors other than method used for embryo cryopreservation that influence outcome following FET. These include

  • An emerging trend towards selective transferring only advanced (day 5-6) embryos (blastocysts).
  •  (PGS) to allow for the selective transfer of genetic competent (euploid) embryos
  • Addressing underlying causes of implantation dysfunction (anatomical and immunologic uterine factors) and
  •  Exclusive use of ultrasound guidance for delivery of embryos transferred to the uterus.

Against this background, the use of FET has several decided advantages:

  • The ability to cryostore surplus embryos left over after fresh embryo transfer
  • The ability to safely hold embryos over for subsequent transfer in a later frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycle (i.e. Staggered IVF) in cases where:
    1. Additional time is needed to perform preimplantation Genetic testing for embryo competency.
    2. In cases where ovarian hyperstimulation increases the risk of life-endangering complications associated with critically severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).
    3. To bank (stockpile) embryos for selective transfer of karyotypically normal embryos in older women or those who are diminished ovarian reserve
    4. The ability to store embryos in cases of IVF with third party parenting (Egg Donation; Gestational Surrogacy and Embryo donation) and so improve convenience for those couples seeking such services.

Preimplantation Genetic Sampling with FET:

The introduction of preimplantation genetic sampling (PGS) to karyotyping of embryos for selective transfer of the most “competent” embryos, requires in most cases that the tested blastocysts be vitribanked while awaiting test results and then transferred to the uterus at a later date. Many IVF programs have advocated the routine use of PGS in IVF purported to improve IVF outcome. But PGS should in my opinion should only be used selectively. I do not believe that it is needed for all women undergoing IVF. First there is the significant additional cost involved and second it will not benefit everyone undergoing IVF, in my opinion.

While PGS is a good approach for older women and those with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) and also for woman who experience recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) or “unexplained” recurrent IVF failure recent data suggests that it will not improve IVF success rates in  women under 36Y  who have normal ovarian reserve, who represent the majority of women seeking IVF treatment. Nor is it needed in women (regardless of their age) undergoing IVF with eggs donated by a younger donor.  This is because in such women about 1:2/3 of their eggs/embryos are usually chromosomally normal, and in most cases will upon fertilization produce multiple blastocysts per IVF attempt, anyway. Thus in such cases the transfer of 2 blastocysts will likely yield the same outcome regardless of whether the embryos had been subjected to PGS or not. The routine use of

It is another matter when it comes to women who have diminished ovarian reserve and/or DOR contemplating embryo banking and for women with unexplained recurrent IVF failure, recurrent pregnancy loss and women with alloimmune implantation dysfunction who regardless of their age or ovarian reserve require PGS for diagnostic reasons.

Embryo Banking: Some IVF centers are doing embryo banking cycles with Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS).  With Embryo Banking” several IVF cycles are performed sequentially (usually about 2 months apart), up to the egg retrieval stage. The eggs are fertilized and the resulting advanced embryos are biopsied. The biopsy specimens are held over until enough 4-8 blastocysts have been vitribanked, thus providing a reasonable likelihood that one or more will turn out to be PGS-normal. At this point the biopsy specimens (derived all banking cycles) are sent for PGS testing at one time (a significant cost-saver), the chromosomally normal blastocysts are identified and the women are scheduled for timed FET procedures….. with a good prospect of  a markedly improved chance of success as well as a reduced risk of miscarriage.

Standard (proposed) Regimen for preparing the uterus for frozen embryo transfer FET) is as follows:

 

 The recipient’s cycle is initiated with an oral contraceptive-OC (e.g. Marvelon/Lo-Estrin; Lo-Ovral etc) for at least 10 days. This is later overlapped with 0.5 mg. (10 units) Lupron/Lucrin (or Superfact/Buserelin) daily for 3 days. Thereupon the OC is withdrawn and daily 0.25 mg (5 units) of Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact injections are continued. Menstruation will usually ensue within 1 week. At this point, an ultrasound examination is performed to exclude ovarian cyst(s) and a blood estradiol measurement is taken (it needs to be <70pg/ml). The daily Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact is continued until the initiation of progesterone therapy (see below).

 

Four milligram (4mg) Estradiol valerate (Delestrogen) IM is injected SC, twice weekly (on Tuesday and Friday), commencing within a few days of Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact-induced menstruation. Blood is drawn on Mondays and Thursdays for measurement of blood [E2].  This allows for planned adjustment of the E2V dosage scheduled for the next day. The objective is to achieve a plasma E2 concentration of 500-1,000pg/ml + an endometrial lining of >8mm, as assessed by ultrasound examination done after 10 days of estrogen exposure i.e. a day after the 3rd dosage of Delestrogen.  The twice weekly, final (adjusted) dosage of E2V is continued until pregnancy is discounted by blood testing or an ultrasound examination. Dexamethasone 0.75 mg is taken orally, daily with the start of the Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact. This is continued until the 10th week of pregnancy or until pregnancy is discounted, at which point it is slowly tailed off over a 2 week period and stopped. Oral folic acid (1 mg) is taken daily commencing with the first E2V injection and is continued throughout gestation. Patients also receive Ciprofloxin 500mg BID orally starting with the initiation of Progesterone therapy and continuing for 10 days.

 

Luteal support commences 6 days prior to the ET, with intramuscular progesterone in oil (PIO) at an initial dose of 50 mg (P4-Day 1).  Thereupon, (from the following day) , progesterone administration-Day 2, PIO is increased to 100 mg daily continuing until the 10th week of pregnancy, or until a blood pregnancy test/negative ultrasound (after the 6-7th gestational week), discounts a viable pregnancy.

 

Also, commencing on the day following the ET, the patient inserts one (1) vaginal progesterone suppository (100 mg) in the morning + 2mg E2V vaginal suppository (in the evening). This is continued until the 10th week of pregnancy or until pregnancy is discounted by blood testing or by an ultrasound examination done at the 6-7th gestational week. Dexamethasone 0.75mg is continued to the 10th week of pregnancy (tailed off from the 8th to 10th week) or as soon as pregnancy is ruled out. With the obvious exception of the fact that embryo recipients do not receive an hCG injections, luteal phase and early pregnancy hormonal support and immuno-suppression is otherwise the same as for conventional IVF patients.  Blood pregnancy tests are performed 13 days and 15 days after the first P4 injection was given.

  

Note: Alternative progestational therapy in cases where intramuscular progesterone is not used: One (1) vaginal application of Crinone 8% is administered on the 1st day (referred to as luteal phase day 0 – LPO). On LP Day 1, they will commence the administration of Crinone 8% twice daily (AM and PM) until the day of embryo transfer.  Withhold Crinone on the morning of the embryo transfer and resume Crinone administration in the PM.   Crinone twice daily is resumed from the day after embryo transfer. Contingent upon positive blood pregnancy tests, and subsequently upon the ultrasound confirmation of a viable pregnancy, administration of Crinone twice daily are continued until the 10th week of pregnancy.

 

Regime for Thawing and Transferring Cryopreserved Embryos/Morulae/Blastocysts:

 

Patients undergoing ET with cryopreserved embryos/morulas/blastocysts will have their embryos thawed and transferred by the following regimen.

 

  Day 2 (P4) Day 6 (P4)
PN Thaw FET
Day 3 Embryo  Thaw FET
Blastocysts frozen on day 5 post-ER   FET
Blastocysts frozen on day 6, post-ER   FET

__________________________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

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

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

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

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

  • If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or go to concierge@sherivf.com .
  • Also, I have just started a new Podcast https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480. Feel free to take a look-see……… And please spread the word!

 

Name: LaPorche F

Hello Dr. Sher I’ve been seeing Dr. Paschall here in Franklin TN, I believe she has been speaking with you about my case. I have had 20 missed/miscarriages over a 14 year span with my spouse but I have two children from a previous relationship. I’ve miscarried all around the same time frame with is around 8 weeks each time. Fetal detection would be detected with a strong HR of 130-156 range then follow up again and no fetal HR. I’ve had a full work up Fertility Specialists here and Reproductive Endocrinologist out of state no success. I have MTHFR and PCOS. I was told I may have IID and may require Plaquenil for the first 12 weeks. My GYN wants to see about a Telehealth visit with you and hopefully she can monitor me here with you recommendations to help me achieve a successful healthy full term pregnancy. Please Advise. Thank You!

Answer:

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

_____________________________________________________________.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

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

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

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

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

  • If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or go to concierge@sherivf.com .
  • Also, I have just started a new Podcast https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480. Feel free to take a look-see……… And please spread the word!

 

 

Name: Katrina S

Hi There,

I had 12 ‘healthy’ embryos from 2 retrevials . NO natural cycles all with. Progesterone, Esradiol, Prednisone, Baby Aspirin

Did 3 transfers for these . 1st failed. – did ERA came back normal. 2nd. B.O. – needed two D+C to remove tissue , 3rd – Pregnant and lost daughter 25 weeks due to TMFR as Labor+Delivery, she had skeletal and dev issues = 12MB missing of 2nd chromosone, had septic shock post delivery + 3 months later D+C as left tissue behind . – waited 5 months, 4th transfer- with Lovenox – failed – Another ERA-ordered came back normal. 5th transfer- Lovenox + Lipid infusions – chemical pregnancy.

NOW new doctor. Did another retreival, have another 12 embryos from Day 5 and 6 (all 4AA,4AB,5AA,5AB) + Hysteroscopy to make sure NO scarring -came back clean. not testing embryos since Husband and I not carriers and now beleive in Amnios better (based on our history) Doctor suspects embryos fragile to testing . NOW wants to do a receptiva pre transfer incase positive…NO other signs of ENDO except all fertility challenges.

Have done full blood failure panels – nothing abnormal inlcuding no NKAS’s etc.

ANY THOUGHTS?

Answer:

Implantation dysfunction is unfortunately often overlooked as an important cause of IVF failure. In the pursuit of optimizing outcome with IVF, the clinician has a profound responsibility to meticulously assess and address this important issue if IVF success is to be optimized. This is especially relevant in cases of “unexplained IVF failure, Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and in women suspected of having underlying anatomical and immunologic factors. Doing so  will not only maximize the chance of a viable pregnancy but enhancing placentation, will at the same time  promote the noble objective of optimizing the quality of life after birth.”

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

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

Anatomical Endo-uterine Lesions: This blog article will focus on implantation dysfunction and IVF failure due to:

  • Anatomical abnormalities in the uterine cavity (e.g. scarring, polyps and encroaching fibroid tumors)
  • A thin endometrial lining
  • Immunologic rejection of the embryos

Several studies performed both in the United States and abroad have confirmed that a dye X-Ray or hysterosalpingogram (HSG) will fail to identify small endouterine surface lesions in >20% of cases. This is significant because even small uterine lesions have the potential to adversely affect implantation. Hysteroscopy is the traditional method for evaluating the integrity of the uterine cavity in preparation for IVF. It also permits resection of most uterine surface lesions, such as submucous uterine fibroids (myomas), intrauterine adhesions and endometrial or placental polyps. All of these can interfere with implantation by producing a local “inflammatory- type” response similar in nature to that which is caused by an intrauterine contraceptive device. Hysterosonography (syn; HSN/ saline ultrasound examination) and hysteroscopy have all but supplanted HSG to assess the uterine cavity in preparation for IVF. HSN which is less invasive and far less expensive than is than hysteroscopy involves  a small amount of a sterile saline solution is injected into the uterine cavity, whereupon a vaginal ultrasound examination is performed to assess the contour of the uterine cavity.

Endometrial Thickness: As far back as in 1989 I first reported  on the finding  that ultrasound assessment of the late proliferative phase endometrium following ovarian stimulation in preparation for IVF, permits better identification of those candidates who are least likely to conceive. We noted that the ideal thickness of the endometrium at the time of ovulation or egg retrieval is >9 mm and that a thickness of less than 8 mm bodes poorly for a successful outcome following IVF.

Then in 1993, I demonstrated that sildenafil (Viagra) introduced into the vagina prior to hCG administration can improve endometrial growth in many women with poor endometrial development. Viagra’s mechanism of action is improvement in uterine blood flow with improved estrogen delivery…thereby enhancing endometrial development.

Immunologic factors: These also play a role in IVF failure. Some women develop antibodies to components of their own cells. This “autoimmune” process involves the production of antiphospholipid, antithyroid, and/or anti-ovarian antibodies – all of which may be associated with activation of Natural Killer (NK) cells in the uterine lining. Activated NK cells (NKa) release certain cytokines (TH-I) that if present in excess, often damage the trophoblast (the embryo’s root system) resulting in immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID). This can manifest as “infertility” or as early miscarriages). In other cases (though less common), the problem is due to “alloimmune” dysfunction. Here the genetic contribution by the male partner renders the embryo “too similar” to the mother. This in turn activates NK cells leading to implantation dysfunction. These IID’s are treated using combinations of medications such as heparin, Clexane, Lovenox, corticosteroids and intralipid (IL).

_____________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

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

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

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

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

  • If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or go to concierge@sherivf.com .
  • Also, I have just started a new Podcast https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480. Feel free to take a look-see……… And please spread the word!

 

Name: Petra V

Hello

I read your blog and love the content.
I am 36yrs old woman (AMH 29 pmol/L, AFC 14-20), obesity (BMI from 31-34 in the last year, used to be much more).
My DHEA, testosterone, PRL were normal/low-normal/mid-range…

FSH 7 and LH 6.6 (Nov 2022).

I am freezing eggs due to need for
high dose chemotherapy for lupus/Sjogrens.

I did 1 cycle and got 9 mature eggs (10 were retrieved, i was not sedated so the RE stopped at 10 eggs due to high pain, although there were 4 more folicules).
It was antagonist protocol with 150 Elonva, 6x 0.25 orgalutran and 450 Pergoveris, and the trigger was rHCG 250 (Ovitrelle).

After low to low normals dhea/testosterone levels i started supplementing DHEA with 50 mg a day and HGH for just few days 1 IU a day.

Repeated tests showed slightly increased DHEA -s and testosterone.
I dont know should i continue supplements or reduce?

I am worried about egg quality.

Thing is my new labs show FSH 6.6 and LH 3.6 , testosterone, and DHEA a bit high as mentioned, and progesterone high (i took duphastone after eggg retrieval cycle for cyst).
My worry with taking DHEA, HGH, is the 10% increased levels i had now but more importantoy it is that I had once “microcystic ovaries” but that was 5+ yrs ago and now multiple ultrasounds show nothing Like PCOS, and also my hormones prior to supplementing were on the lower end (DHEA, testosterone) and LH/FSH ratio was a bit under 1.
I dont know if the recent LH number is relevant or reduced from progesterone.

Can taking HGH also be a problem same like DHEA when possible PCOS (or history of it)?
Because in the past when i was more obese my testosterone was also a bit high.

any opinion would be helpful
Thank you

Answer:

HGH will not do harm. I personally do not advocate routine use of DHEA.

The journey of in vitro fertilization can be a rollercoaster of emotions for many patients. Often times they have to face the harsh reality that the number and quality of eggs retrieved has fallen short of their expectations. Then, should fertilization of these eggs not propagate  chromosomally normal (euploid), “competent” embryos suitable for transfer to the uterus, many such patients find themselves in a state of emotional distress. They grapple with the inevitable questions of why this happened and how to prevent it from occurring again in the future. This article aims to delve into these queries, providing insights, rational explanations, and therapeutic options. It is an invitation to explore the light at the end of the tunnel. Readers are urged to carefully absorb the entirety of the article in the hope of finding valuable information and renewed hope.

  • The Importance of Chromosomal Integrity: While sperm quality is an important factor, egg quality is by far the most important when it comes to the generation of embryos that are capable of propagating healthy babies (“competent”). In this regard, chromosomal integrity of the egg and embryo, although it is not the only factor , is certainly the main determinant of such competency.
  • The woman’s age: About two thirds of a woman’s eggs in her twenties or early thirties have the correct number of chromosomes, which is necessary for a healthy pregnancy. As a woman gets older, the percentage of eggs with the right number of chromosomes decreases. By age 40, only about one in every 5-6 eggs is likely to be normal, and by the mid-forties, less than one in ten eggs will be normal.
  • Ovarian Reserve (number of available in the ovaries): A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have. She starts using these eggs when she begins ovulating during puberty. At first, the eggs are used up quickly, but as she gets older, the number of eggs starts to run out. Her brain and pituitary gland try to stimulate the production of more eggs by increasing the output of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), but unfortunately, this often doesn’t work. When the number of remaining eggs in her ovaries falls below a certain level (which can be different for each woman), her FSH level rises, and production of the ovarian hormone, AMH decreases. This is the start of diminishing ovarian reserve (DOR). Most women experience the onset of DOR in their late 30s or early 40s, but it can happen earlier for some. The lower the ovarian reserve, the lower the AMH level will be, and the fewer eggs will be available for harvesting during IVF-egg retrieval. In such cases, a higher dosage of fertility drugs might be needed to promote better egg production in future attempts. . On the other hand, higher AMH levels mean more eggs are available, and lower doses of fertility drugs are usually needed. DOR is commonly associated with increased bioactivity of pituitary gland-produced LH. This LH activates production of ovarian male hormones (androgens)…predominantly testosterone by ovarian connective tissue (stroma) . While a small amount of  ovarian testosterone is absolutely necessary for optimal follicle and egg development, excessive ovarian testosterone will often access the follicle , and compromise both egg quality and follicle growth and development. In some cases, rapidly increasing  LH-release (“premature LH-surge”) with excessive induced ovarian testosterone can lead to “premature luteinization”  of the follicles with cessation in growth and even to“ premature ovulation”.
  • Importance of Individualized Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) Protocol: It’s not surprising that DOR is more common in older women, but regardless of age, having DOR makes a woman’s eggs more likely to be compromised during controlled ovarian stimulation (COS). The choice of the COS protocol is crucial to preventing unintentional harm to egg and embryo quality. The wrong protocol can disrupt normal egg development and increase the risk of abnormal embryos. That’s why it’s important to tailor the COS protocol to each individual’s needs. This helps optimize follicle growth and the quality of eggs and embryos. The timing of certain treatments is also important for successful outcomes.
  • Embryo Competency and Blastocyst Development: Embryos that don’t develop into blastocysts by day 6 after fertilization are usually chromosomally abnormal or aneuploid (”incompetent”) and not suitable for transfer. However, not all blastocysts are guaranteed to be normal and capable of developing into a healthy baby. As a woman gets older, the chances of a her embryos being chromosomally normal blastocyst decreases. For example, a blastocyst from a 30-year-old woman is more likely to be normal compared to one from a 40-year-old woman.

The IVF stimulation protocol has a big impact on the quality of eggs and embryos especially in women with DOR. Unfortunately, many IVF doctors use the same COS “recipe approach” for everyone without considering individual differences. Using personalized protocols can greatly improve the success of IVF. While we can’t change genetics or reverse a woman’s age, a skilled IVF specialist can customize the COS protocol to meet each patient’s specific needs.

GONADOTROPIN RELEASING HORMONE AGONISTS (GNRHA) AND GNRH-ANTAGONISTS:

  • Gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa). Examples are  Lupron, Buserelin, Superfact, and Decapeptyl . These are commonly used to launch  ovarian stimulation cycles. They work by initially causing a release of pituitary gonadotropins, followed by a decrease in LH and FSH levels within 4-7 days. This creates a relatively low LH environment when COS begins, which is generally beneficial for egg development. However, if GnRHa are administered starting concomitant with gonadotropin stimulation (see GnRHa –“flare protocol” -below) it can cause an immediate surge in LH release, potentially leading to high levels of ovarian testosterone that can harm egg quality, especially in older women and those with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR).
  • Gonadotropin releasing hormone antagonists (GnRH-antagonists) : Examples are Ganirelix, Cetrotide, and Orgalutron. GnRH antagonists (take days   work quickly (within hours) to block pituitary LH release. Their purpose is to prevent excessive LH release during COS. In contrast, the LH-lowering effect of GnRH agonists takes several days to develop. Traditionally, GnRH antagonists are given starting on the 5th-7th day of gonadotropin stimulation. However, in older women and those with DOR, suppressing LH might happen too late to prevent excessive ovarian androgen production that can negatively impact egg development in the early stages of stimulation. That’s why I prefer to administer GnRH-antagonists right from the beginning of gonadotropin administration.

 

USING BIRTH CONTROL PILLS TO START OVARIAN STIMULATION:

Patients are often told that using birth control pills (BCP) to begin ovarian stimulation will suppress the response of the ovaries. This is true, but only if the BCP is not used correctly. Here’s the explanation:

In natural menstrual cycles and cycles stimulated with fertility drugs, the follicles in the ovaries need to develop receptors that respond to follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in order to properly respond to FSH stimulation. Pre-antral follicles (PAFs) do not have these receptors and cannot respond to FSH stimulation. The development of FSH responsivity requires exposure of the pre-antral follicles to FSH for several days, during which they become antral follicles (AFs) and gain the ability to respond to FSH-gonadotropin stimulation. In regular menstrual cycles, the rising FSH levels naturally convert PAFs to AFs. However, the combined BCP suppresses FSH. To counter this suppression, we need to promote increased  FSH production several days before starting COS. This allows the orderly conversion from PAFs to AFs, ensuring proper follicle and egg development.

GnRHa causes an immediate surge in FSH release by the pituitary gland, promoting the conversion from PAF to AF. Therefore, when women take the BCP control pill to launch a cycle of COS, they need to overlap the BCP with a GnRHa for a few days before menstruation. This allows the early recruited PAFs to complete their development and reach the AF stage, so they can respond appropriately to ovarian stimulation. By adjusting the length of time, the woman is on the birth control pill, we can regulate and control the timing of the IVF treatment cycle. Without this step, initiating ovarian stimulation in women coming off birth control pills would be suboptimal.

PROTOCOLS FOR CONTROLLED OVARIAN STIMULATION (COS):

  • GnRH Agonist Ovarian Stimulation Protocols:
    • The long GnRHa protocol: Here, a GnRHa (usually Lupron or Superfact) is given either in a natural cycle, starting 5-7 days before menstruation, overlapping with the BCP for three days. Thereupon,  the pill is stopped, while daily  GnRHa injections continue until menstruation occurs (usually 5-7 days later). The GnRHa causes a rapid rise in FSH and LH levels. This is followed about 3-4 days later , by a progressive decline in FSH and LH to near zero levels,  with a concomitant drop in ovarian estradiol and progesterone. This, in turn triggers uterine withdrawal bleeding (menstruation) within 5-7 days of starting the GnRHa administration. Gonadotropin treatment is then initiated while daily GnRHa injections continue to maintain a relatively low LH environment. Gonadotropin administration continues until the hCG “trigger” (see below).
    • Short GnRH-Agonist (“Flare”) Protocol: This protocol involves starting hormone therapy and using GnRH agonist at the same time. The goal is to boost FSH so that with concomitant stimulation with FSH-gonadotropins  + the GnRHa-induced surge in pituitary gland FSH release, will augment follicle development. However, this surge also leads to a rise in LH levels, which can cause an excessive production of ovarian male hormones (e.g., testosterone). This could potentially adversely affect the quality of eggs, especially in women over 39 years old, those with low ovarian reserve, and women with PCOS or DOR who already have increased LH sensitivity. In this way, these “flare protocols” can potentially decrease the success rates of IVF. While they are generally safe for younger women with normal ovarian reserve, I personally avoid using this approach on the off chance that even patients with normal ovarian reserve, might experience poor egg quality.
  • GnRH Antagonist-Ovarian Stimulation Protocols:
    • Conventional GnRH Antagonist Protocol: In this approach, daily GnRH antagonist injections are  given from the 5th to the 8th day of COS with gonadotropins to the day of the “trigger” (see below). Accordingly, although rapidly acting to lower LH , this effect of GnRH- antagonist only starts suppressing LH from well into the COS cycle which means the ovarian follicles are left exposed and unshielded from pituitary gland -produced, (endogenous) LH during the first several days of stimulation. This can be harmful, especially in the early stage of COS when eggs and follicles are most vulnerable to the effects of over-produced LH-induced excessive ovarian testosterone. Therefore, I believe the Conventional GnRH Antagonist Protocol is not ideal for older women, those with low ovarian reserve, and women with PCOS who already have elevated LH activity. However, this protocol is acceptable for younger women with normal ovarian reserve, although I personally avoid using this approach on the off chance that even patients with normal ovarian reserve, might experience poor egg quality.

It’s important to note that the main reason for using GnRH antagonists is to prevent a premature LH surge, which is associated with poor egg and embryo quality due to follicular exhaustion. However, calling it a “premature LH surge” is misleading because it actually represents the culmination of a progressive increase in LH-induced ovarian testosterone. A better term would be “premature luteinization”. In some such cases, the rise in LH can precipitate “premature ovulation”.

 

  • Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol (A/ACP): I recommend this protocol for many of my patients, especially for older women and those with DOR or PCOS. The woman starts by taking a BCP for 7-10 days. This overlapped with a GnRHa for 3 days and continued until menstruation ensues about 5-7 days later. At this point  she “converts” from the GnRH-agonist to a GnRH-antagonist (Ganirelix, Orgalutron, or Cetrotide). A few days after this conversion from agonist to antagonist, COS with  gonadotropin stimulation starts. Both the antagonist and the gonadotropins are continued together until the hCG trigger. The purpose is to suppress endogenous LH release throughout the COS process and so  avoid over-exposure of follicles and eggs to LH-induced  excessive ovarian testosterone which as previously stated, can compromise egg and follicle growth and development.   Excessive ovarian testosterone can also adversely affect estrogen-induced growth of the uterine lining (endometrium). Unlike GnRH-agonists, antagonists do not suppress ovarian response to the gonadotropin stimulation. This is why the A/ACP is well-suited for older women and those with diminished ovarian reserve.
  • A/ACP with estrogen priming: This is a modified version of the A/ACP protocol used for women with very low ovarian reserve (AMH=<0.2ng/ml). Estrogen priming is believed to enhance the response of follicles to gonadotropins. Patients start their treatment cycle by taking a combined birth control pill (BCP) for 7-10 days. After that, they overlap daily administration of a GnRH agonist with the BCP for 3 days. The BCP is then stopped, and the daily agonist continues until menstruation ensues (usually 5-7 days later). At this point, the GnRH agonist is supplanted by daily injections of  GnRH antagonist and  Estradiol (E2) “priming” begins using E2 skin patches or intramuscular estradiol valerate injections twice weekly, while continuing the GnRH antagonist. Seven days after starting the estrogen priming COS begins using recombinant FSHr such as Follistim, Gonal-F or Puregon) +menotropin (e.g., Menopur) . The estrogen “priming” continues to the day of the “trigger” (see below).  Egg retrieval is performed 36 hours after the trigger.


Younger women (under 30 years) and women with absent, irregular, or dysfunctional ovulation, as well as those with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), are at risk of developing a severe condition called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), which can be life-threatening. To predict this condition, accurate daily blood E2 level monitoring is required.

 

TRIGGERING “EGG MATURATION PRIOR TO EGG RETRIEVAL”

  • The hCG “trigger”: When it comes to helping eggs mature before retrieval, one of the important decisions the doctor needs to make is choosing the “trigger shot” to facilitate the process. Traditionally, hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is derived from the urine of pregnant women (hCGu) while a newer recombinant hCG (hCGr), Ovidrel was recently  introduced. The ideal dosage of hCGu is 10,000U and for Ovidrel, the recommended dosage is 500mcg. Both have the same efficacy. The “trigger” is usually administered by intramuscular injection, 34-36 hours prior to egg retrieval.

Some doctors may choose to lower the dosage of hCG if there is a risk of severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). However, I believe that a low dose of hCG (e.g., 5000 units of hCGu or 250 mcg of hCGr ( Ovidrel) might not be enough to optimize egg maturation, especially when there are many follicles. Instead, I suggest using a method called “prolonged coasting” to reduce the risk of OHSS.

  • Using GnRH antagonist alone or combined with hCG as the trigger: Some doctors may prefer to use a GnRH- agonist  trigger instead of hCG to reduce the risk of OHSS. The GnRHa “trigger” acts by inducing a “surge of pituitary gland-LH. However, it is difficult to predict the amount of LH that is released in response to a standard agonist trigger. In my opinion, using hCG is a better choice, even in cases of ovarian hyperstimulation, with the condition that “prolonged coasting” is implemented beforehand.
  • Combined use of hCG + GnRH agonist: This approach is better than using a GnRH agonist alone but still not as effective as using the appropriate dosage of hCG.
  • Timing of the trigger: The trigger shot should be given when the majority of ovarian follicles have reached a size of more than 15 mm, with several follicles measuring 18-22 mm. Follicles larger than 22 mm often contain overdeveloped eggs, while follicles smaller than 15 mm usually have underdeveloped and potentially abnormal eggs.

SEVERE OVARIAN HYPERSTIMULATION SYNDROME (OHSS) & “PROLONGED COASTING”

OHSS is a life-threatening condition that can occur during controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) when the blood E2 (estradiol) level rises too high. It is more common in young women with high ovarian reserve, women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and young women who do not ovulate spontaneously. To prevent OHSS, some doctors may trigger egg maturation earlier, use a lower dosage of hCG, or “trigger” using a GnRHa. However, these approaches can compromise egg and embryo quality and reduce the chances of success.

To protect against the risk of OHSS while optimizing egg quality, Physicians can use one of two options. The first is “prolonged coasting,” a procedure I introduced more than three decades ago. It involves stopping gonadotropin therapy while continuing to administer the GnRHa until the risk of OHSS has decreased. The precise timing of “prolonged coasting” is critical. It should be initiated when follicles have reached a specific size accompanied and the  blood estradiol has reached a certain peak.  The second option is to avoid fresh embryo transfer and freeze all “competent” embryos for later frozen embryo transfers (FETs) at a time when the risk of OHSS has subsided. By implementing these strategies, both egg/embryo quality and maternal well-being can be maximized.

 

In the journey of fertility, a woman is blessed with a limited number of eggs, like precious treasures awaiting their time. As she blossoms into womanhood, these eggs are gradually used, and the reserves start to fade. Yet, the power of hope and science intertwines, as we strive to support the development of these eggs through personalized treatment. We recognize that each woman is unique, and tailoring the protocol to her individual needs can unlock the path to success. We embrace the delicate timing, understanding that not all embryos are destined for greatness. With age, the odds may shift, but our dedication remains steadfast, along with our ultimate objective, which is  to do everything possible to propagate  of a normal pregnancy while optimizing the  quality of that life after birth and all times, minimizing risk to the prospective parents.

 ______________________________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

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

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

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

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

  • If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or go to concierge@sherivf.com .
  • Also, I have just started a new Podcast https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480. Feel free to take a look-see……… And please spread the word!

 

Name: Deanna T

Hello Dr. Sher,
I am a patient working with an IVF Clinic that holds 2 more of my PGT-A Euploid Embryos (using Donor Eggs and my husband’s sperm), but we have unfortunately arrived at a crossroads where my smaller clinic is unable to move forward with me. The issue being FET Implantation Failure which is “somewhat” explained by some extensive genetic testing and an Endometrial Biopsy/Receptiva Test. The two tests revealed that I have NK Cells, Inflammation/potential Endometritis , presence of BCL-6, (though I have no symptoms of Endometriosis). Wondering if you offer Reproductive Immunology as a Separate Specialty/Service or if you have to presently be doing IVF cycles with Sher Fertility?

Answer:

Of course we offer the service independent of whether the patient undergoes egg retrieval with us.

Geoff Sher

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In the world of assisted reproduction, when IVF fails repeatedly or without explanation, it’s often assumed that poor embryo quality is the main culprit. However, this view oversimplifies the situation. The process of embryo implantation, which begins about six or seven days after fertilization, involves a complex interaction between embryonic cells and the lining of the uterus. These specialized cells, called trophoblasts, eventually become the placenta. When the trophoblasts meet the uterine lining, they engage in a communication process with immune cells through hormone-like substances called cytokines. This interaction plays a critical role in supporting the successful growth of the embryo. From the earliest stages, the trophoblasts establish the foundation for the exchange of nutrients, hormones, and oxygen between the mother and the baby. The process of implantation not only ensures the survival of early pregnancy but also contributes to the quality of life after birth.

There are numerous uterine factors that can impede embryo implantation potential. However, the vast majority relate to the following three (3) factors:

  1. Thin uterine lining (endometrium) . A lining that is <8mm in thickness at the time of ovulation, and/ or the administration of progesterone
  2. Irregularity the inner surface of the uterine cavity (caused by protruding sub-mucous fibroids, scar  tissue or polyps )
  • Immunologic factors that compromise implantation

Of these 3 factors, the one most commonly overlooked (largely because of the highly complex nature of the problem) is immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID), a common cause of “unexplained (often repeated) IVF failure and recurrent pregnancy loss. This article will focus on the one that most commonly is overlooked ….namely, 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 6-7 days 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 IVIg to NK cells can immediately downregulate NK cell activity. However, 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 Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

_________________________________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

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

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

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

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

  • If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or go to concierge@sherivf.com .
  • Also, I have just started a new Podcast https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480. Feel free to take a look-see……… And please spread the word!

 

Name: Cheryl M

We had 20 eggs at Day 3, 10 of which were grade 1 or 2, the rest were grade 3 or 4. By Day 5 we only had 1 blastocyst of 4BB quality. What would cause such a high loss from Day 3 to 5?

Answer:

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

 

First; it should be understood that the most important determinant of fertilization potential, embryo development and blastocyst generation, is the numerical chromosomal integrity of the egg (While sperm quality does play a role, in the absence of moderate to severe sperm dysfunction this is (moderate or severe male factor infertility a relatively small one). Human eggs have the highest rate of numerical chromosomal irregularities (aneuploidy) of all mammals. In fact only about half the eggs of women in their twenties or early thirties, have the required number of chromosomes (euploid), without which upon fertilization the cannot propagate a normal pregnancy. As the woman advances into and beyond her mid-thirties, the percentage of eggs euploid eggs declines progressively such that by the age of 40 years, only about one out of 5-6 are likely to be chromosomally normal and by the time she reaches her mid-forties less than one in ten of her eggs will be euploid.

 

So, the woman’s age certainly impacts egg “quality. In addition diminished  ovarian reserve (DOR) as assessed by measuring the blood AMH level,  is another factor that. Women with DOR often have disruption of the ovarian hormonal environment which can compromise egg/embryo development. This is also seen in women with a condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) where the woman has very high ovarian reserve (elevated AMH).

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

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

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

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

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

  • If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or go to concierge@sherivf.com .
  • Also, I have just started a new Podcast https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480. Feel free to take a look-see……… And please spread the word!

 

Name: Farjana Y

Hi Sir,
On 12th Day of period i have done TVS and one 30x23mm, one 16mm and 3/4 other smaller follicle on my right ovary.
Will i be able to conceive with these?
Thanks

Answer:

The 30mm follicle is likely cystic and unlikely to house a good quality egg and the 16mm follicle is too immature to house a competent egg!

Sorry!

Geoff Sher

________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

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

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

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

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

  • If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or go to concierge@sherivf.com .
  • Also, I have just started a new Podcast https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480. Feel free to take a look-see……… And please spread the word!

 

Name: Yasmin V

Hello, I am considering treatment at a new clinic after a disappointing first attempt at IVF. I am 46 years old and tried using my own eggs. From my last blood test some two months ago I had an AMH of 0.98 ng/ml or 7 pmol/l and took pergoveris for the ovarian stimulation (300 units/day) for 9 days before the trigger on day 10. I had 15 eggs retrieved and 13 of those were mature enough to be fertilised, then 7 were fertilised, and 3 got to blastocyst stage but sadly the PGA-T testing showed the three embryos to be aneuploid. Given the relatively high quantity of eggs, do you think it’s realistic to try a second cycle or simply a waste of money, and I should try a donor egg instead?
Thank you in advance for your response.

Answer:

You certainly could try again, but please know that age is a major factor affecting IVF outcome. Women over 44y of age are advised to do egg donation.

Age should never be a barrier to hope and fulfillment when it comes to IVF. Many women in their early to mid-40s are successfully having IVF babies using their own eggs, especially if they have a good number of eggs left in their ovaries. However, for women with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) or those over the age of 44, where the chances of success with their own eggs are low, IVF with egg donation can be a highly successful and safe option. Let’s explore why age affects IVF outcomes and discover the possibilities that lie ahead.

The egg plays a crucial role in determining the quality of the embryo, with a “competent” egg having the best chance of developing into a healthy baby. As women age, the chances of having eggs with an irregular number of chromosomes (aneuploid) increase significantly. Fertilizing an aneuploid egg will result in an embryo with an abnormal number of chromosomes, making it unable to develop into a healthy baby.

Chromosomal abnormalities are the main cause of failed implantation, pregnancy losses, and birth defects. As women get older, the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in embryos rises, leading to lower IVF success rates. Additionally, older women may experience hormonal imbalances that further affect egg quality and development. However, personalized stimulation protocols can help protect egg quality and improve IVF outcomes by regulating hormone production and activity.

When it comes to IVF in older women, selecting the right ovarian stimulation protocol is crucial. Various protocols are available, each tailored to meet individual needs. However, certain protocols should be avoided for older women or those with DOR to optimize chances of success.

I selectively use a variety of ovarian stimulation protocols for ovarian stimulation/IVF in older women and those with DOR :

  • The conventional long pituitary down-regulation protocol: This involves administering a GnRH agonist like Lupron or Buserelin for a few days prior to initiating ovarian stimulation with gonadotropins. Then, a combination of FSH-dominant gonadotropin and a small dose of Menopur is administered, and ultrasound and blood tests are done to monitor follicle development. The eggs are triggered for maturation with hCG, and the egg retrieval is scheduled for approximately 36 hours later. This protocol is often preferred for older women who have adequate ovarian reserve (AMH=>1.5ng/ml).
  • The agonist/antagonist conversion protocol (A/ACP):, This is similar to the conventional long down-regulation protocol. However, instead of using an agonist, a GnRH antagonist is administered from the onset of stimulation with gonadotropins. This protocol is often preferred for older women who have moderately severe DOR (AMH=0.5-1.5ng/ml).
  • A/ACP with Estrogen “priming”; For women with very severe, DORI prescribe  estrogen “priming “with skin estradiol (E2) patches or Estradiol injections administered bi-weekly. For some time before commencing gonadotropin stimulation, in an attempt to enhance ovarian response to stimulation. This protocol is sometimes used in older women who have severe DOR ( <0.5-1.5ng/ml).

In my opinion, the following ovarian stimulation protocols all promote over-exposure to LH-induced ovarian testosterone and are best avoided in older women and women with DOR, undergoing ovarian stimulation for IVF:

  • Agonist “flare” protocols, which cause a surge of pituitary-LH at the wrong time.
  • High dosages , LH-containing fertility drugs (e.g., menotropins such as Menopur).
  • Testosterone-based supplements like Androgel.
  • DHEA supplementation: DHEA is converted to testosterone in the ovaries.
  • Clomiphene citrate & Letrozole, promote exaggerated pituitary LH release that can result in over-production of ovarian testosterone.
  • Triggering egg maturation with too low a dosage of hCG (the ideal dosage is 10,000U of urine derived hCG) andf Recombinant DNA-derived hCG ( the ideal dosage is 500mcg of Ovidrel).

 

In cases where using their own eggs is no longer viable due to age and severe DOR, using donor eggs provides a fulfilling path to parenthood. Although some may initially hesitate due to the lack of genetic relation, it’s important to understand that the person who gives birth is considered the true biological parent in most cultures and legal systems. Becoming a parent through this connection can bring immense joy and fulfillment, as countless successful cases have shown.

Age may reduce the chances, but it does not eliminate the possibility of having a child through IVF. When IVF with own eggs is not an option, embracing the alternative of egg donation opens doors to highly successful and fulfilling paths to parenthood. It’s time to unlock the possibilities and embark on the journey towards creating a loving family.

GS

________________________________________________________________________

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

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

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

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

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

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

  • If you are interested in having an online consultation with me, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 or go to concierge@sherivf.com .
  • Also, I have just started a new Podcast https://rumble.com/c/c-3304480. Feel free to take a look-see……… And please spread the word!