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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

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18,227 Comments

Dina Kamat

Hi Dr. Sher,

I am 34 years old and have been trying to conceive for over 1.5 years. I’ve never been pregnant. I have a regular 28-30 day cycle, day 14 ovulation but have been told that I have low AMH.

My husband and I have had two failed IVF cycles.

Our first cycle was in October – I took 300IU of Gonal-F which was reduced to 225IU mid-cycle, 150IU of Menopur and 100mg of Clomid. Cetrotide was halfway through stims. I had 8 good sized follicles and was triggered with 2,500 U of HCG and Suprefact (can’t remember the exact dose of this). The doctor advised me they did not give me the full HCG trigger shot as my estrogen was very elevated during the cycle and they wanted to take precaution against OHSS. At retrieval, they were only able to get three eggs – 2 mature and 1 immature. Only 1 egg fertilized via ICSI and was frozen at day 3.

I met with my RE after this cycle and was advised that I have “empty follicles”. My RE changed our protocol for the second cycle.

I just completed my second cycle and it was even worse than the first cycle.

On the second cycle I was taking Saizen (HGH), 5mg of Letrozole, 300IU of Gonal-F, 150IU of Menopur. Cetrotide was added half way during stims. I had 9 good sized follicles and was triggered with 10,000 U of HCG and Suprefact (can’t remember the dose of suprefact). At retrieval, we got three immature eggs. One egg matured in the lab, fertilized successfully via ICSI but arrested on day 3.

I feel frustrated and am starting to lose hope.

I am wondering what you would suggest in this case.

Thank you in advance for your guidance.

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

There is no such thing as empty follicles.

Frequently, when following vigorous and often repeated flushing of follicles at egg retrieval they fail to yield eggs, it is ascribed to “Empty Follicle Syndrome.” This is a gross misnomer, because all follicles contain eggs. So why were no eggs retrieved from the follicles? Most likely it was because they would/could not yield the eggs they harbored.
This situation is most commonly seen in older women, women who have severely diminished ovarian reserve, and in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). In my opinion it is often preventable when an optimal, individualized and strategic protocol for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) is employed and the correct timing and dosage is applied to the “hCG trigger shot.”
Normally, following optimal ovarian stimulation, the hCG “trigger shot” is given for the purpose of it triggering meiosis (reproductive division) that is intended to halve the number of chromosomes from 46 to 23 within 32-36 hours. The hCG trigger also enables the egg to signal the “cumulus cells” that bind it firmly to the inner wall of the follicle (through enzymatic activity), to loosen or disperse, so that the egg can detach and readily be captured at egg retrieval (ER).
Ordinarily, normal eggs (and even those with only one or two chromosomal irregularities) will readily detach and be captured with the very first attempt to empty a follicle. Eggs that have several chromosomal numerical abnormalities (i.e., are “complex aneuploid”) are often unable to facilitate this process. This explains why when the egg is complex aneuploid, its follicle will not yield an egg…and why, when it requires repeated flushing of a follicle to harvest an egg, it is highly suggestive of it being aneuploid and thus “incompetent” (i.e., incapable of subsequently propagating a normal embryo).
Older women, women with diminished ovarian reserve, and those with polycystic ovarian syndrome, tend to have more biologically active LH in circulation. LH causes production of male hormone (androgens, predominantly testosterone), by ovarian connective tissue (stroma/theca). A little testosterone is needed for optimal follicle development and for FSH-induced ovogenesis (egg development). Too much LH activity compromises the latter, and eggs so affected are far more likely to be aneuploid following meiosis.
Women with the above conditions have increased LH activity and are thus more likely to produce excessive ovarian testosterone. It follows that sustained, premature elevations in LH or premature luteinization (often referred to as a “premature LH surge”) will prejudice egg development. Such compromised eggs are much more likely to end up being complex aneuploid following the administration of the hCG trigger, leading to fruitless attempts at retrieval and the so called “empty follicle syndrome.”
The developing eggs of women who have increased LH activity (older women, women with diminished ovarian reserve, and those with PCOS) are inordinately vulnerable to the effects of protracted exposure to LH-induced ovarian testosterone. Because of this, the administration of medications that provoke further pituitary LH release (e.g., clomiphene and Letrozole), drugs that contain LH or hCG (e.g., Menopur), or protocols of ovarian stimulation that provoke increased exposure to the woman’s own pituitary LH (e.g., “flare-agonist protocols”) and the use of “late pituitary blockade” (antagonist) protocols can be prejudicial.
The importance of individualizing COS protocol selection, precision with regard to the dosage and type of hCG trigger used, and the timing of its administration in such cases cannot be overstated. The ideal dosage of urinary-derived hCG (hCG-u) such as Novarel, Pregnyl and Profasi is 10,000U. When recombinant DNA-derived hCG (hCG-r) such as Ovidrel is used, the optimal dosage is 500mcg. A lower dosage of hCG can, by compromising meiosis, increase the risk of egg aneuploidy, and thus of IVF outcome.
There is in my opinion no such condition as “Empty Follicle Syndrome.” All follicles contain eggs. Failure to access those eggs at ER can often be a result of the protocol used for controlled ovarian stimulation.

My final IVF cycle at SIRM-LV commences on March 19th and concludes on April 2nd. If you are interested in undergoing a fresh IVF treatment cycle with me or if you have embryos cryopreserved at SIRM-LV and wish to undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) prior to my departure, please contact me immediately….. My March cycle is likely to be very much in demand…….So, time is of the essence!
Following my departure from SIRM in mid-April, 2019, I will continue to provide comprehensive consultations to those of you that wish to have my guidance. Upon scheduling a SKYPE consultation with me, you will promptly receive a detailed questionnaire, along with a request that you submit available medical records for my review prior to our consultation. Additional tests and records can/will be requisitioned later, as needed. Your +/- 1 hour comprehensive SKYPE consultation will be followed by a detailed written report which you can also share with your personal Fertility Physician.
I will soon be posting a list of internationally regarded Fertility Specialists whom I endorse and who will have expressed a willingness to implement my suggested approaches, at their discretion. It is to one of these doctors that I would selectively refer you…upon request.
CONTACT INFORMATION:
• Online: Go to sherivf.com and Schedule a Skype Consultation. Upon doing so, you will be able to download a free copy of my new eBook ” Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”
• Phone
o If you live in the USA or Canada: Please call 1-800-780-7437 or 702-533-2691
o If you reside elsewhere Abroad: Please call 702-533-2691
o Email: concierge@SherIVF.com
Please monitor this website for future announcements on further developments.
Geoff Sher

reply
Sophia

Hi Dr. Sher

I wrote you a week ago to ask if it is normal that in a 31 year old (fsh of 10) and bad sperm quality it is normal that only 3 of 14 retrieved eggs fertilize..

I just wanted to let you know we had luck again and all 3 made it to day 6! It is my third retrieval and luckily, it is always the same. I get very worried after day 1, since only 1-3 fertilize normally.. but luckily most or all of them result in a blastocyst..
Is this common?

Thank you so much for your answer.

In March you are doing your last cycle. Will you still do the blog later?

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Kim Borchert

Dr. Geoffrey,

I have gone through 2 ivf retrieval cycles, I am 29 years old, The first cycle we only ended up with 2 frozen 5 day blasts. We transferred one and I lost it at 5 weeks. We transferred the second and I lost it at 6 weeks. We then did a mother retrieval and got 4 frozen, we transferred 1 using a fresh cycle and ended up with no positive test. It’s frustrating because they can’t find anything wrong, I’ve been tested for all the repeated loss blood work and all is fine. Is there something else I should be looking into? We also are going to do the ERA test, wondering how you feel about that? After that we are gearing up for another frozen transfer and PIO and either estrogen orally or intra- muscular I haven’t decided on that yet. Would love to hear your thoughts!

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Whenever a patient fails to achieve a viable pregnancy following embryo transfer (ET), the first question asked is why! Was it simply due to, bad luck?, How likely is the failure to recur in future attempts and what can be done differently, to avoid it happening next time?.
It is an indisputable fact that any IVF procedure is at least as likely to fail as it is to succeed. Thus when it comes to outcome, luck is an undeniable factor. Notwithstanding, it is incumbent upon the treating physician to carefully consider and address the causes of IVF failure before proceeding to another attempt:
1. Age: The chance of a woman under 35Y of age having a baby per embryo transfer is about 35-40%. From there it declines progressively to under 5% by the time she reaches her mid-forties. This is largely due to declining chromosomal integrity of the eggs with advancing age…”a wear and tear effect” on eggs that are in the ovaries from birth.
2. Embryo Quality/”competency (capable of propagating a viable pregnancy)”. As stated, the woman’s age plays a big role in determining egg/embryo quality/”competency”. This having been said, aside from age the protocol used for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) is the next most important factor. It is especially important when it comes to older women, and women with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) where it becomes essential to be aggressive, and to customize and individualize the ovarian stimulation protocol.
We used to believe that the uterine environment is more beneficial to embryo development than is the incubator/petri dish and that accordingly, the earlier on in development that embryos are transferred to the uterus, the better. To achieve this goal, we used to select embryos for transfer based upon their day two or microscopic appearance (“grade”). But we have since learned that the further an embryo has advanced in its development, the more likely it is to be “competent” and that embryos failing to reach the expanded blastocyst stage within 5-6 days of being fertilized are almost invariably “incompetent” and are unworthy of being transferred. Moreover, the introduction into clinical practice about a decade ago, (by Levent Keskintepe PhD and myself) of Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS), which assesses for the presence of all the embryos chromosomes (complete chromosomal karyotyping), provides another tool by which to select the most “competent” embryos for transfer. This methodology has selective benefit when it comes to older women, women with DOR, cases of unexplained repeated IVF failure and women who experience recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL).
3. The number of the embryos transferred: Most patients believe that the more embryos transferred the greater the chance of success. To some extent this might be true, but if the problem lies with the use of a suboptimal COS protocol, transferring more embryos at a time won’t improve the chance of success. Nor will the transfer of a greater number of embryos solve an underlying embryo implantation dysfunction (anatomical molecular or immunologic).Moreover, the transfer of multiple embryos, should they implant, can and all too often does result in triplets or greater (high order multiples) which increases the incidence of maternal pregnancy-induced complications and of premature delivery with its serious risks to the newborn. It is for this reason that I rarely recommend the transfer of more than 2 embryos at a time and am moving in the direction of advising single embryo transfers …especially when it comes to transferring embryos derived through the fertilization of eggs from young women.
4. Implantation Dysfunction (ID): Implantation dysfunction is a very common (often overlooked) cause of “unexplained” IVF failure. This is especially the case in young ovulating women who have normal ovarian reserve and have fertile partners. Failure to identify, typify, and address such issues is, in my opinion, an unfortunate and relatively common cause of repeated IVF failure in such women. Common sense dictates that if ultrasound guided embryo transfer is performed competently and yet repeated IVF attempts fail to propagate a viable pregnancy, implantation dysfunction must be seriously considered. Yet ID is probably the most overlooked factor. The most common causes of implantation dysfunction are:
a. A“ thin uterine lining”
b. A uterus with surface lesions in the cavity (polyps, fibroids, scar tissue)
c. Immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID)
d. Endocrine/molecular endometrial receptivity issues
e. Ureaplasma Urealyticum (UU) Infection of cervical mucous and the endometrial lining of the uterus, can sometimes present as unexplained early pregnancy loss or unexplained failure following intrauterine insemination or IVF. The infection can also occur in the man, (prostatitis) and thus can go back and forth between partners, with sexual intercourse. This is the reason why both partners must be tested and if positive, should be treated contemporaneously.
Certain causes of infertility are repetitive and thus cannot readily be reversed. Examples include advanced age of the woman; severe male infertility; immunologic infertility associated with alloimmune implantation dysfunction (especially if it is a “complete DQ alpha genetic match between partners plus uterine natural killer cell activation (NKa).
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.

• 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.
• Ovarian Stimulation in Women Who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): Introducing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion protocol
• Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
• 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?
• Blastocyst Embryo Transfers should be the Standard of Care in IVF
• IVF: How Many Attempts should be considered before Stopping?
• “Unexplained” Infertility: Often a matter of the Diagnosis Being Overlooked!
• IVF Failure and Implantation Dysfunction:
• 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!
• Endometrial Thickness, Uterine Pathology and Immunologic Factors
• Vaginally Administered Viagra is Often a Highly Effective Treatment to Help Thicken a Thin Uterine Lining
• Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas:
• A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF
• How Many Embryos should be transferred: A Critical Decision in IVF?
• The Role of Nutritional Supplements in Preparing for IVF

My final IVF cycle at SIRM-LV commences on March 19th and concludes on April 2nd. If you are interested in undergoing a fresh IVF treatment cycle with me or if you have embryos cryopreserved at SIRM-LV and wish to undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) prior to my departure, please contact me immediately….. My March cycle is likely to be very much in demand…….So, time is of the essence!
Following my departure from SIRM in mid-April, 2019, I will continue to provide comprehensive consultations to those of you that wish to have my guidance. Upon scheduling a SKYPE consultation with me, you will promptly receive a detailed questionnaire, along with a request that you submit available medical records for my review prior to our consultation. Additional tests and records can/will be requisitioned later, as needed. Your +/- 1 hour comprehensive SKYPE consultation will be followed by a detailed written report which you can also share with your personal Fertility Physician.
I will soon be posting a list of internationally regarded Fertility Specialists whom I endorse and who will have expressed a willingness to implement my suggested approaches, at their discretion. It is to one of these doctors that I would selectively refer you…upon request.
CONTACT INFORMATION:
• Online: Go to sherivf.com and Schedule a Skype Consultation. Upon doing so, you will be able to download a free copy of my new eBook ” Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”
• Phone
o If you live in the USA or Canada: Please call 1-800-780-7437 or 702-533-2691
o If you reside elsewhere Abroad: Please call 702-533-2691
o Email: concierge@SherIVF.com
Please monitor this website for future announcements on further developments.
Geoff Sher

reply
Kate IVF Girl

Hi, Dr. Sher. My pgs normal embryos were frozen at my age of 34. At 42, do I have a good chance of success? Why is there a drop in success starting at 43 even with pgs normal embryos? Should I not delay a transfer at 42 and start the process at 41????? Really torn about this. Thank you.

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Other than chromosomal, there are other genetic and metabolic factors that are also age-related and can compromise success.

Geoff Sher

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Sheila Shah

Hi Dr Sher,

First, thank you so much for providing this forum and taking the time to answer our questions during this stressful period for women.

I’m a 43 year old women who has undergone 7 retrievals (I’m at 4-5 years of IVF) and about to go for an 8th. I don’t have DOR and I’m still producing an ok amount of eggs. My AMH is about in the 2’s.
– Age 39 – My first two protocols were regular antagonist protocols (gonal-f, menopur, ganirelix, hcg trigger). I got a lot of eggs but 1 only made to blast in both cases (pgd was 1 normal and one abnormal).
– Age 39- My 3rd retrieval was the lupron protocol (bcp, lupron, gonal-f 225, hcg). That yielded amazing results 22 eggs, 20 mature, 15 fertilized, 8 blasts and 6 pgd normal embryos.
– Age 40 – My fourth retrieval (same lupron protocol), I had less eggs (can’t remember the number), 4 blast, 3 abnormal and 1 mosaic (they tested it and it came back normal).
– Age 41 – My fifth we introduced low dose of human growth hormone with same lupron protocol, I got 20 eggs, 5 blast and only 1 was normal.
– Age 42 – My 6th, still lupron protocol (but no HGH), I ended up having 3 blast, three were abnormal and 1 inconclusive.
– Age 42 – My 7th protocol again lupron (few months ago)…12 eggs and 1 blast which was abnormal.

My problem is that many of my embys arrest btwn Day 3 and Day 5 and now with my age…the genetics are an issue. We are starting my 8th retrieval in a few weeks and my RE thinks the lupron protocol has aged for me and we are trying an gentler protocol…the letrozol protocol. I’ll be on:

– letrozol for 5 days (2.5 mg twice a day),
– 150-225 mg of gonal-f depending on my antral follicle count,
– ganirelix,
– menopur (one amp per day),
– ovidrel trigger (250)
– Possiblly human growth hormone (still debating)

My question is what are your thoughts about adding the same low dose of growith hormone in to the mix with the letrozol protocol like I did with one of my previous cycles? By low dose I mean diluting a 5mg vial of human growth hormone with 10 cc water and administering .25mg per day (from start of stims through day of trigger). Do you recommend adding growth hormone given with this protocol (given the meds)? Any interactions with letrozol and growth hormone that you are aware of?

My hope is that HGH will strengthen my eggs so i’ll have more day blasts and most importantly more pgd normal embys (I know time is working against me at my age)…at this point even if I can got one normal i’ll be happy.

Thank You!

Sheila

reply
Sheila

I’m sorry Dr Sher. I looked where I originally posted it anddon’t see my post or your response: https://drgeoffreysherivf.com/human-growth-hormone-administration-in-ivf-does-it-enhance-eggembryo-quality-and-outcome/comment-page-1/#comment-34955. The most recent post is from Nov. Do you mind copying/summarizing what you said or pointing me to the right direction if I missed it. Again sorry!

Also, apologies for the multiple postings. I just wasn’t sure I posted it in the correct place.

reply
Helen

Dear dr Sher.Does egg quality depend on the type of protocol used by older women?Is there such thing as -a certain protocol will retrieve better quality eggs than another protocol?

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

The potential for a woman’s eggs to undergo orderly development and maturation, while in large part being genetically determined can be profoundly influenced by the woman’s age, her “ovarian reserve” and proximity to menopause. It is also influenced by the protocol used for controlled ovarian stimulation (COH) which by fashioning the intra-ovarian hormonal environment, profoundly impacts egg development and maturation.
After the menarche (age at which menstruation starts) a monthly process of repeatedly processing eggs continues until the menopause, by which time most eggs will have been used up, and ovulation and menstruation cease. When the number of eggs remaining in the ovaries falls below a certain threshold, ovarian function starts to wane over a 5 to10-years. This time period is referred to as the climacteric. With the onset of the climacteric, blood Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and later also Luteinizing Hormone (LH) levels begin to rise…. at first slowly and then more rapidly, ultimately culminating in the complete cessation of ovulation and menstruation (i.e. menopause).
One of the early indications that the woman has entered the climacteric and that ovarian reserve is diminishing DOR) , is the detection of a basal blood FSH level above 9.0 MIU/ml and/ or an AMH level og <2.0ng/ml.
Prior to the changes that immediately precede ovulation, virtually all human eggs have 23 pairs (i.e. 46) of chromosomes. Thirty six to forty hours prior to ovulation, a surge occurs in the release of LH by the pituitary gland. One of the main e purposes of this LH surge is to cause the chromosomes in the egg to divide n half (to 23 in number) in order that once fertilized by a mature sperm ends up having 23 chromosomes) the resulting embryo will be back to having 46 chromosomes. A “competent” mature egg is one that has precisely 23 chromosomes, not any more or any less. It is largely the egg, rather than the sperm that determines the chromosomal integrity of the embryo and only an embryo that has a normal component of 46 chromosomes (i.e. euploid) is “competent” to develop into a healthy baby. If for any reason the final number of chromosomes in the egg is less or more than 23 (aneuploid), it will be incapable of propagating a euploid, “competent” embryo. Thus egg/embryo aneuploidy (“incompetence”) is the leading cause of human reproductive dysfunction which can manifest as: arrested embryo development and/or failed implantation (which often presents as infertility), early miscarriage or chromosomal birth defects (e.g. Down’s syndrome). While most aneuploid (“incompetent”) embryos often fail to produce a pregnancy, some do. However, most such pregnancies miscarry early on. On relatively rare occasions, depending on the chromosome pair involved, aneuploid embryos can develop into chromosomally defective babies (e.g. Down’s syndrome).
Up until a woman reaches her mid- thirties, at best, 1:2 of her eggs will likely be chromosomally normal. As she ages beyond her mid-thirties there will be a a progressive decline in egg quality such that by age 40 years only about 15%-20% of eggs are euploid and, by the time the woman reaches her mid-forties, less than 10% of her eggs are likely to be chromosomally normal. While most aneuploid embryos do appear to be microscopically abnormal under the light microscope, this is not invariably so. In fact, many aneuploid embryos a have a perfectly normal appearance under the microscope. This is why it is not possible to reliably differentiate between competent and incompetent embryos on the basis of their microscopic appearance (morphologic grade) alone.
The process of natural selection usually precludes most aneuploid embryos from attaching to the uterine lining. Those that do attach usually do so for such only a brief period of time. In such cases the woman often will not even experience a postponement of menstruation. There will be a transient rise in blood hCG levels but in most cases the woman will be unaware of even having conceived (i.e. a “chemical pregnancy”). Alternatively, an aneuploid embryo might attach for a period of a few weeks before being expelled (i.e. a “miscarriage”). Sometimes (fortunately rarely) an aneuploid embryo will develop into a viable baby that is born with a chromosomal birth defect (e.g. Down’s syndrome).
The fact that the incidence of embryo aneuploidy invariably increases with advancing age serves to explain why reproductive failure (“infertility”, miscarriages and birth defects), also increases as women get older.
It is an over-simplification to represent that diminishing ovarian reserve as evidenced by raised FSH blood levels (and other tests) and reduced response to stimulation with fertility drugs is a direct cause of “poor egg/ embryo quality”. This common misconception stems from the fact that poor embryo quality (“incompetence”) often occurs in women who at the same time, because of the advent of the climacteric also have elevated basal blood FSH/LH levels and reduced AMH. But it is not the elevation in FSH or the low AMH that causes embryo “incompetence”. Rather it is the effect of advancing age (the “biological clock”) resulting a progressive increase in the incidence of egg aneuploidy, which is responsible for declining egg quality. Simply stated, as women get older “wear and tear” on their eggs increases the likelihood of egg and thus embryo aneuploidy. It just so happens that the two precipitating factors often go hand in hand.
The importance of the IVF stimulation protocol on egg/embryo quality cannot be overstated. This factor seems often to be overlooked or discounted by those 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 in patients at risk – particularly those with diminished ovarian reserve (“poor responders”) and those who are “high responders” (women with PCOS , those with dysfunctional or absent ovulation, and young women under 25 years of age).
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.
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 (the tissue surrounding ovarian follicles) during the pre-ovulatory phase of the cycle enhance late follicle development, estrogen production by the granulosa cells (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 protocols for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS should be geared toward optimizing follicle growth and development (without placing the woman at risk from overstimulation), while at the same time avoiding excessive ovarian androgen production. Achievement of such objectives requires a very individualized approach to choosing the protocol for COS with fertility drugs as well as the precise timing of the “trigger shot” of hCG.
It is important to recognize that the pituitary gonadotropins, LH and FSH, while both playing a pivotal role in follicle development, have different primary sites of action in the ovary. The action of FSH is mainly directed towards the cells lining the inside of the follicle that are responsible for estrogen production. LH, on the other hand, acts primarily on the ovarian stroma to produce male hormones/ androgens (e.g. androstenedione and testosterone). A small amount of testosterone is necessary for optimal estrogen production. Over-production of such androgens can have a deleterious effect on granulosa cell activity, follicle growth/development, egg maturation, fertilization potential and subsequent embryo quality. Furthermore, excessive ovarian androgens can also compromise estrogen-induced endometrial growth and development.
In conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is characterized by increased blood LH levels, there is also increased ovarian androgen production. It is therefore not surprising that “poor egg/embryo quality” is often a feature of this condition. The use of LH-containing preparations such as Menopur further aggravates this effect. Thus we recommend using FSH-dominant products such as Follistim, Puregon, and Gonal-F in such cases. While it would seem prudent to limit LH exposure in all cases of COS, this appears to be more vital in older women, who tend to be more sensitive to LH
It is common practice to administer gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa) agonists such as Lupron, and, GnRH-antagonists such as Ganirelix and Orgalutron to prevent the release of LH during COS. GnRH agonists exert their LH-lowering effect over a number of days. They act by causing an initial outpouring followed by a depletion of pituitary gonadotropins. This results in the LH level falling to low concentrations, within 4-7 days, thereby establishing a relatively “LH-free environment”. GnRH Antagonists, on the other hand, act very rapidly (within a few hours) to block pituitary LH release, so as achieve the same effect.
Long Agonist (Lupron/Buserelin) Protocols: The most commonly prescribed protocol for Lupron/gonadotropin administration is the so-called “long protocol”. Here, Lupron is given, starting a week or so prior to menstruation. This results in an initial rise in FSH and LH level, which is rapidly followed by a precipitous fall to near zero. It is followed by uterine withdrawal bleeding (menstruation), whereupon gonadotropin treatment is initiated while daily Lupron injections continue, to ensure a “low LH” environment. A modification to the long protocol which I prefer using in cases of DOR, is the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol (A/ACP) where, upon the onset of a Lupron-induced bleed , this agonist is supplanted by an antagonist (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) and this is continued until the hCG trigger. In many such cases I supplement with human growth hormone (HGH) to try and further enhance response and egg development.
Lupron Flare/Micro-Flare Protocol: Another approach to COS is by way of so-called “(micro) flare protocols”. This involves initiating gonadotropin therapy simultaneous with the administration of GnRH agonist (e.g. Lupron/Buserelin). The intent here 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 “spring board effect” represents “a double edged sword” because 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 androgen production which could potentially compromise egg quality, especially in older women and women with PCOS, whose ovaries have increased sensitivity to LH. 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 in older women, and in women with diminished ovarian reserve. Accordingly, I do not prescribe them at all.
Estrogen Priming – My approach for “Poor Responders” Our patients who have demonstrated reduced ovarian response to COS as well as those who by way of significantly raised FSH blood levels are likely to be “poor responders”, are treated using a “modified” long protocol. The approach involves the initial administration of GnRH agonist for a number of days to cause pituitary down-regulation. Upon menstruation and confirmation by ultrasound and measurement of blood estradiol levels that adequate ovarian suppression has been achieved, the dosage of GnRH agonist is drastically lowered and the woman is given twice-weekly injections of estradiol for a period of 8. COS is thereupon initiated using a relatively high dosage of FSH-(Follistim, Bravelle, Puregon or Gonal F) which is continued along with daily administration of GnRH agonist until the “hCG trigger.” By this approach we have been able to significantly improve ovarian response to gonadotropins in many of hitherto “resistant patients”.
The “Trigger”: hCG (Profasi/Pregnyl/Novarel) versus Lupron: With ovulation induction using fertility drugs, the administration of 10,000U hCGu (the hCG “trigger”) mimics the LH surge, sending the eggs (which up to that point are immature (M1) and have 46 chromosomes) into maturational division (meiosis) This process is designed to halve the chromosome number , resulting in mature eggs (M2) that will have 23 chromosomes rather that the 46 chromosomes it had prior to the “trigger”. Such a chromosomally normal, M2 egg, upon being fertilized by mature sperm (that following maturational division also has 23 chromosomes) will hopefully propagate embryos that have 46 chromosomes and will be “:competent” to propagate viable pregnancies. The key is to trigger with no less than 10,000U of hCGu (Profasi/Novarel/Pregnyl) and if hCGr (Ovidrel) is used, to make sure that 500mcg (rather than 250mcg) is administered. In my opinion, any lesser dosage will reduce the efficiency of meiosis, and increase the risk of the eggs being chromosomally abnormal. . I also do not use the agonist (Lupron) “trigger”. This approach which is often recommended for women at risk of overstimulation, is intended to reduce the risk of OHSS. The reason for using the Lupron trigger is that by inducing a surge in the release of LH by the pituitary gland it reduces the risk of OHSS. This is true, but this comes at the expense of egg quality because the extent of the induced LH surge varies and if too little LH is released, meiosis can be compromised, thereby increasing the percentage of chromosomally abnormal and of immature (M1) eggs. The use of “coasting” in such cases) can obviate this effect
.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
• 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.
My final IVF cycle at SIRM-LV commences on March 19th and concludes on April 2nd. If you are interested in undergoing a fresh IVF treatment cycle with me or if you have embryos cryopreserved at SIRM-LV and wish to undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) prior to my departure, please contact me immediately….. My March cycle is likely to be very much in demand…….So, time is of the essence!
Following my departure from SIRM in mid-April, 2019, I will continue to provide comprehensive consultations to those of you that wish to have my guidance. Upon scheduling a SKYPE consultation with me, you will promptly receive a detailed questionnaire, along with a request that you submit available medical records for my review prior to our consultation. Additional tests and records can/will be requisitioned later, as needed. Your +/- 1 hour comprehensive SKYPE consultation will be followed by a detailed written report which you can also share with your personal Fertility Physician.
I will soon be posting a list of internationally regarded Fertility Specialists whom I endorse and who will have expressed a willingness to implement my suggested approaches, at their discretion. It is to one of these doctors that I would selectively refer you…upon request.
CONTACT INFORMATION:
• Online: Go to sherivf.com and Schedule a Skype Consultation. Upon doing so, you will be able to download a free copy of my new eBook ” Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”
• Phone
o If you live in the USA or Canada: Please call 1-800-780-7437 or 702-533-2691
o If you reside elsewhere Abroad: Please call 702-533-2691
o Email: concierge@SherIVF.com
Please monitor this website for future announcements on further developments.
Geoff Sher

reply
Marcy

Hi Dr. Sher,

My husband and I did our first round of IVF last fall, which resulted in a pregnancy that ended in a blighted ovum at 8 weeks. I am 34, he is 35. We started IVF due to my low-end AMH, which was 1.05 at last check in late September 2018. All other hormones were normal, but my RE suspected I have some extent of DOR given the AMH and lack of pregnancy after about 15 months of timed intercourse, and several medicated cycles. That first IVF cycle resulted in 7 eggs retrieved. All fertilized, and all made it to day 5 with three of sufficient quality to implant/freeze (one 4AA, one 3AA and one 3AB). We implanted the 4AA, which was the blighted ovum, and froze the other two. That was my first pregnancy ever.

As we look ahead to the FET, I am looking for some advice on thyroid testing. I have Hashimoto’s, managed well with Synthroid. My TSH and other hormone levels were normal before the IVF cycle, and I started to double my Synthroid twice per week as soon as our first positive beta per endo orders. However, my thyroid antibodies were quite high (in the high 300s) at last check, which was a few months before the IVF cycle.

What type of thyroid antibody testing I should pursue before the FET, and what reference ranges I really should be looking for? I know that one miscarriage is often a fluke and is entirely common, but want to be aggressive given that we’d ideally like multiple children, as I know thyroid antibodies can be a big factor in pregnancy losses.

Thank you!

Marcy

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Between 2% and 5% of women of the childbearing age have reduced thyroid hormone activity (hypothyroidism). Women with hypothyroidism often manifest with reproductive failure i.e. infertility, unexplained (often repeated) IVF failure, or recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). The condition is 5-10 times more common in women than in men. In most cases hypothyroidism is caused by damage to the thyroid gland resulting from of thyroid autoimmunity (Hashimoto’s disease) caused by damage done to the thyroid gland by antithyroglobulin and antimicrosomal auto-antibodies.
The increased prevalence of hypothyroidism and thyroid autoimmunity (TAI) in women is likely the result of a combination of genetic factors, estrogen-related effects and chromosome X abnormalities. This having been said, there is significantly increased incidence of thyroid antibodies in non-pregnant women with a history of infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss and thyroid antibodies can be present asymptomatically in women without them manifesting with overt clinical or endocrinologic evidence of thyroid disease. In addition, these antibodies may persist in women who have suffered from hyper- or hypothyroidism even after normalization of their thyroid function by appropriate pharmacological treatment. The manifestations of reproductive dysfunction thus seem to be linked more to the presence of thyroid autoimmunity (TAI) than to clinical existence of hypothyroidism and treatment of the latter does not routinely result in a subsequent improvement in reproductive performance.
It follows, that if antithyroid autoantibodies are associated with reproductive dysfunction they may serve as useful markers for predicting poor outcome in patients undergoing assisted reproductive technologies.
Some years back, I reported on the fact that 47% of women who harbor thyroid autoantibodies, regardless of the absence or presence of clinical hypothyroidism, have activated uterine natural killer cells (NKa) cells and cytotoxic lymphocytes (CTL) and that such women often present with reproductive dysfunction. We demonstrated that appropriate immunotherapy with IVIG or intralipid (IL) and steroids, subsequently often results in a significant improvement in reproductive performance in such cases.
The fact that almost 50% of women who harbor antithyroid antibodies do not have activated CTL/NK cells suggests that it is NOT the antithyroid antibodies themselves that cause reproductive dysfunction. The activation of CTL and NK cells that occurs in half of the cases with TAI is probably an epiphenomenon with the associated reproductive dysfunction being due to CTL/NK cell activation that damages the early “root system” (trophoblast) of the implanting embryo. We have shown that treatment of those women who have thyroid antibodies + NKa/CTL using IL/steroids, improves subsequent reproductive performance while women with thyroid antibodies who do not harbor NKa/CTL do not require or benefit from such treatment.
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.

• 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.
• 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) Why did my IVF Fail
• Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL): Why do I keep losing my Pregnancies
• Genetically Testing Embryos for IVF
• Staggered IVF
• Staggered IVF with PGS- Selection of “Competent” Embryos Greatly Enhances the Utility & Efficiency of IVF.
• 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?
• 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!
• 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
My final IVF cycle at SIRM-LV commences on March 19th and concludes on April 2nd. If you are interested in undergoing a fresh IVF treatment cycle with me or if you have embryos cryopreserved at SIRM-LV and wish to undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) prior to my departure, please contact me immediately….. My March cycle is likely to be very much in demand…….So, time is of the essence!
Following my departure from SIRM in mid-April, 2019, I will continue to provide comprehensive consultations to those of you that wish to have my guidance. Upon scheduling a SKYPE consultation with me, you will promptly receive a detailed questionnaire, along with a request that you submit available medical records for my review prior to our consultation. Additional tests and records can/will be requisitioned later, as needed. Your +/- 1 hour comprehensive SKYPE consultation will be followed by a detailed written report which you can also share with your personal Fertility Physician.
I will soon be posting a list of internationally regarded Fertility Specialists whom I endorse and who will have expressed a willingness to implement my suggested approaches, at their discretion. It is to one of these doctors that I would selectively refer you…upon request.
CONTACT INFORMATION:
• Online: Go to sherivf.com and Schedule a Skype Consultation. Upon doing so, you will be able to download a free copy of my new eBook ” Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”
• Phone
o If you live in the USA or Canada: Please call 1-800-780-7437 or 702-533-2691
o If you reside elsewhere Abroad: Please call 702-533-2691
o Email: concierge@SherIVF.com
Please monitor this website for future announcements on further developments.
Geoff Sher

reply
R K Agarwal

Sir my wife is 37 years old and since last 1 year we are trying for another baby. She conceives easily but the pregnancy fails to develop after first 6 weeks. I am sending you a recent summary made by a fertility specialist who said that she can do it with egg from outside and should not try naturally. We want to know if trying naturally and doing ivf with outside people egg have the same odds or we will be better placed with ivf. She has had 2 miscarriages recently.

The first one had a fhr of 103 at 6 weeks but had a partially collapsed gestational sac and the growth didnt follow.

The second one there was no fhr and crl didnt increase after reaching 2mm.
her amh is 0.17 which they say is the reason why she is not able to keep the growth.

please advice and oblige sir help us.

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Respectfully,

Based on the information you have provided here, I do not believe that this provides an imperative to do egg donation. i say this because there is a strong possibility that the problem lies with implantation dysfunction rather than an egg issue. Thew latter needs to be investigated. Only thereupon can the best way to proceed be determined.

Whenever a patient fails to achieve a viable pregnancy following embryo transfer (ET), the first question asked is why! Was it simply due to, bad luck?, How likely is the failure to recur in future attempts and what can be done differently, to avoid it happening next time?.
It is an indisputable fact that any IVF procedure is at least as likely to fail as it is to succeed. Thus when it comes to outcome, luck is an undeniable factor. Notwithstanding, it is incumbent upon the treating physician to carefully consider and address the causes of IVF failure before proceeding to another attempt:
1. Age: The chance of a woman under 35Y of age having a baby per embryo transfer is about 35-40%. From there it declines progressively to under 5% by the time she reaches her mid-forties. This is largely due to declining chromosomal integrity of the eggs with advancing age…”a wear and tear effect” on eggs that are in the ovaries from birth.
2. Embryo Quality/”competency (capable of propagating a viable pregnancy)”. As stated, the woman’s age plays a big role in determining egg/embryo quality/”competency”. This having been said, aside from age the protocol used for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) is the next most important factor. It is especially important when it comes to older women, and women with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) where it becomes essential to be aggressive, and to customize and individualize the ovarian stimulation protocol.
We used to believe that the uterine environment is more beneficial to embryo development than is the incubator/petri dish and that accordingly, the earlier on in development that embryos are transferred to the uterus, the better. To achieve this goal, we used to select embryos for transfer based upon their day two or microscopic appearance (“grade”). But we have since learned that the further an embryo has advanced in its development, the more likely it is to be “competent” and that embryos failing to reach the expanded blastocyst stage within 5-6 days of being fertilized are almost invariably “incompetent” and are unworthy of being transferred. Moreover, the introduction into clinical practice about a decade ago, (by Levent Keskintepe PhD and myself) of Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS), which assesses for the presence of all the embryos chromosomes (complete chromosomal karyotyping), provides another tool by which to select the most “competent” embryos for transfer. This methodology has selective benefit when it comes to older women, women with DOR, cases of unexplained repeated IVF failure and women who experience recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL).
3. The number of the embryos transferred: Most patients believe that the more embryos transferred the greater the chance of success. To some extent this might be true, but if the problem lies with the use of a suboptimal COS protocol, transferring more embryos at a time won’t improve the chance of success. Nor will the transfer of a greater number of embryos solve an underlying embryo implantation dysfunction (anatomical molecular or immunologic).Moreover, the transfer of multiple embryos, should they implant, can and all too often does result in triplets or greater (high order multiples) which increases the incidence of maternal pregnancy-induced complications and of premature delivery with its serious risks to the newborn. It is for this reason that I rarely recommend the transfer of more than 2 embryos at a time and am moving in the direction of advising single embryo transfers …especially when it comes to transferring embryos derived through the fertilization of eggs from young women.
4. Implantation Dysfunction (ID): Implantation dysfunction is a very common (often overlooked) cause of “unexplained” IVF failure. This is especially the case in young ovulating women who have normal ovarian reserve and have fertile partners. Failure to identify, typify, and address such issues is, in my opinion, an unfortunate and relatively common cause of repeated IVF failure in such women. Common sense dictates that if ultrasound guided embryo transfer is performed competently and yet repeated IVF attempts fail to propagate a viable pregnancy, implantation dysfunction must be seriously considered. Yet ID is probably the most overlooked factor. The most common causes of implantation dysfunction are:
a. A“ thin uterine lining”
b. A uterus with surface lesions in the cavity (polyps, fibroids, scar tissue)
c. Immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID)
d. Endocrine/molecular endometrial receptivity issues
e. Ureaplasma Urealyticum (UU) Infection of cervical mucous and the endometrial lining of the uterus, can sometimes present as unexplained early pregnancy loss or unexplained failure following intrauterine insemination or IVF. The infection can also occur in the man, (prostatitis) and thus can go back and forth between partners, with sexual intercourse. This is the reason why both partners must be tested and if positive, should be treated contemporaneously.
Certain causes of infertility are repetitive and thus cannot readily be reversed. Examples include advanced age of the woman; severe male infertility; immunologic infertility associated with alloimmune implantation dysfunction (especially if it is a “complete DQ alpha genetic match between partners plus uterine natural killer cell activation (NKa).
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.

• 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.
• Ovarian Stimulation in Women Who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): Introducing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion protocol
• Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
• 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?
• Blastocyst Embryo Transfers should be the Standard of Care in IVF
• IVF: How Many Attempts should be considered before Stopping?
• “Unexplained” Infertility: Often a matter of the Diagnosis Being Overlooked!
• IVF Failure and Implantation Dysfunction:
• 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!
• Endometrial Thickness, Uterine Pathology and Immunologic Factors
• Vaginally Administered Viagra is Often a Highly Effective Treatment to Help Thicken a Thin Uterine Lining
• Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas:
• A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF
• How Many Embryos should be transferred: A Critical Decision in IVF?
• The Role of Nutritional Supplements in Preparing for IVF

My final IVF cycle at SIRM-LV commences on March 19th and concludes on April 2nd. If you are interested in undergoing a fresh IVF treatment cycle with me or if you have embryos cryopreserved at SIRM-LV and wish to undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) prior to my departure, please contact me immediately….. My March cycle is likely to be very much in demand…….So, time is of the essence!
Following my departure from SIRM in mid-April, 2019, I will continue to provide comprehensive consultations to those of you that wish to have my guidance. Upon scheduling a SKYPE consultation with me, you will promptly receive a detailed questionnaire, along with a request that you submit available medical records for my review prior to our consultation. Additional tests and records can/will be requisitioned later, as needed. Your +/- 1 hour comprehensive SKYPE consultation will be followed by a detailed written report which you can also share with your personal Fertility Physician.
I will soon be posting a list of internationally regarded Fertility Specialists whom I endorse and who will have expressed a willingness to implement my suggested approaches, at their discretion. It is to one of these doctors that I would selectively refer you…upon request.
CONTACT INFORMATION:
• Online: Go to sherivf.com and Schedule a Skype Consultation. Upon doing so, you will be able to download a free copy of my new eBook ” Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”
• Phone
o If you live in the USA or Canada: Please call 1-800-780-7437 or 702-533-2691
o If you reside elsewhere Abroad: Please call 702-533-2691
o Email: concierge@SherIVF.com
Please monitor this website for future announcements on further developments.
Geoff Sher

reply
Corinne

Dear Dr. Sher,

Thank you so much for providing this forum and for your excellent advice. I have written here before and received a great answer, so I’m back.

I had a 8w5d miscarriage on my first IVF cycle in late 2017 of a chromosomally normal boy. I was 39 at the time, two embryos transferred. I had two frozen from that cycle. With your guidance, due to my age, I cycled again, rather than transferring my frozen two. On that cycle, I transferred two embryos, froze one, and carried my daughter to term.

Our reason for IVF was poor results for my husband’s vasectomy reversal (vasectomy from previous marriage — no children for either of us prior to our daughter). I have been breastfeeding our daughter, who just turned one. My husband’s sperm has apparently finally recovered.

I conceived naturally and had a miscarriage at 5 weeks in September. I then conceived again and had another miscarriage at 4w5d in October. My OB thinks the issue is thin lining due to breastfeeding, and advised I stop conceiving until I’ve weaned and then do my FETs. I’m 41, so I never expected to have all these pregnancies. I conceived again in December. My RE ran betas that showed strong doubling. 23, 72, 311 (2.5 days for the 311). My RE had me start vaginal progesterone suppositories. With that first beta, my progesterone was 21.7. I started spotting at 5w4d, so of course I’m assuming the worst.

My question is this. I’ve been reading online about hyperfertility aka superfertility. Does this sound like the issue? Is my uterus just implanting everything indiscriminately? If so, what is the treatment? What should I discuss with my RE tomorrow?

I should note I had a D&C after my first IVF cycle miscarried, a C section for my baby, and then another D&C for retained placenta.

Thank you so much for your help!
Corinne

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I really do not buy into the concept of “hyperfertility”. It is likely that a thin uterine lining lies is the root cause of all your losses but in my opinion it is not likely that this has to do with breast feeding. It is quite possible that following your Cesarean or one of your miscarriages you developed endometritis and that this resulted in damage to your lining. Alas, if so, it might not revert to normal. It is possible that vaginal Viagra therapy in combination with estrogen might help.

It was as far back as 1989, when I first published a study that examined the correlation between the thickness of a woman’s uterine lining (the endometrium), and the subsequent successful implantation of embryos in IVF patients. This study revealed that when the uterine lining measured <8mm in thickness by the day of the “hCG trigger” (in fresh IVF cycles), or at the time of initiating progesterone therapy (in embryo recipient cycles, e.g. frozen embryo transfers-FET, egg donation-IVF etc.) , pregnancy and birth rates were substantially improved. Currently, it is my opinion, that an ideal estrogen-promoted endometrial lining should ideally measure at least 9mm in thickness and that an endometrial lining measuring 8-9mm is “intermediate”. An estrogenic lining of <8mm is in most cases unlikely to yield a viable pregnancy.

A “poor” uterine lining is usually the result of the innermost layer of endometrium (the basal or germinal endometrium from which endometrium grows) ) not being able to respond to estrogen by propagating an outer, “functional” layer thick enough to support optimal embryo implantation and development of a healthy placenta (placentation). The “functional” layer ultimately comprises 2/3 of the full endometrial thickness and is the layer that sheds with menstruation in the event that no pregnancy occurs.

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

1. Damage to the basal endometrium as a result of:
a. Inflammation of the endometrium (endometritis) most commonly resulting from infected products left over following abortion, miscarriage or birth
b. Surgical trauma due to traumatic uterine scraping, (i.e. due to an over-aggressive D & C)
2. Insensitivity of the basal endometrium to estrogen due to:
a. Prolonged , over-use/misuse of clomiphene citrate
b. Prenatal exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES). This is a drug that was given to pregnant women in the 1960’s to help prevent miscarriage
3. Over-exposure of the uterine lining to ovarian male hormones (mainly testosterone): Older women, women with diminished ovarian reserve (poor responders) and women with polycystic ovarian syndrome -PCOS tend to have raised LH biological activity.. This causes the connective tissue in the ovary (stroma/theca) to overproduce testosterone. The effect can be further exaggerated when certain methods for ovarian stimulation such as agonist (Lupron/Buserelin) “flare” protocols and high dosages of menotropins such as Menopur are used in such cases.
4. Reduced blood flow to the basal endometrium:
Examples include;
a. Multiple uterine fibroids - especially when these are present under the endometrium (submucosal)
b. Uterine adenomyosis (excessive, abnormal invasion of the uterine muscle by endometrial glands).

“The Viagra Connection”

Eighteen years ago years ago, after reporting on the benefit of vaginal Sildenafil (Viagra) for to women who had implantation dysfunction due to thin endometrial linings I was proud to announce the birth of the world’s first “Viagra baby.” Since the introduction of this form of treatment, thousands of women with thin uterine linings have been reported treated and many have gone on to have babies after repeated prior IVF failure.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the use of Viagra in IVF, allow me to provide some context. It was in the 90’s that Sildenafil (brand named Viagra) started gaining popularity as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. The mechanism by which it acted was through increasing penile blood flow through increasing nitric oxide activity. This prompted me to investigate whether Viagra administered vaginally, might similarly improve uterine blood flow and in the process cause more estrogen to be delivered to the basal endometrium and thereby increase endometrial thickening. We found that when Viagra was administered vaginally it did just that! However oral administration was without any significant benefit in this regard. We enlisted the services of a compound pharmacy to produce vaginal Viagra suppositories. Initially, four (4) women with chronic histories of poor endometrial development and failure to conceive following several advanced fertility treatments were evaluated for a period of 4-6 weeks and then underwent IVF with concomitant Viagra therapy. Viagra suppositories were administered four times daily for 8-11 days and were discontinued 5-7 days prior to embryo transfer in all cases.

Our findings clearly demonstrated that vaginal Viagra produced a rapid and profound improvement in uterine blood flow and that was followed by enhanced endometrial development in all four cases. Three (3) of the four women subsequently conceived. I expanded the trial in 2002 and became the first to report on the administration of vaginal Viagra to 105 women with repeated IVF failure due to persistently thin endometrial linings. All of the women had experienced at least two (2) prior IVF failures attributed to intractably thin uterine linings. About 70% of these women responded to treatment with Viagra suppositories with a marked improvement in endometrial thickness. Forty five percent (45%) achieved live births following a single cycle of IVF treatment with Viagra The miscarriage rate was 9%. None of the women who had failed to show an improvement in endometrial thickness following Viagra treatment achieved viable pregnancies.

Following vaginal administration, Viagra is rapidly absorbed and quickly reaches the uterine blood system in high concentrations. Thereupon it dilutes out as it is absorbed into the systemic circulation. This probably explains why treatment is virtually devoid of systemic side effects

It is important to recognize that Viagra will NOT be effective in improving endometrial thickness in all cases. In fact, about 30%-40% of women treated fail to show any improvement. This is because in certain cases of thin uterine linings, the basal endometrium will have been permanently damaged and left unresponsive to estrogen. This happens in cases of severe endometrial damage due mainly to post-pregnancy endometritis (inflammation), chronic granulomatous inflammation due to uterine tuberculosis (hardly ever seen in the United States) and following extensive surgical injury to the basal endometrium (as sometimes occurs following over-zealous D&C’s).

Combining vaginal Viagra Therapy with oral Terbutaline;
In my practice I sometimes recommend combining Viagra administration with 5mg of oral terbutaline. The Viagra relaxes the muscle walls of uterine spiral arteries that feed the basal (germinal) layer of the endometrium while Terbutaline, relaxes the uterine muscle through which these spiral arteries pass. The combination of these two medications interacts synergistically to maximally enhance blood flow through the uterus, thereby improving estrogen delivery to the endometrial lining. The only drawback in using Terbutaline is that some women experience agitation, tremors and palpitations. In such cases the terbutaline should be discontinued. Terbutaline should also not be used women who have cardiac disease or in those who have an irregular heartbeat.
About 75% of women with thin uterine linings see a positive response to treatment within 2-3 days. The ones that do not respond well to this treatment are those who have severely damaged inner (basal/germinal) endometrial linings, such that no improvement in uterine blood flow can coax an improved response. Such cases are most commonly the result of prior pregnancy-related endometrial inflammation (endometritis) that sometimes occurs post abortally or following infected vaginal and/or cesarean delivery.
Viagra therapy has proven to be a god send to thousands of woman who because of a thin uterine lining would otherwise never have been able to successfully complete the journey “from infertility to family”.

To be effective, Viagra must be administered vaginally. It is NOT effective when taken orally. We prescribe 20mg vaginal suppositories to be inserted four times per day. Treatment is commenced soon after menstruation ceases and is continued until the day of the “hCG trigger.” While ideally the treatment should be sustained throughout the first half of the cycle, most women will respond within 48-72 hours. For this reason, Viagra can be used to “rescue” a poor lining after the cycle has already started, provided that there is enough time remaining prior to ovulation, egg retrieval or progesterone administration.

Also, please consider the following:

When it comes to reproduction, humans are the poorest performers of all mammals. In fact we are so inefficient that up to 75% of fertilized eggs do not produce live births, and up to 30% of pregnancies end up being lost within 10 weeks of conception (in the first trimester). RPL is defined as two (2) or more failed pregnancies. Less than 5% of women will experience two (2) consecutive miscarriages, and only 1% experience three or more.
Pregnancy loss can be classified by the stage of pregnancy when the loss occurs:
• Early pregnancy loss (first trimester)
• Late pregnancy loss (after the first trimester)
• Occult “hidden” and not clinically recognized, (chemical) pregnancy loss (occurs prior to ultrasound confirmation of pregnancy)
• Early pregnancy losses usually occur sporadically (are not repetitive).
In more than 70% of cases the loss is due to embryo aneuploidy (where there are more or less than the normal quota of 46 chromosomes). Conversely, repeated losses (RPL), with isolated exceptions where the cause is structural (e.g., unbalanced translocations), are seldom attributable to numerical chromosomal abnormalities (aneuploidy). In fact, the vast majority of cases of RPL are attributable to non-chromosomal causes such as anatomical uterine abnormalities or Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID).
Since most sporadic early pregnancy losses are induced by chromosomal factors and thus are non-repetitive, having had a single miscarriage the likelihood of a second one occurring is no greater than average. However, once having had two losses the chance of a third one occurring is double (35-40%) and after having had three losses the chance of a fourth miscarriage increases to about 60%. The reason for this is that the more miscarriages a woman has, the greater is the likelihood of this being due to a non-chromosomal (repetitive) cause such as IID. It follows that if numerical chromosomal analysis (karyotyping) of embryonic/fetal products derived from a miscarriage tests karyotypically normal, then by a process of elimination, there would be a strong likelihood of a miscarriage repeating in subsequent pregnancies and one would not have to wait for the disaster to recur before taking action. This is precisely why we strongly advocate that all miscarriage specimens be karyotyped.
There is however one caveat to be taken into consideration. That is that the laboratory performing the karyotyping might unwittingly be testing the mother’s cells rather than that of the conceptus. That is why it is not possible to confidently exclude aneuploidy in cases where karyotyping of products suggests a “chromosomally normal” (euploid) female.
Late pregnancy losses (occurring after completion of the 1st trimester/12th week) occur far less frequently (1%) than early pregnancy losses. They are most commonly due to anatomical abnormalities of the uterus and/or cervix. Weakness of the neck of the cervix rendering it able to act as an effective valve that retains the pregnancy (i.e., cervical incompetence) is in fact one of the commonest causes of late pregnancy loss. So also are developmental (congenital) abnormalities of the uterus (e.g., a uterine septum) and uterine fibroid tumors. In some cases intrauterine growth retardation, premature separation of the placenta (placental abruption), premature rupture of the membranes and premature labor can also causes of late pregnancy loss.
Much progress has been made in understanding the mechanisms involved in RPL. There are two broad categories:
1. Problems involving the uterine environment in which a normal embryo is prohibited from properly implanting and developing. Possible causes include:
• Inadequate thickening of the uterine lining
• Irregularity in the contour of the uterine cavity (polyps, fibroid tumors in the uterine wall, intra-uterine scarring and adenomyosis)
• Hormonal imbalances (progesterone deficiency or luteal phase defects). This most commonly results in occult RPL.
• Deficient blood flow to the uterine lining (thin uterine lining).
• Immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID). A major cause of RPL. Plays a role in 75% of cases where chromosomally normal preimplantation embryos fail to implant.
• Interference of blood supply to the developing conceptus can occur due to a hereditary clotting disorder known as Thrombophilia.
2. Genetic and/or structural chromosomal abnormality of the embryo.Genetic abnormalities are rare causes of RPL. Structural chromosomal abnormalities are slightly more common but are also occur infrequently (1%). These are referred to as unbalanced translocation and they result from part of one chromosome detaching and then fusing with another chromosome. Additionally, a number of studies suggest the existence of paternal (sperm derived) effect on human embryo quality and pregnancy outcome that are not reflected as a chromosomal abnormality. Damaged sperm DNA can have a negative impact on fetal development and present clinically as occult or early clinical miscarriage. The Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA) which measures the same endpoints are newer and possibly improved methods for evaluating.

IMMUNOLOGIC IMPLANTATION DYSFUNCTION
Autoimmune IID: Here an immunologic reaction is produced by the individual to his/her body’s own cellular components. The most common antibodies that form in such situations are APA and antithyroid antibodies (ATA).
But it is only when specialized immune cells in the uterine lining, known as cytotoxic lymphocytes (CTL) and natural killer (NK) cells, become activated and start to release an excessive/disproportionate amount of TH-1 cytokines that attack the root system of the embryo, that implantation potential is jeopardized. Diagnosis of such activation requires highly specialized blood test for cytokine activity that can only be performed by a handful of reproductive immunology reference laboratories in the United States.
Alloimmune IID, i.e., where antibodies are formed against antigens derived from another member of the same species, is believed to be a relatively common immunologic cause of recurrent pregnancy loss.
Autoimmune IID is often genetically transmitted. Thus it should not be surprising to learn that it is more likely to exist in women who have a family (or personal) history of primary autoimmune diseases such as lupus erythematosus (LE), scleroderma or autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s disease), autoimmune hyperthyroidism (Grave’s disease), rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Reactionary (secondary) autoimmunity can occur in conjunction with any medical condition associated with widespread tissue damage. One such gynecologic condition is endometriosis. Since autoimmune IID is usually associated with activated NK and T-cells from the outset, it usually results in such very early destruction of the embryo’s root system that the patient does not even recognize that she is pregnant. Accordingly the condition usually presents as “unexplained infertility” or “unexplained IVF failure” rather than as a miscarriage.

Alloimmune IID, on the other hand, usually starts off presenting as unexplained miscarriages (often manifesting as RPL). Over time as NK/T cell activation builds and eventually becomes permanently established the patient often goes from RPL to “infertility” due to failed implantation. RPL is more commonly the consequence of alloimmune rather than autoimmune implantation dysfunction.
However, regardless, of whether miscarriage is due to autoimmune or alloimmune implantation dysfunction the final blow to the pregnancy is the result of activated NK cells and CTL in the uterine lining that damage the developing embryo’s “root system” (trophoblast) so that it can no longer sustain the growing conceptus. This having been said, it is important to note that autoimmune IID is readily amenable to reversal through timely, appropriately administered, selective immunotherapy, and alloimmune IID is not. It is much more difficult to treat successfully, even with the use of immunotherapy. In fact, in some cases the only solution will be to revert to selective immunotherapy plus using donor sperm (provided there is no “match” between the donor’s DQa profile and that of the female recipient) or alternatively to resort to gestational surrogacy.
DIAGNOSING THE CAUSE OF RPL
In the past, women who miscarried were not evaluated thoroughly until they had lost several pregnancies in a row. This was because sporadic miscarriages are most commonly the result of embryo numerical chromosomal irregularities (aneuploidy) and thus not treatable. However, a consecutive series of miscarriages points to a repetitive cause that is non-chromosomal and is potentially remediable. Since RPL is most commonly due to a uterine pathology or immunologic causes that are potentially treatable, it follows that early chromosomal evaluation of products of conception could point to a potentially treatable situation. Thus I strongly recommend that such testing be done in most cases of miscarriage. Doing so will avoid a great deal of unnecessary heartache for many patients.
Establishing the correct diagnosis is the first step toward determining effective treatment for couples with RPL. It results from a problem within the pregnancy itself or within the uterine environment where the pregnancy implants and grows. Diagnostic tests useful in identifying individuals at greater risk for a problem within the pregnancy itself include:

• Karyotyping (chromosome analysis) both prospective parents
• Assessment of the karyotype of products of conception derived from previous miscarriage specimens
• Ultrasound examination of the uterine cavity after sterile water is injected or sonohysterogram, fluid ultrasound, etc.)
• Hysterosalpingogram (dye X-ray test)
• Hysteroscopic evaluation of the uterine cavity
• Full hormonal evaluation (estrogen, progesterone, adrenal steroid hormones, thyroid hormones, FSH/LH, etc.)
• Immunologic testing to include:
a) Antiphospholipid antibody (APA) panel
b) Antinuclear antibody (ANA) panel
c) Antithyroid antibody panel (i.e., antithyroglobulin and antimicrosomal antibodies)
d) Reproductive immunophenotype
e) Natural killer cell activity (NKa) assay (i.e., K562 target cell test)
f) Alloimmune testing of both the male and female partners
TREATMENT OF RPL
Treatment for Anatomic Abnormalities of the Uterus: This involves restoration through removal of local lesions such as fibroids, scar tissue, and endometrial polyps or timely insertion of a cervical cerclage (a stitch placed around the neck of the weakened cervix) or the excision of a uterine septum when indicated.
Treatment of Thin Uterine Lining: A thin uterine lining has been shown to correlate with compromised pregnancy outcome. Often this will be associated with reduced blood flow to the endometrium. Such decreased blood flow to the uterus can be improved through treatment with sildenafil and possibly aspirin.
Sildenafil (Viagra) Therapy. Viagra has been used successfully to increase uterine blood flow. However, to be effective it must be administered starting as soon as the period stops up until the day of ovulation and it must be administered vaginally (not orally). Viagra in the form of vaginal suppositories given in the dosage of 25 mg four times a day has been shown to increase uterine blood flow as well as thickness of the uterine lining. To date, we have seen significant improvement of the thickness of the uterine lining in about 70% of women treated. Successful pregnancy resulted in 42% of women who responded to the Viagra. It should be remembered that most of these women had previously experienced repeated IVF failures.

Use of Aspirin: This is an anti-prostaglandin that improves blood flow to the endometrium. It is administered at a dosage of 81 mg orally, daily from the beginning of the cycle until ovulation.
Treating Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction with Selective Immunotherapy: Modalities such as IL/IVIg, heparinoids (Lovenox/Clexane), and corticosteroids (dexamethasone, prednisone, prednisolone) can be used in select cases depending on autoimmune or alloimmune dysfunction.
The Use of IVF in the Treatment of RPL
In the following circumstances, IVF is the preferred option:
1. When in addition to a history of RPL, another standard indication for IVF (e.g., tubal factor, endometriosis, and male factor infertility) is superimposed.
2. In cases where selective immunotherapy is needed to treat an immunologic implantation dysfunction.
The reason for IVF being a preferred approach in such cases is that in order to be effective, the immunotherapy needs to be initiated well before spontaneous or induced ovulation. Given the fact that the anticipated birthrate per cycle of COS with or without IUI is at best about 15%, it follows that short of IVF, to have even a reasonable chance of a live birth, most women with immunologic causes of RPL would need to undergo immunotherapy repeatedly, over consecutive cycles. Conversely, with IVF, the chance of a successful outcome in a single cycle of treatment is several times greater and, because of the attenuated and concentrated time period required for treatment, IVF is far safer and thus represents a more practicable alternative
Since embryo aneuploidy is a common cause of miscarriage, the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), with tests such as CGH, can provide a valuable diagnostic and therapeutic advantage in cases of RPL. PGD requires IVF to provide access to embryos for testing.
There are a few cases of intractable alloimmune dysfunction due to absolute DQ alpha matching where Gestational Surrogacy or use of donor sperm could represent the only viable recourse, other than abandoning treatment altogether and/or resorting to adoption. Other non-immunologic factors such as an intractably thin uterine lining or severe uterine pathology might also warrant that last resort consideration be given to gestational surrogacy.
The good news is that if a couple with RPL is open to all of the diagnostic and treatment options referred to above, a live birthrate of 70%–80% is ultimately achievable.

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
• Ovarian Stimulation for IVF using GnRH Antagonists: Comparing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol.(A/ACP) With the “Conventional” Antagonist Approach
• Ovarian Stimulation in Women Who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): Introducing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion protocol
• Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
• 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?
• Blastocyst Embryo Transfers Should be the Standard of Care in IVF
• IVF: How Many Attempts should be considered before Stopping?
• “Unexplained” Infertility: Often a matter of the Diagnosis Being Overlooked!
• IVF Failure and Implantation Dysfunction:
• 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!
• Endometrial Thickness, Uterine Pathology and Immunologic Factors
• Vaginally Administered Viagra is Often a Highly Effective Treatment to Help Thicken a Thin Uterine Lining
• Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas:
• A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF
• How Many Embryos should be transferred: A Critical Decision in IVF.
• The Role of Nutritional Supplements in Preparing for IVF
My final IVF cycle at SIRM-LV commences on March 19th and concludes on April 2nd. If you are interested in undergoing a fresh IVF treatment cycle with me or if you have embryos cryopreserved at SIRM-LV and wish to undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) prior to my departure, please contact me immediately….. My March cycle is likely to be very much in demand…….So, time is of the essence!
Following my departure from SIRM in mid-April, 2019, I will continue to provide comprehensive consultations to those of you that wish to have my guidance. Upon scheduling a SKYPE consultation with me, you will promptly receive a detailed questionnaire, along with a request that you submit available medical records for my review prior to our consultation. Additional tests and records can/will be requisitioned later, as needed. Your +/- 1 hour comprehensive SKYPE consultation will be followed by a detailed written report which you can also share with your personal Fertility Physician.
I will soon be posting a list of internationally regarded Fertility Specialists whom I endorse and who will have expressed a willingness to implement my suggested approaches, at their discretion. It is to one of these doctors that I would selectively refer you…upon request.
CONTACT INFORMATION:
• Online: Go to sherivf.com and Schedule a Skype Consultation. Upon doing so, you will be able to download a free copy of my new eBook ” Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”
• Phone
o If you live in the USA or Canada: Please call 1-800-780-7437 or 702-533-2691
o If you reside elsewhere Abroad: Please call 702-533-2691
o Email: concierge@SherIVF.com
Please monitor this website for future announcements on further developments.
Geoff Sher

reply
Elein

Hello dr.Sher,I have undergone several ivf cycles with no success.I am 45.My doctor advised me to try long protocol-with a blocking injection on day 21.I want to try natural cycle without drugs.My husband quality of sperm is not good.I always retrieve 3-4 egs.My question is which protocol according to you will produce better quality eggs?And which protocol is better for my age?

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

The chance of you achieving a viable pregnancy with own eggs at 45y is remote. In my opinion, you need egg donation.

Egg donation is the process by which a woman donates eggs for purposes of assisted reproduction or biomedical research. For assisted reproduction purposes, egg donation typically involves in vitro fertilization (IVF) technology, with the eggs being fertilized in the laboratory, unfertilized eggs may be frozen and stored for later use. Egg donation is a third party reproduction as part of assisted reproductive technology (ART).
For many women, disease and/or diminished ovarian reserve precludes achieving a pregnancy with their own eggs. Since the vast majority of such women are otherwise quite healthy and physically capable of bearing a child, egg donation (ED) provides them with a realistic opportunity of going from infertility to parenthood.
Egg donation is associated with definite benefits. Firstly, in many instances, more eggs are retrieved from a young donor than would ordinarily be needed to complete a single IVF cycle. As a result, there are often supernumerary (leftover) embryos for cryopreservation and storage. Secondly, since eggs derived from a young woman are less likely than their older counterparts to produce aneuploid (chromosomally abnormal) embryos, the risk of miscarriage and birth defects such as Down’s syndrome is considerably reduced.
Egg Donation-related, fresh and frozen embryo transfer cycles account for 10%-15% of IVF performed in the United States. The vast majority of egg donation procedures performed in the U.S involve women with declining ovarian reserve. While some of these are done for premature ovarian failure, the majority are undertaken in women over 40 years of age. Recurrent IVF failure due to “poor quality” eggs or embryos is also a relatively common indication for ED in the U.S. A growing indication for ED is in cases of same-sex relationships (predominantly female) where both partners wish to share in the parenting experience by one serving as egg provider and the other, as the recipient.
Ninety percent of egg donation in the U.S is done through the solicitation of anonymous donors who are recruited through a state-licensed egg donor agency. It is less common for recipients to solicit known donors through the services of a donor agency, although this does happen on occasion. It is also not easy to find donors who are willing to enter into such an open arrangement. Accordingly, in the vast majority of cases where the services of a known donor is solicited, it is by virtue of a private arrangement. While the services of non-family members are sometimes sought, it is much more common for recipients to approach close family members to serve as their egg donor.
Some recipients feel the compulsion to know or at least to have met their egg donor, so as to gain first hand familiarity with her physical characteristics, intellect, and character. This having been said, in the U.S. it is much more common to seek the services of anonymous donors. In terms of disclosure to their family, friends and child(ren), recipients using anonymous donors tend to be far more open than those of known donors about the nature of the child’s conception. Most, if not all, egg donor agencies provide a detailed profile, photos, medical and family history of each prospective donor for the benefit and information of the recipient. Agencies generally have a website through which recipients can access donor profiles in the privacy of their own homes in order to select the ideal donor.
Interaction between the recipient and the egg donor program may be conducted in-person, by telephone or online in the initial stages. Once the choice of a donor has been narrowed down to two or three, the recipient is asked to forward all relevant medical records to their chosen IVF physician. Upon receipt of her records, a detailed medical consultation will subsequently held and a physical examination by the treating physician or by a designated alternative qualified counterpart is scheduled. This entire process is usually overseen, facilitated and orchestrated by one of the donor program’s nurse coordinators who, in concert with the treating physician, will address all clinical, financial and logistical issues, as well as answering any questions. At the same time, the final process of donor selection and donor-recipient matching is completed.
Egg donor agencies usually limit the age of egg donors to women under 35 years with normal ovarian reserve in an attempt to minimize the risk of ovarian resistance and negate adverse influence of the “biological clock” (donor age) on egg quality.
No single factor instills more confidence regarding the reproductive potential of a prospective egg donor than a history of her having previously achieved a pregnancy on her own, or that one or more recipients of her eggs having achieved a live birth. Moreover, such a track record makes it far more likely that such an ED will have “good quality eggs”. Furthermore, the fact that an ED readily conceived on her own lessens the likelihood that she herself has tubal or organic infertility. This having been said, the current shortage in the supply of egg donors makes it both impractical and unfeasible, to confine donor recruitment to those women who could fulfill such stringent criteria for qualification.
It is not unheard of for a donor who, at some point after donating eggs, finds herself unable to conceive on her own due to pelvic adhesions or tubal disease, to blame her infertility on complications caused by the prior surgical egg retrieval process. She may even embark upon legal proceedings against the IVF physician and program. It should therefore come as no surprise that it provides a measurable degree of comfort to ED program when a prospective donor is able to provide evidence of having experienced a relatively recent, trouble free spontaneous pregnancy.
Screening of Donors
Genetic Screening: The vast majority of IVF programs in the U.S. follow the recommendations and guidelines of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) for selectively genetic screening of prospective egg donors for conditions such as sickle cell trait or disease, thalassemia, cystic fibrosis and Tay Sachs disease, when medically indicated. Consultation with a geneticist is available through about 90% of programs.
Most recipient couples place a great deal of importance on emotional, physical, ethnic, cultural and religious compatibility with their chosen egg donor. In fact they often will insist that the egg donor be heterosexual.
Psychological Screening: Americans tend to place great emphasis on psychological screening of egg donors. Since most donors are “anonymous,” it is incumbent upon the ED agency or the IVF program to determine the donor’s degree of commitment as well as her motivation for deciding to provide this service. I have on occasions encountered donors who have buckled under the stress and defaulted mid-stream during their cycle of stimulation with gonadotropins. In one case, a donor knowingly stopped administering gonadotropins without informing anyone. She simply awaited cancellation, which was effected when follicles stopped growing and her plasma E2 concentration failed to rise.
Such concerns mandate that assessment of donor motivation and commitment be given appropriate priority. Most recipients in the U.S. tend to be very much influenced by the “character” of the prospective egg donor, believing that a flawed character is likely to be carried over genetically to the offspring. In reality, unlike certain psychoses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorders, character flaws are usually neuroses and are most likely to be determined by environmental factors associated with upbringing. They are unlikely to be genetically transmitted. Nevertheless, egg donors should be subjected to counseling and screening and should be selectively tested by a qualified psychologists. When in doubt, they should be referred to a psychiatrist for more definitive testing. Selective use of tests such as the MMPI, Meyers-Briggs and NEO-Personality Indicator are used to assess for personality disorders. Significant abnormalities, once detected, should lead to the automatic disqualification of such prospective donors.
When it comes to choosing a known egg donor, it is equally important to make sure that she was not coerced into participating. We try to caution recipients who are considering having a close friend or family member serve as their designated egg donor, that in doing so, the potential always exists that the donor might become a permanent and an unwanted participant in the lives of their new family.
Drug Screening: Because of the prevalence of substance abuse in our society, we selectively call for urine and/or serum drug testing of our egg donors.
Screening for STDs: FDA and ASRM guidelines recommend that all egg donors be tested for sexually transmittable diseases before entering into a cycle of IVF. While it is highly improbable that DNA and RNA viruses could be transmitted to an egg or an embryo through sexual intercourse or IVF, women infected with viruses such as hepatitis B, C, HTLV, HIV etc, must be disqualified from participating in IVF with egg donation due to the (abeit remote) possibility of transmission, as well as the potential legal consequences of the egg donation process being blamed for their occurrence.
In addition, evidence of prior or existing infection with Chlamydia or Gonococcus introduces the possibility that the egg donor might have pelvic adhesions or even irreparably damaged fallopian tubes that might have rendered her infertile. As previously stated, such infertility, subsequently detected might be blamed on infection that occurred during the process of egg retrieval, exposing the caregivers to litigation. Even if an egg donor or a recipient who carries a sexually transmittable viral or bacterial agent is willing to waive all rights of legal recourse, a potential risk still exists that a subsequently affected offspring might in later in life sue for wrongful birth.
Screening of the Recipient

Medical Evaluation: while advancing age, beyond 40 years, is indeed associated with an escalating incidence of pregnancy complications, such risks are largely predicable through careful medical assessment prior to pregnancy. The fundamental question namely: “is the woman capable of safely engaging a pregnancy that would culminate in the safe birth of a healthy baby” must be answered in the affirmative, before any infertility treatment is initiated. For this reason, a thorough cardiovascular, hepatorenal, metabolic and anatomical reproductive evaluation must be done prior to initiating IVF in all cases.
Infectious Screening: the need for careful infectious screening for embryo recipients cannot be overemphasized. Aside from tests for debilitating sexually transmittable diseases, there is the important requirement that cervical mucous and semen be free of infection with ureaplasma urealyticum. This organism which rarely causes symptoms frequents the cervical glands of 15-20% of women in the U.S. The introduction of an embryo transfer catheter via a so infected cervix might transmit the organism into an otherwise sterile uterine cavity leading to early implantation failure and/or first trimester miscarriage.
Immunologic Screening: Certain autoimmune and alloimmune disorders (see elsewhere) can be associated with immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID). In order to prevent otherwise avoidable treatment failure, it is advisable to evaluate the recipient for autoimmune IDD and also to test both the recipient and the sperm provider for alloimmune similarities that could compromise implantation.
Disclosure and Consent
Preparation for egg donation requires full disclosure to all participants regarding what each step of the process involves from start to finish, as well as potential medical and psychological risks. This necessitates that significant time be devoted to this task and that there be a willingness to painstakingly address all questions and concerns posed by all parties involved in the process. An important component of full disclosure involves clear interpretation of the medical and psychological components assessed during the evaluation process. All parties should be advised to seek independent legal counsel so as to avoid conflicts of interest that might arise from legal advice given by the same attorney. Appropriate consent forms are then reviewed and signed independently by the donor and the recipient couple.
Most embryo recipients fully expect their chosen donor to yield a large number of mature, good quality eggs, sufficient to provide enough embryos to afford a good chance of pregnancy as well as several for cryopreservation (freezing) and storage. While such expectations ore often met, this is not always the case. Accordingly, to minimize the trauma of unexpected and usually unavoidable disappointment, it is essential that in the process of counseling and of consummating agreements, the respective parties be fully informed that by making best efforts to provide the highest standards of care, the caregivers can only assure optimal intent and performance in keeping with accepted standards of care. No one can ever promise an optimal outcome. All parties should be made aware that no definitive representation can or will be made as to the number or quality of ova and embryos that will or are likely to become available, the number of supernumerary embryos that will be available for cryopreservation or the subsequent outcome of the IVF donor process.
TYPES OF EGG DONATION

Conventional Egg Donation: This is the basic format used for conducting the process of egg donor IVF. It involves synchronizing the menstrual cycles of both the recipient and the donor by placing the donor and the recipient on a birth control pill so that both parties start stimulation with fertility drugs simultaneously. This ultimately allows for precise timing of the fresh embryo transfer. Using this approach, the anticipated egg donation birth rate is >50% per cycle.
Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS)-Egg Donation: The recent introduction of complete numerical chromosomal assessment (karyotyping) using metaphase Comparative Genomic Hybridization (mCGH) and Next Generation Gene sequencing (NGS) has the potential to change the manner in which egg donation will be performed in the future. CGH/NGS allows full egg/embryo chromosome analysis providing a 70- 80% assurance that the embryo(s) so selected for transfer are highly likely to be “competent” (i.e. capable of producing a healthy baby). Such PGS-egg selection provides about a 50% chance of a baby per transfer of an embryo derived through fertilization of a pre-vitrified euploid egg. This is at least double that reported when conventional egg donation is used. As a result, mCGH/NGS-Egg Donation allows for excellent results when one or two embryos are transferred, virtually eliminating the risk of “high order” multiple pregnancies (triplets or greater). Moreover, since numerical chromosomal irregularities (aneuploidy) are responsible for most miscarriages, the use of CGH also significantly reduces this dreaded complication.
PGS egg selection of necessity mandates the use of Staggered (ST)- IVF. Here the egg donor cycle is divided into two parts. The first involves the egg retrieval, fertilization, embryo biopsy for PGS analysis and embryo cryostorage. The second part involving warming or thawing of the frozen embryo(s) and the subsequent transfer of “competent” embryo(s) to the recipient’s uterus is conducted electively at least several weeks later once the results of PGS testing are available. Since, with St-IVF the egg retrieval and embryo transfer are separated in time, the retrieval can be performed without first having to synchronize the menstrual cycles of the recipient and the egg the donor. In fact, the recipient does not even have to be available when the egg donor is going through cycle. All that is needed is for designated sperm to be available (fresh or frozen) on the day of egg retrieval. This avoids unnecessary travel and inconvenience, and minimizes stress and cost.
Donor Egg Banking: Another imminent advance is the introduction of egg banking. Being able to freeze and bank donor eggs would solve most of these challenges. By using PGS in combination with a egg vitrification (ultra-rapid freezing), we are now capable of improving the birth rate per warmed/thawed egg by a factor of 3-4 fold (from a previous average of <8% per egg to about 27%). Through an electronic catalogue, recipients will be able to select and purchase 1-3 CGH-normal eggs from the comfort of their homes. Thereupon, the selective transfer of 1 or 2 embryos derived from such chromosomally normal eggs could achieve a 50-60% pregnancy rate without the risk of initiating high-order multiple pregnancies in the process. Through this process, the cost, inconvenience and risks associated with “conventional” fresh egg donor cycles would also be reduced significantly.
Financial Considerations
The fee paid to the egg donor agency per cycle usually ranges between $2,000 and $8,000. This does not include the cost associated with psychological and clinical pre-testing, fertility drugs, and donor insurance, which commonly range between $3,000 and $6,000. The medical service costs of the IVF treatment cycle ranges between $8,000 and $14,000. The donor stipend can range from $2,000 too as high $50,000 depending upon the exotic requirements of the recipient couple as well as supply and demand. Thus the total out of pocket expenses for an egg donor cycle in the United States range between $15,000 and $78,000, putting egg donation outside the financial capability of most couples needing this service.
The growing gap between need and affordability has spawned a number of creative ways to try and make IVF with egg donation more affordable. Here are a few examples:
• Egg banking (see above)
• Egg Donor Sharing, where one comprehensive fee is shared between two recipients and the eggs are then divided between them. The downside is that fewer eggs are available embryos for transfer and/or cryopreservation.
• Egg Bartering, where in the course of conventional IVF, a woman undergoing IVF remits some of her eggs to the clinic (who in turn provides it to a recipient patient) in exchange for a deferment of some or all of the IVF fee. In my opinion, such an arrangement can be fraught with problems. For example, in the event that the woman donating some of her eggs fails to conceive while the recipient of her eggs does, it is very possible that she might suffer emotional despair and even go so far as to seek out her genetic offspring. Such action could be very damaging to both her and the recipient, as well as the child.
• Financial Risk Sharing. Certain IVF programs offer financial risk sharing (FRS) which most recipient couples favor greatly. FRS offers qualifying candidates a refund of fees paid if egg donation is unsuccessful. FRS is designed to spread the risk between the providers, and the recipient couple.
Moral, Legal & Ethical Considerations: The “Uniform Parentage Act” which has been adopted by most states in the United States declares that the woman who gives birth to the child will be regarded as the rightful mother. Accordingly, there has to date not been any grounds for legal dispute when it comes to maternal custody of a child born through IVF with egg donation in the majority of states. In a few states such as Mississippi and Arizona the law is less clear but nevertheless, as yet, has not been contested.
The moral-ethical and religious implications of egg donation are diverse and have a profound effect on cultural acceptance of this process. The widely held view that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and has the right to have such opinions respected, governs much of the attitude towards this process in the U.S. The extreme views on each end of the spectrum hold the gentle central swing of the pendulum in place. This attitude is a reflection of the general acceptance in the united states of diverse views and opinions and the willingness to allow free expression of such views and beliefs provided that they don’t infringe on the rights of others.
So where do we go from here? Can and should we, cryopreserve and store eggs or ovarian tissue from a young woman wishing to defer procreation until it becomes convenient? And if we do this, would it be acceptable to eventually have a woman give birth to her own sister or aunt? Can or should we store viable ovarian tissue through generations. Should egg donation simply become a future source of embryos generated for the purpose of providing stem cells, to be used in the treatment of disease states or to “manufacture” fetuses as a source of spare body parts? If the answer to even some of these questions is yes…what about the checks and balances. Who will exercise control and where what form should such control take? Are we willing to engage this slippery slope where the disregard for the dignity of the human embryo leads us to the point where the rights of a human being are more readily ignored? …………………… Personally, I hope not.

My final IVF cycle at SIRM-LV commences on March 19th and concludes on April 2nd. If you are interested in undergoing a fresh IVF treatment cycle with me or if you have embryos cryopreserved at SIRM-LV and wish to undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) prior to my departure, please contact me immediately..... My March cycle is likely to be very much in demand…....So, time is of the essence!
Following my departure from SIRM in mid-April, 2019, I will continue to provide comprehensive consultations to those of you that wish to have my guidance. Upon scheduling a SKYPE consultation with me, you will promptly receive a detailed questionnaire, along with a request that you submit available medical records for my review prior to our consultation. Additional tests and records can/will be

reply
Katrin

Dear dr.Sher,I am pregnant in 10 th week.My doctor,regarding my age 43,advised me to take Metformin.Do you think it is safe for the baby?

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

If required and taken, it should not compromise the pregnancy!

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

reply
Kala

Hi Dr. Sher,

I had 3 miscarriages.

First miscarriage – At 13 weeks( conceived naturally) unexplained miscarriage
Second miscarriage – 8 weeks due to Turners syndrome (IUI)
Third miscarriage – At 16 weeks (IVF/ICSI) unexplained miscarriage

Tested normal for clotting / autoimmune disorders and N/K assay. No uterine anomalies. Hypothyroid taking synthroid from my first pregnancy.
What do you think that is causing my miscarriages?
I browsed through DQ alpha but do you think that will give us answers regarding our 13 and 16 weeks losses?if we have that hla problem won’t our losses be in the early first trimester?

Please help!

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

When it comes to reproduction, humans are the poorest performers of all mammals. In fact we are so inefficient that up to 75% of fertilized eggs do not produce live births, and up to 30% of pregnancies end up being lost within 10 weeks of conception (in the first trimester). RPL is defined as two (2) or more failed pregnancies. Less than 5% of women will experience two (2) consecutive miscarriages, and only 1% experience three or more.
Pregnancy loss can be classified by the stage of pregnancy when the loss occurs:
• Early pregnancy loss (first trimester)
• Late pregnancy loss (after the first trimester)
• Occult “hidden” and not clinically recognized, (chemical) pregnancy loss (occurs prior to ultrasound confirmation of pregnancy)
• Early pregnancy losses usually occur sporadically (are not repetitive).
In more than 70% of cases the loss is due to embryo aneuploidy (where there are more or less than the normal quota of 46 chromosomes). Conversely, repeated losses (RPL), with isolated exceptions where the cause is structural (e.g., unbalanced translocations), are seldom attributable to numerical chromosomal abnormalities (aneuploidy). In fact, the vast majority of cases of RPL are attributable to non-chromosomal causes such as anatomical uterine abnormalities or Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID).
Since most sporadic early pregnancy losses are induced by chromosomal factors and thus are non-repetitive, having had a single miscarriage the likelihood of a second one occurring is no greater than average. However, once having had two losses the chance of a third one occurring is double (35-40%) and after having had three losses the chance of a fourth miscarriage increases to about 60%. The reason for this is that the more miscarriages a woman has, the greater is the likelihood of this being due to a non-chromosomal (repetitive) cause such as IID. It follows that if numerical chromosomal analysis (karyotyping) of embryonic/fetal products derived from a miscarriage tests karyotypically normal, then by a process of elimination, there would be a strong likelihood of a miscarriage repeating in subsequent pregnancies and one would not have to wait for the disaster to recur before taking action. This is precisely why we strongly advocate that all miscarriage specimens be karyotyped.
There is however one caveat to be taken into consideration. That is that the laboratory performing the karyotyping might unwittingly be testing the mother’s cells rather than that of the conceptus. That is why it is not possible to confidently exclude aneuploidy in cases where karyotyping of products suggests a “chromosomally normal” (euploid) female.
Late pregnancy losses (occurring after completion of the 1st trimester/12th week) occur far less frequently (1%) than early pregnancy losses. They are most commonly due to anatomical abnormalities of the uterus and/or cervix. Weakness of the neck of the cervix rendering it able to act as an effective valve that retains the pregnancy (i.e., cervical incompetence) is in fact one of the commonest causes of late pregnancy loss. So also are developmental (congenital) abnormalities of the uterus (e.g., a uterine septum) and uterine fibroid tumors. In some cases intrauterine growth retardation, premature separation of the placenta (placental abruption), premature rupture of the membranes and premature labor can also causes of late pregnancy loss.
Much progress has been made in understanding the mechanisms involved in RPL. There are two broad categories:
1. Problems involving the uterine environment in which a normal embryo is prohibited from properly implanting and developing. Possible causes include:
• Inadequate thickening of the uterine lining
• Irregularity in the contour of the uterine cavity (polyps, fibroid tumors in the uterine wall, intra-uterine scarring and adenomyosis)
• Hormonal imbalances (progesterone deficiency or luteal phase defects). This most commonly results in occult RPL.
• Deficient blood flow to the uterine lining (thin uterine lining).
• Immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID). A major cause of RPL. Plays a role in 75% of cases where chromosomally normal preimplantation embryos fail to implant.
• Interference of blood supply to the developing conceptus can occur due to a hereditary clotting disorder known as Thrombophilia.
2. Genetic and/or structural chromosomal abnormality of the embryo.Genetic abnormalities are rare causes of RPL. Structural chromosomal abnormalities are slightly more common but are also occur infrequently (1%). These are referred to as unbalanced translocation and they result from part of one chromosome detaching and then fusing with another chromosome. Additionally, a number of studies suggest the existence of paternal (sperm derived) effect on human embryo quality and pregnancy outcome that are not reflected as a chromosomal abnormality. Damaged sperm DNA can have a negative impact on fetal development and present clinically as occult or early clinical miscarriage. The Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA) which measures the same endpoints are newer and possibly improved methods for evaluating.

IMMUNOLOGIC IMPLANTATION DYSFUNCTION
Autoimmune IID: Here an immunologic reaction is produced by the individual to his/her body’s own cellular components. The most common antibodies that form in such situations are APA and antithyroid antibodies (ATA).
But it is only when specialized immune cells in the uterine lining, known as cytotoxic lymphocytes (CTL) and natural killer (NK) cells, become activated and start to release an excessive/disproportionate amount of TH-1 cytokines that attack the root system of the embryo, that implantation potential is jeopardized. Diagnosis of such activation requires highly specialized blood test for cytokine activity that can only be performed by a handful of reproductive immunology reference laboratories in the United States.
Alloimmune IID, i.e., where antibodies are formed against antigens derived from another member of the same species, is believed to be a relatively common immunologic cause of recurrent pregnancy loss.
Autoimmune IID is often genetically transmitted. Thus it should not be surprising to learn that it is more likely to exist in women who have a family (or personal) history of primary autoimmune diseases such as lupus erythematosus (LE), scleroderma or autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s disease), autoimmune hyperthyroidism (Grave’s disease), rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Reactionary (secondary) autoimmunity can occur in conjunction with any medical condition associated with widespread tissue damage. One such gynecologic condition is endometriosis. Since autoimmune IID is usually associated with activated NK and T-cells from the outset, it usually results in such very early destruction of the embryo’s root system that the patient does not even recognize that she is pregnant. Accordingly the condition usually presents as “unexplained infertility” or “unexplained IVF failure” rather than as a miscarriage.

Alloimmune IID, on the other hand, usually starts off presenting as unexplained miscarriages (often manifesting as RPL). Over time as NK/T cell activation builds and eventually becomes permanently established the patient often goes from RPL to “infertility” due to failed implantation. RPL is more commonly the consequence of alloimmune rather than autoimmune implantation dysfunction.
However, regardless, of whether miscarriage is due to autoimmune or alloimmune implantation dysfunction the final blow to the pregnancy is the result of activated NK cells and CTL in the uterine lining that damage the developing embryo’s “root system” (trophoblast) so that it can no longer sustain the growing conceptus. This having been said, it is important to note that autoimmune IID is readily amenable to reversal through timely, appropriately administered, selective immunotherapy, and alloimmune IID is not. It is much more difficult to treat successfully, even with the use of immunotherapy. In fact, in some cases the only solution will be to revert to selective immunotherapy plus using donor sperm (provided there is no “match” between the donor’s DQa profile and that of the female recipient) or alternatively to resort to gestational surrogacy.
DIAGNOSING THE CAUSE OF RPL
In the past, women who miscarried were not evaluated thoroughly until they had lost several pregnancies in a row. This was because sporadic miscarriages are most commonly the result of embryo numerical chromosomal irregularities (aneuploidy) and thus not treatable. However, a consecutive series of miscarriages points to a repetitive cause that is non-chromosomal and is potentially remediable. Since RPL is most commonly due to a uterine pathology or immunologic causes that are potentially treatable, it follows that early chromosomal evaluation of products of conception could point to a potentially treatable situation. Thus I strongly recommend that such testing be done in most cases of miscarriage. Doing so will avoid a great deal of unnecessary heartache for many patients.
Establishing the correct diagnosis is the first step toward determining effective treatment for couples with RPL. It results from a problem within the pregnancy itself or within the uterine environment where the pregnancy implants and grows. Diagnostic tests useful in identifying individuals at greater risk for a problem within the pregnancy itself include:

• Karyotyping (chromosome analysis) both prospective parents
• Assessment of the karyotype of products of conception derived from previous miscarriage specimens
• Ultrasound examination of the uterine cavity after sterile water is injected or sonohysterogram, fluid ultrasound, etc.)
• Hysterosalpingogram (dye X-ray test)
• Hysteroscopic evaluation of the uterine cavity
• Full hormonal evaluation (estrogen, progesterone, adrenal steroid hormones, thyroid hormones, FSH/LH, etc.)
• Immunologic testing to include:
a) Antiphospholipid antibody (APA) panel
b) Antinuclear antibody (ANA) panel
c) Antithyroid antibody panel (i.e., antithyroglobulin and antimicrosomal antibodies)
d) Reproductive immunophenotype
e) Natural killer cell activity (NKa) assay (i.e., K562 target cell test)
f) Alloimmune testing of both the male and female partners
TREATMENT OF RPL
Treatment for Anatomic Abnormalities of the Uterus: This involves restoration through removal of local lesions such as fibroids, scar tissue, and endometrial polyps or timely insertion of a cervical cerclage (a stitch placed around the neck of the weakened cervix) or the excision of a uterine septum when indicated.
Treatment of Thin Uterine Lining: A thin uterine lining has been shown to correlate with compromised pregnancy outcome. Often this will be associated with reduced blood flow to the endometrium. Such decreased blood flow to the uterus can be improved through treatment with sildenafil and possibly aspirin.
Sildenafil (Viagra) Therapy. Viagra has been used successfully to increase uterine blood flow. However, to be effective it must be administered starting as soon as the period stops up until the day of ovulation and it must be administered vaginally (not orally). Viagra in the form of vaginal suppositories given in the dosage of 25 mg four times a day has been shown to increase uterine blood flow as well as thickness of the uterine lining. To date, we have seen significant improvement of the thickness of the uterine lining in about 70% of women treated. Successful pregnancy resulted in 42% of women who responded to the Viagra. It should be remembered that most of these women had previously experienced repeated IVF failures.

Use of Aspirin: This is an anti-prostaglandin that improves blood flow to the endometrium. It is administered at a dosage of 81 mg orally, daily from the beginning of the cycle until ovulation.
Treating Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction with Selective Immunotherapy: Modalities such as IL/IVIg, heparinoids (Lovenox/Clexane), and corticosteroids (dexamethasone, prednisone, prednisolone) can be used in select cases depending on autoimmune or alloimmune dysfunction.
The Use of IVF in the Treatment of RPL
In the following circumstances, IVF is the preferred option:
1. When in addition to a history of RPL, another standard indication for IVF (e.g., tubal factor, endometriosis, and male factor infertility) is superimposed.
2. In cases where selective immunotherapy is needed to treat an immunologic implantation dysfunction.
The reason for IVF being a preferred approach in such cases is that in order to be effective, the immunotherapy needs to be initiated well before spontaneous or induced ovulation. Given the fact that the anticipated birthrate per cycle of COS with or without IUI is at best about 15%, it follows that short of IVF, to have even a reasonable chance of a live birth, most women with immunologic causes of RPL would need to undergo immunotherapy repeatedly, over consecutive cycles. Conversely, with IVF, the chance of a successful outcome in a single cycle of treatment is several times greater and, because of the attenuated and concentrated time period required for treatment, IVF is far safer and thus represents a more practicable alternative
Since embryo aneuploidy is a common cause of miscarriage, the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), with tests such as CGH, can provide a valuable diagnostic and therapeutic advantage in cases of RPL. PGD requires IVF to provide access to embryos for testing.
There are a few cases of intractable alloimmune dysfunction due to absolute DQ alpha matching where Gestational Surrogacy or use of donor sperm could represent the only viable recourse, other than abandoning treatment altogether and/or resorting to adoption. Other non-immunologic factors such as an intractably thin uterine lining or severe uterine pathology might also warrant that last resort consideration be given to gestational surrogacy.
The good news is that if a couple with RPL is open to all of the diagnostic and treatment options referred to above, a live birthrate of 70%–80% is ultimately achievable.

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
• Ovarian Stimulation for IVF using GnRH Antagonists: Comparing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol.(A/ACP) With the “Conventional” Antagonist Approach
• Ovarian Stimulation in Women Who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): Introducing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion protocol
• Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
• 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?
• Blastocyst Embryo Transfers Should be the Standard of Care in IVF
• IVF: How Many Attempts should be considered before Stopping?
• “Unexplained” Infertility: Often a matter of the Diagnosis Being Overlooked!
• IVF Failure and Implantation Dysfunction:
• 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!
• Endometrial Thickness, Uterine Pathology and Immunologic Factors
• Vaginally Administered Viagra is Often a Highly Effective Treatment to Help Thicken a Thin Uterine Lining
• Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas:
• A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF
• How Many Embryos should be transferred: A Critical Decision in IVF.
• The Role of Nutritional Supplements in Preparing for IVF
My final IVF cycle at SIRM-LV commences on March 19th and concludes on April 2nd. If you are interested in undergoing a fresh IVF treatment cycle with me or if you have embryos cryopreserved at SIRM-LV and wish to undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) prior to my departure, please contact me immediately….. My March cycle is likely to be very much in demand…….So, time is of the essence!
Following my departure from SIRM in mid-April, 2019, I will continue to provide comprehensive consultations to those of you that wish to have my guidance. Upon scheduling a SKYPE consultation with me, you will promptly receive a detailed questionnaire, along with a request that you submit available medical records for my review prior to our consultation. Additional tests and records can/will be requisitioned later, as needed. Your +/- 1 hour comprehensive SKYPE consultation will be followed by a detailed written report which you can also share with your personal Fertility Physician.
I will soon be posting a list of internationally regarded Fertility Specialists whom I endorse and who will have expressed a willingness to implement my suggested approaches, at their discretion. It is to one of these doctors that I would selectively refer you…upon request.
CONTACT INFORMATION:
• Online: Go to sherivf.com and Schedule a Skype Consultation. Upon doing so, you will be able to download a free copy of my new eBook ” Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”
• Phone
o If you live in the USA or Canada: Please call 1-800-780-7437 or 702-533-2691
o If you reside elsewhere Abroad: Please call 702-533-2691
o Email: concierge@SherIVF.com
Please monitor this website for future announcements on further developments.
Geoff Sher

reply
nuria

hi, i will do a new ivf, im in my day 5 of the cycle and started now with progyluton during 21 days, my doctor said to low FSH. then when menstruation in day 2 start with clomife e and also with HMG lepori and use later ganirelix.my AMH 0,14, 37 years, two antral follicules, other treatments reached 550 estradiol amd two follicules on day of ovitrelle however only one egg. this is a correct protocol? i commented protocol agonist antagonist however they dont use it. our problem is my husband and we go with donor sperm, we alreday have a son with the same donor. thanks!

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

You clearly have very diminished ovarian reserve. In my opinion, lowering your FSH with medication will not have a beneficial effect whatsoever.

Women who (regardless of age) have diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) have a reduced potential for IVF success. Much of this is due to the fact that such women tend to have increased production, and/or biological activity, of LH. This can result in excessive ovarian male hormone (predominantly testosterone) production. This in turn can have a deleterious effect on egg/embryo “competency”.
While it is presently not possible by any means, to reverse the effect of DOR, certain ovarian stimulation regimes, by promoting excessive LH production (e.g. short agonist/Lupron- “flare” protocols, clomiphene and Letrozole), can in my opinion, make matters worse. Similarly, the amount/dosage of certain fertility drugs that contain LH/hCG (e.g. Menopur) can have a negative effect on the development of the eggs of older women and those who have DOR and should be limited.
I try to avoid using such protocols/regimes (especially) in women with DOR, favoring instead the use of the agonist/antagonist conversion protocol (A/ACP), a modified, long pituitary down-regulation regime, augmented by adding supplementary human growth hormone (HGH). I further recommend that such women be offered access to embryo banking of PGS (next generation gene sequencing/NGS)-selected normal blastocysts, the subsequent selective transfer of which by allowing them to capitalize on whatever residual ovarian reserve and egg quality might still exist and thereby “make hay while the sun still shines” could significantly enhance the opportunity to achieve a viable pregnancy
Please visit my new Blog on this very site, www. SherIVF.com, find the “search bar” and 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
• 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
• 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)
• Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in Older women and Women who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): A Rational Basis for Selecting a Stimulation Protocol
• 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?
• Blastocyst Embryo Transfers Should be the Standard of Care in IVF
• Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) versus “Fresh” ET: How to Make the Decision
• Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET): A Rational Approach to Hormonal Preparation and How new Methodology is Impacting 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.
• 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
• Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas:
• Traveling for IVF from Out of State/Country–
• A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF
• How Many Embryos should be transferred: A Critical Decision in IVF.
• The Role of Nutritional Supplements in Preparing for IVF
• Premature Luteinization (“the premature LH surge): Why it happens and how it can be prevented.
• IVF Egg Donation: A Comprehensive Overview

My final IVF cycle at SIRM-LV commences on March 19th and concludes on April 2nd. If you are interested in undergoing a fresh IVF treatment cycle with me or if you have embryos cryopreserved at SIRM-LV and wish to undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) prior to my departure, please contact me immediately….. My March cycle is likely to be very much in demand…….So, time is of the essence!
Following my departure from SIRM in mid-April, 2019, I will continue to provide comprehensive consultations to those of you that wish to have my guidance. Upon scheduling a SKYPE consultation with me, you will promptly receive a detailed questionnaire, along with a request that you submit available medical records for my review prior to our consultation. Additional tests and records can/will be requisitioned later, as needed. Your +/- 1 hour comprehensive SKYPE consultation will be followed by a detailed written report which you can also share with your personal Fertility Physician.
I will soon be posting a list of internationally regarded Fertility Specialists whom I endorse and who will have expressed a willingness to implement my suggested approaches, at their discretion. It is to one of these doctors that I would selectively refer you…upon request.
CONTACT INFORMATION:
• Online: Go to sherivf.com and Schedule a Skype Consultation. Upon doing so, you will be able to download a free copy of my new eBook ” Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”
• Phone
o If you live in the USA or Canada: Please call 1-800-780-7437 or 702-533-2691
o If you reside elsewhere Abroad: Please call 702-533-2691
o Email: concierge@SherIVF.com
Please monitor this website for future announcements on further developments.
Geoff Sher

reply
Natalie Pearce

I had an open myomectomy in September to remove a fibroid which was distorting my uterine cavity. Unfortunately they had to cut through the endometrium. I was given the go ahead to start ivf this January due to my partners Male factor infertility. On ultrasound they noticed a small amount of scar tissue about 1cm. I have to go back in a few weeks time for another scan. Should I be concerned, I felt so upset leaving the clinic and cried. I thought everything would be ok that the fibroid is gone. I’ve read scarring can impair the uterus. The sonographer said my uterus looked otherwise healthy, with a good thick lining and trilaminar linging. What are your thoughts on this can I have the scar tissue removed

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I would suggest a hysteroscopy with resection of any intrauterine scarring before going any further.

Geoff Sher

reply
Marcy

Dr. Sher,

My husband and I underwent a first round of IVF in November 2018. I am 34, he is 33. His semen analysis is within normal range. My AMH was 1.04 prior to this round. All other levels were normal, but with low AMH the RE suggested there is likely DOR. 7 eggs retrieved, all fertilized, yielding three viable day 4 embryos (4AA, 3AA, 3AB). We froze two and transferred back the 4AA, which resulted in a blighted ovum at 7 weeks. That was the first time I have ever been pregnant.

I know that one miscarriage is pretty common, but I also have Hashimoto’s and with my age want to be proactive. My RE and endo did thyroid panels before the IVF round and everything was “normal”, but antibodies were pretty high–in the 400s.

What, if any, additional testing would you recommend before an FET cycle?

Marcy

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Between 2% and 5% of women of the childbearing age have reduced thyroid hormone activity (hypothyroidism). Women with hypothyroidism often manifest with reproductive failure i.e. infertility, unexplained (often repeated) IVF failure, or recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). The condition is 5-10 times more common in women than in men. In most cases hypothyroidism is caused by damage to the thyroid gland resulting from of thyroid autoimmunity (Hashimoto’s disease) caused by damage done to the thyroid gland by antithyroglobulin and antimicrosomal auto-antibodies.
The increased prevalence of hypothyroidism and thyroid autoimmunity (TAI) in women is likely the result of a combination of genetic factors, estrogen-related effects and chromosome X abnormalities. This having been said, there is significantly increased incidence of thyroid antibodies in non-pregnant women with a history of infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss and thyroid antibodies can be present asymptomatically in women without them manifesting with overt clinical or endocrinologic evidence of thyroid disease. In addition, these antibodies may persist in women who have suffered from hyper- or hypothyroidism even after normalization of their thyroid function by appropriate pharmacological treatment. The manifestations of reproductive dysfunction thus seem to be linked more to the presence of thyroid autoimmunity (TAI) than to clinical existence of hypothyroidism and treatment of the latter does not routinely result in a subsequent improvement in reproductive performance.
It follows, that if antithyroid autoantibodies are associated with reproductive dysfunction they may serve as useful markers for predicting poor outcome in patients undergoing assisted reproductive technologies.
Some years back, I reported on the fact that 47% of women who harbor thyroid autoantibodies, regardless of the absence or presence of clinical hypothyroidism, have activated uterine natural killer cells (NKa) cells and cytotoxic lymphocytes (CTL) and that such women often present with reproductive dysfunction. We demonstrated that appropriate immunotherapy with IVIG or intralipid (IL) and steroids, subsequently often results in a significant improvement in reproductive performance in such cases.
The fact that almost 50% of women who harbor antithyroid antibodies do not have activated CTL/NK cells suggests that it is NOT the antithyroid antibodies themselves that cause reproductive dysfunction. The activation of CTL and NK cells that occurs in half of the cases with TAI is probably an epiphenomenon with the associated reproductive dysfunction being due to CTL/NK cell activation that damages the early “root system” (trophoblast) of the implanting embryo. We have shown that treatment of those women who have thyroid antibodies + NKa/CTL using IL/steroids, improves subsequent reproductive performance while women with thyroid antibodies who do not harbor NKa/CTL do not require or benefit from such treatment.
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.

• 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.
• 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) Why did my IVF Fail
• Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL): Why do I keep losing my Pregnancies
• Genetically Testing Embryos for IVF
• Staggered IVF
• Staggered IVF with PGS- Selection of “Competent” Embryos Greatly Enhances the Utility & Efficiency of IVF.
• 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?
• 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!
• 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
My final IVF cycle at SIRM-LV commences on March 19th and concludes on April 2nd. If you are interested in undergoing a fresh IVF treatment cycle with me or if you have embryos cryopreserved at SIRM-LV and wish to undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) prior to my departure, please contact me immediately….. My March cycle is likely to be very much in demand…….So, time is of the essence!
Following my departure from SIRM in mid-April, 2019, I will continue to provide comprehensive consultations to those of you that wish to have my guidance. Upon scheduling a SKYPE consultation with me, you will promptly receive a detailed questionnaire, along with a request that you submit available medical records for my review prior to our consultation. Additional tests and records can/will be requisitioned later, as needed. Your +/- 1 hour comprehensive SKYPE consultation will be followed by a detailed written report which you can also share with your personal Fertility Physician.
I will soon be posting a list of internationally regarded Fertility Specialists whom I endorse and who will have expressed a willingness to implement my suggested approaches, at their discretion. It is to one of these doctors that I would selectively refer you…upon request.
CONTACT INFORMATION:
• Online: Go to sherivf.com and Schedule a Skype Consultation. Upon doing so, you will be able to download a free copy of my new eBook ” Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”
• Phone
o If you live in the USA or Canada: Please call 1-800-780-7437 or 702-533-2691
o If you reside elsewhere Abroad: Please call 702-533-2691
o Email: concierge@SherIVF.com
Please monitor this website for future announcements on further developments.
Geoff Sher

reply
Keeri

Hi Dr Sher,
I recently had frozen PGS tested embryo transfered that resulted with positive beta test levels rising normally. But when scanned at 8weeks it was blighted Ovum.
I have PCOS and my partner had sperm motility issues. I had high NK cells for which I was on Prednisolone, Intralipids infusion soon after transfer. I was on progesterone pessaries, Pio shots, progynova & Estrogen patches.
My FS mentioned something about autoimmune disease lupus for which she might want me to start Plaquenil after investigations.
This is my 2nd miscarriage out of 6 transfers 1 fresh & 5 frozen. Everytransfer that say my embryos thaw well, I have perfect lining. But we are not sure what is happening.
We both have genetic testing done as well- having no issues.
Please advice on what you would recommend. Thank you

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

It would be VERY important to determine whether or not the cause of your NK cell activation is partially or completely alloimmune rather than autoimmune in origin because if the former, it could explain why the IL/steroid therapy was not effective and lay the groundwork for reversing this.

Unless tests for immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID) are performed correctly and conducted by a one of the few reliable reproductive immunology reference laboratory in the United States, treatment will likely be unsuccessful. . In this regard it is most important that the right tests be ordered and that these be performed by a competent laboratory. There are in my opinion only a handful of reliable Reproductive Immunology Laboratories in the world and most are in the U.S.A. Also, it is my opinion that far too often, testing is inappropriate with the many redundant and incorrect tests being requested from and conducted by suboptimal laboratories. Finally for treatment to have the best chance of being successful, it is vital that the underlying type of IID (autoimmune IID versus alloimmune) be identified correctly and that the type, dosage, concentration and timing of treatments be carefully devised and implemented.
Who Should Undergo IID testing?
When it comes to who should be evaluated, the following conditions should in always raise a suspicion of an underlying IID, and trigger prompt testing:
• A diagnosis of endometriosis or the existence of symptoms suggestive of endometriosis (heavy/painful menstruation and pain with ovulation or with deep penetration during intercourse) I would however emphasize that a definitive diagnosis of endometriosis requires visualization of the lesions at laparoscopy or laparotomy)
• A personal or family history of autoimmune disease such as hyper/hypothyroidism (as those with elevated or depressed TSH blood levels, regardless of thyroid hormonal dysfunction), Lupus erythematosus, Rheumatoid arthritis, dermatomyositis, scleroderma etc.)
• “Unexplained” infertility
• Recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL)
• A history of having miscarried a conceptus that, upon testing of products of conception, was found to have a normal numerical chromosomal configuration (euploid).
• Unexplained IVF failure
• “Unexplained” intrauterine growth retardation due to placental insufficiency or late pregnancy loss of a chromosomally normal baby
What Parameters should be tested?
In my opinion, too many Reproductive Immunologists unnecessarily unload a barrage of costly IID tests on unsuspecting patients. In most cases the initial test should be for NK cell activation, and only if this is positive, is it necessary to expand the testing.
The parameters that require measurement include:
o For Autoimmune Implantation Dysfunction: Autoimmune implantation dysfunction, most commonly presents with presumed “infertility” due to such early pregnancy losses that the woman did not even know she was pregnant in the first place. Sometimes there as an early miscarriage. Tests required are: a) blood levels of all IgA, IgG and IgM-related antiphospholipid antibodies (APA’s) directed against six or seven specific phospholipids, b) both antithyroid antibodies (antithyroid and antimicrosomal antibodies), c) a comprehensive reproductive immunophenotype (RIP) and, c) most importantly, assessment of Natural Killer (NK) cell activity (rather than concentration) by measuring by their killing, using the K-562 target cell test and/or uterine cytokine measurement. As far as the ideal environment for performing such tests, it is important to recognize that currently there are only about 5 or 6, Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories in the U.S capable of reliably analyzing the required elements with a sufficient degree of sensitivity and specificity (in my opinion).
o For Alloimmune implantation Dysfunction: While alloimmune Implantation usually presents with a history of unexplained (usually repeated) miscarriages or secondary infertility (where the woman conceived initially and thereupon was either unable to conceive started having repeated miscarriages it can also present as “presumed” primary infertility. Alloimmune dysfunction is diagnosed by testing the blood of both the male and female partners for matching DQ alpha genes and NK/CTL activation. It is important to note that any DQ alpha match (partial or complete) will only result in IID when there is concomitant NK/CTL activation (see elsewhere on this blog).
How should results be interpreted?
Central to making a diagnosis of an immunologic implantation dysfunction is the appropriate interpretation of natural killer cell activity (NKa) .In this regard, one of the commonest and most serious errors, is to regard the blood concentration of natural killer cells as being significant. Rather it is the activity (toxicity) of NK cells that matters as mentioned. Then there is the interpretation of reported results. The most important consideration is the percentage of target cells “killed” in the “native state”. In most cases a level of >10% killing should be regarded with suspicion and >12% overtly abnormal. In my opinion, trying to interpret the effect of adding IVIG or Intralipid to the sample in order assess whether and to what degree the use of these products would have a therapeutic benefit is seriously flawed and of little benefit. Clinically relevant NK cell deactivation can only be significantly effected in vivo and takes more than a week following infusion to occur. Thus what happens in the laboratory by adding these products to the sample prior to K-562 target cell testing is in my opinion likely irrelevant.
There exists a pervasive but blatant misconception on the part of many, that the addition of Intralipid (IL) /immunoglobulin-G IVIG) can have an immediate down-regulatory effect on NK cell activity. This has established a demand that Reproductive Immunology Reference Laboratories report on NK cell activity before and following exposure to IVIG and/or IL. However, the fact is that activated “functional” NK cells (NKa) cannot be deactivated in the laboratory. Effective down-regulation of activated NK cells can only be adequately accomplished if their activated “progenitor/parental” NK cells are first down-regulated. Thereupon once these down-regulated “precursor” NK cells are exposed to progesterone, they will begin spawning normal and functional NK cells, which takes about 10-14 days. It follows that to assess for a therapeutic response to IVIG/IL therapy would require that the patient first be treated (10-14 days prior to embryo transfer) and thereupon, about 2 weeks later, be retested. While at 1st glance this might seem to be a reasonable approach, in reality it would be of little clinical benefit because even if blood were to be drawn 10 -14 days after IL/IVIG treatment it would require an additional 10 days to receive results from the laboratory, by which time it would be far too late to be of practical advantage.
Neither IVIG nor IL is capable of significantly suppressing already activated “functional NK cells”. For this to happen, the IL/IVIG would have to down-regulate progenitor (parent) NK cell” activity. Thus, it should be infused 10-14 several prior to ovulation or progesterone administration so that the down-regulated “progenitor/precursor” NK cells” can propagate a sufficient number of normally regulated “functional NK cell” to be present at the implantation site 7 days later. In addition, to be effective, IL/IVIG therapy needs to be combined with steroid (dexamethasone/prednisone/prednisolone) therapy to down-regulates (often) concomitantly activated T-cells.
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.

• 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.
• 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!

My final IVF cycle at SIRM-LV commences on March 19th and concludes on April 2nd. If you are interested in undergoing a fresh IVF treatment cycle with me or if you have embryos cryopreserved at SIRM-LV and wish to undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) prior to my departure, please contact me immediately….. My March cycle is likely to be very much in demand…….So, time is of the essence!
Following my departure from SIRM in mid-April, 2019, I will continue to provide comprehensive consultations to those of you that wish to have my guidance. Upon scheduling a SKYPE consultation with me, you will promptly receive a detailed questionnaire, along with a request that you submit available medical records for my review prior to our consultation. Additional tests and records can/will be requisitioned later, as needed. Your +/- 1 hour comprehensive SKYPE consultation will be followed by a detailed written report which you can also share with your personal Fertility Physician.
I will soon be posting a list of internationally regarded Fertility Specialists whom I endorse and who will have expressed a willingness to implement my suggested approaches, at their discretion. It is to one of these doctors that I would selectively refer you…upon request.
CONTACT INFORMATION:
• Online: Go to sherivf.com and Schedule a Skype Consultation. Upon doing so, you will be able to download a free copy of my new eBook ” Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”
• Phone
o If you live in the USA or Canada: Please call 1-800-780-7437 or 702-533-2691
o If you reside elsewhere Abroad: Please call 702-533-2691
o Email: concierge@SherIVF.com
Please monitor this website for future announcements on further developments.
Geoff Sher

reply
Keeri

Thank you so much for your detailed reply Dr Sher.
My Fs has send me pathology slips to do investigations on lupus anticoagulant & cardiolipin antibody,, protein C&S, APCR, antithrombin, homocysteine, prothrombin gene mutation, coag screen, thyroid abs, FAI, ANA, SHBG, MTHFR, Glusose, cholesterol, insulin, DHEA.
I would have loved to see you as our FS but we are in Australia. Our FS is Dr Lynn Burmeister.
I will definitely discuss when I meet her next about DQ alpha
I had laparoscopy done in Feb- no endometriosis. My NK cells were expressed in % which was 30%.
Please advice on on what else we should be asking my Fs in regards to Immunological testing .
Thank u once again.

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I would need to consult with you to advise further. I would however definitely look into the alloimmune component (DQa/HLA matching).

Geoff Sher

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

You are welcome!

My final IVF cycle at SIRM-LV commences on March 19th and concludes on April 2nd. If you are interested in undergoing a fresh IVF treatment cycle with me or if you have embryos cryopreserved at SIRM-LV and wish to undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) prior to my departure, please contact me immediately….. My March cycle is likely to be very much in demand…….So, time is of the essence!
Following my departure from SIRM in mid-April, 2019, I will continue to provide comprehensive consultations to those of you that wish to have my guidance. Upon scheduling a SKYPE consultation with me, you will promptly receive a detailed questionnaire, along with a request that you submit available medical records for my review prior to our consultation. Additional tests and records can/will be requisitioned later, as needed. Your +/- 1 hour comprehensive SKYPE consultation will be followed by a detailed written report which you can also share with your personal Fertility Physician.
I will soon be posting a list of internationally regarded Fertility Specialists whom I endorse and who will have expressed a willingness to implement my suggested approaches, at their discretion. It is to one of these doctors that I would selectively refer you…upon request.
CONTACT INFORMATION:
• Online: Go to sherivf.com and Schedule a Skype Consultation. Upon doing so, you will be able to download a free copy of my new eBook ” Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”
• Phone
o If you live in the USA or Canada: Please call 1-800-780-7437 or 702-533-2691
o If you reside elsewhere Abroad: Please call 702-533-269
o Email: concierge@SherIVF.com
Please monitor this website for future announcements on further developments.

Geoff Sher

melissa giuffrida

Hello Dr. Sher,

I am 40 years old and just underwent my 4th try at IVF, but my second transfer. It was a 3day 8 cell, grade A, no fragmentation embryo, even started compaction. This was a frozen transfer because progesterone level was too high for fresh. I have Hashimotos and my TPO antibodies are close to 500. My TSH was 2.0 day of transfer, it was 3.1 four days prior, but drs changed my levothyroxine dose to bring it down. My TSH can bounce around sometimes but we constantly check it before an IVF round. I’m just trying to get a second opinion, my drs say the antibodies don’t affect IVF, but other things I read says it can affect implantation rates. I’m just trying to get clarification as to if this could be a reason for multiple failures.

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

50% of women who have thyroid auto-antibodies have also activated NK cells which unless addressed will in my opinion explain your situation.

Between 2% and 5% of women of the childbearing age have reduced thyroid hormone activity (hypothyroidism). Women with hypothyroidism often manifest with reproductive failure i.e. infertility, unexplained (often repeated) IVF failure, or recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL). The condition is 5-10 times more common in women than in men. In most cases hypothyroidism is caused by damage to the thyroid gland resulting from of thyroid autoimmunity (Hashimoto’s disease) caused by damage done to the thyroid gland by antithyroglobulin and antimicrosomal auto-antibodies.
The increased prevalence of hypothyroidism and thyroid autoimmunity (TAI) in women is likely the result of a combination of genetic factors, estrogen-related effects and chromosome X abnormalities. This having been said, there is significantly increased incidence of thyroid antibodies in non-pregnant women with a history of infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss and thyroid antibodies can be present asymptomatically in women without them manifesting with overt clinical or endocrinologic evidence of thyroid disease. In addition, these antibodies may persist in women who have suffered from hyper- or hypothyroidism even after normalization of their thyroid function by appropriate pharmacological treatment. The manifestations of reproductive dysfunction thus seem to be linked more to the presence of thyroid autoimmunity (TAI) than to clinical existence of hypothyroidism and treatment of the latter does not routinely result in a subsequent improvement in reproductive performance.
It follows, that if antithyroid autoantibodies are associated with reproductive dysfunction they may serve as useful markers for predicting poor outcome in patients undergoing assisted reproductive technologies.
Some years back, I reported on the fact that 47% of women who harbor thyroid autoantibodies, regardless of the absence or presence of clinical hypothyroidism, have activated uterine natural killer cells (NKa) cells and cytotoxic lymphocytes (CTL) and that such women often present with reproductive dysfunction. We demonstrated that appropriate immunotherapy with IVIG or intralipid (IL) and steroids, subsequently often results in a significant improvement in reproductive performance in such cases.
The fact that almost 50% of women who harbor antithyroid antibodies do not have activated CTL/NK cells suggests that it is NOT the antithyroid antibodies themselves that cause reproductive dysfunction. The activation of CTL and NK cells that occurs in half of the cases with TAI is probably an epiphenomenon with the associated reproductive dysfunction being due to CTL/NK cell activation that damages the early “root system” (trophoblast) of the implanting embryo. We have shown that treatment of those women who have thyroid antibodies + NKa/CTL using IL/steroids, improves subsequent reproductive performance while women with thyroid antibodies who do not harbor NKa/CTL do not require or benefit from such treatment.

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.

• 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.
• 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!

My final IVF cycle at SIRM-LV commences on March 19th and concludes on April 2nd. If you are interested in undergoing a fresh IVF treatment cycle with me or if you have embryos cryopreserved at SIRM-LV and wish to undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) prior to my departure, please contact me immediately….. My March cycle is likely to be very much in demand…….So, time is of the essence!
Following my departure from SIRM in mid-April, 2019, I will continue to provide comprehensive consultations to those of you that wish to have my guidance. Upon scheduling a SKYPE consultation with me, you will promptly receive a detailed questionnaire, along with a request that you submit available medical records for my review prior to our consultation. Additional tests and records can/will be requisitioned later, as needed. Your +/- 1 hour comprehensive SKYPE consultation will be followed by a detailed written report which you can also share with your personal Fertility Physician.
I will soon be posting a list of internationally regarded Fertility Specialists whom I endorse and who will have expressed a willingness to implement my suggested approaches, at their discretion. It is to one of these doctors that I would selectively refer you…upon request.
CONTACT INFORMATION:
• Online: Go to sherivf.com and Schedule a Skype Consultation. Upon doing so, you will be able to download a free copy of my new eBook ” Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”
• Phone
o If you live in the USA or Canada: Please call 1-800-780-7437 or 702-533-2691
o If you reside elsewhere Abroad: Please call 702-533-2691
o Email: concierge@SherIVF.com
Please monitor this website for future announcements on further developments.
Geoff Sher

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Discuss with your personal RE.

My final IVF cycle at SIRM-LV commences on March 19th and concludes on April 2nd. If you are interested in undergoing a fresh IVF treatment cycle with me or if you have embryos cryopreserved at SIRM-LV and wish to undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) prior to my departure, please contact me immediately….. My March cycle is likely to be very much in demand…….So, time is of the essence!

Following my departure from SIRM in mid-April, 2019, I will continue to provide comprehensive consultations to those of you that wish to have my guidance. Upon scheduling a SKYPE consultation with me, you will promptly receive a detailed questionnaire, along with a request that you submit available medical records for my review prior to our consultation. Additional tests and records can/will be requisitioned later, as needed. Your +/- 1 hour comprehensive SKYPE consultation will be followed by a detailed written report which you can also share with your personal Fertility Physician.

I will soon be posting a list of internationally regarded Fertility Specialists whom I endorse and who will have expressed a willingness to implement my suggested approaches, at their discretion. It is to one of these doctors that I would selectively refer you…upon request.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Online: Go to sherivf.com and Schedule a Skype Consultation. Upon doing so, you will be able to download a free copy of my new eBook ” Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”
Phone
If you live in the USA or Canada: Please call 1-800-780-7437 or 702-533-2691
If you reside elsewhere Abroad: Please call 702-533-269
Email: concierge@SherIVF.com

Please monitor this website for future announcements on further developments.

reply
Katie

Hi, Dr. Sher. We were successful on our first ivf try. So thinking about going back for a FET, is there a season that results in more positive pregnancy tests than any other? I’ve read a few articles on why spring/summer conceiving is best but not sure how true this is with FET. What are your thoughts? Thank you!!

reply
o. sahin

hi dr sher
after 6 1/2 month abortion my bleeding didnt stoped for 20 days. dr had me started cyclo-progynova. when i went to doctor on cd3, u/s showed i had cysts in both ovaries 5cm and 3cm. I am 43 years old and for 2 years, I have been taking femeras, ivf medicines, fet medicines.. but for the first time i have folicule cysts and they didnt go away by my period. besides that my most concern my fsh was always below 8 and estradiol was between 40-60 but this time on my cd 2, estradiol 28 fsh 8,5.. and i never thought take a blood test again next day on cd 3 but this time i had another blood test and estradiol 29 fsh 12,25 it freaked me out. my doctor said it is normal because one day past. could these cysts and high fsh be because of abortion and long bleeding and cyclo-progynova???
and other question: my doctor gave me birth control pill for these cysts just for 10days. after 10 days the menstruation bleeding will start then second day of bleeding again fsh estradiol test will be taken and ultrason check for cysts. if everything is ok my doctor starts medicines for ivf. are these egs after just 10day birth control pill new eggs or are these eggs same ones when fsh high and there were cysts. are they able to be have high quality and number.. is it okay to start ivf or wait next month with normal hormomes values

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I am concerned that your bleeding might have to do with an incomplete abortion and retained products of conception. I suggest you discuss this with your doctor. Also, I would wait for at least one regular menstrual cycle before trying again.

Geoff Sher

reply
o. sahin

oh, they checked the uterus several times no retained products. dr said the reason of bleeding is hormonal changes.. the lining so thin beacuse of bleeding and it is bleeding because of thin lining. it is vicious circle.. i had cyclo-progynova for whole month and have my period once after that i started taking birth control pills for 10days. do you recommend to wait one regular menstrual cycle because of the probability having retained products? or if i understood correctly because of the cycts and just 10days controll pills and suspicious egg quality, right? if the reason was first one i dont want to wait one month öore and lost time.
another question i am 43 this month, every ivf 6 or 7 egss retrived and 5-6 of them were mature and 3 or 4blast eggs we had.. i have puregon 375iu and a few day later orgalutran and then for triger ovidrel.. thats all.. what protocol is this? antagonist or short? and what protocol do you recommend

reply
o. sahin

also dear doctor sher my period started yesterday 16.01.2019 around 15 o clock when i should have a blood test for fsh estradiol progestron, exactly

reply
Julianna Knuerr

I posted a question earlier but did not see it so will try posting again…

I found out I was pregnant a week ago and have had the following test results:

-1/7 @ 10:30 am:
HCG: 79
Progesterone: 33

-1/9 @ 8:00 am
HCG: 118

-1/10 @ 11:30 am
HCG: 167

-1/12 @ 5:00 pm
HCG 326

Between my first and second HCG results, my doctor expressed concern that they were not rising appropriately. It appears that they are now rising faster, though not exactly every 48 hours. Because we could not yet see anything on an ultrasound, I am still very concerned about the viability of this pregnancy and the possibility of an Ectopic pregnancy. Do you think the results look alright?

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

You will need to wait this out. Repeat the hCG level every 2-4 days and then when it is >2,000, do an US for confirmation. I think there is still hope but be sure to have your doctor also watch for an ectopic pregnancy. Report any sudden pain, light-headedness/fainting spells etc…to him/her.

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

reply
Sophia

Dear Dr. Sher,
Two days ago, I had my egg retrieval. They got 14 eggs. Yesterday the called me and told me that 10 fertilized but only 3 normally. I think 3 out of 14 is a very low number. What do you think?

They told me they had issues since my egg quality (I am 31) and the sperm of my husband has a bad quality. Do you the 3 normal fertilized will also be affected in a negative way and increases the risk that we will not have a blastocyst? Or does this not necessarily mean that also those 3 are from a bad quality?

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

At 31 years with normal ovarian reserve, you should perhaps have done better. Your response in my opinion, has likely less to do with inherent egg-quality issues than with the protocol used for ovarian stimulation. Please consider the following:

Maturation (ripening) is the final step in biological development that a system or organism must undergo in order to prepare for optimal function. Ultimately the functional efficiency of the system and/or organism will be predicated upon its state of readiness to undergo such maturational fine tuning. A poorly developed system/organism can thus never attain optimal functionality. The same concept applies with regard to the development and maturation of a woman’s eggs. Since it is predominantly the egg rather than the sperm that determines the potential of an embryo (the fertilized egg) to develop into a healthy baby (embryo “competence”), it is little wonder that egg development/maturation is a major determinant of human reproductive performance.

A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever produce. She uses them up through her reproductive life and when they are gone, her reproductive potential ends. It is interesting that a woman’s eggs are already stored in her ovaries 6 months before she is born and in fact she starts losing her eggs at a furious rate from the get go such that by the time she born more than half of her eggs have absorbed. This process of egg attrition continues after birth but at a slower rate. By the time the woman reaches puberty and begins to menstruate (the menarche) and then ovulate, her egg population has dropped from more than 5 million (at 3 months post-conception) to on average, less than 1 million. The number of eggs present at the time of puberty when the woman’s reproductive potential is launched is genetically determined.

Each immature egg stored in the “ovarian repository” is enveloped by a thin layer of cells. Batches of these so called “primordial follicles are sequentially “recruited” to embark upon what represents a 4 month developmental journey, during which time they undergo complex and magnificent developmental changes designed to prepare them for “service” in a single, designated ovulation cycle. During this “journey” many primordial follicles succumb to a process of culling. Those primordial follicles that ultimately survive this 4-month “recruitment process” each develop a central collection of fluid lined by a few layers of hormonally active “granulosa cells” and measure a few millimeters in diameter. At this point they are referred to as “antral follicles”. The number of antral follicles available for hormonally induced growth in the very next ovulation cycle (her” recruitment potential”)t starts off at quite a large number (as many as 20-50) but then declines with advancing age as with more and more usage, the primordial follicle population in the ovaries, progressively declines.

The recruited antral follicles grow in response to stimulation by follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), a hormone produced by the pituitary gland (a cherry-sized structure located just above the roof of the mouth, which hangs from the base of the brain). FSH stimulates the cells lining the inner wall of the follicle. These, so called granulosa cells start to produce the female hormone, estrogen in ever increasing amounts. Estrogen makes the lining of the uterus (endometrium) thicken in preparation for ovulation. Within the first 5 or 6 days of the cycle, one (sometimes two), antral follicles start to grow faster than other members of the cohort, differentiating from them. About five days into the cycle, these selected follicle(s) continue enlarging while all the others begin a downward spiral and ultimately die off within a week or so. Once the selected follicle(s) attain(s) a certain size (approximately 18-20 mm in diameter) and their estrogen output reaches a crescendo, a sudden surge of another pituitary hormone called Luteinizing hormone (LH) occurs, the follicle(s) rupture(s) and the egg(s) is/are release(d). Ovulation has taken place.. .Under the influence of LH the granulosa cells in the ovary undergo transformation (luteinization) and now, in addition to estrogen the in addition produce progesterone. It id the combined effect of estrogen and progesterone causes secretion in the hitherto developed endometrial glands, that further prepares the endometrium to receive the fertilized egg (embryo) about 5-6 days after ovulation.

With every 4 month “recruitment journey” the number ovarian primordial follicles (eggs) that a woman has available declines and the fewer antral follicles she will have available use in any cycle. Over a period of 2 decades or so, the progressive erosion in the number of ovarian primordial follicles/eggs is accompanied by such a profound reduction in the woman’s recruitment potential that the pituitary gland in a frantic attempt to restore recruitment increases its output of FSH. This manifests in a rising blood FSH concentrations. At a certain point, a reciprocal rise in basal LH follows. The rising basal FSH and LH level signals the onset of the “climacteric”, a period of roughly 6-8 years in the woman’s reproductive career, during which time the number of primordial follicles (and eggs) in the ovaries having declined below a critical threshold, triggers certain profound changes. These include (but are not necessarily limited to) hot flashes, ovulation becoming irregular and dysfunctional, menstrual cycles becoming more and more irregular and less and less frequent and a decline in egg quality. The latter is accompanied by reduced fertility an increased risk of miscarriages. Ultimately the follicle recruitment process trickles to a halt, ovulation and menstruation cease altogether…The “menopause” has arrived.
.
A few additional pieces of information are needed here:
.
1. The ovary has two well defined hormone producing “compartments”. The first, the follicle houses the egg and has an inner lining of granulosa cells which in response to FSH produce estrogen. The second is the stroma or theca, connective tissue that surrounds the follicles and produces male hormone (predominantly testosterone).
2. Testosterone is the building block from which granulosa cells manufacture estrogen. It is carried in a “bucket brigade” fashion from the stroma to the follicle. LH promotes production of testosterone by the stroma.
3. Some LH is essential. In fact, neither follicle growth with estrogen production, nor proper egg development and maturation is possible without some delivery of testosterone to the follicle granulosa cells. However, too much LH-by causing overproduction of stromal (thecal) male hormones (predominantly testosterone) can however have a detrimental effect on follicle growth (as evidenced by a decline in estrogen production) with egg development which in turn ultimately interferes with egg maturation. In such cases, when the eggs fertilize (if indeed they even do), the resulting embryo(s) are much more likely to have an irregular chromosome number (i.e. aneuploidy) and thus be “incompetent”.
4. There are situations such as advanced age above 40 years, diminishing ovarian reserve and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which are all associated with a sustained elevation in LH as well as an overgrowth of ovarian stroma (stromal hyperplasia or hyperthecosis). In such cases the overgrowth of ovarian stroma/theca serves as an enlarged target for LH activity and thus will over-produce testosterone with adverse effects on egg development and embryo quality.

Simply stated, the potential for a woman’s eggs to undergo orderly development and maturation, successful fertilization and subsequent progression to “competent” embryos while genetically determined is also profoundly influenced by ovarian hormonal influences such as overproduction of ovarian (stromal/thecal) testosterone which can have an adverse influence on follicle development, egg quality and ultimately on embryo “competence.

It follows those protocols for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) must strike a balance between optimizing follicle growth and development and avoidance of excessive ovarian testosterone production. We do have access to medications that act as agonists (Lupron, Buserelin, Superfact, etc.) and antagonists (Cetrotide, Orgalutron, Ganirelix etc.) , by which it is possible to pharmacologically regulate pituitary release of LH . We also have pure DNA recombinant FSH (Follistim, Puregon and Gonal F) and pure recombinant LH preparations (Luveris). By prescribing customized protocols of ovarian stimulation it is now possible to avoid over-exposure to testosterone in women at risk (e.g. those with diminished ovarian reserve, older women and those who have PCOS) and in the process improve egg/embryo quality. So why then do some still persist in using high dosages of fertility drugs such as drugs that contain high concentrations of LH such as Menopur, in such cases and, why use protocols that promote LH over-exposure (Flare protocols).

There is an unfortunate tendency on the part of many IVF practitioners to place the blame for “poor quality embryos” on the embryology laboratory, The truth of the matter is that while the IVF embryology laboratory plays a pivotal, role in achieving optimal fertilization and embryo quality, no embryologist, regardless of expertise, can produce “good quality embryos” from “poor quality eggs”.

It is important to recognize that the chromosomal configuration of the embryo that determines its “competence”. A “competent embryo” is one that is euploid (has all its 46 chromosomes), and upon being transferred to a “receptive uterus” is most likely to propagate a viable pregnancy. Embryos that are aneuploid (an irregular number of chromosomes) are incapable of propagating “competent” embryos. The fact is that less than 50% of embryos resulting from fertilization of even young women’s’ eggs. As women get older this gets progressively worse such that by her mid-40 the number drops to less than 10%.

The above serves to explain the progressive decline in IVF birthrates that starts in the mid-thirties, greatly and accelerates after 40. For those women whose age and/or degree of ovarian resistance makes having a baby with their own eggs unappealing or unlikely, ovum donation (using donated eggs from a young donor (usually compatible and anonymous) is an excellent option. In fact IVF-ovum donation is one of the most successful methods of achieving pregnancy, regardless of the woman’s age.

• Controlled ovarian (COS) protocols:

Protocols for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) should be geared toward optimizing follicle and egg development and avoiding over exposure to ovarian androgens (mainly testosterone). The fulfillment of these objectives requires an individualized approach to COS and that the administration of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) or recombinant luteinizing hormone (LHr) to “trigger” ovulation, be timed precisely.

A. Long Protocols:

I routinely use long pituitary down Regulation protocols on my patients.. It is common practice to administer gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists (Lupron, Buserelin, Superfact) that act by causing an initial outpouring and then, over 4-5 days, a depletion of Pituitary FSH and LH and GnRH-antagonists (e.g. Orgalutron, Ganirelix, Cetrotide). GnRH- antagonists that block pituitary LH release within a few hours of administration:
a. Conventional Pituitary down-regulation with a GnRH agonist (GnRHa):
Long Pituitary down regulation protocol: I mostly recommend this protocol, for women with normal ovarian reserve (AMH=>2.0ng/ml/15pmol/L). My patients start on a BCP, and overlapping it with a GnRHa, (e.g. Lupron 10U daily) for three (3) days and then stop the BCP but continuing on with daily Lupron 10u daily and await a period (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 (which needs to be <70pg/ml) to exclude a functional ovarian cyst and simultaneously, the Lupron dosage is reduced to 5U daily and then continued until the hCG (10,000u) trigger. An FSH-dominant gonadotropin such as Follistim/ Puregon/ Gonal-f, daily is started with the period for 2 days and then the gonadotropin dosage is reduced and a 37.5U-75U of Menopur (daily) is added. This is continued until US and blood estradiol levels indicate that the hCG trigger be given, whereupon an ER is done 36h later.

b. GnRH antagonist Protocols: There are 3 variations on this theme:
i. Late antagonist protocol: I do not use this approach. Here the antagonist therapy is initiated about 6-8 days after starting gonadotropin therapy
ii. The agonist/antagonist conversion protocol (A/ACP): I mostly recommend this for women who have diminishing ovarian reserve (AMH=<2.0ng/ml). Here, as with the long pituitary down regulation protocol, a BCP launches the cycled and this is overlapped with a GnRHa (e.g. Lupron). A menstrual bleed will usually follow within <7days. At this point, the GnRHa is supplanted with an antagonist which is continued through to the day of the hCG trigger. at The initial administration of GnRHa is designed to take advantage of the GnRHa-induced pre-cycle surge in pituitary FSH output that is necessary to promote antral follicle recruitment while at the same time allowing the concomitant surge in LH to wear off (down-regulate) over 4-5 days in an attempt to establish a relatively “LH-free environment”, prior to initiating gonadotropin therapy.
iii. A/ACP + Estrogen priming: I mostly prescribe this for women with very severely diminished ovarian reserve (AMH=<0.2ng/ml).This variation of the A/ACP involves “estrogen priming” prior to initiating gonadotropins. Here estradiol is administered by injection (estradiol valerate/Delestrogen) starting after menstruation begins, for 8-10 days prior to initiating high dosage FSH-dominant/Menopur, gonadotropin therapy and is then continued for another 7-10 days during the stimulation. The intent is to prime ovarian follicle FSH receptors in an attempt to augment response to gonadotropins in women who have diminished ovarian reserve.
It is remarkable, that while using the A/ACP + E2V in “poor responders “ whose FSH levels were often well above threshold limits, our cycle cancellation has consistently been below 10% (i.e. much lower than expected). Many such patients who had previously been told that they should give up on using their own eggs, and switch to egg donation because of “poor ovarian reserve”, have subsequently achieved viable pregnancies at SIRM using the A/ACP with “estrogen priming”.

B. Short Protocol/ “Flare “protocol/ Microdose-Lupron(MDL) protocol

I rarely, if ever recommend this approach and here is the explanation as to why: When a GnRHa such as Lupron is used this is often referred to as the microdose Lupron (MDL) flare protocol. Here, administration of GnRHa is initiated after spontaneous menstruation, virtually at the same time that gonadotropin therapy commences. The intent is to deliberately allow Lupron to affect an initial surge (“flare”) in pituitary FSH release, so as 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 similar rise in blood LH levels that could evoke excessive ovarian stromal androgen production. The latter could potentially compromise egg quality, especially in older women, and to women with conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) whose ovaries have increased sensitivity to LH. In my opinion, it is in this way that such “flare protocols” can suppress endometrial development; compromise egg/embryo quality and reduce IVF success rates….especially if used in older women (>40y) and those who have declining or diminished ovarian reserve –DOR (AMH<2.0ng/ml/<15pmol/L.
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.
• 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.
• Human Growth Hormone Administration in IVF: Does it Enhances Egg/Embryo Quality and Outcome?
• IVF and the use of Supplementary Human Growth Hormone (HGH) : Is it Worth Trying and who needs it?
• The BCP: Does Launching a Cycle of Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS). Coming off the BCP Compromise Response?
• Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
• IVF & Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): A Rational Basis for COS Protocol Selection.
• 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)
• 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
I urge you to set up a Skype or an in-person consultation with me. To do so, simply call 1-800-780-7437 (if you reside in the U.S.A or Canada) or 702-533-2691 (if you reside elsewhere). Alternatively you can enroll online by going to the home page of the Sher-IVF website, http://www.SherIVF.com where, upon completing an enrollment form), you will immediately be eligible

reply
Sophia

Thanks for your answer.
I am wondering can the reasons be because of my husband’s sperm? I always thought with ICSI this should not be a reason.

My FSH is 10 at 31. I had a high dosage (550 Follistim, 500 Menopur). Can it be because of my FSH?

Does it only affect the fertilization rate or also the development of the 3 normally fertilized eggs? (problems to get a blastocyst)?

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

ICSI only ensures that fertilization occurs. It does not in any way insure that the sperm which is injected is normal. So yes! The sperm can be a factor in spite of ICSI being performed.

My final IVF cycle at SIRM-LV commences on March 19th and concludes on April 2nd. If you are interested in undergoing a fresh IVF treatment cycle with me or if you have embryos cryopreserved at SIRM-LV and wish to undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) prior to my departure, please contact me immediately….. My March cycle is likely to be very much in demand…….So, time is of the essence!
Following my departure from SIRM in mid-April, 2019, I will continue to provide comprehensive consultations to those of you that wish to have my guidance. Upon scheduling a SKYPE consultation with me, you will promptly receive a detailed questionnaire, along with a request that you submit available medical records for my review prior to our consultation. Additional tests and records can/will be requisitioned later, as needed. Your +/- 1 hour comprehensive SKYPE consultation will be followed by a detailed written report which you can also share with your personal Fertility Physician.
I will soon be posting a list of internationally regarded Fertility Specialists whom I endorse and who will have expressed a willingness to implement my suggested approaches, at their discretion. It is to one of these doctors that I would selectively refer you…upon request.
CONTACT INFORMATION:
• Online: Go to sherivf.com and Schedule a Skype Consultation. Upon doing so, you will be able to download a free copy of my new eBook ” Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”
• Phone
o If you live in the USA or Canada: Please call 1-800-780-7437 or 702-533-2691
o If you reside elsewhere Abroad: Please call 702-533-2691
o Email: concierge@SherIVF.com
Please monitor this website for future announcements on further developments.
Geoff Sher

reply
Julianna Knuerr

Hi Dr. Sher,

I just found out I was pregnant last weekend and have had the following bloodwork done starting on 1/7 which was approximately 14/15 DPO:

-1/7 at 10:30 am
HCG: 79, Progesterone: 33

-1/9 at 8 am:
HCG: 118

-1/10 at 11:30 am
HCG: 167

-1/12 at 5:30 pm
HCG: 326

I am wondering if I should be concerned about the rate of increase? My doctor told me that the rate of increase between 1/7 and 1/9, though not a full 48 hours was concerning but the rates do seem to be increasing faster since. Also,
I have a 30 day cycle and may have ovulated a day or two off but was wondering if my level at 326 at just around 5 weeks seems too low? I am worried about Ectopic as they were not able to identify anything on an ultrasound yesterday and have had dull one-sided back discomfort, though it is still early.

Thank you in advance!

reply
Julianna Knuerr

Hi Dr. Sher,

Is this a scenario you have seen before with a viable, uterine pregnancy? Would the good progesterone level eliminate any concern for ectopic?

Thank you again.

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Yes! I have seen this before! And no, the progesterone level alone does would not rule out or confirm an ectopic.

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

reply
Julianna

In your experience, do you have a minimum increase/double rate that you recommend or like to see for a successful outcome?

Dr. Geoffrey Sher

No! However the level should double every 48H in early pregnancy.

My final IVF cycle at SIRM-LV commences on March 19th and concludes on April 2nd. If you are interested in undergoing a fresh IVF treatment cycle with me or if you have embryos cryopreserved at SIRM-LV and wish to undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) prior to my departure, please contact me immediately….. My March cycle is likely to be very much in demand…….So, time is of the essence!

Following my departure from SIRM in mid-April, 2019, I will continue to provide comprehensive consultations to those of you that wish to have my guidance. Upon scheduling a SKYPE consultation with me, you will promptly receive a detailed questionnaire, along with a request that you submit available medical records for my review prior to our consultation. Additional tests and records can/will be requisitioned later, as needed. Your +/- 1 hour comprehensive SKYPE consultation will be followed by a detailed written report which you can also share with your personal Fertility Physician.

I will soon be posting a list of internationally regarded Fertility Specialists whom I endorse and who will have expressed a willingness to implement my suggested approaches, at their discretion. It is to one of these doctors that I would selectively refer you…upon request.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Online: Go to sherivf.com and Schedule a Skype Consultation. Upon doing so, you will be able to download a free copy of my new eBook ” Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and Unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”
Phone
If you live in the USA or Canada: Please call 1-800-780-7437 or 702-533-2691
If you reside elsewhere Abroad: Please call 702-533-269
Email: concierge@SherIVF.com

Please monitor this website for future announcements on further developments.

Geoff Sher

Anna

Hello Dr. Sher.
I have read on your blog that long down regulation protocol may produce cysts. This is what happened to me-after Synarel downregulation I developed 40mm cyst. My question-is short protocol with 1-3 days antagonist suppression before stims have less probability of cyst formation?
Thank you
Kind regards
Anna

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Protocols for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) should be geared toward optimizing follicle and egg development and avoiding over exposure to ovarian androgens (mainly testosterone). The fulfillment of these objectives requires an individualized approach to COS and that the administration of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) or recombinant luteinizing hormone (LHr) to “trigger” ovulation, be timed precisely.

A. LONG PROTOCOLS:

I routinely use long pituitary down Regulation protocols on my patients.. It is common practice to administer gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists (Lupron, Buserelin, Superfact) that act by causing an initial outpouring and then, over 4-5 days, a depletion of Pituitary FSH and LH and GnRH-antagonists (e.g. Orgalutron, Ganirelix, Cetrotide). GnRH- antagonists that block pituitary LH release within a few hours of administration:

A. Conventional Pituitary down-regulation with a GnRH agonist (GnRHa):

i. Long Pituitary down regulation protocol: I mostly recommend this protocol, for women with normal ovarian reserve (AMH=>2.0ng/ml/15pmol/L). My patients start on a BCP, and overlapping it with a GnRHa, (e.g. Lupron 10U daily) for three (3) days and then stop the BCP but continuing on with daily Lupron 10u daily and await a period (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 (which needs to be <70pg/ml) to exclude a functional ovarian cyst and simultaneously, the Lupron dosage is reduced to 5U daily and then continued until the hCG (10,000u) trigger. An FSH-dominant gonadotropin such as Follistim/ Puregon/ Gonal-f, daily is started with the period for 2 days and then the gonadotropin dosage is reduced and a 37.5U-75U of Menopur (daily) is added. This is continued until US and blood estradiol levels indicate that the hCG trigger be given, whereupon an ER is done 36h later.

ii. GnRH antagonist(GnRHa) protocols:

i. Late antagonist protocol: I do not use this approach. Here the antagonist therapy is initiated about 6-8 days after starting gonadotropin therapy

ii. The agonist/antagonist conversion protocol (A/ACP): I mostly recommend this for women who have diminishing ovarian reserve (AMH=<2.0ng/ml). Here, as with the long pituitary down regulation protocol, a BCP launches the cycled and this is overlapped with a GnRHa (e.g. Lupron). A menstrual bleed will usually follow within <7days. At this point, the GnRHa is supplanted with an antagonist which is continued through to the day of the hCG trigger. at The initial administration of GnRHa is designed to take advantage of the GnRHa-induced pre-cycle surge in pituitary FSH output that is necessary to promote antral follicle recruitment while at the same time allowing the concomitant surge in LH to wear off (down-regulate) over 4-5 days in an attempt to establish a relatively “LH-free environment”, prior to initiating gonadotropin therapy.

iii. A/ACP + Estrogen priming: I mostly prescribe this for women with very severely diminished ovarian reserve (AMH=<0.2ng/ml).This variation of the A/ACP involves “estrogen priming” prior to initiating gonadotropins. Here estradiol is administered by injection (estradiol valerate/Delestrogen) starting after menstruation begins, for 8-10 days prior to initiating high dosage FSH-dominant/Menopur, gonadotropin therapy and is then continued for another 7-10 days during the stimulation. The intent is to prime ovarian follicle FSH receptors in an attempt to augment response to gonadotropins in women who have diminished ovarian reserve.
It is remarkable, that while using the A/ACP + E2V in “poor responders “ whose FSH levels were often well above threshold limits, our cycle cancellation has consistently been below 10% (i.e. much lower than expected). Many such patients who had previously been told that they should give up on using their own eggs, and switch to egg donation because of “poor ovarian reserve”, have subsequently achieved viable pregnancies at SIRM using the A/ACP with “estrogen priming”.

B. SHORT FROTOCOL/ “Flare “protocol/ Microdose-Lupron(MDL) protocol

I rarely, if ever recommend this approach and here is the explanation as to why: When a GnRHa such as Lupron is used this is often referred to as the microdose Lupron (MDL) flare protocol. Here, administration of GnRHa is initiated after spontaneous menstruation, virtually at the same time that gonadotropin therapy commences. The intent is to deliberately allow Lupron to affect an initial surge (“flare”) in pituitary FSH release, so as 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 similar rise in blood LH levels that could evoke excessive ovarian stromal androgen production. The latter could potentially compromise egg quality, especially in older women, and to women with conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) whose ovaries have increased sensitivity to LH. In my opinion, it is in this way that such “flare protocols” can suppress endometrial development; compromise egg/embryo quality and reduce IVF success rates….especially if used in older women (>40y) and those who have declining or diminished ovarian reserve –DOR (AMH<2.0ng/ml/<15pmol/L.

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.
• 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.
• Human Growth Hormone Administration in IVF: Does it Enhances Egg/Embryo Quality and Outcome?
• IVF and the use of Supplementary Human Growth Hormone (HGH) : Is it Worth Trying and who needs it?
• The BCP: Does Launching a Cycle of Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS). Coming off the BCP Compromise Response?
• Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
• IVF & Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): A Rational Basis for COS Protocol Selection.
• A Rational Basis for selecting Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) protocols in women with Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
• 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

I urge you to set up a Skype or an in-person consultation with me. To do so, simply call 1-800-780-7437 (if you reside in the U.S.A or Canada) or 702-533-2691 (if you reside elsewhere). Alternatively you can enroll online by going to the home page of the Sher-IVF website, http://www.SherIVF.com where, upon completing an enrollment form), you will immediately be eligible to download my new book, “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”, free of charge.

Geoffrey Sher MD

reply
Robert

We know that egg quality decreases as a woman ages; does AMH and antral follicle count mean much of anything to egg quality for a woman in the 42, 43, 44 year old age range? In other words, if the AMH is good and she has an antral count somewhere between 10 and 15, does this bode well or does it not matter anyway because the egg quality will be compromised regardless of how many are retrieved?

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

The impact of advancing age on egg/embryo quality is linked to the increasing incidence of egg karyotype (numerical chromosomal integrity). However, this is largely independent of ovarian reserve (as measured by basal AMH/FSH/LH/E2) which is an index of egg availability. However when there is diminished ovarian reserve in combination of advancing age, the effect on egg competency is magnified. Thus it is essential to use an individualized and strategic protocol for ovarian stimulation in such cases.

The potential for a woman’s eggs to undergo orderly development and maturation, while in large part being genetically determined can be profoundly influenced by the woman’s age, her “ovarian reserve” and proximity to menopause. It is also influenced by the protocol used for controlled ovarian stimulation (COH) which by fashioning the intra-ovarian hormonal environment, profoundly impacts egg development and maturation.
After the menarche (age at which menstruation starts) a monthly process of repeatedly processing eggs continues until the menopause, by which time most eggs will have been used up, and ovulation and menstruation cease. When the number of eggs remaining in the ovaries falls below a certain threshold, ovarian function starts to wane over a 5 to10-years. This time period is referred to as the climacteric. With the onset of the climacteric, blood Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and later also Luteinizing Hormone (LH) levels begin to rise…. at first slowly and then more rapidly, ultimately culminating in the complete cessation of ovulation and menstruation (i.e. menopause).
One of the early indications that the woman has entered the climacteric and that ovarian reserve is diminishing DOR) , is the detection of a basal blood FSH level above 9.0 MIU/ml and/ or an AMH level og <2.0ng/ml.
Prior to the changes that immediately precede ovulation, virtually all human eggs have 23 pairs (i.e. 46) of chromosomes. Thirty six to forty hours prior to ovulation, a surge occurs in the release of LH by the pituitary gland. One of the main e purposes of this LH surge is to cause the chromosomes in the egg to divide n half (to 23 in number) in order that once fertilized by a mature sperm ends up having 23 chromosomes) the resulting embryo will be back to having 46 chromosomes. A “competent” mature egg is one that has precisely 23 chromosomes, not any more or any less. It is largely the egg, rather than the sperm that determines the chromosomal integrity of the embryo and only an embryo that has a normal component of 46 chromosomes (i.e. euploid) is “competent” to develop into a healthy baby. If for any reason the final number of chromosomes in the egg is less or more than 23 (aneuploid), it will be incapable of propagating a euploid, “competent” embryo. Thus egg/embryo aneuploidy (“incompetence”) is the leading cause of human reproductive dysfunction which can manifest as: arrested embryo development and/or failed implantation (which often presents as infertility), early miscarriage or chromosomal birth defects (e.g. Down’s syndrome). While most aneuploid (“incompetent”) embryos often fail to produce a pregnancy, some do. However, most such pregnancies miscarry early on. On relatively rare occasions, depending on the chromosome pair involved, aneuploid embryos can develop into chromosomally defective babies (e.g. Down’s syndrome).
Up until a woman reaches her mid- thirties, at best, 1:2 of her eggs will likely be chromosomally normal. As she ages beyond her mid-thirties there will be a a progressive decline in egg quality such that by age 40 years only about 15%-20% of eggs are euploid and, by the time the woman reaches her mid-forties, less than 10% of her eggs are likely to be chromosomally normal. While most aneuploid embryos do appear to be microscopically abnormal under the light microscope, this is not invariably so. In fact, many aneuploid embryos a have a perfectly normal appearance under the microscope. This is why it is not possible to reliably differentiate between competent and incompetent embryos on the basis of their microscopic appearance (morphologic grade) alone.
The process of natural selection usually precludes most aneuploid embryos from attaching to the uterine lining. Those that do attach usually do so for such only a brief period of time. In such cases the woman often will not even experience a postponement of menstruation. There will be a transient rise in blood hCG levels but in most cases the woman will be unaware of even having conceived (i.e. a “chemical pregnancy”). Alternatively, an aneuploid embryo might attach for a period of a few weeks before being expelled (i.e. a “miscarriage”). Sometimes (fortunately rarely) an aneuploid embryo will develop into a viable baby that is born with a chromosomal birth defect (e.g. Down’s syndrome).
The fact that the incidence of embryo aneuploidy invariably increases with advancing age serves to explain why reproductive failure (“infertility”, miscarriages and birth defects), also increases as women get older.
It is an over-simplification to represent that diminishing ovarian reserve as evidenced by raised FSH blood levels (and other tests) and reduced response to stimulation with fertility drugs is a direct cause of “poor egg/ embryo quality”. This common misconception stems from the fact that poor embryo quality (“incompetence”) often occurs in women who at the same time, because of the advent of the climacteric also have elevated basal blood FSH/LH levels and reduced AMH. But it is not the elevation in FSH or the low AMH that causes embryo “incompetence”. Rather it is the effect of advancing age (the “biological clock”) resulting a progressive increase in the incidence of egg aneuploidy, which is responsible for declining egg quality. Simply stated, as women get older “wear and tear” on their eggs increases the likelihood of egg and thus embryo aneuploidy. It just so happens that the two precipitating factors often go hand in hand.
The importance of the IVF stimulation protocol on egg/embryo quality cannot be overstated. This factor seems often to be overlooked or discounted by those 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 in patients at risk – particularly those with diminished ovarian reserve (“poor responders”) and those who are “high responders” (women with PCOS , those with dysfunctional or absent ovulation, and young women under 25 years of age).
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.
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 (the tissue surrounding ovarian follicles) during the pre-ovulatory phase of the cycle enhance late follicle development, estrogen production by the granulosa cells (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 protocols for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS should be geared toward optimizing follicle growth and development (without placing the woman at risk from overstimulation), while at the same time avoiding excessive ovarian androgen production. Achievement of such objectives requires a very individualized approach to choosing the protocol for COS with fertility drugs as well as the precise timing of the “trigger shot” of hCG.
It is important to recognize that the pituitary gonadotropins, LH and FSH, while both playing a pivotal role in follicle development, have different primary sites of action in the ovary. The action of FSH is mainly directed towards the cells lining the inside of the follicle that are responsible for estrogen production. LH, on the other hand, acts primarily on the ovarian stroma to produce male hormones/ androgens (e.g. androstenedione and testosterone). A small amount of testosterone is necessary for optimal estrogen production. Over-production of such androgens can have a deleterious effect on granulosa cell activity, follicle growth/development, egg maturation, fertilization potential and subsequent embryo quality. Furthermore, excessive ovarian androgens can also compromise estrogen-induced endometrial growth and development.
In conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is characterized by increased blood LH levels, there is also increased ovarian androgen production. It is therefore not surprising that “poor egg/embryo quality” is often a feature of this condition. The use of LH-containing preparations such as Menopur further aggravates this effect. Thus we recommend using FSH-dominant products such as Follistim, Puregon, and Gonal-F in such cases. While it would seem prudent to limit LH exposure in all cases of COS, this appears to be more vital in older women, who tend to be more sensitive to LH
It is common practice to administer gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa) agonists such as Lupron, and, GnRH-antagonists such as Ganirelix and Orgalutron to prevent the release of LH during COS. GnRH agonists exert their LH-lowering effect over a number of days. They act by causing an initial outpouring followed by a depletion of pituitary gonadotropins. This results in the LH level falling to low concentrations, within 4-7 days, thereby establishing a relatively “LH-free environment”. GnRH Antagonists, on the other hand, act very rapidly (within a few hours) to block pituitary LH release, so as achieve the same effect.
Long Agonist (Lupron/Buserelin) Protocols: The most commonly prescribed protocol for Lupron/gonadotropin administration is the so-called “long protocol”. Here, Lupron is given, starting a week or so prior to menstruation. This results in an initial rise in FSH and LH level, which is rapidly followed by a precipitous fall to near zero. It is followed by uterine withdrawal bleeding (menstruation), whereupon gonadotropin treatment is initiated while daily Lupron injections continue, to ensure a “low LH” environment. A modification to the long protocol which I prefer using in cases of DOR, is the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol (A/ACP) where, upon the onset of a Lupron-induced bleed , this agonist is supplanted by an antagonist (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) and this is continued until the hCG trigger. In many such cases I supplement with human growth hormone (HGH) to try and further enhance response and egg development.
Lupron Flare/Micro-Flare Protocol: Another approach to COS is by way of so-called “(micro) flare protocols”. This involves initiating gonadotropin therapy simultaneous with the administration of GnRH agonist (e.g. Lupron/Buserelin). The intent here 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 “spring board effect” represents “a double edged sword” because 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 androgen production which could potentially compromise egg quality, especially in older women and women with PCOS, whose ovaries have increased sensitivity to LH. 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 in older women, and in women with diminished ovarian reserve. Accordingly, I do not prescribe them at all.
Estrogen Priming – My approach for “Poor Responders” Our patients who have demonstrated reduced ovarian response to COS as well as those who by way of significantly raised FSH blood levels are likely to be “poor responders”, are treated using a “modified” long protocol. The approach involves the initial administration of GnRH agonist for a number of days to cause pituitary down-regulation. Upon menstruation and confirmation by ultrasound and measurement of blood estradiol levels that adequate ovarian suppression has been achieved, the dosage of GnRH agonist is drastically lowered and the woman is given twice-weekly injections of estradiol for a period of 8. COS is thereupon initiated using a relatively high dosage of FSH-(Follistim, Bravelle, Puregon or Gonal F) which is continued along with daily administration of GnRH agonist until the “hCG trigger.” By this approach we have been able to significantly improve ovarian response to gonadotropins in many of hitherto “resistant patients”.
The “Trigger”: hCG (Profasi/Pregnyl/Novarel) versus Lupron: With ovulation induction using fertility drugs, the administration of 10,000U hCGu (the hCG “trigger”) mimics the LH surge, sending the eggs (which up to that point are immature (M1) and have 46 chromosomes) into maturational division (meiosis) This process is designed to halve the chromosome number , resulting in mature eggs (M2) that will have 23 chromosomes rather that the 46 chromosomes it had prior to the “trigger”. Such a chromosomally normal, M2 egg, upon being fertilized by mature sperm (that following maturational division also has 23 chromosomes) will hopefully propagate embryos that have 46 chromosomes and will be “:competent” to propagate viable pregnancies. The key is to trigger with no less than 10,000U of hCGu (Profasi/Novarel/Pregnyl) and if hCGr (Ovidrel) is used, to make sure that 500mcg (rather than 250mcg) is administered. In my opinion, any lesser dosage will reduce the efficiency of meiosis, and increase the risk of the eggs being chromosomally abnormal. . I also do not use the agonist (Lupron) “trigger”. This approach which is often recommended for women at risk of overstimulation, is intended to reduce the risk of OHSS. The reason for using the Lupron trigger is that by inducing a surge in the release of LH by the pituitary gland it reduces the risk of OHSS. This is true, but this comes at the expense of egg quality because the extent of the induced LH surge varies and if too little LH is released, meiosis can be compromised, thereby increasing the percentage of chromosomally abnormal and of immature (M1) eggs. The use of “coasting” in such cases) can obviate this effect
.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
• 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.

I urge you to set up a Skype or an in-person consultation with me. To do so, simply call 1-800-780-7437 (if you reside in the U.S.A or Canada) or 702-533-2691 (if you reside elsewhere). Alternatively you can enroll online by going to the home page of the Sher-IVF website, http://www.SherIVF.com where, upon completing an enrollment form), you will immediately be eligible to download my new book, “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”, free of charge.

Geoffrey Sher MD

reply
Sam

Hello Dr. Sher,

I have just turned 47. Met my husband at age 41 and within about 6 months we began trying to conceive. We had two miscarriages (both at 6 weeks), and started going to a fertility clinic to begin IVF. They discovered I had fibroids. Waited over a year before I was able to get in for myomectomy to get those out, and another 6 months to recover from that. Then I was diagnosed with transverse myelitis/possible MS after an acute attack of neuropathy. At the moment this is under control, only one lesion, but I do have little autoimmune-type rashes that flare up, blood shows autoimmune antibodies. Long story short all of this held up our IVF journey. In September of 2018 at age 46 I conceived naturally but miscarried again at 6 weeks (my third miscarriage). In November we finally began our first IVF cycle. My AMH showed high ovarian reserve. The protocol was Rekovelle + Menopur + Saizen and then Orgalutran beginning on day 6 until trigger shot. We retrieved 10 eggs, 5 fertilized, all made it to day 3 but none made it to day 5. I just turned 47, this past December. I feel healthy and I eat well and take all the supplements – Ubiquinol, high-quality fish oil, vit D, etc. My clinic is willing to do another IVF cycle (with PGS) and I am as well, but my husband is hesitant because of my age and our history. I also wonder about my autoimmune issues and miscarriage. Of course we are considering donor egg but I’m struggling to let go of “just one more try” with my own eggs, given that I seem to still have a decent reserve.
I wonder if you have thoughts or advice on the best approach at this point? Thanks very much!

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Given your age, the chance of success with own eggs (regardless of your ovarian reserve)is dismal. Advancing age increases the likelihood of egg/embryo chromosomal aberrations (aneuploidy), compounding the risk of failed implantation and increasing the livelihood of early pregnancy loss.

Egg donation is the process by which a woman donates eggs for purposes of assisted reproduction or biomedical research. For assisted reproduction purposes, egg donation typically involves in vitro fertilization (IVF) technology, with the eggs being fertilized in the laboratory, unfertilized eggs may be frozen and stored for later use. Egg donation is a third party reproduction as part of assisted reproductive technology (ART).
For many women, disease and/or diminished ovarian reserve precludes achieving a pregnancy with their own eggs. Since the vast majority of such women are otherwise quite healthy and physically capable of bearing a child, egg donation (ED) provides them with a realistic opportunity of going from infertility to parenthood.
Egg donation is associated with definite benefits. Firstly, in many instances, more eggs are retrieved from a young donor than would ordinarily be needed to complete a single IVF cycle. As a result, there are often supernumerary (leftover) embryos for cryopreservation and storage. Secondly, since eggs derived from a young woman are less likely than their older counterparts to produce aneuploid (chromosomally abnormal) embryos, the risk of miscarriage and birth defects such as Down’s syndrome is considerably reduced.
Egg Donation-related, fresh and frozen embryo transfer cycles account for 10%-15% of IVF performed in the United States. The vast majority of egg donation procedures performed in the U.S involve women with declining ovarian reserve. While some of these are done for premature ovarian failure, the majority are undertaken in women over 40 years of age. Recurrent IVF failure due to “poor quality” eggs or embryos is also a relatively common indication for ED in the U.S. A growing indication for ED is in cases of same-sex relationships (predominantly female) where both partners wish to share in the parenting experience by one serving as egg provider and the other, as the recipient.
Ninety percent of egg donation in the U.S is done through the solicitation of anonymous donors who are recruited through a state-licensed egg donor agency. It is less common for recipients to solicit known donors through the services of a donor agency, although this does happen on occasion. It is also not easy to find donors who are willing to enter into such an open arrangement. Accordingly, in the vast majority of cases where the services of a known donor is solicited, it is by virtue of a private arrangement. While the services of non-family members are sometimes sought, it is much more common for recipients to approach close family members to serve as their egg donor.
Some recipients feel the compulsion to know or at least to have met their egg donor, so as to gain first hand familiarity with her physical characteristics, intellect, and character. This having been said, in the U.S. it is much more common to seek the services of anonymous donors. In terms of disclosure to their family, friends and child(ren), recipients using anonymous donors tend to be far more open than those of known donors about the nature of the child’s conception. Most, if not all, egg donor agencies provide a detailed profile, photos, medical and family history of each prospective donor for the benefit and information of the recipient. Agencies generally have a website through which recipients can access donor profiles in the privacy of their own homes in order to select the ideal donor.
Interaction between the recipient and the egg donor program may be conducted in-person, by telephone or online in the initial stages. Once the choice of a donor has been narrowed down to two or three, the recipient is asked to forward all relevant medical records to their chosen IVF physician. Upon receipt of her records, a detailed medical consultation will subsequently held and a physical examination by the treating physician or by a designated alternative qualified counterpart is scheduled. This entire process is usually overseen, facilitated and orchestrated by one of the donor program’s nurse coordinators who, in concert with the treating physician, will address all clinical, financial and logistical issues, as well as answering any questions. At the same time, the final process of donor selection and donor-recipient matching is completed.
Egg donor agencies usually limit the age of egg donors to women under 35 years with normal ovarian reserve in an attempt to minimize the risk of ovarian resistance and negate adverse influence of the “biological clock” (donor age) on egg quality.
No single factor instills more confidence regarding the reproductive potential of a prospective egg donor than a history of her having previously achieved a pregnancy on her own, or that one or more recipients of her eggs having achieved a live birth. Moreover, such a track record makes it far more likely that such an ED will have “good quality eggs”. Furthermore, the fact that an ED readily conceived on her own lessens the likelihood that she herself has tubal or organic infertility. This having been said, the current shortage in the supply of egg donors makes it both impractical and unfeasible, to confine donor recruitment to those women who could fulfill such stringent criteria for qualification.
It is not unheard of for a donor who, at some point after donating eggs, finds herself unable to conceive on her own due to pelvic adhesions or tubal disease, to blame her infertility on complications caused by the prior surgical egg retrieval process. She may even embark upon legal proceedings against the IVF physician and program. It should therefore come as no surprise that it provides a measurable degree of comfort to ED program when a prospective donor is able to provide evidence of having experienced a relatively recent, trouble free spontaneous pregnancy.
Screening of Donors
Genetic Screening: The vast majority of IVF programs in the U.S. follow the recommendations and guidelines of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) for selectively genetic screening of prospective egg donors for conditions such as sickle cell trait or disease, thalassemia, cystic fibrosis and Tay Sachs disease, when medically indicated. Consultation with a geneticist is available through about 90% of programs.
Most recipient couples place a great deal of importance on emotional, physical, ethnic, cultural and religious compatibility with their chosen egg donor. In fact they often will insist that the egg donor be heterosexual.
Psychological Screening: Americans tend to place great emphasis on psychological screening of egg donors. Since most donors are “anonymous,” it is incumbent upon the ED agency or the IVF program to determine the donor’s degree of commitment as well as her motivation for deciding to provide this service. I have on occasions encountered donors who have buckled under the stress and defaulted mid-stream during their cycle of stimulation with gonadotropins. In one case, a donor knowingly stopped administering gonadotropins without informing anyone. She simply awaited cancellation, which was effected when follicles stopped growing and her plasma E2 concentration failed to rise.
Such concerns mandate that assessment of donor motivation and commitment be given appropriate priority. Most recipients in the U.S. tend to be very much influenced by the “character” of the prospective egg donor, believing that a flawed character is likely to be carried over genetically to the offspring. In reality, unlike certain psychoses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorders, character flaws are usually neuroses and are most likely to be determined by environmental factors associated with upbringing. They are unlikely to be genetically transmitted. Nevertheless, egg donors should be subjected to counseling and screening and should be selectively tested by a qualified psychologists. When in doubt, they should be referred to a psychiatrist for more definitive testing. Selective use of tests such as the MMPI, Meyers-Briggs and NEO-Personality Indicator are used to assess for personality disorders. Significant abnormalities, once detected, should lead to the automatic disqualification of such prospective donors.
When it comes to choosing a known egg donor, it is equally important to make sure that she was not coerced into participating. We try to caution recipients who are considering having a close friend or family member serve as their designated egg donor, that in doing so, the potential always exists that the donor might become a permanent and an unwanted participant in the lives of their new family.
Drug Screening: Because of the prevalence of substance abuse in our society, we selectively call for urine and/or serum drug testing of our egg donors.
Screening for STDs: FDA and ASRM guidelines recommend that all egg donors be tested for sexually transmittable diseases before entering into a cycle of IVF. While it is highly improbable that DNA and RNA viruses could be transmitted to an egg or an embryo through sexual intercourse or IVF, women infected with viruses such as hepatitis B, C, HTLV, HIV etc, must be disqualified from participating in IVF with egg donation due to the (abeit remote) possibility of transmission, as well as the potential legal consequences of the egg donation process being blamed for their occurrence.
In addition, evidence of prior or existing infection with Chlamydia or Gonococcus introduces the possibility that the egg donor might have pelvic adhesions or even irreparably damaged fallopian tubes that might have rendered her infertile. As previously stated, such infertility, subsequently detected might be blamed on infection that occurred during the process of egg retrieval, exposing the caregivers to litigation. Even if an egg donor or a recipient who carries a sexually transmittable viral or bacterial agent is willing to waive all rights of legal recourse, a potential risk still exists that a subsequently affected offspring might in later in life sue for wrongful birth.
Screening of the Recipient

Medical Evaluation: while advancing age, beyond 40 years, is indeed associated with an escalating incidence of pregnancy complications, such risks are largely predicable through careful medical assessment prior to pregnancy. The fundamental question namely: “is the woman capable of safely engaging a pregnancy that would culminate in the safe birth of a healthy baby” must be answered in the affirmative, before any infertility treatment is initiated. For this reason, a thorough cardiovascular, hepatorenal, metabolic and anatomical reproductive evaluation must be done prior to initiating IVF in all cases.
Infectious Screening: the need for careful infectious screening for embryo recipients cannot be overemphasized. Aside from tests for debilitating sexually transmittable diseases, there is the important requirement that cervical mucous and semen be free of infection with ureaplasma urealyticum. This organism which rarely causes symptoms frequents the cervical glands of 15-20% of women in the U.S. The introduction of an embryo transfer catheter via a so infected cervix might transmit the organism into an otherwise sterile uterine cavity leading to early implantation failure and/or first trimester miscarriage.
Immunologic Screening: Certain autoimmune and alloimmune disorders (see elsewhere) can be associated with immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID). In order to prevent otherwise avoidable treatment failure, it is advisable to evaluate the recipient for autoimmune IDD and also to test both the recipient and the sperm provider for alloimmune similarities that could compromise implantation.
Disclosure and Consent
Preparation for egg donation requires full disclosure to all participants regarding what each step of the process involves from start to finish, as well as potential medical and psychological risks. This necessitates that significant time be devoted to this task and that there be a willingness to painstakingly address all questions and concerns posed by all parties involved in the process. An important component of full disclosure involves clear interpretation of the medical and psychological components assessed during the evaluation process. All parties should be advised to seek independent legal counsel so as to avoid conflicts of interest that might arise from legal advice given by the same attorney. Appropriate consent forms are then reviewed and signed independently by the donor and the recipient couple.
Most embryo recipients fully expect their chosen donor to yield a large number of mature, good quality eggs, sufficient to provide enough embryos to afford a good chance of pregnancy as well as several for cryopreservation (freezing) and storage. While such expectations ore often met, this is not always the case. Accordingly, to minimize the trauma of unexpected and usually unavoidable disappointment, it is essential that in the process of counseling and of consummating agreements, the respective parties be fully informed that by making best efforts to provide the highest standards of care, the caregivers can only assure optimal intent and performance in keeping with accepted standards of care. No one can ever promise an optimal outcome. All parties should be made aware that no definitive representation can or will be made as to the number or quality of ova and embryos that will or are likely to become available, the number of supernumerary embryos that will be available for cryopreservation or the subsequent outcome of the IVF donor process.
TYPES OF EGG DONATION

Conventional Egg Donation: This is the basic format used for conducting the process of egg donor IVF. It involves synchronizing the menstrual cycles of both the recipient and the donor by placing the donor and the recipient on a birth control pill so that both parties start stimulation with fertility drugs simultaneously. This ultimately allows for precise timing of the fresh embryo transfer. Using this approach, the anticipated egg donation birth rate is >50% per cycle.
Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS)-Egg Donation: The recent introduction of complete numerical chromosomal assessment (karyotyping) using metaphase Comparative Genomic Hybridization (mCGH) and Next Generation Gene sequencing (NGS) has the potential to change the manner in which egg donation will be performed in the future. CGH/NGS allows full egg/embryo chromosome analysis providing a 70- 80% assurance that the embryo(s) so selected for transfer are highly likely to be “competent” (i.e. capable of producing a healthy baby). Such PGS-egg selection provides about a 50% chance of a baby per transfer of an embryo derived through fertilization of a pre-vitrified euploid egg. This is at least double that reported when conventional egg donation is used. As a result, mCGH/NGS-Egg Donation allows for excellent results when one or two embryos are transferred, virtually eliminating the risk of “high order” multiple pregnancies (triplets or greater). Moreover, since numerical chromosomal irregularities (aneuploidy) are responsible for most miscarriages, the use of CGH also significantly reduces this dreaded complication.
PGS egg selection of necessity mandates the use of Staggered (ST)- IVF. Here the egg donor cycle is divided into two parts. The first involves the egg retrieval, fertilization, embryo biopsy for PGS analysis and embryo cryostorage. The second part involving warming or thawing of the frozen embryo(s) and the subsequent transfer of “competent” embryo(s) to the recipient’s uterus is conducted electively at least several weeks later once the results of PGS testing are available. Since, with St-IVF the egg retrieval and embryo transfer are separated in time, the retrieval can be performed without first having to synchronize the menstrual cycles of the recipient and the egg the donor. In fact, the recipient does not even have to be available when the egg donor is going through cycle. All that is needed is for designated sperm to be available (fresh or frozen) on the day of egg retrieval. This avoids unnecessary travel and inconvenience, and minimizes stress and cost.
Donor Egg Banking: Another imminent advance is the introduction of egg banking. Being able to freeze and bank donor eggs would solve most of these challenges. By using PGS in combination with a egg vitrification (ultra-rapid freezing), we are now capable of improving the birth rate per warmed/thawed egg by a factor of 3-4 fold (from a previous average of <8% per egg to about 27%). Through an electronic catalogue, recipients will be able to select and purchase 1-3 CGH-normal eggs from the comfort of their homes. Thereupon, the selective transfer of 1 or 2 embryos derived from such chromosomally normal eggs could achieve a 50-60% pregnancy rate without the risk of initiating high-order multiple pregnancies in the process. Through this process, the cost, inconvenience and risks associated with “conventional” fresh egg donor cycles would also be reduced significantly.
Financial Considerations
The fee paid to the egg donor agency per cycle usually ranges between $2,000 and $8,000. This does not include the cost associated with psychological and clinical pre-testing, fertility drugs, and donor insurance, which commonly range between $3,000 and $6,000. The medical service costs of the IVF treatment cycle ranges between $8,000 and $14,000. The donor stipend can range from $2,000 too as high $50,000 depending upon the exotic requirements of the recipient couple as well as supply and demand. Thus the total out of pocket expenses for an egg donor cycle in the United States range between $15,000 and $78,000, putting egg donation outside the financial capability of most couples needing this service.
The growing gap between need and affordability has spawned a number of creative ways to try and make IVF with egg donation more affordable. Here are a few examples:
• Egg banking (see above)
• Egg Donor Sharing, where one comprehensive fee is shared between two recipients and the eggs are then divided between them. The downside is that fewer eggs are available embryos for transfer and/or cryopreservation.
• Egg Bartering, where in the course of conventional IVF, a woman undergoing IVF remits some of her eggs to the clinic (who in turn provides it to a recipient patient) in exchange for a deferment of some or all of the IVF fee. In my opinion, such an arrangement can be fraught with problems. For example, in the event that the woman donating some of her eggs fails to conceive while the recipient of her eggs does, it is very possible that she might suffer emotional despair and even go so far as to seek out her genetic offspring. Such action could be very damaging to both her and the recipient, as well as the child.
• Financial Risk Sharing. Certain IVF programs offer financial risk sharing (FRS) which most recipient couples favor greatly. FRS offers qualifying candidates a refund of fees paid if egg donation is unsuccessful. FRS is designed to spread the risk between the providers, and the recipient couple.
Moral, Legal & Ethical Considerations: The “Uniform Parentage Act” which has been adopted by most states in the United States declares that the woman who gives birth to the child will be regarded as the rightful mother. Accordingly, there has to date not been any grounds for legal dispute when it comes to maternal custody of a child born through IVF with egg donation in the majority of states. In a few states such as Mississippi and Arizona the law is less clear but nevertheless, as yet, has not been contested.
The moral-ethical and religious implications of egg donation are diverse and have a profound effect on cultural acceptance of this process. The widely held view that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and has the right to have such opinions respected, governs much of the attitude towards this process in the U.S. The extreme views on each end of the spectrum hold the gentle central swing of the pendulum in place. This attitude is a reflection of the general acceptance in the united states of diverse views and opinions and the willingness to allow free expression of such views and beliefs provided that they don’t infringe on the rights of others.
So where do we go from here? Can and should we, cryopreserve and store eggs or ovarian tissue from a young woman wishing to defer procreation until it becomes convenient? And if we do this, would it be acceptable to eventually have a woman give birth to her own sister or aunt? Can or should we store viable ovarian tissue through generations. Should egg donation simply become a future source of embryos generated for the purpose of providing stem cells, to be used in the treatment of disease states or to “manufacture” fetuses as a source of spare body parts? If the answer to even some of these questions is yes…what about the checks and balances. Who will exercise control and where what form should such control take? Are we willing to engage this slippery slope where the disregard for the dignity of the human embryo leads us to the point where the rights of a human being are more readily ignored? …………………… Personally, I hope not.
I urge you to set up a Skype or an in-person consultation with me. To do so, simply call 1-800-780-7437 (if you reside in the U.S.A or Canada) or 702-533-2691 (if you reside elsewhere). Alternatively you can enroll online by going to the home page of the Sher-IVF website, http://www.SherIVF.com where, upon completing an enrollment form), you will immediately be eligible to download my new book, “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”, free of charge.

Geoffrey Sher MD

Addendum #1:
Optimizing International Access to Sher-IVF Services in Las Vegas.

Geoffrey Sher MD

Couples from all over the world seek access to IVF services at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas, NV. In fact about 70% of our patients emanate from out-of-state or from abroad. Most tend to be older, have failed IVF numerous times, have had repeated pregnancy losses or have complex reproductive issues. This article explains how we treat such patients at Sher-IVF and how we are able to provide seamless care in a caring and non-stressful environment. In one case, after experiencing 22 consecutive IVF failures, a couple who journeyed to see me from Melbourne, Australia, had a baby following a single IVF attempt. My approach is to individualize care and target those factors that adversely affect IVF outcome.
At Sher-IVF, IVF cycles are batched into about 8-10, 1-2 week cycles per year (dependent on whether we do fresh embryo transfers or frozen embryo transfers (FET)…which means that patients will almost always know well in advance of treatment, when they need to be at our centers for IVF. This makes the process very convenient for both patients and staff. It also allows us to quality assure the embryology laboratory between cycle batches and so optimize care and outcome.
HOW SHER-IVF PROVIDES OPTIMAL TREATMENT AT A DISTANCE:
• Setting Up a Skype Consultation
The initial step in treatment is to schedule a consultation with me. Patients living outside of the geographic catchment area of our Sher-IVF, (Las Vegas, NV) clinic generally schedule a consultation via Skype. I find that this is much more personal than a telephone consultation and is the closest thing to meeting me in person. You can schedule this consultation by going to my website, http://www.SherIVF.com where you can enroll online, by calling the Sher-IVF at 1-800-780-7437, or by emailing Julie Dahan (patient Concierge) at JulieD@sherIVF.com. Prior to your consultation with me you will be sent a questionnaire that asks for information relating to your medical and reproductive history. You will also be asked to provide copies of whatever medical records (from prior treatment and procedures) you might have available. If you have difficulty in completing the Questionnaire, please contact Julie by phone or email her and she will help you do this.
• The Initial Physician Consultation
You will thereupon be scheduled for initial Skype or an in-person consultation with me at which time I will review all available medical records, ask additional relevant questions and offer a preliminary opinion. I will at that time provide you with my personal cell phone # and will request that you contact me immediately with any future questions or concerns, so that I can address these immediately and in so doing, avoid any misunderstandings. This will be followed by one or more free, follow-up consultations with me to endorse or revise that opinion contingent upon supportive clinical and laboratory testing that I might recommend be performed in the interim. Within 24 hours of our initial consultation, you will receive a follow-up email from me which summarizes your case, my opinion and recommends tests needed. The email communication will also provide you with a list of suggested, supportive articles that I have written on my blog, http://www.SherIVF.com, along with directions on how to access these.
• The Consultation w/Clinical Director and Financial Advisor
Within one or two working days of our initial meeting, you be contacted by my office to set up a consultation with our Office Administrator to cover the logistical and financial considerations associated with doing IVF with me at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas. This consultation is free and in no way binds you to us. It is simply intended to provide you with relevant information, in case you should choose to do IVF here in Las Vegas, with me. At the same time, you will be familiarized with the logistics, time constraints, structure and process involved in an IVF cycle at Sher-IVF. Our approach enables patients to plan their treatment with precision, even months in advance. We will also go over our protocols for performing IVF in 1-2 week batches or “cycles” throughout the year so that our patients rarely need to spend more than two (2) weeks away from home to complete a full cycle of treatment. A Clinical Coordinator will be assigned to chaperone you through your IVF cycle and she will interact with you and your primary care OB/GYN (as required) on a regular and ongoing basis.
• Reaching the Crossroad: The Decision on Whether to Proceed
After completion of the above consultations, you will be asked to contact us with a firm decision as to whether/when you wish to undergo IVF treatment at Sher-IVF. Only after making such a commitment will you be expected to make a modest financial commitment to secure your place on our IVF calendar at a designated and mutually agreed upon time.
• The consultation with a Nurse, Case manager:
Once you have committed to, and have committed to a specific IVF cycle, you (and your partner…as applicable) will be scheduled to have a detailed consultation with a Nurse Coordinator who will develop a detailed, color-coded electronic calendar outlining all aspects of your management and treatment. This will include all diagnostic steps and therapeutic procedures required to ensure that that your planned cycle of IVF can be conducted as scheduled, and without a hitch. The Clinical Coordinator and her team of nursing and administrative personnel will in effect, hand-hold and triage you through all required steps and thereupon will schedule you with follow-up consultations. You will also be provided with contact information by which to reach the Clinical Coordinator, at will.
• Follow-up Physician consultation:
Once all records are available, test results are in, and your IVF cycle is scheduled, you will again consult with me for a free, follow-up consultation at which time we will review everything in detail and if needed make adjustments. Thereupon I might require further free consultations with you and you would of course be free to visit with, or call me on my cell phone with any issues. I ask is that you do not email or text me. I prefer to be contacted by phone so that we can discuss matters of concern rather than have me respond with one-liners via electronic communication.

• Ongoing Interaction and Follow-up
Our staff will at all times endeavor be affable and available to you upon request and will endeavor to maintain regular contact with you throughout. However, we are all human, and thus are capable of erring at times ….So, if anything is not in keeping with your expectations, I ask that you bring the matter(s) to our/my attention immediately so that we can address any/all issues in a timely manner.
• How to Reach Us and Where to Stay
We will gladly advise and assist you in obtaining the most affordable transportation and accommodations. Couples who elect to undergo IVF will find that accommodations in, and airfare (especially if scheduled well in advance) to Las Vegas, likely be relatively reasonable. In fact, we can assist you in obtaining very affordable quality accommodations in close proximity to our facilities.
• Getting You Ready to Go…Conveniently and On Time
We work with you to get all of your required tests done through your own doctor’s office. Remember, your primary OB/GYN is just as capable as we to facilitate or perform virtually all the necessary tests and procedures you may need, in your hometown environment.
Once we have reviewed all your test results, a customized protocol of treatment will be developed and then be emailed to you. Your assigned Clinical Coordinator will provide you with a detailed calendar and will review it with you in person or by telephone, prior to initiating your IVF cycle of treatment.
• The IVF Cycle:
Your cycle begins with the Birth Control Pill (BCP),starting no later than day 7 of menstruation. Depending upon your scheduled date for IVF, you will continue taking the BCP Pill for 11-30 days. This will be outlined in detail on the calendar we provide you with. It will also direct you when to begin your injections. Once you have taken an agonist (e.g. the Lupron, Superfact, Buserelin) for 3-5 days, the BCP will be stopped. You can expect to menstruate 3-8 days after stopping the BCP. Your blood estradiol (E2) level will be measured at the onset of menstruation. An E2 level of less than 70 pg/ml (200pmol/L) provides relative assurance that you have not formed an ovarian cyst and that you are ready to begin Gonadotropin (fertility hormone medication) injections. You will also have an ultrasound examination to ensure that you have no obvious cysts.
Depending on the stimulation protocol selected, you will at this point either continue with daily agonist injections (The conventional down-regulation protocol) or switch to an antagonist (Ganirelix, Cetrotide, Orgalutron) daily injections (the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol-A/ACP). Once again, your calendar will direct you as to when you should start the injections at home and plan on arriving at the center in Las Vegas for monitoring 7-8 days later. Please note that you will also be taking other medications during your cycle of treatment. This may include daily human growth hormone (HGH) until the day of hCG “trigger” and/or , low dosage oral steroid therapy (dexamethasone/prednisone) starting early in the stimulation and continuing to the 10th week of pregnancy,
If you have a thin uterine lining, you might receive vaginal sildenafil (Viagra) suppositories from the early stage of ovarian stimulation to the day of the hCG “trigger” . In the case of embryo recipient cycles (e.g. egg donation, gestational surrogacy, low dosage oral steroid therapy (dexamethasone/prednisone) will start early in the stimulation and continue to the 10th week of pregnancy. Treatment of an underlying immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID) may in addition require that you receive an intravenous infusion of 20% Intralipid (IL) about 10-14 days prior to embryo transfer (ET) and/or low molecular heparinoid (Lovenox or Clexane). This might need to be repeated one or more times after a positive beta-hCG pregnancy test depending on the type of immune issue involved in your case.
Once you arrive at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas for treatment, regular (usually daily) monitoring of blood E2 levels will begin along with ultrasound monitoring of your ovarian response and development of your uterine lining. Typically, egg retrieval will take place 2-8 days after your arrival at the clinic for monitoring. Fresh ET usually involves blastocyst transfers which takes place 5-6 days after egg retrieval. Frozen embryo transfers almost invariably involve hormone replacementand take place 6 days after the initiation of progesterone therapy.
In some cases we recommend “Staggered IVF.” In such cases the ET is deferred and your embryos will be ultra-rapidly frozen (vitrified) for subsequent dispensation in a later FET cycle. Sometimes (especially in older women and those with diminished ovarian reserve), embryos are frozen and banked over several cycles in an effort to accumulate as many as possible before the “biological clock” runs too low. In such cases the embryos will have been pre-biopsied for chromosomal testing which is often deferred until several blastocysts (advanced embryos) have been banked. In the process, only one chromosomal test is done at the end of the “stockpiling”, thereby reducing cost to the patient.
Whether a fresh ET is done or your embryos are banked, you should be ready to return home within 24 hours of the final procedure.
Blood pregnancy tests and subsequent ultrasound confirmation of pregnancy can readily be performed through your primary OB/GYN approximately 8-10 days after embryo transfer.
Our IVF cycles are routinely batched…which means that our patients know well in advance of treatment when they need to be at our centers for IVF. This makes the process very convenient.
“Over the years we have performed IVF on many patients that often journeyed from as far away as, France, South America, China, Europe, Africa, Central/South America, Canada, Japan, the Middle East, Russia, etc. Almost all have been surprised at the convenience that our system afforded them. In fact, most have readily volunteered that it is easier to be treated at a distance in the manner described, than having to drive in and out through bustling traffic to and from the doctor’s office amidst a busy work schedule. And what is more, taking off up to two weeks for treatment in a relaxed setting where you can bond with your partner and with us, can only help promote an optimal outcome.”

Addendum #2:
Fresh versus Frozen Embryo Transfers (FET) Enhance IVF Outcome

Geoffrey Sher
“I am in full agreement with researchers at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom who following a recent published a report on their observation that FET enhances IVF outcome, stated that this could represent one of the most “exciting” IVF revelations of the last 25 years.”

I am often asked by patients whether there is a benefit in doing frozen embryo transfers over fresh embryo transfers and how this decision impacts IVF outcome. Women undergoing IVF usually have one or more fresh embryos transferred within a week of their eggs being harvested following ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs
I have long held that, provided embryos are frozen in their most advanced (blastocyst) stage of development, that freezing is effected using ultra-rapid vitrification (rather than using previous slow-freezing methods) and optimal technique is employed during the performance of the freezing process, that Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) will not compromise IVF outcome. It has been my expressed position that while this benefit is least apparent in younger women (<35y) and those who have normal ovarian reserve, it quite profound when it comes to older women , women who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) and women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It is my opinion that this is largely attributable to the fact that the ovaries of the latter group of women have a tendency to over-produce male hormones (androgens) such as androstenedione and testosterone which reach the ovarian follicles in excess , compromising egg development and maturation thereby increasing the incidence of egg numerical chromosomal irregularities during meiosis (maturational division) and diminishing the “competency” to produce viable embryos following fertilization.
A recent study reported from Cambridge in the United Kingdom has now confirmed this observation, reporting a roughly 50% improvement per embryo transferred following FET as compared with fresh embryo transfers.
The reason for the improvement in IVF outcome following FET obviously has little to do with any direct influence of freezing on embryo competency. Rather, it likely is due to targeted and measured hormonal manipulation in preparation for FET improving optimize endometrial receptivity. This likely also serves to explain why older women, women with DOR and those who are high responders (e.g. PCOS) and accordingly have dysfunctional ovarian hormonal production in response to ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs are the ones who are most likely to benefit from more programmed endometrial development.
Regardless however, it should be pointed out that this new revelation showing that FET can only enhance IVF results, should be comforting to those women undergoing FET for other established indications such as: preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) and/or Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), both of which preclude performing embryo transfer in the same cycle as the egg retrieval and for other embryo recipient situations such as egg donor-IVF, Gestational Surrogacy (GS) and Embryo Adoption (EA).

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Serena Skala

My husband had undergone chemotherapy last year and is infertile as a result. Prior to chemo, he banked sperm and we started with 7 vials. We have a daughter who is 2.5 who we conceived naturally before my husband had cancer. I was pregnant twice before her but had MCs early on. All three times I got pregnant it was within two months of trying. My cycles are 26 days, I’m 35 with an AMH of 1.5. Our only issue is my husband’s infertility post chemo.

We have done three unsuccessful IUIs, two natural cycle and the last of which was medicated with Clomid and a trigger 24 hrs before. We now have 4 vials left and are being pushed to do IVF but are hesitant both from a cost and invasiveness perspective.

We also are very unhappy with how the IUI system is conducted at our current location. It’s very impersonal and not very monitored on the day before and day of and I feel like they just want us to do IVF bc of the cost. We are reaching out for a second opinion. In light of the fact that we only have four vials left of his sperm, do you think it makes sense for us to try IUI – for a round or two – leaving two vials for IVF if that doesn’t work? Or should we just go to IVF at this point? The parameters of his samples have varied greatly – the first had 80 million post thaw but only 8% motility. The second had 60% motility but only 7 million post thaw. This last round was 12 million with 61% motility. We are frustrated and scared and are hoping you can help. Thank you.

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

From what you are telling me, I would try one or 2 more IUI’s and then move to IVF. However, before doing any further treatment, I would undergo a thorough evaluation for ovarian reserve (AMH/FSH/LH/E2) and for an anatomical/immunologic cause of implantation dysfunction.

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

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Karen

Hello Dr. Sher,
I am currently preparing for a FET scheduled in 3 days. I have 4 blastocysts frozen. 2 are day 5 graded 3BA. And 2 are day 6 graded 5BB and 4BB. They are from 2 separate IVF cycles. I am almost 42yrs old. My current dilemma is deciding which 2 to transfer. I am transferring 2 because none are PGS tested (personal reasons for that) my Dr plans to transfer my 2 day 5 blasts. His preference is to put back the two higher graded. While I understand his reason for this, I have reservations. I was thinking about transferring 1 day 5 and 1 day 6. These are my reasons: I have done 7 IVF retrievals. Previous Drs were transferring fresh early blasts. Too early to grade. I switched practices and have done my 2 most recent and most successful with my current dr. If this transfer fails, the plan is to do a final retrieval. That would be number 8. I would be 42 by the time of retrieval and doubt I will get a 3BA again. I also have a thin lining. In stim cycles I barely get over 7 even if my estrogen is in the thousands. At my lining check I wasn’t able to see my dr and saw another in the practice. She first wrote my lining was 7.12 then said that was too conservative and changed it to 7.78. I wish I had not seen the first number, because I cannot help but be concerned that it really is barely over 7. Their practice prefers 7.5 as a minimum. I am concerned I didn’t reach that. For those two reasons I thought to save one of my day 5. For a final transfer in the future. A sort of back up so to speak. Is it possible to transfer a day 5 and day6 in the same FET. Is a lining of 7 that bad to warrant saving a day 5? What is your opinion? I would prefer not to do an 8th retrieval, but would do it if it fails regardless of which 2 I place back this FET in hopes to get another BA grade.

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Thank you for your post:

First, as far as the embryos chosen for transfer is concerned, I concur with your RE and would definitely choose the best 2 initially. But there is a far greater issue and that is whether or not you also have an implantation dysfunction. In my opinion, a lining of <8mm is totally inadequate and I would be very reluctant to transfer to such a uterus. There are ways to try and effectively thicken the lining (see the relevant articles on my blog. Moreover, you need to look at all the factors that could contribute to IVF failure before embarking on an FET. Finally, if you try another fresh cycle, you need to review and perhaps revise the protocol used for ovarian stimulation as this is an important factor when it comes to ultimate egg/embryo quality.

Whenever a patient fails to achieve a viable pregnancy following embryo transfer (ET), the first question asked is why! Was it simply due to, bad luck?, How likely is the failure to recur in future attempts and what can be done differently, to avoid it happening next time?.
It is an indisputable fact that any IVF procedure is at least as likely to fail as it is to succeed. Thus when it comes to outcome, luck is an undeniable factor. Notwithstanding, it is incumbent upon the treating physician to carefully consider and address the causes of IVF failure before proceeding to another attempt:
1. Age: The chance of a woman under 35Y of age having a baby per embryo transfer is about 35-40%. From there it declines progressively to under 5% by the time she reaches her mid-forties. This is largely due to declining chromosomal integrity of the eggs with advancing age…”a wear and tear effect” on eggs that are in the ovaries from birth.
2. Embryo Quality/”competency (capable of propagating a viable pregnancy)”. As stated, the woman’s age plays a big role in determining egg/embryo quality/”competency”. This having been said, aside from age the protocol used for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) is the next most important factor. It is especially important when it comes to older women, and women with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) where it becomes essential to be aggressive, and to customize and individualize the ovarian stimulation protocol.
We used to believe that the uterine environment is more beneficial to embryo development than is the incubator/petri dish and that accordingly, the earlier on in development that embryos are transferred to the uterus, the better. To achieve this goal, we used to select embryos for transfer based upon their day two or microscopic appearance (“grade”). But we have since learned that the further an embryo has advanced in its development, the more likely it is to be “competent” and that embryos failing to reach the expanded blastocyst stage within 5-6 days of being fertilized are almost invariably “incompetent” and are unworthy of being transferred. Moreover, the introduction into clinical practice about a decade ago, (by Levent Keskintepe PhD and myself) of Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS), which assesses for the presence of all the embryos chromosomes (complete chromosomal karyotyping), provides another tool by which to select the most “competent” embryos for transfer. This methodology has selective benefit when it comes to older women, women with DOR, cases of unexplained repeated IVF failure and women who experience recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL).
3. The number of the embryos transferred: Most patients believe that the more embryos transferred the greater the chance of success. To some extent this might be true, but if the problem lies with the use of a suboptimal COS protocol, transferring more embryos at a time won’t improve the chance of success. Nor will the transfer of a greater number of embryos solve an underlying embryo implantation dysfunction (anatomical molecular or immunologic).Moreover, the transfer of multiple embryos, should they implant, can and all too often does result in triplets or greater (high order multiples) which increases the incidence of maternal pregnancy-induced complications and of premature delivery with its serious risks to the newborn. It is for this reason that I rarely recommend the transfer of more than 2 embryos at a time and am moving in the direction of advising single embryo transfers …especially when it comes to transferring embryos derived through the fertilization of eggs from young women.
4. Implantation Dysfunction (ID): Implantation dysfunction is a very common (often overlooked) cause of “unexplained” IVF failure. This is especially the case in young ovulating women who have normal ovarian reserve and have fertile partners. Failure to identify, typify, and address such issues is, in my opinion, an unfortunate and relatively common cause of repeated IVF failure in such women. Common sense dictates that if ultrasound guided embryo transfer is performed competently and yet repeated IVF attempts fail to propagate a viable pregnancy, implantation dysfunction must be seriously considered. Yet ID is probably the most overlooked factor. The most common causes of implantation dysfunction are:
a. A“ thin uterine lining”
b. A uterus with surface lesions in the cavity (polyps, fibroids, scar tissue)
c. Immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID)
d. Endocrine/molecular endometrial receptivity issues
e. Ureaplasma Urealyticum (UU) Infection of cervical mucous and the endometrial lining of the uterus, can sometimes present as unexplained early pregnancy loss or unexplained failure following intrauterine insemination or IVF. The infection can also occur in the man, (prostatitis) and thus can go back and forth between partners, with sexual intercourse. This is the reason why both partners must be tested and if positive, should be treated contemporaneously.
Certain causes of infertility are repetitive and thus cannot readily be reversed. Examples include advanced age of the woman; severe male infertility; immunologic infertility associated with alloimmune implantation dysfunction (especially if it is a “complete DQ alpha genetic match between partners plus uterine natural killer cell activation (NKa).
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.

• 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.
• Ovarian Stimulation in Women Who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): Introducing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion protocol
• Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
• 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?
• Blastocyst Embryo Transfers should be the Standard of Care in IVF
• IVF: How Many Attempts should be considered before Stopping?
• “Unexplained” Infertility: Often a matter of the Diagnosis Being Overlooked!
• IVF Failure and Implantation Dysfunction:
• 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!
• Endometrial Thickness, Uterine Pathology and Immunologic Factors
• Vaginally Administered Viagra is Often a Highly Effective Treatment to Help Thicken a Thin Uterine Lining
• Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas:
• A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF
• How Many Embryos should be transferred: A Critical Decision in IVF?
• The Role of Nutritional Supplements in Preparing for IVF

I urge you to set up a Skype or an in-person consultation with me. To do so, simply call 1-800-780-7437 (if you reside in the U.S.A or Canada) or 702-533-2691 (if you reside elsewhere). Alternatively you can enroll online by going to the home page of the Sher-IVF website, http://www.SherIVF.com where, upon completing an enrollment form), you will immediately be eligible to download my new book, “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and unexplained IVF Failure: The Immunologic Link”, free of charge.

Geoffrey Sher MD

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Jhansi

Sir this is my day 12 of 2 frozen grade 3 day 5 embryos transferred…i had done my urine pregnancy test today…it came negative…my blood test is two days to go…can i have a positive result by any chance…feeling so worried

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Yes indeed you might because the blood test is far more sensitive than the urine test. You are probably too early to be tested, anyway.

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

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Jhansi

Sir my beta hcg on day 14 is 21…and on day 16 is 49.1 sir…my ivf specialist told me to do one last test on day 18…sir what does this mean…? Why is the doubling in beta hcg seen….iam not understanding what to do sir?

Dr. Geoffrey Sher

The fact that the hCG level is doubling every 2 days is a good thing and if it continues doubling during early pregnancy …that is promising. Ultimately it will take an US examination 2 weeks from now to authenticate a viable pregnancy.

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

Ana

Hi Dr. Sher,
On your blog I was reading where you are talking about possibility of transferring abnormal embryos. I am thinking about transferring a monosomy14 embryo. I have tried 8 IVFs and currently 16 frozen embryos and sent all to PGS test but all were abnormal. I am over 40 and I know my chances to get normal embryos are very low, so My doctor mentioned Monosomy 14 to transfer. May I ask your opinion?
Thank you for your time.

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I would concur with that decision.

Human embryo development occurs through a process that encompasses reprogramming, sequential cleavage divisions and mitotic chromosome segregation and embryonic genome activation. Chromosomal abnormalities may arise during germ cell and/or preimplantation embryo development and represents a major cause of early pregnancy loss. About a decade ago, I and my associate, Levent Keskintepe PhD were the first to introduce full embryo karyotyping (identification of all 46 chromosomes) through preimplantation genetic sampling (PGS) as a method by which to selectively transfer only euploid embryos (i.e. those that have a full component of chromosomes) to the uterus. We subsequently reported on a 2-3-fold improvement in implantation and birth rates as well as a significant reduction in early pregnancy loss, following IVF. Since then PGS has grown dramatically in popularity such that it is now widely used throughout the world.
Most IVF programs that offer PGS services, require that all participating patients consent to all their aneuploid embryos (i.e. those with an irregular quota of chromosomes) be disposed of. However, there is now growing evidence to suggest that following embryo transfer, some aneuploid embryos will in the process of ongoing development, convert to the euploid state (i.e. “autocorrection”) and then go on to develop into chromosomally normal offspring. In fact, I am personally aware of several such cases occurring within our IVF network. So clearly, summarily discarding all aneuploid embryos as a matter of routine we are sometimes destroying some embryos that might otherwise have “autocorrected” and gone on to develop into normal offspring.
Thus by discarding aneuploid embryos the possibility exists that we could be denying some women the opportunity of having a baby. This creates a major ethical and moral dilemma for those of us that provide the option of PGS to our patients. On the one hand, we strive “to avoid knowingly doing harm” (the Hippocratic Oath) and as such would prefer to avoid or minimize the risk of miscarriage and/or chromosomal birth defects and on the other hand we would not wish to deny patients with aneuploid embryos, the opportunity to have a baby.
The basis for such embryo “autocorrection” lies in the fact that some embryos found through PGS-karyotyping to harbor one or more aneuploid cells (blastomeres) will often also harbor chromosomally normal (euploid) cells (blastomeres). The coexistence of both aneuploid and euploid cells coexisting in the same embryo is referred to as “mosaicism.”
It is against this background, that an ever-increasing number of IVF practitioners, rather than summarily discard PGS-identified aneuploid embryos are now choosing to cryobanking (freeze-store) certain of them, to leave open the possibility of ultimately transferring them to the uterus. In order to best understand the complexity of the factors involved in such decision making, it is essential to understand the causes of embryo aneuploidy of which there are two varieties:
1. Meiotic aneuploidy” results from aberrations in chromosomal numerical configuration that originate in either the egg (most commonly) and/or in sperm, during preconceptual maturational division (meiosis). Since meiosis occurs in the pre-fertilized egg or in and sperm, it follows that when aneuploidy occurs due to defective meiosis, all subsequent cells in the developing embryo/blastocyst/conceptus inevitably will be aneuploid, precluding subsequent “autocorrection”. Meiotic aneuploidy will thus invariably be perpetuated in all the cells of the embryo as they replicate. It is a permanent phenomenon and is irreversible. All embryos so affected are thus fatally damaged. Most will fail to implant and those that do implant will either be lost in early pregnancy or develop into chromosomally defective offspring (e.g. Down syndrome, Edward syndrome, Turner syndrome).
2. “Mitotic aneuploidy” occurs when following fertilization and subsequent cell replication (cleavage), some cells (blastomeres) of a meiotically normal (euploid) early embryo mutate and become aneuploid. This is referred to as “mosaicism”. Thereupon, with continued subsequent cell replication (mitosis) the chromosomal make-up (karyotype) of the embryo might either comprise of predominantly aneuploid cells or euploid cells. The subsequent viability or competency of the conceptus will thereupon depend on whether euploid or aneuploid cells predominate. If in such mosaic embryos aneuploid cells predominate, the embryo will be “incompetent”). If (as is frequently the case) euploid cells prevail, the mosaic embryo will likely be “competent” and capable of propagating a normal conceptus.
Since some mitotically aneuploid (“mosaic”) embryos can, and indeed do “autocorrect’ while meiotically aneuploid embryos cannot, it follows that an ability to reliably differentiate between these two varieties of aneuploidy would potentially be of considerable clinical value. The recent introduction of a variety of preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) known as next generation gene sequencing (NGS) has vastly improved the ability to reliably and accurately karyotype embryos and thus to diagnose embryo “mosaicism”.
The ability of mosaic embryos to autocorrect is influenced by the stage at which the condition is diagnosed as well as the percentage of mosaic cells. Many embryos diagnosed as being mosaic while in the earlier cleaved state of development, subsequently undergo autocorrection to the euploid state (normal numerical chromosomal configuration) during the process of undergoing subsequent mitotic cell to the blastocyst stage. Similarly, mosaic blastocysts can also undergo autocorrection after being transferred to the uterus. The lower the percentage of mosaic cells in the blastocyst the greater the propensity to autocorrect and propagate chromosomally normal (euploid) offspring. By comparison, a blastocyst with 10% mosaicism could yield a 30% healthy baby rate with 10-15% miscarriage rate, while with >50% mosaicism the baby rate is roughly halved and the miscarriage rate double.
Aneuploidy involves the addition (trisomy) or subtraction (monosomy) of one or part of one chromosome in any given pair. As previously stated, some aneuploidies are meiotic in origin while others are mitotic “mosaics”. Certain aneuploidies involve only a single, chromosome pair (simple aneuploidy) while others involve several pairs (i.e. complex aneuploidy). Aside from monosomy involving the absence of the y-sex chromosome (i.e. XO) which can result in a live birth (Turner syndrome) of a compromised baby, virtually all monosomies involving autosomes (non-sex chromosomes) are likely to be lethal and will rarely result in viable offspring. Some autosomal meiotic aneuploidies, especially trisomies 13, 18, 21, can propagate viable and severely chromosomally defective babies. Other meiotic autosomal trisomies will almost invariably, either not attach to the uterine lining or upon attachment, will soon be rejected. All forms of meiotic aneuploidy are irreversible while as stated, mitotic aneuploidy (“mosaicism) can autocorrect, yielding healthy offspring. Most complex aneuploidies are meiotic in origin and will thus almost invariably fail to propagate viable pregnancies.
Since certain “mosaic” meiotic aneuploid trisomy embryos (e.g. trisomies 13, 18, & 21) can potentially result in aneuploid concepti. For this reason, it is my opinion that unless the woman/couple receiving such embryos is willing to commit to terminating a resulting pregnancy found through amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) to be so affected, she/they are probably best advised not to transfer have them transferred to the uterus. Embryos harboring other autosomal mosaic trisomic embryos, should they not autocorrect in-utero will hardly ever produce a baby and as such there is hardly any risk at all…in transferring such embryos. However, it is my opinion that in the event of an ongoing pregnancy, amniocentesis or CVS should be performed to make certain that the baby is euploid. Conversely, when it comes to mosaic autosomal monosomy, given that virtually no autosomal monosomy embryos are likely to propagate viable pregnancies, the transfer of such mosaic embryos is virtually risk free. Needless to say, in any such cases , it is absolutely essential to make full disclosure to the patient (s) , and to insure the completion of a detailed informed consent agreement which would include a commitment by the patient (s) to undergo prenatal genetic testing (amniocentesis/CVS) aimed at excluding a chromosomal defect in the developing baby and/or a willingness to terminate the pregnancy should a serious birth defect be diagnosed.

Geoff Sher

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Corrie

Hi Dr. Sher,
I am 32 years old, not on birth control (haven’t been for years) and just had a blood test for FSH/LH on day 3 of my period. My results are LH 10.6 and FSH 13.3. Do I need to be concerned? I want to have children one day more than anything. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond.

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

That is concerning. However the blood AMH level measured any time of the cycle is a much better and more reliable indicator of ovarian reserve. I would have this tested.

Geoff Sher

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Corrie

Thank you. I will get that tested. What do you recommend for lowering FSH/LH levels? If there’s anything I can do to boost my fertility naturally, of course I want to do so.

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

It is easy to lower the FSH with estrogen BUT there is no point in trying to do so. It offers absolutely no benefit as far as egg availability is concerned.

Geoff Sher

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Sophia

Hi Dr. Sher,

I need to take Depro-Lupon prior to transfer (treating of Endometriosis, since I don’t have an operation before).
How bad are side effects?

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I do not think the side effects are an issue. I am not a strong advocate of long acting antagonists prior to IVF. I think that >2 weeks of antagonist prior to stimulation can have a supposing effect on response.

Geoff Sher

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Sophia

Thanks for your answer. It is not prior to IVF, I have just had my egg retrieval today and in March it is my transfer. At the beginn of my next period, I should start with Depro Lupon (two shots before transfer).

Do you think the two chocolate cysts affect negatively my implanation?

Thanks so much for your help, I absolutely do appreciate it!!!

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

As I pointed out, women with endometriosis will have an immunologic implantation dysfunction 1/3 of the time. In my opinion you need to be checked for uterine natural killer cell activity (NKa) and antiphospholipid antibodies in advance of the embryo transfer and if you test +ve this needs to be appropriately addressed before the transfer is done.

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

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Lori

Hi Dr. Sher,
On your other site I was reading where you said that only follicles measuring more than 15 will likely become mature eggs when triggered. This might seem like a dumb question, but, do you mean if they measure 15 early in the morning when monitoring is done that a trigger late that night will work OR, if a follicle measured 14 in the morning, could it grow to 15 or 16 by the evening when the trigger is taken and still work out? Or were you meaning the follicle is measured at the same time that the trigger is happening?

Also — I have a BMI of 35 and my RE just agreed to move my dose of HCG to 10000 because I was getting a lot of immature eggs with the standard protocol they had me on of 5000. She said that my blood levels were showing that the 5000 was appropriate so she is not sure that 10000 will do anything differently. Do the blood levels pretty much tell the story or is it still good to up the dosage?
What about the lupron trigger given with the HCG at 40mg, does this ever get adjusted for body weight/age? It seems the same amount is given to everyone.
Thanks!

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

As long leading follicles are >18mm and 50% of the remainder are >15mm by the time of the trigger, the eggs have a reasonable shot at being mature.

In my opinion, no one should receive <10,000U hCG for the trigger or many eggs will be immature or aneuploid.

Geoff Sher

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