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: Jimena A

Good day Dr. Geoffrey,
I salute you from Mexico City. I’m in the mieddle of the preparatios for the FET, and I want to know what should the maximium estradiol levels be at the day before my FET. Today I’m on day 13 of my cycle and my endometrium is meassuring 9 mm.
Thank you very much for your time. Best regards,
Jimena

Answer:

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

Good luck!

 

 

Name: Jacqueline S

Hello. I am writing today to inquire about your services. I am 36 years old. I have 2 healthy boys (4 years old and 2 years old). I have had 2 miscarriages in a row while trying to get pregnant with my 2nd son. I seemingly do not have fertility issues. However, my husband and I are interested in IVF for our third so that we can better balance our family and reduce our risk of miscarrying again. I know you typically help patients with fertility issues, so I wanted to inquire about whether or not you would be able to help families like ours and the cost to do so. Thank you.

Name: Esther L

Hi Dr. Sher, I am asking this question after first egg retrieval. I am 40 years old, first time doing this IVF. I saw about 23 follicles during ultrasound and was on 21 days lupron protocol ended with 20 eggs, 13 matured, 10 fertilized and 6 became 6 days blastocysts. After pgta I got results as follows: one low level mosaic trisomy 22, 1 high level complex mosaic, three abnormal and one chaos. I currently have 7 years old daughter and trying for the 2nd baby. My first child was conceived naturally. My amh was 4.2. I am preparing for the 2nd egg retrieval. Can do anything differently. I eat healthy, taking all coq10, vit D, prenatal, calcim magnesium, dha, dhea(25mg only one pill) vit c and nac. I walk every other day. Do I have a hope to have good embryos next cycle. I am very healthy no disease illnesses in the past. Thank u.

Answer:

The importance of the IVF stimulation protocol on egg/embryo quality cannot be overstated. This factor seems often to be overlooked or discounted by t IVF practitioners who use a “one-size-fits-all” approach to ovarian stimulation. My experience is that the use of individualized/customized COS protocols can greatly improve IVF outcome. While no one can influence underlying genetics or turn back the clock on a woman’s age, any competent IVF specialist should be able to tailor the protocol for COS to meet the individual needs of the patient.

Gonadotropins (LH and FSH), whether produced by the pituitary gland or administered by way of fertility drugs, have different “targeted” sites of action in the ovary. FSH targets cells that line the inner wall of the follicle (granulosa cells) and also form the cumulus cells that bind the egg to the inner surface of the follicle. Granulosa cells are responsible for estrogen production.

LH, on the other hand, targets the ovarian connective tissue (stroma/theca) that surrounds ovarian follicles resulting in the production of male hormones such as testosterone (predominantly), androstenedione and DHEA. These androgens are then transported to the granulosa cells of the adjacent follicles in a “bucket brigade fashion”. There FSH converts testosterone to estradiol, causing granulosa cells to multiply (proliferate) and produce estradiol, follicles to  grows and eggs to develop (ovogenesis) It follows that  ovarian androgens (mainly testosterone) is absolutely indispensable to follicle/ egg growth and development.

However, the emphasis is on a “normal” amount of testosterone. Over-exposure of the follicle to testosterone can in my opinion,  compromise egg development and lead to an increased likelihood of chromosomal irregularities (aneuploid) following LH/hCG-induced egg maturational division (meiosis) and compromise embryo “competency/quality.

Ovarian androgens can also reach the uterine lining where they sometimes will compromise estrogen receptor -induced endometrial growth and development.

A significant percentage of  older women and those who have diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) have increased LH activity is increased. Such women either over-produce LH and/or the LH produced is far more biologically active. Chronically increased LH activity leads to overgrowth of ovarian connective tissue (stroma/theca). This condition, which is often referred to as Stromal Hyperplasia or hyperthecosis can result in  excessive ovarian androgen/testosterone production and poorer egg-embryo quality/competency, Similarly, women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), also characteristically have Stromal hyperplasia/hyperthecosis due to chronically increased LH activity. Thus they too often manifest with increased ovarian androgen production. It is therefore not surprising that “poor egg/embryo quality” is often also a feature of PCOS.

In my opinion, the over-administration of LH-containing menotropins such as Menopur, [which is comprised of roughly equal amount of FSH and   hCG ,which acts similar to LH)], to older women, women with DOR and those who have PCOS can also lead to reduced egg/embryo competency . Similarly, drugs such as clomiphene or Letrozole that cause the pituitary gland to release excessive amounts of LH, are also potentially harmful to egg development and in my opinion, are best omitted from IVF COS protocols. This is especially the case when it comes to older women and those with DOR, who in my opinion should preferably be stimulated using FSH-dominant products such as Follistim, Puregon, Fostimon and Gonal-F. 

Gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa): GnRHa such as Lupron, Buserelin, Superfact, Gonopeptyl etc. are often used to launch ovarian stimulation cycles. They act by causing an initial outpouring followed by a depletion of pituitary gonadotropins. This results in LH levels falling to low concentrations, within 4-7 days, thereby establishing a relatively “LH-free environment”. When GnRHa are administered for about 7 days prior to initiating gonadotropin stimulation (“long” pituitary down-regulation”), the LH depletion that will exist when COS is initiated, will usually be protective of subsequent egg development. In contrast, when the GnRHa administration commences along with the initiation of gonadotropin therapy, there will be a resultant immediate surge in the release of pituitary LH with  the potential to increase ovarian testosterone to egg-compromising levels , from the outset of COS. This, in my opinion could be particularly harmful when undertaken in older women and those who have DOR.

GnRH-antagonists such as Ganirelix, Cetrotide and Orgalutron, on the other hand, act very rapidly (within hours) to block pituitary LH release. The purpose in using GnRH antagonists is to prevent the release of LH during COS. In contrast, the LH-lowering effect of GnRH agonists develops over a number of days.

GnRH antagonists are traditionally given, starting after  5th -7th day of gonadotropin stimulation. However, when this is done in older women and those (regardless of age) who have DOR, LH-suppression might be reached too late to prevent the deleterious effect of excessive ovarian androgen production on egg development in the early stage of ovarian stimulation. This is why, it is my preference to administer GnRH-antagonists, starting at the initiation of gonadotropin administration.

Preferred Protocols for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS):

  • Long GnRH Agonist Protocols: The most prescribed protocol for agonist/gonadotropin administration is the so-called “long protocol”. An agonist (usually, Lupron) is given either in a natural cycle, starting 5-7 days prior to menstruation or is overlapped with the BCP for two days whereupon the latter is stopped and the Lupron, continued until menstruation ensues. The agonist precipitates a rapid rise in FSH and LH level, which is rapidly followed by a precipitous decline in the blood level of both, to near zero. This is followed by uterine withdrawal bleeding (menstruation) within 5-7 days of starting the agonist treatment, whereupon gonadotropin treatment is initiated (preferably within 7-10 days of the onset of menses) while daily Lupron injections continue, to ensure a relatively “low LH- environment”. Gonadotropin administration continues until the hCG trigger.
  • Short (“Flare”) GnRH-agonist (GnRHa) Protocol: Another GnRHa usage for COS is the so called “(micro) flare protocol”. This involves initiating gonadotropin therapy commensurate with initiation of gonadotropin administration. The supposed objective is to deliberately allow Lupron to elicit an initial surge (“flare”) in pituitary FSH release in order to augment FSH administration by increased FSH production. Unfortunately, this “springboard effect” constitutes “a double-edged sword”. While it indeed increases the release of FSH, it at the same time causes a surge in LH release. The latter can evoke excessive ovarian stromal/thecal androgen production which could potentially compromise egg quality, especially when it comes to older women and women with DOR. I am of the opinion that by evoking an exaggerated ovarian androgen response, such “(micro) flare protocols” can harm egg/embryo quality and reduce IVF success rates, especially when it comes to COS in older women, and in women with diminished ovarian reserve. Accordingly, I do not prescribe such protocols to my IVF patients
  • Long-Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol (A/ACP):With a few (notable) exceptions I preferentially advocate this protocol for many of my patients. With the A/ACP, as with the long protocol (see above) the woman again prepares to launch her stimulation cycle by taking a BCP for at least ten days before overlapping with an agonist such as Lupron. However, when about 5-7 days later her menstruation starts, she supplants the agonist with a with 250 mcg) of an antagonist (e.g. Ganirelix, Orgalutron or Cetrotide). Within a few days of this switch-over, gonadotropin stimulation is commenced. Both the antagonist and the gonadotropins are then continued until the hCG trigger. The purpose in switching from agonist to antagonist is to intentionally allow only a very small amount of the woman’s own pituitary LH to enter her blood and reach her ovaries, while at the same time preventing a large amount of LH from reaching her ovaries. This is because while a small amount of LH is essential to promote and optimize FSH-induced follicular growth and egg maturation, a large concentration of LH can trigger over-production of ovarian stromal testosterone, with an adverse effect of follicle/egg/embryo quality. Moreover, since testosterone also down-regulates estrogen receptors in the endometrium, an excess of testosterone can also have an adverse effect on endometrial growth. Also, since agonists might suppress some ovarian response to the gonadotropin stimulation, antagonists do not do so. It is for this reason that the A/ACP is so well suited to older women and those with some degree of diminished ovarian reserve.
  • Agonist/antagonist conversion protocol with estrogen priming:Patients start their treatment cycle on a combined (monophasic) birth control pill-BCP (e.g., Marvelon, Desogen, Orthonovum 135; Low-Estrin…etc.)  for at least 8-10 days (depending on individual circumstances), before commencing controlled ovarian stimulation for IVF. With this approach, a GnRH agonist (e.g. Lupron/Superfact/Buserelin/Decapeptyl etc.) is continued until menstruation ensues (usually 5-7 days after commencement of the GnRH-agonist). At this point, the GnRH-agonist is SUPPLANTED with 250mcg GnRH antagonist (e.g. Ganirelix/Cetrotide, Orgalutron) and daily estradiol(E2) “priming” commences using either E2 skin-patches or intramuscular estradiol valerate (Delestrogen) injections, twice weekly while continuing the administration of the GnRH antagonist. Seven (7) days after commencing the E2 skin patches or intramuscular Delestrogen, daily injections of recombinant FSH-(e.g., Follistim/Gonal-F/Puregon)  + menotropin (e.g., Menopur)  therapy begins.. This is continued at a modified dosage, along with E2 patches or Delestrogen injections) until the “hCG trigger”. The egg retrieval is performed 36 hours later.

There are a few potential drawback to the use of the A/ACP. We have learned that prolonged use of a GnRH antagonist throughout the ovarian stimulation process can compromise the predictive value of serial plasma E2 measurements to evaluate follicle growth and development. It appears that when the antagonist is given throughout stimulation, the blood E2 levels tend to be significantly lower than when the agonist alone is used or where antagonist treatment is only commenced 5-7 days into the ovarian stimulation process. The reason for this is presently unclear. Accordingly, when the A/ACP is employed, we rely more on follicle size monitoring than on serial blood E2 trends to assess progress.

Also, younger women (under 30 years) and women with absent, irregular or dysfunctional ovulation, and those with polycystic ovarian syndrome are at risk of developing life-threatening Severe Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). The prediction of this condition requires daily access to accurate blood E2 levels. Accordingly, we currently tend to refrain from prescribing the A/ACP in such cases, preferring instead use the “standard long-protocol” approach.

  • Short-GnRH antagonist protocols:The use of GnRH antagonists as currently prescribed in ovarian stimulation cycles (i.e. the administration of 250mcg daily starting on the 6th or 7th day of stimulation with gonadotropins) may be problematic, especially in women over 39 yrs., women with diminished ovarian reserve (i.e. “poor responders” to gonadotropins), and women with PCOS. Such women tend to have higher levels of LH to start with and as such the initiation of LH suppression with GnRH antagonists so late in the cycle (usually on day 6-7) of stimulation fails to suppress LH early enough to avoid compromising egg development. This can adversely influence egg/embryo quality and endometrial development. As is the case with the “microflare” approach (see above) the use of GnRH antagonist protocols in younger women who have normal ovarian reserve, is acceptable. Again, for reasons of caution, and because I see no benefit in doing so, I personally never prescribe this approach for my patients. Presumably, the reason for the suggested mid-follicular initiation of high dose GnRH antagonist is to prevent the occurrence of the so called “premature LH surge”, which is known to be associated with “follicular exhaustion” and poor egg/embryo quality. However the term “premature LH surge” is a misnomer and the concept of this being a “terminal event” or an isolated insult is erroneous. In fact, the event is the culmination (end point) of the progressive escalation in LH (“a staircase effect”) which results in increasing ovarian stromal activation with commensurate growing androgen production. Trying to improve ovarian response and protect against follicular exhaustion by administering GnRH antagonists during the final few days of ovarian stimulation is like trying to prevent a shipwreck by removing the tip of an iceberg.
  • Short-GnRH-agonist (“micro-flare”) protocols:Another approach to COH is by way of so-called “microflare protocols”. This involves initiating gonadotropin therapy simultaneously with the administration of GnRH agonist. The intent is to deliberately allow Lupron to affect an initial surge (“flare”) in pituitary FSH release to augment ovarian response to the gonadotropin medication. Unfortunately, this approach represents “a double-edged sword” as the resulting increased release of FSH is likely to be accompanied by a concomitant (excessive) rise in LH levels that could evoke excessive production of male hormone by the ovarian stroma. The latter in turn could potentially compromise egg quality, especially in women over 39 years of age, women with diminished ovarian reserve, and in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – all of whose ovaries have increased sensitivity to LH. In this way, “microflare protocols” can potentially hinder egg/embryo development and reduce IVF success rates. While microflare protocols usually are not harmful in younger women and those with normal ovarian reserve, I personally avoid this approach altogether for safety’s sake. The follicles/eggs of women on GnRH-agonist “micro-flare protocols” can be exposed to exaggerated agonist-induced LH release, (the “flare effect”) while the follicles/eggs of women, who receive GnRH antagonists starting 6-8 days following the initiation of stimulation with gonadotropins can likewise be exposed to pituitary LH-induced ovarian male hormones (especially testosterone). While this is not necessarily problematic in younger women and those with adequate ovarian reserve (“normal responders”) it could be decidedly prejudicial in “poor responders” and older women where there is increased follicle and egg vulnerability to high local male hormone levels.
  • The “Trigger Shot”- A Critical Decision:The egg goes through maturational division (meiosis) during the 36-hour period that precedes ovulation or retrieval. The efficiency of this process will determine the outcome of reproduction. It follows that when it comes to ovulation induction, aside from selecting a suitable protocol for COS one of the most important decisions the clinician has to make involves choosing and implementing with logic and precision, the “trigger shot” by which to facilitate meiosis.
    • Urinary versus recombinant hCG:Until quite recently, the standard method used to initiate the “trigger shot” was through the administration of 10,000 units of hCGu. More recently, a recombinant form of hCGr (Ovidrel) was introduced and marketed in 250 mcg doses. But clinical experience strongly suggests that 250 mcg of Ovidrel is most likely not equivalent in biological potency to 10,000 units of hCG. It probably at best only has 60%of the potency of a 10,000U dose of hCGu and as such might not be sufficient to fully promote meiosis, especially in cases where the woman has numerous follicles. For this reason, I firmly believe that when hCGr is selected as the “trigger shot” the dosage should be doubled to 500 mcg, at which dosage it will probably have an equivalent effect on promoting meiosis as would 10,000 units of hCGu.
    • The dosage of hCG used: Some clinicians, when faced with a risk of OHSS developing will deliberately elect to reduce the dosage of hCG administered as a trigger in the hope that by doing so, the risk of developing critical OHSS will be lowered. It is my opinion that such an approach is not optimal because a low dose of hCG (e.g., 5000 units hCGu or 25omcg hCGr) is likely inadequate to optimize the efficiency of meiosis, particularly when it comes to cases such as this where there are numerous follicles. In my opinion a far better approach is to use a method that I first described in 1989, known as “prolonged coasting”
    • Use of hCG versus a GnRHa(e.g., Lupron/Buserelin/Superfact) as the trigger shot: It has been suggested that the use of an “agonist ( Lupron) trigger” in women at risk of developing severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) could potentially reduce the risk of the condition becoming critical and thereby placing the woman at risk of developing life-endangering complications. It is for this reason that many RE’s prefer to trigger meiosis in this way (using an agonist-Lupron) rather than through the use of hCG. The agonist promptly causes the woman’s pituitary gland to expunge a large amount of LH over a short period of time and it is this LH “surge” that triggers meiosis. The problem with this approach, in my opinion, is that it is hard to predict how much LH will be released in by the pituitary gland of a given patient receiving an agonist trigger shot, especially if the woman was down-regulated using an agonist, or in cases where an antagonist was used to block pituitary LH release. For this reason, I personally prefer to use hCGu for the trigger, even in cases of ovarian hyperstimulation, with one important proviso…that she underwent “prolonged coasting” in order to reduce the risk of critical OHSS prior to the 10,000 unit hCGu “trigger”.
    • Combined use of hCG +GnRHa; This approach is preferable to the use of a GnRHa, alone. However, in my opinion is inferior to the appropriate and correct use of hCG, alone.
    • The timing of the trigger shot to initiate meiosis:This should coincide with the majority of ovarian follicles being >15 mm in mean diameter with several follicles having reached 18-22 mm. Follicles of larger than 22 mm will usually harbor overdeveloped eggs which in turn will usually fail to produce good quality eggs. Conversely, follicles less than 15 mm will usually harbor underdeveloped eggs that are more likely to be aneuploid and incompetent following the “trigger”.

Severe Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) and prolonged Coasting”

OHSS is a life-endangering condition that usually occurs in women undergoing COS where the blood E2 level rises to above 4,000pg/ml. The risk escalates to greater than 80% in cases where the E2 level rises above 6,000pg/ml. It rarely occurs in normally ovulating women or older (>39Y) women and is more commonly encountered in:

  • Young women (under 30y) who have a high ovarian reserve(based upon basal FSH and AMH.
  • Women with polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Non-PCOS women who do not ovulate spontaneously

The treating physician should be alerted to the possibility of hyperstimulation when encountering a woman who develops >25 ovarian follicles of 14mm-16mm in mean diameter, in association with a blood E2 level of above 2,5000pg/ml prior to the hCG “trigger”.

OHSS is a self-limiting condition. Its development is linked to the effect of hCG and thus does not occur until the “hCG trigger” is administered. In fact, there is virtually no risk of OHSS until the hCG “trigger” is administered.

Prolonged Coasting” is a procedure I introduced in 1991. It involves abruptly stopping gonadotropin therapy while continuing to administer the GnRH agonist (e.g. Lupron, Buserelin) deferring the hCG “trigger” until the woman is out of risk (as evidenced by a fall in plasma estradiol level to below 2,500pg/ml).

It is important that “prolonged coasting” be initiated as soon as two or more follicles have attained a greater diameter than 18mm with at least 50% of the remaining follicles having attained 14-16mm. To start the process of “prolonged coasting” any earlier or any later, while it would still protect against the development of OHSS, would almost certainly result in compromised egg and embryo quality with ultimate failure of the IVF cycle. Simply stated, the precise timing of initiating the process is critical. Proper implementation of PC will almost always prevent OHSS without seriously compromising egg/embryo quality.

Use of the Birth Control Pill (BCP) to launch IVF-COS.

In natural (unstimulated) as well as in cycles stimulated with fertility drugs, the ability of follicles to properly respond to FSH stimulation is dependent on their having developed FSH-responsive receptors. Pre-antral follicles (PAF) do not have such primed FSH receptors and thus cannot respond properly to FSH stimulation with gonadotropins. The acquisition of FSH receptor responsivity requires that the pre-antral follicles be exposed to FSH, for a number of days (5-7) during which time they attain “FSH-responsivity” and are now known as antral follicles (AF). These AF’s are now able to respond properly to stimulation with administered FSH-gonadotropins. In regular menstrual cycles, the rising FSH output from the pituitary gland insures that PAFs convert tor AF’s. The BCP (as well as prolonged administration of estrogen/progesterone) suppresses FSH. This suppression needs to be countered by artificially causing blood FSH levels to rise in order to cause PAF to AF conversion prior to COS commencing, otherwise pre-antral-to –antral follicle conversion will not take place in an orderly fashion, the duration of ovarian stimulation will be prolonged and both follicle and egg development may be compromised. GnRH agonists cause an immediate surge in release of FSH by the pituitary gland thus causing conversion from PAF to SAF. This is why women who take a BCP to launch a cycle of COS need to have an overlap of the BCP with an agonist. By overlapping the BCP with an agonist for a few days prior to menstruation the early recruited follicles are able to complete their developmental drive to the AF stage and as such, be ready to respond appropriately to optimal ovarian stimulation. Using this approach, the timing of the initiation of the IVF treatment cycle can readily and safely be regulated and controlled by varying the length of time that the woman is on the BCP.

Since optimizing follicular response to COS requires that prior to stimulation with gonadotropins, FSH-induced conversion from PAF to AF’s first be completed and the BCP suppresses FSH, it follows when it comes to women launching COS coming off a BCP something needs to be done to cause a rise in FSH for 5-7 days prior to menstruation heralding the cycle of CO S. This is where overlapping the BCP with a GnRHa comes in. The agonist causes FSH to be released by the pituitary gland and if overlapped with the BCP for several days and this will (within 2-5 days) facilitate PAF to AF conversion…. in time to start COS with the onset of menstruation. Initiating ovarian stimulation in women taking a BCP, without doing this is suboptimal.

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

  • The IVF Journey: The importance of “Planning the Trip” Before Taking the Ride”
  • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
  • The Fundamental Requirements For Achieving Optimal IVF Success
  • Use of GnRH Antagonists (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) in IVF-Ovarian Stimulation Protocols.
  • Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
  • The “Biological Clock” and how it should Influence the Selection and Design of Ovarian Stimulation Protocols for IVF.
  • A Rational Basis for selecting Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) protocols in women with Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
  • Diagnosing and Treating Infertility due to Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
  • Ovarian Stimulation in Women Who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): Introducing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion protocol
  • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in Older women and Women who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): A Rational Basis for Selecting a Stimulation Protocol
  • Optimizing Response to Ovarian Stimulation in Women with Compromised Ovarian Response to Ovarian Stimulation: A Personal Approach.
  • Egg Maturation in IVF: How Egg “Immaturity”, “Post-maturity” and “Dysmaturity” Influence IVF Outcome:
  • Commonly Asked Question in IVF: “Why Did so Few of my Eggs Fertilize and, so Many Fail to Reach Blastocyst?”
  • Human Growth Hormone Administration in IVF: Does it Enhances Egg/Embryo Quality and Outcome?
  • The BCP: Does Launching a Cycle of Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS). Coming off the BCP Compromise Response?
  • Staggered IVF
  • Staggered IVF with PGS- Selection of “Competent” Embryos Greatly Enhances the Utility & Efficiency of IVF.
  • Staggered IVF: An Excellent Option When. Advancing Age and Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) Reduces IVF Success Rate
  • Embryo Banking/Stockpiling: Slows the “Biological Clock” and offers a Selective Alternative to IVF-Egg Donation
  • Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGS) in IVF: It should be Used Selectively and NOT be Routine.
  • IVF: Selecting the Best Quality Embryos to Transfer
  • Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS) Using: Next Generation Gene Sequencing (NGS): Method of Choice.
  • PGS in IVF: Are Some Chromosomally abnormal Embryos Capable of Resulting in Normal Babies and Being Wrongly Discarded?
  • PGS and Assessment of Egg/Embryo “competency”: How Method, Timing and Methodology Could Affect Reliability
  • IVF outcome: How Does Advancing Age and Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) Affect Egg/Embryo “Competency” and How Should the Problem be addressed.

 

 

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ADDENDUM: PLEASE READ!!

INTRODUCING SHER FERTILITY SOLUTIONS (SFS)

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

 

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

 

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

 

Geoff Sher

 

 

 

 

Name: Elona K

Hi Dr. Sher,

Just following up from my last question regarding my 14mm follicle on day 15 when I had a LH surge… isn’t this too small of a follicle for a surge to happen meaning an immature/eggless follicle? I thought a mature follicle must reach a minimum of 17mm in order for a surge to occur. Mine was only 14mm. We did try but I want to be realistic with my expectations. Is there any way to treat this going forward if this continues to happen? Thanks!

Answer:

My response was based upon he suspicion that this 14mm follicle was actually 18mm + a day or so before and the reduction in size was due to partial ovulation.

 

 

Name: Elona K

Hi Dr.Sher,

I am doing an investigative cycle through my fertility clinic this month. Yesterday was my day 15 and on ultrasound I had a dominant follicle measuring 14mm. It was growing at a rate of 1mm per day since day 10. The nurse informed me that based on the size of the follicle that I should expect my lh to surge later this week. I got home a few hours after doing my ultrasound (and bloodwork) and the nurse called to say that my bloodwork results just came in and I was having a surge.
I am of course devastated as everything I have read states that the follicle must be at least 18 mm in order for a surge to happen. And as mine was only 14mm at the time of the surge, the follicle most likely did not contain an egg or if it did it was immature. My husband and I tried last night anyway. Any insight or advice would be greatly appreciated. I am 39, have PCOS and have had RPL (all very early before 6 weeks). Are there any drugs to help with this?

Answer:

The most likely explanation is that when (on day 15 the 14mm follicle was seen, ovulation had already commenced!

 

 

Name: Maryam F

Im looking to have a girl for my third pregnancy after having 2 boys. I have had no fertility issue and for both my kids I got pregnant in my first try. Do you have any gender selection service? Like IUI or IVF?

Answer:

Couples have for centuries sought to influence the gender of their offspring. More than seven centuries ago the ancient Chinese developed a birth calendar said to be able to predict gender on the basis of when conception occurred. Later, the ancient Greeks suggested that by lying on her right side during intercourse, a woman could improve the likelihood of having a male child. And 300 years ago, the French suggested that placing a ligature around the right testicle would improve the chance of having a male child.

More recently in the U.S., methods such as timing intercourse, assuming different positions during sex, and (relatively recently) employing rapid sperm centrifugation in an attempt to separate male chromosome-bearing sperm from female sperm prior to artificial insemination were proposed. The fact is that none of these (as well as many other) such anecdotal assertions have been shown to have any real validity.

Currently, in spite of several well described medical approaches, the indisputable fact has emerged that it is only by way of IVF that reliable sex selection can be achieved. This allows for embryos to be screened for gender through preimplantation genetic diagnosis prior to transferring the embryo(s) of the desired gender to the uterus.

Nevertheless, it is an inescapable reality that the very idea of medical sex selection challenges moral and ethical beliefs at their very foundation. Many hold that the growing popularity of gender selection solely for the convenience of altering a family’s gender balance represents an unwanted example of how assisted reproductive technology is subject to abuse…and thus it should be outlawed. They also see it as an example of a disturbing trend towards “designer babies” where genetic engineering could be used to manipulate the intellect, body configuration, build, height, and the talents of future offspring. This assertion is commonly followed by the tantalizing question as to where all this would end and whether we as a society “would really want to live in such a world.”

 

There is, however, one clear exception to the apparent across-the-board opposition to sex selection that is well worthy of mention. This applies in cases where sex selection is used to avoid the occurrence of a serious medical disorder that selectively affects one gender or the other (e.g., Hemophilia, a life threatening bleeding disorder that selectively affects male offspring).

 

EVALUATING CURRENTLY USED METHODS FOR SEX SELECTION

 

SPERM GRADIENT METODOLOGY (discredited because of a lack of reliability)

 

This is one of the simplest methods that still (unfortunately) remains in widespread use. Here sperm is rapidly spun down (centrifuged) in the hope of separating the male sperm (those with Y-chromosomes) from the female sperm (those with X-chromosomes). It relies on the assumption that the X chromosome makes sperm heavier, allowing for separation of male from female chromosome-bearing sperm. Though this method is often touted as a low cost method for sex selection, the truth is that it simply does not work!

 

LOW CYTOMETRIC TESTING BY THE MICROSORT METHOD (discredited because of a lack of reliability)

This method which is now somewhat discredited by the FDA  employedthe use of a fluorescent dye that adheres to genetic material within the sperm. It was based on the premise that because X-bearing sperm contain more genetic material, these sperm were supposed to pick up more dye than Y-bearing sperm. Thereupon, X and Y bearing sperm are then separated into two groups and used for intrauterine insemination (IUI) or IVF. This method was touted as yielding a 60% to 70% accuracy rate with IUI. This has not been adequately confirmed and in my personal experience its reliability in the IVF setting has been questionable to say the least. The Microsort technique is to my knowledge not presently being offered in the United States.

IVF using PREIMPLANTATION GENETIC DIAGNOSIS (PGD)

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) involves the removal of one or more cells from an embryo, for chromosomal or genetic analysis.  The most widely used and he most reliable PGD method for gender selection is fluorescence in-situ-hybridization (FISH). However, this technique does not identify all 23 pairs of chromosomes in the embryo’s cells. At best it can well identify 12. Thus, while FISH provides an excellent method for gender selection and for identification of structural chromosomal aberrations, it is not a reliable method for diagnosing embryo aneuploidy (“competency”).  Conversely, another PGD method, next generation gene sequencing (NGS) which does assess all the embryo’s chromosomes can be used for both detecting all the embryo’s chromosomes and thus can determine embryo “competency” reliably. It also reliably identifies gender. However, while NGS is very bit as reliable as FISH for gender selection, FISH can be done in fresh cycles (i.e. the ET is done in the same cycle as that in which the ER is done), while NGS requires time for testing that requires Staggered IVF (St-IVF) in which the embryos are biopsied on day 3 or day 5-6 (post-fertilization) and  the blastocysts are ultrarapidly frozen (vitrified) and allowed to proceed in culture to blastocysts whereupon they are ultra-rapidly frozen (vitrified) and are then held for transfer in a subsequent cycle. 

Upon completion of FISH, which takes about 24-36 hours, the couple can select which embryo(s) they will transfer to the uterus. If pregnancy results, there is almost a 100% chance it will result in the desired gender. If NGS is used, the degree of accuracy in diagnosing gender, is as reliable as is FISH but in addition, NGS provides information on the entire karyotype (all 23 pairs of chromosomes) which is extremely beneficial because it assesses embryo “competency, while FISH does not.

 

A PERSONAL OPINION:

Sex selection done purely for  family balancing is somewhat  controversial, raising concern that if  widely accessible and freely available, such practice could distort the natural sex ratio, leading to a population gender imbalance. However, for this to happen, there would have to be a significant population preference for sex selection. In reality, the contrary seems to apply, since studies conducted in western societies discount these concerns. In fact, the relatively high cost of IVF with the added cost of gender selection in the United States makes it unlikely that the demand would ever become large enough to impact overall population gender balance. In addition, several studies done in Western countries have shown that the majority of people do not seem to be concerned about the gender of their offspring, and that with a few notable exceptions, gender preference does not appear to be slanted in the direction of either male or female. Thus, from a practical standpoint, such concerns are overstated.

Given that in the United States most couples do not care about the gender of their offspring, and only a minority are interested in selecting the sex of their children there is currently  no risk that IVF sex-selection will impact the population gender balance. Thus, in  my opinion by and large,  freedom of choice should prevail and a service for sex selection should be freely available

 So, in my personal practice, I absolutely do offer gender selection in the following circumstances.

  • Medical Indications for Gender Selection:
    • For cases associated with
      • sex-linked genetic disorders or,
      • serious genetic disorders that are more likely to occur in one gender or the other.
    • Non-Medical Family balancing
      • For couples who have at least one child of the opposite gender to that which they choose for their IVF embryo transfer and,
      • For those women who do not have any children at all but prefer to have a child of one or the other gender.
    • Geoff Sher :
    • Call 702-533-2691 for an online consultation

Name: Kristine S

Hello Dr. Sher, I can only imagine how busy you are so I will try to make this question as brief and concise as possible. I just turned 39. Currently 5wks pregnant (naturally conceived–was told it was an impossibility by RE). I have Graves disease and Hashimotos. History of two miscarriages around 8wks (healthy heartbeats, good HCG, thyroid levels near optimal). I have two living children through fertility (2018 and 2020). My last loss was in May 2022; my first was in 2020 around the time I was diagnosed with Hashimotos. I strongly suspect my losses were due to my immune diseases. I also suspect I will need, at minimum, prednisone (potentially LDN?) to calm my immune response in order to prevent a subsequent loss. I realize I’m working against the clock as my pregnancy advances. I am learning that there are waiting lists everywhere (understandably) and lab results can take weeks. I’m looking for ANY advice here. I live in rural Johnson City TN where there are few specialists or drs who know much about immune diseases and particularly how they influence pregnancy. If you have any referral options, if you have an opening in your schedule, or know of any physicians who have a baseline knowledge of autoimmue responses I would LOVE any help I can get! THANK YOU for you time.

Answer:

I am so happy for you. The fact that you have had 2 children with this underlying autoimmune condition, suggests that you are of the50% of women who have thyroid antibodies but do not have activated uterine natural killer cells. If so, this pregnancy could be safe. Besides, any autoimmune therapy for NKa+ needs to start at least 10 days prior to conception.

Hang in there and keep me in the loop!

Good luck!

 

Geoff Sher

Name: Ola

Dear Dr. Sher,

Do you recommend Sildenafil 4x 25mg/day during the follicular phase or only when the embryo transfer is scheduled?
Do you recommend Sildenafil although there are no previous evidences of lack of thickening of the endometrial walls?

Thank you

Answer:

Yes…only in the follicular phase but not in the absence of an endometrial thickness issue!

Geoff Sher

Name: Vanessa A

I need your advice. I have had two failed embryo transfers. I had my embryos PGT tested and they were normal and very high-quality embryos. I am 37 years old with no underlining health conditions. But maternal history of endometriosis. I have not been diagnosed with this. The second transfer my doctor place me on Lupron for three months. It was ineffective. I have in asking for natural killer cells labs because I watch your videos. I am waiting for the results.

My question is, what if I have elevated NK cells?

My current doctor does not have any solution as to why my second transfer did not work and does not know what she should do for the next protocol.

Dr. Sher, from the research I have done on you, you have so much more knowledge on specialty fertility in cases where women cannot have a successful pregnancy. I would appreciate if you can give me some guidance and advice thank you for your time.

Answer:

antibodies (APA) that can compromise development of the embryo’s root system (trophoblast). In addition and far more serious, is the fact that in about one third of cases endometriosis, regardless of its severity is associated with NKa and cytotoxic uterine lymphocytes (CTL) which can seriously jeopardize implantation. This immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID) is diagnosed by testing the woman’s blood for APA, for NKa (using the K-562 target cell test or by endometrial biopsy for cytokine activity) and, for CTL (by a blood immunophenotype). Activated NK cells attack the invading trophoblast cells (developing “root system” of the embryo/early conceptus) as soon as it tries to gain attachment to the uterine wall. In most cases, this results in rejection of the embryo even before the pregnancy is diagnosed and sometimes, in a chemical pregnancy or an early miscarriage. As such, many women with endometriosis, rather than being infertile, in the strict sense of the word, often actually experience repeated undetected “mini-miscarriages”.
Women who harbor APA’s often experience improved IVF birth rates when heparinoids (Clexane/Lovenox) are administered from the onset of ovarian stimulation with gonadotropins until the 10th week of pregnancy. NKa is treated with a combination of Intralipid (IL) and steroid therapy: Intralipid (IL) is a solution of small lipid droplets suspended in water. When administered intravenously, IL provides essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid.IL is made up of 20% soybean oil/fatty acids (comprising linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, linolenic acid and stearic acid) , 1.2% egg yolk phospholipids (1.2%), glycerin (2.25%) and water (76.5%).IL exerts a modulating effect on certain immune cellular mechanisms largely by down-regulating NKa.
The therapeutic effect of IL/steroid therapy is likely due to an ability to suppress pro-inflammatory cellular (Type-1) cytokines such as interferon gamma and TNF-alpha. IL/steroids down-regulates NKa within 2-3 weeks of treatment the vast majority of women experiencing immunologic implantation dysfunction. In this regard IL is just as effective as Intravenous Gamma globulin (IVIg) but at a fraction of the cost and with a far lower incidence of side-effects. Its effect lasts for 4-9 weeks when administered in early pregnancy.
The toxic pelvic environment caused by endometriosis, profoundly reduces natural fertilization potential. As a result normally ovulating infertile women with endometriosis and patent Fallopian tubes are much less likely to conceive naturally, or by using fertility agents alone (with or without intrauterine (IUI) insemination. The only effective way to bypass this adverse pelvic environment is through IVF. I am not suggesting here that all women who have endometriosis require IVF! Rather, I am saying that in cases where the condition is further compromised by an IID associated with NKa and/or for older women(over 35y) who have diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) where time is of the essence, it is my opinion that IVF is the treatment of choice.

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

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

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

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

Geoff Sher

Name: Ola

Dear Dr. Sher,

I would like to ask you about DUO stim protocol for women with DOR. Is it OK to have double stim within the same menstruation cycle?
I have DOR, endometriosis stage 1, MTHFR, 35 yrs old and 12 chemical pregnancies.
I want to continue with your protocol A/ACP with HGH but just came across this one DUO stim in the clinic where I am thinking of doing IVF NGS.
Thank you very much

Answer:

Respectfully,

I am not a protagonist of Duo-stimulations. In my opinion it can compromise follicle development as well a jeopardize egg/embryo “competency”.

Geoff Sher

Name: Elies E

Dear Doctor,

I saw your video on internet and I noticed that you master very well my case.
I have very low ovarian reserve Amh=0.4
So I live in France and I want to came and have an ivf protocol with you.

Thank you very much

Answer:

Thank you!

If you wish to consult with me online, please contact my assistant, Patti Converse at 702-533-2691.

When it comes to reproductive performance, humans are the least efficient of all mammals. Even in young women under 35y, at best only 1 out of 2 eggs are chromosomally numerically normal (euploid). The remained have an irregular number of chromosomes (aneuploid) and are thus “incompetent”. The incidence of egg aneuploidy increases with age such by age 39 years, 3 in 4 are competent, and by the mid-forties, less 8 to 9 out of 10 are aneuploid. The fertilization of an aneuploid egg will inevitably lead to embryo aneuploid and an aneuploid embryo cannot propagate a normal pregnancy

Within hours of the spontaneous pre-ovulatory luteinizing hormone (LH) surge, and also following administration of the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) “trigger” shot (given to induce ovulation after ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs), the egg embarks on a rapid maturational process that involves halving of its 46 chromosomes to 23. During this process, (known as meiosis) 23 chromosomes are retained within the nucleus of the egg while the remaining (now redundant) 23are expelled, enveloped by a thin membrane. This small structure comes to lie immediately below the “shell” of the egg (the zona pellucida) and is known as the 1st polar body or PB-1. The spermatozoon, in the process of its maturation also undergoes meiosis at which time it too reduces its chromosomes by half. Thus in the process of fertilization the sperm divides into two separate functional gametes, each containing 23 chromosomes such that with subsequent fertilization, the 23 chromosomes in the egg, fuse with the 23 chromosomes of the mature sperm resulting in the development of an embryo that has 46 chromosomes (the normal human genome) comprising a combination of the genetic material from both partners.
For the embryo to have exactly 46 chromosomes (the euploid number), both the mature egg and mature spermatozoon must contain exactly 23 chromosomes. Only euploid embryos are “competent” (capable of developing into healthy babies). Those with an irregular number of chromosomes (aneuploid embryos) are “incompetent” and are incapable of developing into healthy babies. While embryo “incompetence” can result from either egg or sperm aneuploidy, it usually stems from egg aneuploidy. However, in cases of moderate or severe male factor infertility, the sperm’s contribution to aneuploidy of the embryo increases significantly.
While embryo ploidy (numerical chromosomal integrity) is not the only determinant of its “competency, it is by far the most important and in fact is rate-limiting factor in human reproduction. It is causal in most cases of “failed implantation” which in turn is responsible for most cases of failed IVF. It causes early miscarriages and is responsible for many chromosomal birth defects such as X-monosomy and Down’s syndrome. . In most cases, embryos that develop too slowly as well as those that grow too fast (i.e. ones that by day 3 post-fertilization comprise fewer than 6 cells or more than 9 cells) and/or embryos that contain a large amount of cell debris or “fragments” are usually aneuploid and are thus “incompetent”. Additionally, embryos that fail to survive in culture to the blastocyst stage are also almost always aneuploid/”incompetent”. At a certain point in the later stage of a woman’s reproductive career, the number of remaining eggs in her ovaries falls below a certain threshold, upon which she is unable to respond optimally to fertility drugs. Often times this is signaled by a rising day 3 blood follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) level. Such women with diminishing ovarian reserve produce fewer eggs in response to ovarian stimulation. While diminished ovarian reserve is most commonly encountered in women over 40 years of age it can and indeed sometimes does occur in much younger women. A few important (but often overlooked concepts should be considered in this regard: 1. Age: It is advancing chronologic age and NOT declining ovarian reserve (as evidenced by abnormal blood AMH or FSH that results in an increased incidence of egg/embryo “incompetence” due to aneuploidy 2. DOR: The ovaries and developing eggs of women with diminished ovarian reserve (regardless of age) are highly susceptible to the adverse effect of excessive Luteinizing Hormone (LH)-induced overproduction of male hormones (mainly testosterone). A little testosterone produced by the ovary promotes normal follicle growth and orderly egg development but too much testosterone has the opposite effect. That is why (especially in women with diminished ovarian reserve who often have high LH and increased ovarian testosterone production , the use of ovarian stimulation protocols that fail to down-regulate LH production prior to initiating stimulation with gonadotropins, often prejudices egg/embryo quality and IVF outcome. Simply stated, while age is certainly the most important factor in determining the incidence of egg/embryo aneuploidy, women with diminished ovarian reserve (regardless of their age), unless they receive customized/individualized protocols of ovarian stimulation are less likely to propagate euploid (competent) eggs/embryos.

Selection of the ideal protocol for controlled ovarian stimulation: While NOTHING can be done to lower the incidence of age-related aneuploidy, it is indeed possible to avoid a further increase in egg/embryo aneuploidy by individualizing the protocols of ovarian stimulation used.

My Preferred Protocols .

a) The conventional long pituitary down regulation protocol: BCP are commenced early in the cycle and continued for at least 10 days. Starting 3 days before the BCP is to be discontinued, it is overlapped with an agonist such as Lupron 10U daily for three (3) days and continued until menstruation begins (which should ensue within 5-7 days of stopping the BCP). At that point an US examination is done along with a baseline measurement of blood estradiol to exclude a functional ovarian cyst. Simultaneously, the Lupron dosage is reduced to 5U daily and an FSH-dominant gonadotropin such as Follistim, Puregon or Gonal-f daily is commenced for 2 days. On the 3rd day the gonadotropin dosage is reduced and a small amount of daily menotropin (Menopur 75U daily) is added. Daily ultrasound and blood estradiol measurements are done starting on the 7th or 8th day of gonadotropin administration and continued until daily ultrasound follicle assessments indicate that most follicles have fully developed. At this point egg maturation is “triggered” using an intramuscular injection of 10,000U hCG. And an egg retrieval is scheduled for 36h later.

b) The agonist/antagonist conversion protocol (A/ACP): This is essentially the same as the conventional long down regulation protocol (as above), except that with the onset of post-BCP menstruation, the agonist is supplanted by daily administration of a GnRH antagonist (e.g. Ganirelix, Cetrotide or Orgalutron) at a dosage of 125mcg daily until the day of the hCG trigger
When it comes to women who have DOR I favor the use of the A/ACP, adding supplementary human growth hormone (HGH). In some cases where the DOR is regarded as severe, I also augment the process with estrogen priming, preferring twice weekly intramuscular administration of estradiol valerate (Delestrogen), starting with the commencement of antagonist injection and continuing for 1 week before commencing gonadotropins and continued until the hCG “trigger. I further recommend that such women be offered access to preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) for4 embryo selection and in some cases, for embryo banking (stockpiling). This is followed in a later hormone replacement cycle with the selective transfer of up to two (2) PGS-normal, euploid blastocysts. In this way we are able to capitalize on whatever residual ovarian reserve and egg quality might still exist and thereby “make hay while the sun still shines” , significantly enhancing the opportunity to achieve a viable pregnancy
The following Ovarian Stimulation Protocols which in my Opinion best Avoided:
a) Microdose agonist (e.g. Lupron) “flare” protocols
b) High doses of LH/hCG-containing fertility drugs (E.G. Menopur).
c) Protocols that incorporate supplementation with male hormones (e.g. testosterone)
d) Supplementation with DHEA
e) Clomiphene citrate or Letrozole which cause an elevation in LH and thus increase ovarian male hormone (testosterone and androstenedione output.
f) “Triggering” egg maturation using too low a dosage of hCG (e.g. 5,000U rather than 10,000U) or Ovidrel e.g. 250mcg of Ovidrel rather than 500mcg)
g) “Triggering” women who have large numbers of follicles using an agonist such as Lupron, Superfact or Buserelin.
Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS):
The introduction of preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) for the first time permits identification of all the chromosomes in the egg and embryo such that we can now far better identify “competent” (euploid) embryos for selective transfer to the uterus. This vastly improves the efficiency and success of the IVF process. This additional tool has better equipped us to manage cases with DOR. In my opinion, next generation gene sequencing (NGS), currently represents the most reliable method for performing PGS

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

•IVF: Factors Affecting Egg/Embryo “competency” during Controlled Ovarian Stimulation(COS) Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
•Egg Banking
•The Fundamental Requirements for Achieving Optimal IVF Success
•Ovarian Stimulation for IVF using GnRH Antagonists: Comparing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol. (A/ACP) With the “Conventional” Antagonist Approach
•Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
•The “Biological Clock” and how it should Influence the Selection and Design of Ovarian Stimulation Protocols for IVF.
•A Rational Basis for selecting Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) protocols in women with Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
•Diagnosing and Treating Infertility due to Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
•The BCP: Does Launching a Cycle of Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS). Coming off the BCP Compromise Response?
•Blastocyst Embryo Transfers Should be the Standard of Care in IVF
•Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET): A Rational Approach to Hormonal Preparation and How new Methodology is Impacting IVF.
• Embryo Banking/Stockpiling: Slows the “Biological Clock” and offers a Selective Alternative to IVF-Egg Donation.
•Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) in IVF: It Should be Used Selectively and NOT be Routine.
•Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS) Using: Next Generation Gene Sequencing (NGS): Method of Choice.
•Embryo Mosaicism”: Are Some Chromosomally Abnormal Embryos Capable of Resulting in Normal Babies and Being Wrongly Discarded?
•How Many Embryos should be transferred: A Critical Decision in IVF.
•Premature Luteinization (“the premature LH surge): Why it happens and how it can be prevented.