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Sher Fertility Solutions IG Live – Staying sane during IVF – 3 expert tips

Medical Director, Dr. Drew Tortoriello, shares his top tips to help you on your IVF journey.

Whether this is your 1st round, or you’ve been here before, Dr. Tortoriello shares advice from holistic wellbeing and mindset to injection tips.

Dr. Geoffrey Sher on Endometriosis on The Egg Whisperer Show

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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

Name: tammy S

August 15, 2022
i’m 40 years old,my AHM is 0.89. i was undergoing an ivf which failed. they got 6 eggs,5 mature,i embryo was slowly groing ending up not sticking after transfering. later the doctir told me they examined my eggs and came to conclusion that they were post mature. i was stimmed from the second day of… Read More »

Answer:

It is primarily the egg (rather than the sperm) that determines the chromosomal integrity (karyotype) of the embryo, the most important determinant of egg/embryo competency”. A “competent” egg is therefore one that has a normal karyotype and has the best potential to propagate a “competent” embryo. In turn, a “competent embryo is one that possesses the highest potential to implant and develop into a normal, healthy, baby.

When it comes to reproductive performance, humans are the least efficient of all mammals. Even in young women under 35y, at best only 2 out of 3 eggs are chromosomally numerically normal (euploid). The remainder will have an irregular number of chromosomes (aneuploid) and are thus “incompetent”. The incidence of egg aneuploidy increases with age such by age 39 years, 3 in 4 are “competent”, and by the mid-forties, at best one in 10 are likely to be aneuploid. The fertilization of an aneuploid egg will inevitably lead to embryo aneuploidy (“incompetence”). As previously stated,   an aneuploid embryo cannot propagate a normal pregnancy

Within 38-42 hours of the initiation of the spontaneous pre-ovulatory luteinizing hormone (LH) surge (and also following administration of the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) “trigger” shot, given to induce egg maturation after ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs), the egg embarks on a rapid maturational process that involves halving of its 46 chromosomes to 23. During this process, (known as meiosis) 23 chromosomes are retained within the nucleus of the egg while the remaining 23 chromosomes are expelled in a membrane envelopment, from the egg nucleus. This small structure known as the polar body, comes to lie immediately below the “shell” of the egg (the zona pellucida) and is known as the 1st polar body or PB-1. The sperm, in the process of its maturation also undergoes meiosis divides into two separate functional gametes, each containing 23 chromosomes (half its original number of 46 chromosomes).  With subsequent fertilization, the 23 chromosomes of the egg now fuse with the 23 chromosomes of the mature sperm resulting in the development of an embryo with  46 chromosomes (the normal human genome) comprising a combination of the genetic material from both partners. For the embryo to have exactly 46 chromosomes (the euploid number), both the mature egg and mature spermatozoon must contain exactly 23 chromosomes. Only such euploid embryos are “competent” (capable of developing into healthy babies). Those with an irregular number of chromosomes (aneuploid embryos) are “incompetent” and are incapable of propagating healthy babies. While embryo “incompetence” can result from either egg or sperm aneuploidy, it usually stems from egg aneuploidy. However, in cases of moderate or severe male factor infertility, the sperm’s contribution to aneuploidy of the embryo can be significantly greater.

While embryo ploidy (numerical chromosomal integrity) is not the only determinant of its “competency, it is by far the most important and in fact is a rate-limiting factor in human reproduction. It is causal in the vast majority of cases of “failed nidation which in turn is responsible for most cases of a failed pregnancy (natural or assisted) and causes most sporadic early pregnancy losses (both chemical gestations and miscarriages) as well as  many chromosomal birth defects such as Turner syndrome (X-monosomy ) Down syndrome (trisomy 21) and Edward syndrome (trisomy 18) .

In most cases, embryos that develop too slowly as well as those that grow too fast (i.e. ones that by day 3 post-fertilization comprise fewer than 6 cells or more than 9 cells) and/or embryos that contain cell debris or “fragments” are usually aneuploid and are thus unable to propagate a healthy pregnancy (“incompetent”). Additionally, embryos that fail to survive in culture to the blastocyst stage are also almost always aneuploid/”incompetent”.

At a certain point in the later stage of a woman’s reproductive career, the number of remaining eggs in her ovaries falls below a certain threshold, upon which she is unable to respond optimally to fertility drugs. Often times this is signaled by a rising day 3 basal blood follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) level (>9.0MIU/ml) and a falling blood anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) level (<2.0ng/ml or <15nmol/L). Such women who have  diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) produce fewer eggs in response to ovarian stimulation. While DOR is most commonly encountered in women over 40 years of age it can and indeed also can occur in much younger women.

A few important (but often overlooked concepts should be considered in this regard:

  • Age: It is advancing chronologic age and NOT declining ovarian reserve (as evidenced by abnormal blood AMH or FSH that results in an increased incidence of egg/embryo “incompetence” due to aneuploidy
  • The ovaries and developing eggs of women with DOR (regardless of age) are highly susceptible to the adverse effect of excessive Luteinizing Hormone (LH)-induced, ovarian overproduction of male hormones (e,g. testosterone and androstenedione). While a little testosterone produced by the ovary promotes normal follicle growth and orderly egg development excessive testosterone has a converse effect. That is why in older women and those who regardless of their age have DOR (and thus excessive LH bioavailability and increased ovarian testosterone production), the use of ovarian stimulation protocols that fail to down-regulate LH activity prior to initiating ovarian stimulation with gonadotropins, often prejudices egg/embryo quality and IVF outcome.
  • Simply stated, while age is certainly the most important factor in determining the incidence of egg/embryo aneuploidy, women with DOR (regardless of their age), are less likely to propagate euploid (competent) eggs/embryos. While virtually nothing can be done to lower the incidence of age related aneuploidy, it is indeed possible to avoid a further decrease in egg/embryo “competency”  by individualizing the protocols of ovarian stimulation used.
  • My preferred protocols for women who have relatively normal ovarian reserve:
  • The conventional long pituitary down regulation protocol: BCP are commenced early in the cycle and continued for at least 10 days. Starting 3 days before the BCP is to be discontinued, it is overlapped with an agonist such as Lupron 10U daily for three (3) days and continued until menstruation begins (which should ensue within 5-7 days of stopping the BCP). At that point an US examination is done along with a baseline measurement of blood estradiol to exclude a functional ovarian cyst. Daily Lupron (10U) is continued and an FSH-dominant gonadotropin such as Follistim, Puregon or Gonal-f daily is administered daily falong with 37.5U of Menopur (an FSH/LH combination) for 2 days. On the 3rd day the gonadotropin dosage is reduced by about one half and the dosage of Menopur is increased to 75U daily. Daily ultrasound and blood estradiol measurements are conducted starting on the 7th or 8th day of gonadotropin administration and continued until daily ultrasound follicle assessments indicate that most follicles have fully developed. At this point egg maturation is “triggered” using an intramuscular injection of a recombinant hCGr (Ovidrel) 500mcg or urinary derived hCGu (Pregnyl/Profasi/Novarel) 10,000U. And an egg retrieval is scheduled for 36h later.
  • The agonist/antagonist conversion protocol (A/ACP): This is essentially the same as the conventional long down regulation protocol (see “a”-as above), except that with the onset of post-BCP menstruation, the agonist is supplanted by daily administration of a GnRH antagonist (e.g. Ganirelix, Cetrotide or Orgalutron) at a dosage of 125-250mcg daily until the day of the “trigger”. When it comes to women who have DOR I favor the use of the A/ACP, adding supplementary human growth hormone (HGH). In cases where the DOR is regarded as severe (AMH=<0.2), I often augment  the AACP protocol by using estrogen priming for 7-9 days prior to or with the commencement of gonadotropin therapy; For this I prescribe E2 skin patches  or intramuscular  estradiol valerate (Delestrogen), prior to or sometimes concurrent with, the  commencement of the GnRH antagonist administration.
  • The following Ovarian stimulation protocols are in my opinion best avoided in stimulating olderf women and /or thosed who regardless of age , have  DOR :
  1. Microdose agonist (e.g. Lupron) “flare” protocols which result in an out-pouring of pituitary-LH at the critical time that ovarian follicles and eggs start developing/growing.
  2. High dosages of LH -containing fertility drugs (e.g. Menopur).
  3. Supplementation with preparations that are testosterone-based
  4. Supplementation with DHEA (which is converted to testosterone in the ovaries.
  5. Clomiphene citrate or Letrozole which cause increased release of LH and thus increase ovarian male hormone (testosterone and androstenedione output.
  6. “Triggering” egg maturation using too low a dosage of hCG (e.g. 5,000U rather than 10,000U) or Ovidrel (e.g. 250mcg of Ovidrel rather than 500mcg)
  7. “Triggering” women who have DOR, with an agonist (alone)such as Lupron Superfact/ Buserelin/Aminopeptidyl/Decapeptyl.
  • Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS):

The introduction of preimplantation genetic testing/screening (PGT/PGS) for e permits identification of all the chromosomes in the egg and embryo (full karyotyping) allowing for the  identification of the most “competent” (euploid) embryos for selective transfer to the uterus. This vastly improves the efficiency and success of the IVF process and renders us fare better equipped us to manage older women and those who regardless of their age, have DOR.

Name: Katharine C

August 15, 2022
Dear Dr. Sher, I’ve been following your comments for years. Thanks for the info. on 2 shots of Ovidrel. I’m interested in what you say here about Hoshimoto’s and what you call “Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction.” You mention that 50% of women (with or without Hoshimoto’s/full-blown hypothyroidism) will have this IDD due to the thyroid anti-bodies.… Read More »

Answer:

I published on this 25y ago.

Sher G, Maassarani G, Zouves C, Feinman M, Sohn S, Matzner W, Chong P, Ching W. “The use of Combined Heparin/Aspirin and Immunoglobulin G. Therapy in the Treatment of IVF Patients with Antithyroid Antibodies” Am J Repr Immunol, 1998; 39:223-5.

Name: Isma B

August 12, 2022
Hi Dr Sher I have been trying to conceive for 3 years now with no success. I’ve recently had 1 failed ivf cycle where I began bleeding 7 days post embryo transfer. Which I believe is implantation failure. I have a history of heavy painful periods, stomach problems such as diarrhea and bloating, mid cycle… Read More »

Answer:

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

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ADDENDUM: PLEASE READ!!

INTRODUCING SHER FERTILITY SOLUTIONS (SFS)

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

 

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

 

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

 

Geoff Sher

 

From Our Patients

Hi- I happily recommend Dr. Sher and his team. He came recommended to me by my sister after I had a negative experience with another clinic close by me. I didn’t think I wanted to travel to attempt to freeze embryos/eggs but it ended up being a better choice to go with a better Dr and team.

Michelle L

Sacramento, CA

Just couldn’t let a day go by without expressing my gratitude and sincere thanks to the amazing Dr. Drew and his team for their dedication to my personal care 5 years ago as a 45 year old Mom-to-be! Our Daughter is our world and we’re so blessed that Dr. Drew and his team cared for us on our journey. We highly recommend Dr. Drew and his team!

Suzanne D

New York

I cannot recommend Dr. Tortoriello and his team at Sher more highly. Dr. T is an excellent doctor, very kind, compassionate, patient, always listens to what you have to say including answering many questions during each visit, is very responsive to e-mails, and did not let us give up hope after being unable to conceive after about 5 years and a few IVF attempts.

Gina

NYC