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

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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: Charlotte D

August 11, 2022
Dear Dr Sher, I recently had a baseline scan and oestrogen and progesterone blood tests for an upcoming FET cycle. The scan and blood tests identified a 2.5cm hormone-producing simple cyst on my left ovary. I have been prescribed 21 days of Provera (2 x 10mg tablets daily), which I’m told usually resolves these cysts.… Read More »

Answer:

Yes! It is likely to cause the functional cyst to absorb by the next period!

An ovarian cyst is any collection of fluid, surrounded by a very thin wall, within an ovary. An ovarian follicle that is larger than 22mm is termed a functional follicular cyst. They are non-malignant (benign) and harmless and in most cases, don’t even cause symptoms, however, in some cases, rapid distention of the cyst , or rupture with bleeding , can lead to sudden and severe pain and in some cases, a disruption in hormone balance leads to vaginal bleeding.

 

There are 2 varieties of “functional ovarian cysts:

  1. Follicle Cysts: In menstruating women, a follicle containing the unfertilized egg will rupture during ovulation. If this does not occur, a follicular cyst of more than 2.5 cm diameter may result. These cysts develop in response to stimulation with follicle stimulating hormone that is either self-produced (by the woman’s own pituitary gland (endogenous) or is induced by agonists (e.g. Lupron/Decapeptyl/Buserelin) that sometimes propagate increased and sustained pituitary FSH release.
  2. Corpus luteum cysts: These appear after ovulation or egg retrieval. The corpus luteum is the remnant of the follicle after the ovum has moved to the fallopian tubes. It usually degrades within 5-9 days. A corpus luteum of > 3 cm is regarded as being cystic.

 

A:Follicular cysts: These lesions have special relevance in women about to undergo controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) with gonadotropins for IVF where they can literally, “throw a spanner in the works”, causing a delay, postponement and sometimes even cancellation of the cycle of treatment.

 

Functional Ovarian cysts must be distinguished from “non-functional or cystic ovarian tumors”. By definition, “tumors are capable of independent growth.  Thus “cystic ovarian tumors do not develop as a result of exposure to gonadotropin stimulation and it is this feature that distinguishes them from “functional” ovarian cysts.

 

Aside from sometimes causing pain and dysfunctional uterine bleeding, unruptured follicular cysts are usually relatively non-problematic. As stated above, in some cases, functional “cysts” undergo rapid distention (often as a result of a minor degree of bleeding inside the cyst itself). In such cases the woman will often experience a sharp or aching pain on one or other side of her lower abdomen and/or deep seated pain during intercourse. The cysts may even rupture, causing sudden lower abdominal pain that exacerbates and may even simulate an attack of acute appendicitis or a ruptured ectopic (tubular) pregnancy. While very unpleasant, a ruptured “functional cyst” seldom produces a degree of internal bleeding that warrants surgical intervention. The pain, typically is made worse by movement. It stabilizes within a number of days but subsides progressively to disappear within about four to seven days.

 

Whenever an ovarian cyst is detected (usually by ultrasound examination), the first consideration should be to determine whether it is a “functional cyst or a “cystic ovarian tumor”. The reason for this is that tumors are subject to a variety of complications such as twisting (torsion), hemorrhage, infection and even malignant change, all of which usually will require surgical intervention.

 

Gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa) such as Lupron, Buserelin, Nafarelin and Synarel, administered daily, starting a few days prior to menstruation, all elicit an initial and rapid, out-pouring (“surge”) in pituitary LH and FSH release. This “surge” lasts for a day or two. Then as the pituitary reservoir of FSH and LH becomes depleted, the blood FSH and LH levels fall rapidly reaching near undetectable blood levels within a day or two. At the same time, the declining FSH result in a drop in blood E2 concentration leading to a withdrawal bleed (menstruation). The progressive exhaustion of Pituitary FSH/LH along with the decline in blood E2, is referred to as ” down-regulation” The continued daily administration of GnRHa or its replacement (supplanting)  with a GnRH antagonist (e.g. Ganirelix, Cetrotide or Orgalutron) results in blood LH concentrations being sustained at a very low level throughout the ensuing cycle of controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH) with gonadotropins, thereby optimizing follicular maturation and promoting E2 induced endometrial proliferation.

 

Functional follicular cysts resulting from controlled ovarian stimulation (COS), can occur regardless of whether down regulation with GnRHa (Lupron/Buserelin/Decapeptyl) is initiated in cases where the cycle of stimulation is launched with the woman coming off  a BCP or when the agonist is initiated on day 20-23  (the mid luteal phase) of a natural cycle. When this happens it is due to the initial agonist-induced FSH “surge” sometimes so accelerating follicular growth that it leads to the development of one or more “functional follicular cysts”. These cysts release E2 and cause the blood E2 often to remain elevated (>70pg/ml). Depending on the extent of this effect, it sometimes leads to a delay in the onset of menstruation and thus also to deferment in the initiation of COS.

 

Failure of menstruation to commence within 4-7 days of initiating treatment with GnRHa suggestive of an underlying “functional ovarian cyst” and calls for an ultrasound examination to make the diagnosis. Once diagnosed, depending upon the number and size of cysts detected. There are two therapeutic options:

  • Wait for the cyst to absorb spontaneously and for menstruation to ensue: While it at first might seem that this approach of continuing GnRHa therapy in order to cause absorption of the cyst(s) within a week or two might be a good approach , it often has unintended consequences. First there is the real possibility that prolonged uninterrupted GnRHa therapy might blunt subsequent ovarian follicular response to gonadotropin therapy and second, if menstruation does not follow within 10-14 days, the cycle will usually need to be cancelled.
  • Immediate needle aspiration of the cyst(s) under local anesthesia. I personally favor needle aspiration, sooner rather than later in such cases. Menstruation will usually follow a successful aspiration within 2-4 days. Upon menstruation a blood E2 level is measured and as soon as it drops below 70pg/ml COS can be initiated.

 

  1. Corpus Luteum cysts: As with follicular cysts, so at times do Corpus Luteum cysts also bleed, distend and cause fain. They often delay onset of spontaneous menstruation by a week or longer (Halban syndrome”.). In isolated cases, internal bleeding within the cyst substance causes pain, rapid enlargement of the lesion and by ultrasound examination reveals local areas of absorption causing it to appear as a “complex” cystic lesion that simulates a tumor, prompting surgical intervention. Sadly, there are countless cases where women have had an entire ovary removed due to this happening.

 

“Functional ovarian cysts” rarely present as a serious health hazard. In the vast majority of cases they spontaneously resolve within 2-4 weeks while “cystic tumors” will not. Accordingly, the persistence of any ovarian cyst that persists for longer than 4 weeks should raise suspicion of it being a tumor rather than with a “functional cyst”. Since ovarian tumors can be (or become) malignant, all ovarian cysts that persist for longer than 6 weeks (whether occurring in non-pregnant or pregnant women), should be considered for surgical removal and this should be followed by pathological analysis.

Good luck!

 

Geoff Sher

Name: Patrick R

August 10, 2022
We have an extra embryo to donate to another couple or science. What are our options?

Answer:

Please call 646-792–7476 and ask for Bushra Sudal RN. She will be glad to assist you.

Name: Jimena A

August 10, 2022
Good day Dr. Geoffrey, I salute you from Mexico City. I’m in the mieddle of the preparatios for the FET, and I want to know what should the maximium estradiol levels be at the day before my FET. Today I’m on day 13 of my cycle and my endometrium is meassuring 9 mm. Thank you… Read More »

Answer:

I prescribe twice weekly injections of estradiol valerate (Delestrogen). Using this approach, I aim for peak E2 values ranging between 500 and 1000pg/ml!

Good luck!

 

 

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