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: Christina G

My hcg level went from 960 to 2764 is that normal? Just found out I’m pregnant

Answer:

Likely suggests  a viable pregnancy.

Congratulations and good luck!

 

Geoff Sher.

 

Name: Lynne D

Is this dr Geoff Sher who was born in Cape Town South Africa
I am dr lynne d, went to ellerslie

Answer:

Yes! This is he but I was born in George, CP!.

 

Geoff Sher

Name: Kristina L

I have read about increasing primordial follicles and thus increasing the antral follicle count by using HGH for 70 days, after ovarian PRP. Is there long term affects for the mother either during use of HGH or from withdrawal affect during pregnancy, and if HGH or withdrawal can hurt the resulting the fetus? If not, would there be continued benefit to continue the HGH into the stimulation protocol to increase egg quality further? Very interested to hear your take. Loving your blogs!

Answer:

This is very controversial. I am not at all convinced of its benefit!

 

Geoff Shert

Name: Wilyelkis C

Cómo Podría convertirme en donante de óvulos ?

Answer:

Please re-post in English!

 

Geoff Sher

Name: Juan L

Quiero donar mi esperma

Answer:

Please repost in English!

Name: Josseline V

How can I become an egg donor?

Answer:

Please call Sher Fertility Solutions in Manhattan, NY and ask for Jessica.

 

Geoff Sher

Name: ERIKA F

CUAL ES LA CANTIDAD DE INTRALIPIDOS QUE SE DEBE COLOCAR A LOS 10-14 DIAS ANTES DE LA TRANSFERENCIA

Answer:

Please re-post in English!

 

Geoff Sher

Name: Jennifer B

I am wondering if there is an age limit for IVF? I am 49, I will be 50 in July. Also my 19 yr old daughter wants to donate her eggs to me. Is this allowed? Thank you.

Answer:

Absolutely, you could have your daughter donate eggs to you. I have done this on several occasions in the past.

  • IVF WITH EGG DONATION: A REVIEW

Introduction:

Egg donation is when a woman donates her eggs for assisted reproduction or research purposes. In assisted reproduction, it usually involves using IVF technology, where the eggs are fertilized in a lab. Unfertilized eggs can also be frozen for future use. Egg donation is a form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) involving a third party.

For women who can’t get pregnant with their own eggs due to disease or low ovarian reserve, egg donation offers a realistic chance of becoming parents. It has clear benefits. First, young donors often provide more eggs than needed for a single IVF cycle, resulting in extra embryos that can be frozen for later use. Second, eggs from young donors are much less likely to have chromosomal abnormalities, reducing the risk of miscarriage and birth defects like Down’s syndrome.

Around 10%-15% of IVF procedures in the United States involve egg donation, mostly for older women with diminished ovarian reserve or for menopausal women. A much smaller percentage are performed on younger women who have premature ovarian failure or repeated IVF failures with low-quality eggs or embryos. Another rapidly emerging reason for egg donation is same-sex couples, mainly female, who want to share the experience of parenting, with one partner providing the eggs and the other receiving them. 

Most egg donation in the U.S. is done through licensed egg donor agencies or frozen egg banks, where anonymous donors are recruited. Sometimes recipients seek known donors through an agency, but this is less common and often done through private arrangements. Close family members are often approached as donors. Recipients may want to know or meet their egg donor to become familiar with their physical traits, intellect, and character, but anonymous donors are more common in the U.S. Recipients using anonymous donors are usually more open about the child’s conception when disclosing to family and friends. 

Donor agencies and Egg Banks provide detailed profiles and information about each donor for recipients to choose from. The recipient interacts with the egg donor program or Egg Bank in-person, over the phone, or online. After narrowing down choices, the recipient shares medical records with their IVF physician for consultation and examination. The process is facilitated by nurse coordinators who address all clinical, financial, and logistical aspects. Donor selection and matching are completed during this time. 

Egg donor agencies and egg banks typically prefer donors under 35 years old with normal ovarian reserve to minimize risks. Having a history of successful pregnancies or live births gives confidence in the donor’s reproductive potential. However, due to the shortage of donors, strict criteria like previous successful pregnancies cannot always be met. 

Sometimes donors may blame infertility on complications from the egg retrieval process, leading to legal actions. Evidence of trouble-free pregnancies provides comfort to the egg donor program when selecting a donor.

Screening Egg Donors

Genetic Screening: Many egg donor programs now use genetic screening panels to test for various genetic disorders. They follow the recommendations of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and screen prospective donors for a host ( a panel) of conditions such as sickle cell trait or disease, thalassemia, cystic fibrosis, and Tay Sachs disease. About 90% of programs offer consultation with a geneticist.

Psychological/Emotional Screening: Recipient couples value compatibility with their chosen egg donor in terms of emotions, physicality, ethnicity, culture, and religion. Psychological screening is important in the United States. Since most donors are anonymous, it’s essential for the donor agency or IVF program to assess the donor’s commitment and motivation for providing this service. Some donors may not cope with the stress and stop their stimulation medication without informing anyone, causing the cycle to be canceled. 

Donor motivation and commitment need to be assessed carefully. Recipients in the U.S. often consider the “character” of the prospective egg donor as significant, believing that flaws in character may be genetically passed on. However, character flaws are usually influenced by environmental factors and unlikely to be genetically transmitted. 

Donors should undergo counseling, screening, and selective testing by a qualified psychologist. If needed, they should be referred to a psychiatrist for further evaluation. Tests like the MMPI, Meyers-Briggs, and NEO-Personality Indicator may be used to assess personality disorders. If significant abnormalities are found, the prospective donor should be automatically disqualified.

When choosing a known egg donor, it’s important to ensure that she is not coerced into participating. Recipients considering a close friend or family member as a donor should be aware that the donor may become a permanent and unwanted participant in their new family’s life.

Drug Screening: Due to the prevalence of substance abuse, we selectively perform urine and/or serum drug testing on our egg donors.

Screening for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): FDA and ASRM guidelines recommend testing all egg donors for STDs before starting IVF. While it’s highly unlikely for DNA and RNA viruses to be transmitted to an egg or embryo through sexual intercourse or IVF, women infected with viruses like hepatitis B, C, HTLV, HIV, etc., must be disqualified from participating in IVF with egg donation due to the remote possibility of transmission and potential legal consequences. 

Prior or existing infections with Chlamydia or Gonococcus suggest the possibility of pelvic adhesions or irreparably damaged fallopian tubes, which can cause infertility. If such infertility is later attributed to the egg retrieval process, it can lead to litigation. Even if an egg donor or recipient agrees to waive legal rights, there is still a potential risk of the offspring suing for wrongful birth later in life.

 

Screening Embryo Recipients

Medical Evaluation: Before starting infertility treatment, it’s important to assess a woman’s ability to safely carry a pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby. This involves a thorough evaluation of cardiovascular, hepatorenal, metabolic, and reproductive health.

Infectious Screening: It is crucial to screen embryo recipients for infectious diseases. If the cervix is infected, introducing an embryo transfer catheter can transmit the infection to the sterile uterine cavity, leading to implantation failure or miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy.

Immunologic Screening: Some autoimmune and alloimmune disorders can affect the success of implantation. To prevent treatment failure, it is advisable to evaluate the recipient for immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID) and in some cases, test both the recipient and sperm provider for alloimmune similarities that could affect implantation.

Disclosure and Consent: Full disclosure about the egg donation process, including medical and psychological risks, is necessary. Sufficient time should be dedicated to addressing questions and concerns from all parties involved. 

It’s important for all parties to seek independent legal advice to avoid conflicts of interest. Consent forms are reviewed and signed by the donor and recipient independently.

Types of Egg Donation

Conventional Egg Donation: This is the standard process for egg donor IVF. The menstrual cycles of the donor and recipient are synchronized using birth control pills. Both parties undergo fertility drug stimulation, allowing for precise timing of fresh embryo transfer. The success rate for pregnancy through this method is over 50% per cycle.

Donor Egg Bank: In this approach, eggs from young donors are frozen and stored for later use in IVF and embryo transfer. Frozen egg banks offer access to non-genetically tested eggs. While it provides convenience, there are minimal financial benefits. 

Through an electronic catalogue, recipients can select and purchase 1-5 frozen eggs. These eggs are fertilized through intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and up to 2 embryos are selectively transferred, resulting in a 30-40% pregnancy rate without the risk of multiple pregnancies. This method reduces the cost, inconvenience, and risks associated with conventional fresh egg donor cycles. It is important for the recipient couple to be made aware that frozen eggs are slightly less likely to result in viable embryos as compared to fresh eggs and that the pregnancy rate using frozen eggs is also somewhat lower.

Preimplantation Genetic Screening/Testing for Aneuploidy (PGS/PGT):

The use of PGS/PGT to select embryos for transfer in IVF with egg donation is a topic of debate. Since most egg donors are under 35 years old, about 60-70% of embryos created from their eggs will likely have the correct number of chromosomes (euploid). This means that transferring up to two “untested” embryos from these donors should result in similar pregnancy rates compared to using PGS/PGT for embryo selection. However, it may in the future, become possible and practical to perform PGS/PGT on eggs for selective banking in the future. This could lead to improved success rates using banked eggs that have been tested for chromosomal abnormalities.

Egg Donation with Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET): Advances in embryo cryopreservation technology have made FET cycles a preferred method for many fertility specialists and patients. Whether or not embryos have undergone PGS/PGT testing, they are frozen as blastocysts and transferred in a subsequent FET cycle. This approach is more convenient, less complicated logistically, and can significantly improve the chances of successful pregnancy.

Financial Considerations in the United States:

The cost of an egg donor cycle involves various expenses. The average fee paid to the egg donor agency per cycle is typically between $2,000 – $8,000. Additional costs include psychological and clinical pre-testing, fertility drugs, and donor insurance, which range from $3,000 to $6,000. The medical services for the IVF treatment cycle can cost between $8,000 and $14,000. The donor stipend can vary widely, ranging from $5,000 to as high as $50,000, depending on the specific requirements of the recipient couple and supply-demand factors. Consequently, the total out-of-pocket expenses for an egg donor cycle in the United States ranges from $15,000 to $78,000, making it financially challenging for most couples in need of this service.

To address the growing gap between the need for affordable IVF with egg donation, various creative approaches have emerged. Here are a few examples:

 

  • Egg Banking: As mentioned earlier, egg banking is a method where eggs are preserved and stored for future use.
  • Egg Donor Sharing: This approach involves splitting the cost between two recipients, who then share the eggs for transfer or freezing. However, the downside is that there may be fewer eggs available for each recipient.
  • Egg Bartering: In this scenario, a woman undergoing IVF can exchange some of her eggs with the clinic in return for a reduction in her IVF fee. This arrangement can be problematic because if the woman donating her eggs fails to conceive while the recipient does, it may cause emotional distress and potential complications in the future.
  • Financial Risk Sharing: Some IVF programs offer a refund of fees if the egg donation is unsuccessful. This option is preferred by many recipient couples as it helps to spread the financial risk between the providers and the couple.

Moral, Legal, and Ethical Considerations:

In most States in the USA, the “Uniform Parentage Act” protects the recipient couple from legal disputes relating to parental claims by the donor. This “act” which states that the woman who gives birth to the child is legally recognized as the mother has generally prevented legal disputes over maternal custody in cases of IVF with egg donation. While a few states have less clear laws on this matter, there have been no major legal challenges so far.

The moral, ethical, and religious implications of egg donation vary and greatly influence the cultural acceptance of this process. In the United States, the prevailing attitude is that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should have their views respected as long as they don’t infringe on the rights of others.

Looking ahead, there are important questions to consider. Should we cryopreserve and store eggs or ovarian tissue from a young woman who wishes to delay having children? Would it be acceptable for a woman to give birth to her own sister or aunt using these stored eggs? Should we store ovarian tissue across generations? Additionally, should egg donation primarily be used for stem cell research or as a source of spare body parts? If we decide to pursue these avenues, how do we ensure proper checks and balances? Are we willing to go down a slippery slope where the dignity of human embryos is disregarded, and the rights of human beings are compromised? Personally, I hope not.

_____________________________________________________________________________

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

 

Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

  1. From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) ; https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

 

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

 

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

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

 

Name: Michelle S

Hello. My husband and I live in TN but are considering adopting some embryos stored at your facility. What is your cost for ivf transfer of those embryos if we decide to come to New York and have the transfer done there rather than transporting the embryos here.
Thank you for your time!

Answer:

Please call Jessica at  Sher Fertility Solutions (866-747-6692) for this information.

 

Geoff Sher

Name: Mackenzie S

I’m turning 47 years old and my AMH is 0.9. My periods are regular (every 28 days) and I am healthy. I have two biological children that I carried. I know you recommended using donor eggs but I have heard of women getting pregnant naturally at my age and I would like to try with my own eggs. I realize it’s rare, but it has happened and I am sure with a bit of fertility help or drugs I could become pregnant? I am wondering what protocol would you try in my case for IUI? Thank you very much.

Mackenzie

Answer:

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.

______________________________________________________________________________

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

 

Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

  1. From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) ; https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

 

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

 

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

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

 

Name: Jessica S

How do you handle repeated failed fertilization? Does/can estrogen/prog before the cycle make this worse? We have already added calcium ioniphore.

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 seven or eight are likely to be chromosomally normal and by the time she reaches her mid-forties less than one in ten of her eggs will be euploid.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

______________________________________________

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

 

Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

  1. From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) ; https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

Name: Casandra E

Me realize una transferencia de embrión con pruebas genéticas preimplantation ales me pusieron intralipidos unas días antes de la transferencia la implantación fue un éxito y todo iba perfecto hasta la semana 6 y 3 días empecé a sangrar fui ah emergencias y me encontraron un hematoma subcorial muy chiquito pero la bebe estaba bien de tamaño y su latido era el normal dos días después en la clínica me hicieron el ultrasonido y estaba todo muy bien pero el hematoma seguía ahy pero chiquito me dijeron que no había ningún problema con el hematoma que no nesecitava hacer reposo ese día que vimos a mi bebe me pusieron otra vez intralipidos, tres días después estaba sangrando demasiado fui a la clínica de nuevo y la bebe estaba normal de tamaño y su latido estaba normal pero ya había bajado y me dijeron que la estaba perdiendo, la hemorragia seguía y más y con coágulos grandes, no entiendo qué pasó por que se vino esa hemorragia supongo que fue por el hematoma pero por que si no era tan grande mi pregunta es cree usted que los intralipidos causaron que el hematoma se desangrara o tal vez el seguir tomando una aspirina bebe, Cuado tenía hematoma? Me gustaría saber su opinión por que ya solo me queda otro hembrioncito

Answer:

Please re-post in English!

 

Geoff Sher

______________________________________________________________________________

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

 

Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

  1. From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) ; https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

 

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

 

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

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

 

Name: Bader M

Hello,
I am reaching out to inquire about the availability and effectiveness of Sildenafil Vaginal Suppositories.

My wife is currently consulting with her doctor regarding a concern with endometrial thinning. Her doctor recommended the use of Sildenafil in the form of a vaginal suppository. Unfortunately, this specific product is not available in our country.

Could you please advise me on the following:

1. Are these suppositories effective for treating endometrial thinning?
2. If they are effective, can I purchase Sildenafil Vaginal Suppositories through you and you ship it to our forwarding mail address in NY?

Thank you very much for your assistance. Your prompt response is greatly appreciated as we explore treatment options for my wife.

Answer:

Back in 1989, I conducted a study that examined how the thickness of a woman’s uterine lining, known as the endometrium, affected the successful implantation of embryos in IVF patients. The study revealed that when the uterine lining measured less than 8mm in thickness by the day of the “hCG trigger” in fresh IVF cycles, or at the start of progesterone therapy in embryo recipient cycles (such as frozen embryo transfers or egg donation IVF), the chances of pregnancy and birth were significantly improved. In my opinion, an ideal estrogen-promoted endometrial lining should measure at least 9mm in thickness, while a lining of 8-9mm is considered “intermediate.” In most cases, an estrogenic lining of less than 8mm is unlikely to result in a viable pregnancy.

A “poor” uterine lining typically occurs when the innermost layer of the endometrium, called the basal or germinal endometrium, fails to respond to estrogen and cannot develop a thick enough outer “functional” layer to support optimal embryo implantation and placenta development. The “functional” layer makes up two-thirds of the total endometrial thickness and is the layer that sheds during menstruation if no pregnancy occurs.

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

  1. Damage to the basal endometrium due to:
    • Inflammation of the endometrium (endometritis) often resulting from retained products of conception after abortion, miscarriage, or birth.
    • Surgical trauma caused by aggressive uterine scraping during procedures like D&C.
  1. Insensitivity of the basal endometrium to estrogen due to:
    • Prolonged or excessive use of clomiphene citrate.
    • Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a drug given to pregnant women in the 1960s to prevent miscarriage.
  1. Overexposure of the uterine lining to ovarian male hormones, mainly testosterone, which can occur in older women, women with diminished ovarian reserve, and women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) who have increased LH biological activity. This hormonal imbalance leads to the overproduction of testosterone in the ovary’s connective tissue, further exacerbated by certain ovarian stimulation methods used in IVF.
  2. Reduced blood flow to the basal endometrium, often caused by:
    • Multiple uterine fibroids, especially those located beneath the endometrium (submucosal).
    • Uterine adenomyosis, an abnormal invasion of endometrial glands into the uterine muscle.

“The Viagra Connection”

Eighteen years ago, I reported on the successful use of vaginal Sildenafil (Viagra) in treating women with implantation dysfunction caused by thin endometrial linings. This breakthrough led to the birth of the world’s first “Viagra baby.” Since then, thousands of women with thin uterine linings have been treated with Viagra, and many have gone on to have babies after multiple unsuccessful IVF attempts.

Viagra gained popularity in the 1990s as an oral treatment for erectile dysfunction. Inspired by its mechanism of action, which increases penile blood flow through enhanced nitric oxide activity, I investigated whether vaginal administration of Viagra could improve uterine blood flow, deliver more estrogen to the basal endometrium, and promote endometrial thickening. Our findings confirmed that vaginal Viagra achieved these effects, while oral administration did not provide significant benefits. To facilitate treatment, we collaborated with a compound pharmacy to produce vaginal Viagra suppositories.

In our initial trial, four women with a history of poor endometrial development and failed conception underwent IVF treatment combined with vaginal Viagra therapy. The Viagra suppositories were administered four times daily for 8-11 days and stopped 5-7 days before embryo transfer. This treatment resulted in a rapid and significant improvement in uterine blood flow, leading to enhanced endometrial development in all four cases. Three of these women subsequently conceived. In 2002, I expanded the trial to include 105 women with repeated IVF failure due to persistently thin endometrial linings. About 70% of these women responded positively to Viagra therapy, with a notable increase in endometrial thickness. Forty-five percent achieved live births after a single cycle of IVF with Viagra treatment, and the miscarriage rate was only 9%. Women who did not show improvement in endometrial thickness following Viagra treatment did not achieve viable pregnancies.

When administered vaginally, Viagra is quickly absorbed and reaches the uterine blood system in high concentrations. It then dilutes as it enters the systemic circulation, explaining why treatment is virtually free from systemic side effects.

It is important to note that Viagra may not improve endometrial thickness in all cases. Approximately 30-40% of women treated may not experience any improvement. In severe cases of thin uterine linings where the basal endometrium has been permanently damaged and becomes unresponsive to estrogen, Viagra treatment is unlikely to be effective. This can occur due to conditions such as post-pregnancy endometritis, chronic inflammation resulting from uterine tuberculosis (rare in the United States), or extensive surgical damage to the basal endometrium.

In my practice, I sometimes recommend combining vaginal Viagra administration with oral Terbutaline (5mg). Viagra relaxes the muscle walls of uterine spiral arteries, while terbutaline relaxes the uterine muscle itself. The combination of these medications synergistically enhances blood flow through the uterus, improving estrogen delivery to the endometrial lining. However, it’s important to monitor potential side effects of Terbutaline such as agitation, tremors, and palpitations. Women with cardiac disease or irregular heartbeat should not use Terbutaline.

Approximately 75% of women with thin uterine linings respond positively to treatment within 2-3 days. Those who do not respond well often have severe inner ( (basal) endometrial lining damage, where improved uterine blood flow cannot stimulate a positive response. Such cases are commonly associated with previous pregnancy-related endometrial inflammation, occurring after abortions, infected vaginal deliveries, or cesarean sections.

Viagra therapy has been a game-changer for thousands of women with thin uterine linings, allowing them to successfully overcome infertility and build their families.

 ________________________________________________________________________________

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

 

Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

  1. From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) ; https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

 

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

 

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

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

 

Amh

Name: Alison P

Hi Dr. Sher,

I am 47 with an AMH of 0.9. Is there any possibility I could get pregnant with my own eggs doing IUI?

Alison

Answer:

Anything is possible but it is very highly unlikely. You need egg donor-IVF.

 

  • IVF WITH EGG DONATION: A REVIEW

Introduction:

Egg donation is when a woman donates her eggs for assisted reproduction or research purposes. In assisted reproduction, it usually involves using IVF technology, where the eggs are fertilized in a lab. Unfertilized eggs can also be frozen for future use. Egg donation is a form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) involving a third party.

For women who can’t get pregnant with their own eggs due to disease or low ovarian reserve, egg donation offers a realistic chance of becoming parents. It has clear benefits. First, young donors often provide more eggs than needed for a single IVF cycle, resulting in extra embryos that can be frozen for later use. Second, eggs from young donors are much less likely to have chromosomal abnormalities, reducing the risk of miscarriage and birth defects like Down’s syndrome.

Around 10%-15% of IVF procedures in the United States involve egg donation, mostly for older women with diminished ovarian reserve or for menopausal women. A much smaller percentage are performed on younger women who have premature ovarian failure or repeated IVF failures with low-quality eggs or embryos. Another rapidly emerging reason for egg donation is same-sex couples, mainly female, who want to share the experience of parenting, with one partner providing the eggs and the other receiving them. 

Most egg donation in the U.S. is done through licensed egg donor agencies or frozen egg banks, where anonymous donors are recruited. Sometimes recipients seek known donors through an agency, but this is less common and often done through private arrangements. Close family members are often approached as donors. Recipients may want to know or meet their egg donor to become familiar with their physical traits, intellect, and character, but anonymous donors are more common in the U.S. Recipients using anonymous donors are usually more open about the child’s conception when disclosing to family and friends. 

Donor agencies and Egg Banks provide detailed profiles and information about each donor for recipients to choose from. The recipient interacts with the egg donor program or Egg Bank in-person, over the phone, or online. After narrowing down choices, the recipient shares medical records with their IVF physician for consultation and examination. The process is facilitated by nurse coordinators who address all clinical, financial, and logistical aspects. Donor selection and matching are completed during this time. 

Egg donor agencies and egg banks typically prefer donors under 35 years old with normal ovarian reserve to minimize risks. Having a history of successful pregnancies or live births gives confidence in the donor’s reproductive potential. However, due to the shortage of donors, strict criteria like previous successful pregnancies cannot always be met. 

Sometimes donors may blame infertility on complications from the egg retrieval process, leading to legal actions. Evidence of trouble-free pregnancies provides comfort to the egg donor program when selecting a donor.

Screening Egg Donors

Genetic Screening: Many egg donor programs now use genetic screening panels to test for various genetic disorders. They follow the recommendations of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and screen prospective donors for a host ( a panel) of conditions such as sickle cell trait or disease, thalassemia, cystic fibrosis, and Tay Sachs disease. About 90% of programs offer consultation with a geneticist.

Psychological/Emotional Screening: Recipient couples value compatibility with their chosen egg donor in terms of emotions, physicality, ethnicity, culture, and religion. Psychological screening is important in the United States. Since most donors are anonymous, it’s essential for the donor agency or IVF program to assess the donor’s commitment and motivation for providing this service. Some donors may not cope with the stress and stop their stimulation medication without informing anyone, causing the cycle to be canceled. 

Donor motivation and commitment need to be assessed carefully. Recipients in the U.S. often consider the “character” of the prospective egg donor as significant, believing that flaws in character may be genetically passed on. However, character flaws are usually influenced by environmental factors and unlikely to be genetically transmitted. 

Donors should undergo counseling, screening, and selective testing by a qualified psychologist. If needed, they should be referred to a psychiatrist for further evaluation. Tests like the MMPI, Meyers-Briggs, and NEO-Personality Indicator may be used to assess personality disorders. If significant abnormalities are found, the prospective donor should be automatically disqualified.

When choosing a known egg donor, it’s important to ensure that she is not coerced into participating. Recipients considering a close friend or family member as a donor should be aware that the donor may become a permanent and unwanted participant in their new family’s life.

Drug Screening: Due to the prevalence of substance abuse, we selectively perform urine and/or serum drug testing on our egg donors.

Screening for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): FDA and ASRM guidelines recommend testing all egg donors for STDs before starting IVF. While it’s highly unlikely for DNA and RNA viruses to be transmitted to an egg or embryo through sexual intercourse or IVF, women infected with viruses like hepatitis B, C, HTLV, HIV, etc., must be disqualified from participating in IVF with egg donation due to the remote possibility of transmission and potential legal consequences. 

Prior or existing infections with Chlamydia or Gonococcus suggest the possibility of pelvic adhesions or irreparably damaged fallopian tubes, which can cause infertility. If such infertility is later attributed to the egg retrieval process, it can lead to litigation. Even if an egg donor or recipient agrees to waive legal rights, there is still a potential risk of the offspring suing for wrongful birth later in life.

 

Screening Embryo Recipients

Medical Evaluation: Before starting infertility treatment, it’s important to assess a woman’s ability to safely carry a pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby. This involves a thorough evaluation of cardiovascular, hepatorenal, metabolic, and reproductive health.

Infectious Screening: It is crucial to screen embryo recipients for infectious diseases. If the cervix is infected, introducing an embryo transfer catheter can transmit the infection to the sterile uterine cavity, leading to implantation failure or miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy.

Immunologic Screening: Some autoimmune and alloimmune disorders can affect the success of implantation. To prevent treatment failure, it is advisable to evaluate the recipient for immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID) and in some cases, test both the recipient and sperm provider for alloimmune similarities that could affect implantation.

Disclosure and Consent: Full disclosure about the egg donation process, including medical and psychological risks, is necessary. Sufficient time should be dedicated to addressing questions and concerns from all parties involved. 

It’s important for all parties to seek independent legal advice to avoid conflicts of interest. Consent forms are reviewed and signed by the donor and recipient independently.

Types of Egg Donation

Conventional Egg Donation: This is the standard process for egg donor IVF. The menstrual cycles of the donor and recipient are synchronized using birth control pills. Both parties undergo fertility drug stimulation, allowing for precise timing of fresh embryo transfer. The success rate for pregnancy through this method is over 50% per cycle.

Donor Egg Bank: In this approach, eggs from young donors are frozen and stored for later use in IVF and embryo transfer. Frozen egg banks offer access to non-genetically tested eggs. While it provides convenience, there are minimal financial benefits. 

Through an electronic catalogue, recipients can select and purchase 1-5 frozen eggs. These eggs are fertilized through intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and up to 2 embryos are selectively transferred, resulting in a 30-40% pregnancy rate without the risk of multiple pregnancies. This method reduces the cost, inconvenience, and risks associated with conventional fresh egg donor cycles. It is important for the recipient couple to be made aware that frozen eggs are slightly less likely to result in viable embryos as compared to fresh eggs and that the pregnancy rate using frozen eggs is also somewhat lower.

Preimplantation Genetic Screening/Testing for Aneuploidy (PGS/PGT):

The use of PGS/PGT to select embryos for transfer in IVF with egg donation is a topic of debate. Since most egg donors are under 35 years old, about 60-70% of embryos created from their eggs will likely have the correct number of chromosomes (euploid). This means that transferring up to two “untested” embryos from these donors should result in similar pregnancy rates compared to using PGS/PGT for embryo selection. However, it may in the future, become possible and practical to perform PGS/PGT on eggs for selective banking in the future. This could lead to improved success rates using banked eggs that have been tested for chromosomal abnormalities.

Egg Donation with Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET): Advances in embryo cryopreservation technology have made FET cycles a preferred method for many fertility specialists and patients. Whether or not embryos have undergone PGS/PGT testing, they are frozen as blastocysts and transferred in a subsequent FET cycle. This approach is more convenient, less complicated logistically, and can significantly improve the chances of successful pregnancy.

Financial Considerations in the United States:

The cost of an egg donor cycle involves various expenses. The average fee paid to the egg donor agency per cycle is typically between $2,000 – $8,000. Additional costs include psychological and clinical pre-testing, fertility drugs, and donor insurance, which range from $3,000 to $6,000. The medical services for the IVF treatment cycle can cost between $8,000 and $14,000. The donor stipend can vary widely, ranging from $5,000 to as high as $50,000, depending on the specific requirements of the recipient couple and supply-demand factors. Consequently, the total out-of-pocket expenses for an egg donor cycle in the United States ranges from $15,000 to $78,000, making it financially challenging for most couples in need of this service.

To address the growing gap between the need for affordable IVF with egg donation, various creative approaches have emerged. Here are a few examples:

 

  • Egg Banking: As mentioned earlier, egg banking is a method where eggs are preserved and stored for future use.
  • Egg Donor Sharing: This approach involves splitting the cost between two recipients, who then share the eggs for transfer or freezing. However, the downside is that there may be fewer eggs available for each recipient.
  • Egg Bartering: In this scenario, a woman undergoing IVF can exchange some of her eggs with the clinic in return for a reduction in her IVF fee. This arrangement can be problematic because if the woman donating her eggs fails to conceive while the recipient does, it may cause emotional distress and potential complications in the future.
  • Financial Risk Sharing: Some IVF programs offer a refund of fees if the egg donation is unsuccessful. This option is preferred by many recipient couples as it helps to spread the financial risk between the providers and the couple.

Moral, Legal, and Ethical Considerations:

In most States in the USA, the “Uniform Parentage Act” protects the recipient couple from legal disputes relating to parental claims by the donor. This “act” which states that the woman who gives birth to the child is legally recognized as the mother has generally prevented legal disputes over maternal custody in cases of IVF with egg donation. While a few states have less clear laws on this matter, there have been no major legal challenges so far.

The moral, ethical, and religious implications of egg donation vary and greatly influence the cultural acceptance of this process. In the United States, the prevailing attitude is that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should have their views respected as long as they don’t infringe on the rights of others.

Looking ahead, there are important questions to consider. Should we cryopreserve and store eggs or ovarian tissue from a young woman who wishes to delay having children? Would it be acceptable for a woman to give birth to her own sister or aunt using these stored eggs? Should we store ovarian tissue across generations? Additionally, should egg donation primarily be used for stem cell research or as a source of spare body parts? If we decide to pursue these avenues, how do we ensure proper checks and balances? Are we willing to go down a slippery slope where the dignity of human embryos is disregarded, and the rights of human beings are compromised? Personally, I hope not.

__________________________________________________________________

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

 

Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

  1. From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) ; https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

Name: Mary V

Dear Dr Sher Geoffrey,

I have been through 5 failed IVF rounds.

Most of the time my eggs are degenerative, empty or abnormal.

I have a 2 year old daughter, concieved naturally, only in 2 months of trying.

Now I am diagnosed with low AMH, so the fertility doctor didn’t want to wait any longer.

Now my fertility suggested to do a managed natural ivf cycle.

Do you think priming with estrogen, testosterone and omnitrop will have a better outcome?

How can I improve my egg quality, I am ready to do whatever it takes! We DONT opt for egg donation, it’s with my own eggs or we stay happy with the 3 of us.

Thank you in advance!

Sherella

Answer:

Hi Sherella;

I really think I can help you sort all this out.m However, to do so we would need to consult. I invite you to call my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-53302691 and set up an online consultation with me.

  • ADDRESSING DIMINISHING OVARIAN RESERVE (DOR) IN IVF

Understanding the impact of ovarian reserve on the success of in vitro fertilization (IVF) is crucial when it comes to reproductive health. This article aims to simplify and clarify these concepts, emphasizing their significance in the selection of ovarian stimulation protocols for IVF. By providing you with this information, we hope to shed light on the importance of considering these factors and making informed decisions regarding fertility treatments.

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

 

Why IVF should be regarded as treatment of choice for women who have diminished ovarian reserve ( DOR):

Understanding the following factors will go a long way in helping you to make an informed decision and thereby improve the chances of a successful IVF outcome.

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

 Preimplantation Genetic Screening/Testing for aneuploidy (PGS/PGTA): PGS/PGTA is a valuable tool for identifying chromosomal abnormalities in eggs and embryos. By selecting the most competent (euploid) embryos, PGS/PGTA significantly improves the success of IVF, in women with DOR.

Understanding the impact of declining ovarian reserve on IVF outcomes is essential when making decisions about fertility treatments. Diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) can affect egg quality and increase the likelihood of aneuploid embryos with resultant IVF failure. By considering this factor, you can make informed choices and work closely with fertility specialists to optimize your chances of success. Remember, knowledge is power, and being aware of these aspects empowers you to take control of your reproductive journey.

  • EGG/ EMBRYO QUALITY IN IVF & HOW SELECTION OF THE IDEAL PROTOCOL FOR OVARIAN STIMULATION INFLUENCES  EGG/EMBRYO QUALITY AND  OUTCOME.

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.

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

 

Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

  1. From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) ; https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

Name: Fernando T

Cómo puedo empezar me gustaría saber uales son las condiciones o no hay condiciones

Answer:

Please re-post in English!

 

Geoff Sher

Name: Abenet M

Hello,
I hope this letter finds you well. My name is Abenet Mikael, and I am a 39-year-old woman from California who recently underwent one round of egg freezing at a Reproductive Medicine Associates in San Francisco. I am reaching out to your clinic because I am interested in exploring different treatment options to optimize my chances of successful egg retrieval.
During my first round of egg freezing, the clinic initially anticipated retrieving 8 eggs. However, after the procedure, only 4 eggs were retrieved, and out of those, only 3 were deemed mature enough to freeze. While I am grateful for these 3 viable eggs, I am also curious about whether a different treatment plan could yield better results, particularly in terms of the number of eggs retrieved.
Given my age and fertility goals, I am prepared to undergo another 1-2 rounds of egg freezing to enhance the likelihood of a successful pregnancy in the future. Therefore, I am actively researching fertility centers that offer the best possible options and treatment plans for women in my age group.
I can provide my latest blood work results, including levels of FSH (Follicle-Stimulating Hormone), TSH (Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone), Estradiol, Prolactin, Anti-Mullerian Hormone, and Treponema Pallidum Antibody tests as well as all the medication and amounts I took. These results should provide a comprehensive overview of my current fertility status and help guide any potential treatment plans. I understand you will need to do your own assessment before moving forward.
I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to discuss my case with your fertility experts, if you can provide pricing for treatment and medication and explore the options available at your clinic. How do you do consultations with patients inquiring from out of the country? I am flexible with dates and times and am eager to learn more about how your clinic can support my fertility journey.
Thank you for considering my inquiry, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Warm regards,
Abenet Mikael

Answer:

Hello Abenet,

I think I can be of help, but to do so we need to talk. I invite you to contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691 and set up an online consultation with me. Please understand that the number and quality of the eggs harvested have to do with your age, your ovarian reserve and the protocol used for ovarian stimulation.

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.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

 

Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

  1. From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) ; https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

 

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

 

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

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

 

Name: Emily M

Tuve una inseminacion artificial intrauterina el 23 de abril, para el 7 de mayo mi nivel de hcg era 15.1 y hoy 9 de mayo 24.3 el aumento es normal o puede haber algún problema?

Answer:

Please re-post in English and I will respond!

 

Geoff Sher

Name: Natalie M

Hi Dr Geoffrey Sher,

By means of introductions, I’m Natalie and I’m struggling to find answers on my IVF journey. My endless research to try and find answers has led me to your page (after you answered another persons struggles with IVF, thank you) and I was wondering if you could help me as I’m at a lost with knowing the right next step?

I’m currently 31 years old and I found out the day after my honeymoon that I have an AMH of 1.4pmol. I have stage 1 endometriosis and my AFC has been 4-15 upon every scan. Because of my low amh and my struggles to get pregnant naturally, I started my IVF journey. I’ve currently had 2 cycles:
1) short protocol Jan 2024 (300IUI menopur) – I started with 15 follicles which led to 3 follicles around day 5. I continued to day 8 where 4 follicles were 10-21mm. I took the trigger on day 8. At egg collection I got 4 eggs, 3 mature, all fertilised, all made it to day 3 ( 1 at 8 cell, 1 at 7 cell, 1 at 5 cell). I got no embryos on day 5 as they all slowed down. I was told they were highly unlikely to progress in day 6 so I could implant my morulas which I did but with no success. I was told that my eggs are likely poor quality due to slow progress from day 1 to day 3.
2) long protocol May 2024 (450 IUI menopur). This time I started with 10 follicles, day 7 only 4 responded but all approximately same size 8-12mm. Day 12 all 4 follicles were 18-21mm. Upon egg collection I had 3 empty follicles, 1 egg collected which was immature.

As you can imagine, I’m devastated. I was holding out hope as my twin sister has a lower amh and has responded well to all protocols given and is now currently pregnant after 2 cycles. I’ve been to Greece to take several tests to rule out what might be going wrong including: nk killer cells, thrombophilia, karotype, sperm dna fragmentation, uterine microbiome and x-fragile. All tests come back normal. I’m either being told I’m unfortunate or I have bad quality eggs and should look at donor eggs. What is your thoughts on this? I want to try one last time but I just don’t know what to do. In London, the protocol seems defined from the outset with no variation mid cycle and I don’t seem to fit the one size fits all. I’m not sure if the high dose medication is affecting the quality of my eggs? I was told just yesterday that chances of having my own baby is less than 5% and my twin got lucky. I’m just lost and desperate to be a mum and don’t know which way to turn next, can you help me?

Thank you in advance. Sorry for all the information.

Natalie

Answer:

Hi Natalie,

 

I really think I can help you sort all this out.m However, to do so we would need to consult. I invite you to call my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-53302691 and set up an online consultation with me.

  • ADDRESSING DIMINISHING OVARIAN RESERVE (DOR) IN IVF

Understanding the impact of ovarian reserve on the success of in vitro fertilization (IVF) is crucial when it comes to reproductive health. This article aims to simplify and clarify these concepts, emphasizing their significance in the selection of ovarian stimulation protocols for IVF. By providing you with this information, we hope to shed light on the importance of considering these factors and making informed decisions regarding fertility treatments.

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

 

Why IVF should be regarded as treatment of choice for women who have diminished ovarian reserve ( DOR):

Understanding the following factors will go a long way in helping you to make an informed decision and thereby improve the chances of a successful IVF outcome.

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

 

 

Preimplantation Genetic Screening/Testing for aneuploidy (PGS/PGTA): PGS/PGTA is a valuable tool for identifying chromosomal abnormalities in eggs and embryos. By selecting the most competent (euploid) embryos, PGS/PGTA significantly improves the success of IVF, in women with DOR.

Understanding the impact of declining ovarian reserve on IVF outcomes is essential when making decisions about fertility treatments. Diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) can affect egg quality and increase the likelihood of aneuploid embryos with resultant IVF failure. By considering this factor, you can make informed choices and work closely with fertility specialists to optimize your chances of success. Remember, knowledge is power, and being aware of these aspects empowers you to take control of your reproductive journey.

  • EGG/ EMBRYO QUALITY IN IVF & HOW SELECTION OF THE IDEAL PROTOCOL FOR OVARIAN STIMULATION INFLUENCES  EGG/EMBRYO QUALITY AND  OUTCOME.

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.

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

 

Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

  1. From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) ; https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

Name: Bree M

Hello,

What are your thoughts about using prednisone and/or prograv for a FET with donor eggs?

Answer:

In my opinion, the administration of low dosage steroids in embryo transfer cycles is always beneficial as it modulates uterine immune receptivity.

Geoff Sher

_________________________________________________________

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

 

Herewith are  online links to 2  E-books recently  co-authored with  my partner at SFS-NY  (Drew Tortoriello MD)……. for your reading pleasure:

  1. From In Vitro Fertilization to Family: A Journey with Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) ; https://sherfertilitysolutions.com/sher-fertility-solutions-ebook.pdf

 

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

 

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

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