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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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25,124 Comments

Fiona

Dr Sher,
What do you think of the ERA test?

Also what about new tests such as ALICE or EMMA that look at microbiome in uterus?

Worthwhile?

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I have not seen convincing evidence of the benefit of the he Alice or Emma tests.

The blastocyst and the endometrium are in a constant state of cross-talk. In order for successful implantation to take place, the blastocyst must be at the appropriate stage of development, and needs to signal a well synchronized endometrium to ‘accept it”. This dialogue between embryo and endometrium involves growth factors, cytokines, immunologic accommodations, cell adhesion molecules, and transcription factors. These are all mostly genetically driven but are also heavily influenced by numerous physiologic, pathophysiologic, hormonal and molecular mechanisms capable of profoundly affecting the receptivity of the secretory endometrium to the overtures made by the embryo, to implant.
Embryo implantation takes place 6-9 days after ovulation. This period is commonly referred to as the “window of implantation (WOI)”. In the past it was believed that as long as the embryo reached the uterus in this 4 day time frame, its chance of implanting would not be affected.
In 2013, after evaluating 238 genes in the secretory endometrium and applying bioformatics, Ruiz-Alonzo, et all introduced the Endometrial Receptivity Array (ERA) . Using this test, they categorized mid-secretory endometria into 4 categories: “a) proliferative, b) pre-receptive, c) receptive or d) post-receptive”. They claimed that women with pre-receptive or post-receptive endometria were more likely to experience failed implantation post-embryo transfer (ET).
It was in large part this research which suggested that the concept of a relatively “wide” (4day) WOI, was flawed, that an optimal WOI is likely much narrower and could be a critical factor in determining the success or failure of implantation post-ET. Ruiz-Alonzo also reported that about 25% of women with recurrent IVF failure (RIF), have pre, or post-receptive endometria. They presented data suggesting that viable IVF pregnancy rates could be enhanced,
by deferring FET by about 24 hours in women who had pre-receptive endometria and bringing ET forward by the same amount of time, in women with post-receptive endometria,

There is no doubt that ERA testing has opened the door to an intriguing arena for research. Presently however, available data is inconclusive. Here, following recent studies are 2 dissenting opinions regarding the value for ERA:
• Basil and Casper (2018) state: “Performing the ERA test in a mock cycle prior to a FET does not seem to improve the ongoing pregnancy rate in good prognosis patients. Further large prospective studies are needed to elucidate the role of ERA testing in both good prognosis patients and in patients with recurrent implantation failure”
• Churchill and Comstock (2017) conclude:” In our preliminary observations, the non-receptive ERA group had similar live birth rates compared to the receptive ERA group. It appears the majority of the pregnancies conceived in the non-receptive group occurred during ovulatory cycles and thus a non-receptive ERA in a medicated cycle likely does not have prognostic value for ovulatory cycles. Larger studies are needed to assess the prognostic value of ERA testing in the gen-eral infertility population.”
There are additional negatives that relate to the considerable emotional and financial cost of doing ERA testing:
1. First, the process costs $600-$1000 to undertake
2. , Second, it requires that the patient undergo egg retrieval, vitrify (cryobank) all blastocysts, res for 1 or more cycles to allow their hormonal equilibrium to restore, do an ERA biopsy to determine the synchronicity of the endometrium, wait a few weeks for the results of the test and thereupon engage in undertaking an additional natural or hormonal preparation cycle for timed FET. This represents a significant time lapse, emotional cost and additional expense.
Presently, ERA testing is only advocated for women who have experienced several IVF failures. However, some authorities are beginning to advocate that it become routine for women undergoing all IVF.
The additional financial cost inherent in the performance of the ERA test ($600-$1000), the considerable time delay in getting results, the fact that awaiting results of testing and preparing the patient for FET, of necessity extends the completion of the IVF/ET process by at least a few months, all serve to increase the emotional and financial hardship confronting patients undergoing ERA. Such considerations, coupled with the current absence of conclusive data that confirm efficacy, are arguments against the widespread use of ERA . In my opinion, ERA testing should presently be considered as being one additional diagnostic and be confined to women with “unexplained” RIF.
Gold standard statistical analyses require that all confounding variables be controlled while examining the effect of altering the one under assessment. There is an obvious interplay of numerous, ever changing variables involved in outcome following ET, e.g. embryo competency, anatomical configuration of the uterus and the contour of the endometrial cavity, endometrial thickness, immunologic and molecular factors as well as the very important effect of technical skill/expertise in performing the ET procedure …(to mention but a few). It follows that it is virtually impossible to draw reliable conclusions from IVF-related randomized controlled studies that use outcome as the end-point. This applies equally to results reported following “ gold standard” testing on the efficacy of ERA and, is one of the main reasons why I question the reliability of reported data (positive or negative).
The fact is that IVF (and related technologies) constitute neither a “pure science” nor a “pure art”. Rather they represent an “art-science blend”, where scientific principles applied to longitudinal experience and technical expertise coalesce to produce a biomedical product that will invariably differ (to a greater or lesser degree) from one set of clinical circumstances to another.
Since, the ultimate goal of applied Assisted Reproductive Medicine is to safely achieve the birth of a viable and healthy baby, the tools we apply, that are aimed at achieving this end-point, are honed through the adaptation of scientific principles and concepts, experience and expertise, examined and tested longitudinally over time. Needless to say, the entire IVF/ET process is of necessity subject to change and adaptation as new scientific and technical developments emerge.
This absolutely applies to the ERA as well!

Geoff Sher

reply
Kayla

Hi, can you tell me what you think about my results from the emergency room. My hcg was 8,849, we saw a gestational sac(mean diameter 1.1cm). There was also a yolk sac. They didn’t see a fetal pole. They estimated that I was 5+6 but my original doctor believes 5+4 after tracking my period. I also had very faint spotting and light cramps. The doctor just made me feel kinda Unsure.

reply
Dev

Hello Doctor,
I had 3 miscarriages within a year, and after genetic testing they found the chromosomes with Balanced Translocation. In that case can you please suggest is it good idea to go for natural conception or its better to go for IVF? I am 38 year old. Thank you

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

IVF…by far! That is the only way to determine if the embryo has an unbalanced translocation.

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

reply
Archie

Hi Doctor,
I am 38 with 6 blastocyst embryos. PGT test results are:
2 euploid
1 high level mosaic
1 low level mosaic
1 aneuploid
1 aneuploid chaotic
What would be your recommendation of transferring embryos: which of them in what order (after I use the two euploid first)

Thanks!

reply
James

Is there a certain estradiol you like to achieve during a frozen embryo transfer as well as a certain level you don’t like to go above?

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I use parenteral Delestrogen injections X 2 weekly and aim for an E2 of 500-1000pg/ml.

Until less than a decade ago, most women undergoing IVF would have embryos transferred to the uterus in the same cycle that the egg retrieval was performed (“Fresh” Embryo Transfer). This was because embryo cryopreservation (freezing) was a hazardous undertaking. In fact, it resulted in about 30% not surviving the freezing process and those that did, having about one half the potential of “fresh embryos to implant and propagate a viable pregnancy. The main reason for the high attrition rate associated with embryo cryopreservation is that the “conventional” freezing” process that was done slowly and this resulted in ice forming within the embryo’s cells, damaging or destroying them. The introduction of an ultra-rapid cryopreservation process (vitrification) freezes the embryos so rapidly as to avoid ice crystals from developing. As a result, >90% survive the freeze/thaw process in as good a condition as they were prior to being frozen and thus without being compromised in their ability to propagate a viable pregnancy.
Recently, there have been several articles that have appeared in the literature suggest that an altered hormonal environment may be the reason for this effect. There have also been reports showing that when singletons (pregnancy with one baby) conceived naturally are compared to singletons conceived through a “fresh” embryo transfers they tend to have a greater chance of low birth weight/prematurity. This difference was not observed in babies born following FET. Hence, there is a suspicion that the altered hormonal environment during the fresh cycle may be the causative factor.
Available evidence suggests that FET (of pre-vitrified blastocysts) is at least as successful as is the transfer of “fresh” embryos and might even have the edge. The reason for this is certainly unlikely to have anything to do with the freezing process itself. It more than likely has to do with two factors:
a) An ever increasing percentage of FET’s involve the transfer of PGS-tested, fully karyotyped, euploid blastocysts that have a greater potential to propagate viable pregnancies, than is the case with “fresh” ET’s where the embryos have rarely undergone prior PGS selection for “competency”…and,
b) With targeted hormone replacement therapy for FET, one is far better able to better to optimally prepare the endometrium for healthy implantation than is the case where embryos are transferre3d following ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs.
There are additional factors other than method used for embryo cryopreservation that influence outcome following FET. These include
• An emerging trend towards selective transferring only advanced (day 5-6) embryos (blastocysts).
• (PGS) to allow for the selective transfer of genetic competent (euploid) embryos
• Addressing underlying causes of implantation dysfunction (anatomical and immunologic uterine factors) and
• Exclusive use of ultrasound guidance for delivery of embryos transferred to the uterus.
Against this background, the use of FET has several decided advantages:
• The ability to cryostore surplus embryos left over after fresh embryo transfer
• The ability to safely hold embryos over for subsequent transfer in a later frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycle (i.e. Staggered IVF) in cases where:
1. Additional time is needed to perform preimplantation Genetic testing for embryo competency.
2. In cases where ovarian hyperstimulation increases the risk of life-endangering complications associated with critically severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).
3. To bank (stockpile) embryos for selective transfer of karyotypically normal embryos in older women or those who are diminished ovarian reserve
4. The ability to store embryos in cases of IVF with third party parenting (Egg Donation; Gestational Surrogacy and Embryo donation) and so improve convenience for those couples seeking such services.
Preimplantation Genetic Sampling with FET:
The introduction of preimplantation genetic sampling (PGS) to karyotyping of embryos for selective transfer of the most “competent” embryos, requires in most cases that the tested blastocysts be vitribanked while awaiting test results and then transferred to the uterus at a later date. Many IVF programs have advocated the routine use of PGS in IVF purported to improve IVF outcome. But PGS should in my opinion should only be used selectively. I do not believe that it is needed for all women undergoing IVF. First there is the significant additional cost involved and second it will not benefit everyone undergoing IVF, in my opinion.
While PGS is a good approach for older women and those with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) and also for woman who experience recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) or “unexplained” recurrent IVF failure recent data suggests that it will not improve IVF success rates in women under 36Y who have normal ovarian reserve, who represent the majority of women seeking IVF treatment. Nor is it needed in women (regardless of their age) undergoing IVF with eggs donated by a younger donor. This is because in such women about 1:2/3 of their eggs/embryos are usually chromosomally normal, and in most cases will upon fertilization produce multiple blastocysts per IVF attempt, anyway. Thus in such cases the transfer of 2 blastocysts will likely yield the same outcome regardless of whether the embryos had been subjected to PGS or not. The routine use of
It is another matter when it comes to women who have diminished ovarian reserve and/or DOR contemplating embryo banking and for women with unexplained recurrent IVF failure, recurrent pregnancy loss and women with alloimmune implantation dysfunction who regardless of their age or ovarian reserve require PGS for diagnostic reasons.
Embryo Banking: Some IVF centers are doing embryo banking cycles with Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS). With Embryo Banking” several IVF cycles are performed sequentially (usually about 2 months apart), up to the egg retrieval stage. The eggs are fertilized and the resulting advanced embryos are biopsied. The biopsy specimens are held over until enough 4-8 blastocysts have been vitribanked, thus providing a reasonable likelihood that one or more will turn out to be PGS-normal. At this point the biopsy specimens (derived all banking cycles) are sent for PGS testing at one time (a significant cost-saver), the chromosomally normal blastocysts are identified and the women are scheduled for timed FET procedures….. with a good prospect of a markedly improved chance of success as well as a reduced risk of miscarriage.
Standard (proposed) Regimen for preparing the uterus for frozen embryo transfer FET) is as follows:

The recipient’s cycle is initiated with an oral contraceptive-OC (e.g. Marvelon/Lo-Estrin; Lo-Ovral etc) for at least 10 days. This is later overlapped with 0.5 mg. (10 units) Lupron/Lucrin (or Superfact/Buserelin) daily for 3 days. Thereupon the OC is withdrawn and daily 0.25 mg (5 units) of Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact injections are continued. Menstruation will usually ensue within 1 week. At this point, an ultrasound examination is performed to exclude ovarian cyst(s) and a blood estradiol measurement is taken (it needs to be <70pg/ml) until daily progesterone administration is initiated some time later. The daily Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact is continued until the initiation of progesterone therapy (see below).

Four milligram (4mg) Estradiol valerate (Delestrogen) IM is injected SC, twice weekly (on Tuesday and Friday), commencing within a few days of Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact-induced menstruation. Blood is drawn on Monday and Thursday for measurement of blood [E2]. This allows for planned adjustment of the E2V dosage scheduled for the next day. The objective is to achieve a plasma E2 concentration of 500-1,000pg/ml and an endometrial lining of >8mm, as assessed by ultrasound examination done after 10 days of estrogen exposure i.e. a day after the 3rd dosage of Delestrogen.. The twice weekly, final (adjusted) dosage of E2V is continued until pregnancy is discounted by blood testing or an ultrasound examination. Dexamethasone 0.75 mg is taken orally, daily with the start of the Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact. Oral folic acid (1 mg) is taken daily commencing with the first E2V injection and is continued throughout gestation. Patients also receive Ciprofloxin 500mg BID orally starting with the initiation of Progesterone therapy and continuing for 10 days.

Luteal support commences 6 days prior to the ET, with intramuscular progesterone in oil (PIO) at an initial dose of 50 mg (P4-Day 1). Starting on progesterone administration-Day 2, PIO is increased to 100 mg daily continuing until the 10th week of pregnancy, or until a blood pregnancy test/negative ultrasound (after the 6-7th gestational week), discounts a viable pregnancy.

Also, commencing on the day following the ET, the patient inserts one (1) vaginal progesterone suppository (100 mg) in the morning + 2mg E2V vaginal suppository (in the evening) and this is continued until the 10th week of pregnancy or until pregnancy is discounted by blood testing or by an ultrasound examination after the 6-7th gestational week. Dexamethasone o.75mg is continued to the 10th week of pregnancy (tailed off from the 8th to 10th week) or as soon as pregnancy is ruled out. With the obvious exception of the fact that embryo recipients do not receive an hCG injections, luteal phase and early pregnancy hormonal support and immuno-suppression is otherwise the same as for conventional IVF patients. Blood pregnancy tests are performed 13 days and 15 days after the first P4 injection was given.

Note: One (1) vaginal application of Crinone 8% is administered on the 1st day (referred to as luteal phase day 0 – LPO). On LP Day 1, they will commence the administration of Crinone 8% twice daily (AM and PM) until the day of embryo transfer. Withhold Crinone on the morning of the embryo transfer and resume Crinone administration in the PM. Crinone twice daily is resumed from the day after embryo transfer. Contingent upon positive blood pregnancy tests, and subsequently upon the ultrasound confirmation of a viable pregnancy, administration of Crinone twice daily are continued until the 10th week of pregnancy.

Regime for Thawing and Transferring Cryopreserved Embryos/Morulae/Blastocysts:

Patients undergoing ET with cryopreserved embryos/morulas/blastocysts will have their embryos thawed and transferred by the following regimen.

Day 2 (P4) Day 4 (P4) Day 5 (P4) Day 6 (P4)
PN Thaw ET
Day 3 Embryo Thaw ET
Blastocysts frozen on day 5 post-ER Thaw in PM
ET
Blastocysts frozen on day 6, post-ER Thaw in AM
ET in PM

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

Patients are encouraged to share the information I provide, with their treating Physicians and/or to avail themselves of my personal hands-on services, provided through batched IVF cycles that I conduct every 3 months at Los Angeles IVF (LAIVF) Clinic, Century City, Los Angeles, CA.

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

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

Geoff Sher

reply
Claire

LMP December 1. HCG level Jan 12 = 762 IU/L. Repeat HCG Jan 18 = 875 IU/L. Obviously this is bad, but what do you think is going on… MMC? Ectopic? No cramping or bleeding. Would anything be visible on an US at this level? What should I do next?

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I agree with you…this is not a good thing. Unfortunately only time can tell how things will turn out!

G-d bless!

Geoff Sher

reply
özlem

hello dr sher i dont know if it’s asked. i searched first page of forum and i couldnt find any. it is about corona vaccine
sinovac vaccine which is chinese… it is inactive virus vaccine… dead virus. but i dont know if i can have vaccine before opu or before frozen transfer. i am concern about antibodies… i had corona dieases but after 7months i dont have any anticore now. wait for 2month after vaccine is enough? antibodies or anticores could affect the implantation???

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

It probably wont harm you doing the vaccination along with the IVF but since there is so much uncertainty out there about the risk of a reaction, I would wait 4-6 weeks after the 2nd vaccination before treating!

Geoff Sher

reply
Vidya

Hello Dr.Sher,
This is my second pregnancy and I’ve had a miscarriage before the first one.
My current hcg count has been 2389 on DPO 22, 8931 on DPO 30 and 17945 on DPO 35. I am kind of sure about my date estimates and so according to the reference ranges and based on my levels from first pregnancy, I feel it’s been trending on the lower side of the ranges. Haven’t done an US yet. I am a bit worried about my HCG not rising as expected. I was wondering whether there is a threshold safe level of hcg that when reached reduces the chances of miscarriage greatly?

Thank you!

reply
Leigh

Thank you for the reply! So there would be no recommendation to not do a second elective retrieval simply to avoid additional punctures?

(This is only on my radar after reading about increased levels of anti ovarian antibodies after retrieval (compared to before retrieval in same women), a few studies indicated it was likely trauma to the ovaries vs stimulation meds (since the anti ovarian antibodies weren’t present during stimulation)

Wondering if the presence of anti ovarian antibodies affects future ability to conceive naturally, and if anti ovarian antibodies are in fact seen to increase after retrievals

reply
Leigh

Hi Dr. Sher – does retrieving many eggs (30-40 eggs), which requires many punctures to the ovaries, create any kind of scar tissue or abnormality? In other words, do many punctures to the ovaries come with risk of future ovarian or fertility issues? Thank you so much for your help

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

No…not really, unless of course infection is introduced…and that is quite rare.

Geoff Sher

reply
Helen

Hello, doctor.
My7dpt beta with a hatching was 63,3.
My 9dpt beta was 147,7.
Does it sound good? Would you repeat the blood test?

reply
Alicia c

My HCG started to rise normally, declined and is now rising. It’s very low but we were shocked to see a heart beat today. I have 2 children and 2 prior miscarriages. Do you think there’s a chance this might be viable?

LMP dec 4 w/ long cycles
Jan 4 223 progesterone 79
Jan 6 459 progesterone 67
Jan 11 827 progesterone 43
Jan 13 799 progesterone 32
Jan 15 783 progesterone 24
Jan 18 804. GS 5.3 CRL 3.4 heart rate 107. Instructed to start progesterone and come back in a week

reply
Angela

Dear Dr Sher,
Can I please ask what day do you recommend transferring a day six embryo in a frozen cycle?
5 or 6 days after commencing progesterone?
Thank you

reply
Angela

Dear Dr Sher,
Can I please ask your thoughts on embyro glue.
Do you use it at your clinics?
Thank you
Angela

reply
Jlcockrell

Good evening. I recently had a miscarriage and now have found out I’m pregnant again. Not sure how far along because we conceived between my miscarriage and first cycle. My hcg was at 7 on 1/6, 78 on 1/12 , and 138 on 1/14. My doctors nurse called panicked about the numbers. She said she would consult with the doctors about a new draw and call me back. She never called. Are these numbers worrisome?

reply
Melissa Clark

Hello Dr. Sher,

I’m 45, just completed donor egg IVF with PGT-A tested embryo. We transferred one tested embryo. I have adenomyosis (confirmed via MRI in 2019). The adenomyosis is localized. I went on Depot Lurpon for 3 months prior to the FET.  We got pregnant from this cycle, HCG levels were multiplying, but only a sac was seen at 6 weeks 4 days. A repeat ultrasound at 7 weeks 3 days was done, and the gestational sac and yolk sac were seen, and only a flicker of a small embryo. The doctor has given me the option to miscarry naturally, do a D&C or take the Misoprostol.

I conceived naturally 3 years ago, but it was an ectopic pregnancy. Did two rounds of methotrexate.

I’m worried I will not be able to carry a baby to term.  Could you please advise if I should get tested for Immunology? If so, what tests would you recommend? I reached out to Alan Beer Center but have been put on 4 month waiting list. If you can recommend any labs near me (in the Bay Area) that could speed up the process, that would be very helpful. I’m also willing to travel for testing.

Thank you very much,
Melissa

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

We really should talk!

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 15y 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?
______________________________________________________
ADDENDUM: PLEASE READ!!
INTRODUCING SHER FERTILITY SOLUTIONS (SFS)
Founded in April 2019, Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) offers online (Skype/FaceTime) consultations to patients from > 40 different countries. All consultations are followed by a detailed written report presenting my personal recommendations for treatment of what often constitute complex Reproductive Issues.

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

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

Geoff Sher

reply
Rachel

Thank you Dr. Sher-
My RE has determined that I have a mutation of my follicle receptors. My eggs do not mature sufficiently with a trigger shot. For IVF, I have used 10,000 Novarel. She wants to try a higher dose or wait 38 hours rather than 36 before retrieval. I can’t find very much information about this problem. Doe it sound familiar to you? Thank you!

reply
HAS

Hi, Dr.Sher

I had my LMP on 3rd December 2020. Tested a strong positive on 4th Jan on UPT. 5th Jan Bhcg level was 2443. 7th Jan Bhcg level was 6672. Had slight spotting yesterday. USG confirmed a single gestation sac in the uterus, a yolk sac of 3.3mm, fetal pole and a fetal heartbeat of 163bpm. USG dating put it at 6w+4d. Hcg levels now at 63672. On folic acid, Ecosprin and Pregcert 300SR. What could be the reason for this spotting. Is this a viable pregnancy??

Very worried since I had a miscarriage a year earlier at 5 weeks.

Thank you for your help.

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Juliet

Hi Dr Sher
Hcg was 76 at 13dpo and 217 at 15dpo (natural conception). I’ve a history of chemical and ectopic pregnancies. How do these results seem to you?

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Alpita Vyas

Hello sir. I am currently 6 week 3 days pregnant. My hcg shows 61540.and progesterone 8.91.Is it normal?

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Jessica

When choosing which embryo to transfer after PGS testing, is the MitoScore or the day it made it to blastocyst more important? We have a PGS normal embryo that made it to blast on day 5, with a mitoscore of 0.48. We also have a PGS normal embryo that made it to blast on day 6 with a mitoscore of 0.16. Which of the 2 would you transfer first? Thanks!

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I am not a believer in Mitoscore. So in my opinion you could flip a coin!

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

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Abby

Hi doctor! What is the estimated length of the window of receptivity for implantation? I know they used to think it was 4 days, but is that still the belief? I am wondering on average how big the window is for an average woman, is it small as in hours? Thanks!

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

The natural window of implantation is rather narrow…probably <12h.

Geoff Sher

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Ki De

Dear Dr. Sher,

I am 32 and a couple of my frozen blastocyst are oval/egg shaped (because the oocytes were oval/egg shaped) and of quality BB. Is there a higher chance that these are aneuploid? Would you transfer them?

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Kim Ca

I have a laparascopy scheduled end of January. I am 32, struggling with unexplained infertility for years and requested this surgery because I would like to know a possible cause. RE says that there is a16% chance that I have endometriosis. I did have an IVF which produced 8 frozen embryos. How long do I need to wait after the laparascopy to proceed with the FET? Is it necessary to do a laparascopy at this point? Could the laparascopy hurt my chances of implantation or any future IVFs? Thank you

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Personally, I do not see the merit of doing a laparoscopy, unless you have ovarian endometriomas or there is symptomatic anatomical disease that needs that requires surgical removal.

When women with infertility due to endometriosis seek treatment, they are all too often advised to first try ovarian stimulation (ovulation Induction) with intrauterine insemination (IUI) ………as if to say that this would be just as likely to result in a baby as would in vitro fertilization (IVF). Nothing could be further from reality It is time to set the record straight. And hence this communication!
Bear in mind that the cost of treatment comprises both financial and emotional components and that it is the cost of having a baby rather than cost of a procedure. Then consider the fact that regardless of her age or the severity of the condition, women with infertility due to endometriosis are several fold more likely to have a baby per treatment cycle of IVF than with IUI. It follows that there is a distinct advantage in doing IVF first, rather than as a last resort.
So then, why is it that ovulation induction with or without IUI is routinely offered proposed preferentially to women with mild to moderately severe endometriosis? Could it in part be due to the fact that most practicing doctors do not provide IVF services but are indeed remunerated for ovarian stimulation and IUI services and are thus economically incentivized to offer IUI as a first line approach? Or is because of the often erroneous belief that the use of fertility drugs will in all cases induce the release (ovulation) of multiple eggs at a time and thereby increase the chance of a pregnancy. The truth however is that while normally ovulating women (the majority of women who have mild to moderately severe endometriosis) respond to ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs by forming multiple follicles, they rarely ovulate > 1 (or at most 2) egg at a time. This is because such women usually only develop a single dominant follicle which upon ovulating leaves the others intact. This is the reason why normally ovulating women who undergo ovulation induction usually will not experience improved pregnancy potential, nor will they have a marked increase in multiple pregnancies. Conversely, non-ovulating women (as well as those with dysfunctional ovulation) who undergo ovulation induction, almost always develop multiple large follicles that tend to ovulate in unison. This increases the potential to conceive along with an increased risk multiple pregnancies.

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

I am not suggesting that all women with infertility-related endometriosis should automatically resort to IVF. Quite to the contrary…. In spite of having reduced fertility potential, many women with mild to moderate endometriosis can and do go on to conceive on their own (without treatment). It is just that the chance of this happening is so is much lower than normal.
IN SUMMARY: For young ovulating women (< 35 years of age ) with endometriosis, who have normal reproductive anatomy and have fertile male partners, expectant treatment is often preferable to IUI or IVF. However, for older women, women who (regardless of their age) have any additional factor (e.g. pelvic adhesions, ovarian endometriomas, male infertility, IID or diminished ovarian reserve-DOR) IVF should be the primary treatment of choice. I strongly recommend that you visit www.DrGeoffreySherIVF.com. Then go to my Blog and access the “search bar”. Type in the titles of any/all of the articles listed below, one by one. “Click” and you will immediately be taken to those you select. Please also take the time to post any questions or comments with the full expectation that I will (as always) respond promptly. • The IVF Journey: The importance of “Planning the Trip” Before Taking the Ride” • Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol • IVF: Factors Affecting Egg/Embryo “competency” during Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) • The Fundamental Requirements For Achieving Optimal IVF Success • Use of GnRH Antagonists (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) in IVF-Ovarian Stimulation Protocols. • Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF: • The Role of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID): PART 1-Background • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID): PART 2- Making a Diagnosis • Immunologic Dysfunction (IID) & Infertility (IID): PART 3-Treatment • Thyroid autoantibodies and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) • Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction: Importance of Meticulous Evaluation and Strategic Management: (Case Report) • Intralipid and IVIG therapy: Understanding the Basis for its use in the Treatment of Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) • Intralipid (IL) Administration in IVF: It’s Composition; how it Works; Administration; Side-effects; Reactions and Precautions • Natural Killer Cell Activation (NKa) and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction in IVF: The Controversy! • Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas • Should IVF Treatment Cycles be provided uninterrupted or be Conducted in 7-12 Pre-scheduled “Batches” per Year • A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF • How Many Embryos should be transferred: A Critical Decision in IVF? • Endometriosis and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) and IVF • Endometriosis and Infertility: Why IVF Rather than IUI or Surgery Should be the Treatment of Choice. • Endometriosis and Infertility: The Influence of Age and Severity on Treatment Options • Early -Endometriosis-related Infertility: Ovulation Induction (with or without Intrauterine Insemination) and Reproductive Surgery Versus IVF • Treating Ovarian Endometriomas with Sclerotherapy. • Effect of Advanced Endometriosis with Endometriotic cysts (Endometriomas) on IVF Outcome & Treatment Options. • Deciding Between Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): Who Needs it & who Does Not: Pro’s & • Induction of Ovulation with Clomiphene Citrate: Mode of Action, Indications, Benefits, Limitations and Contraindications for its use • Clomiphene Induction of Ovulation: Its Use and Misuse! ______________________________________________________ ADDENDUM: PLEASE READ!! INTRODUCING SHER FERTILITY SOLUTIONS (SFS) Founded in April 2019, Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) offers online (Skype/FaceTime) consultations to patients from > 40 different countries. All consultations are followed by a detailed written report presenting my personal recommendations for treatment of what often constitute complex Reproductive Issues.

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

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

Geoff Sher

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melania

Hi Dr. Sher,

I had a successful pregnancy after my first FET. Now, I am planing my second FET end of this month.

I do have cramps since I am taking Delestrogen shots (so far I had two of them). Last time, I did not have cramps. Is this concerning or normal?

Would you recommend an ERA test since I gave birth and my implantation window might have changed?

Thanks

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

The blastocyst and the endometrium are in a constant state of cross-talk. In order for successful implantation to take place, the blastocyst must be at the appropriate stage of development, and needs to signal a well synchronized endometrium to ‘accept it”. This dialogue between embryo and endometrium involves growth factors, cytokines, immunologic accommodations, cell adhesion molecules, and transcription factors. These are all mostly genetically driven but are also heavily influenced by numerous physiologic, pathophysiologic, hormonal and molecular mechanisms capable of profoundly affecting the receptivity of the secretory endometrium to the overtures made by the embryo, to implant.
Embryo implantation takes place 6-9 days after ovulation. This period is commonly referred to as the “window of implantation (WOI)”. In the past it was believed that as long as the embryo reached the uterus in this 4 day time frame, its chance of implanting would not be affected.
In 2013, after evaluating 238 genes in the secretory endometrium and applying bioformatics, Ruiz-Alonzo, et all introduced the Endometrial Receptivity Array (ERA) . Using this test, they categorized mid-secretory endometria into 4 categories: “a) proliferative, b) pre-receptive, c) receptive or d) post-receptive”. They claimed that women with pre-receptive or post-receptive endometria were more likely to experience failed implantation post-embryo transfer (ET).
It was in large part this research which suggested that the concept of a relatively “wide” (4day) WOI, was flawed, that an optimal WOI is likely much narrower and could be a critical factor in determining the success or failure of implantation post-ET. Ruiz-Alonzo also reported that about 25% of women with recurrent IVF failure (RIF), have pre, or post-receptive endometria. They presented data suggesting that viable IVF pregnancy rates could be enhanced,
by deferring FET by about 24 hours in women who had pre-receptive endometria and bringing ET forward by the same amount of time, in women with post-receptive endometria,

There is no doubt that ERA testing has opened the door to an intriguing arena for research. Presently however, available data is inconclusive. Here, following recent studies are 2 dissenting opinions regarding the value for ERA:
• Basil and Casper (2018) state: “Performing the ERA test in a mock cycle prior to a FET does not seem to improve the ongoing pregnancy rate in good prognosis patients. Further large prospective studies are needed to elucidate the role of ERA testing in both good prognosis patients and in patients with recurrent implantation failure”
• Churchill and Comstock (2017) conclude:” In our preliminary observations, the non-receptive ERA group had similar live birth rates compared to the receptive ERA group. It appears the majority of the pregnancies conceived in the non-receptive group occurred during ovulatory cycles and thus a non-receptive ERA in a medicated cycle likely does not have prognostic value for ovulatory cycles. Larger studies are needed to assess the prognostic value of ERA testing in the gen-eral infertility population.”
There are additional negatives that relate to the considerable emotional and financial cost of doing ERA testing:
1. First, the process costs $600-$1000 to undertake
2. , Second, it requires that the patient undergo egg retrieval, vitrify (cryobank) all blastocysts, res for 1 or more cycles to allow their hormonal equilibrium to restore, do an ERA biopsy to determine the synchronicity of the endometrium, wait a few weeks for the results of the test and thereupon engage in undertaking an additional natural or hormonal preparation cycle for timed FET. This represents a significant time lapse, emotional cost and additional expense.
Presently, ERA testing is only advocated for women who have experienced several IVF failures. However, some authorities are beginning to advocate that it become routine for women undergoing all IVF.
The additional financial cost inherent in the performance of the ERA test ($600-$1000), the considerable time delay in getting results, the fact that awaiting results of testing and preparing the patient for FET, of necessity extends the completion of the IVF/ET process by at least a few months, all serve to increase the emotional and financial hardship confronting patients undergoing ERA. Such considerations, coupled with the current absence of conclusive data that confirm efficacy, are arguments against the widespread use of ERA . In my opinion, ERA testing should presently be considered as being one additional diagnostic and be confined to women with “unexplained” RIF.
Gold standard statistical analyses require that all confounding variables be controlled while examining the effect of altering the one under assessment. There is an obvious interplay of numerous, ever changing variables involved in outcome following ET, e.g. embryo competency, anatomical configuration of the uterus and the contour of the endometrial cavity, endometrial thickness, immunologic and molecular factors as well as the very important effect of technical skill/expertise in performing the ET procedure …(to mention but a few). It follows that it is virtually impossible to draw reliable conclusions from IVF-related randomized controlled studies that use outcome as the end-point. This applies equally to results reported following “ gold standard” testing on the efficacy of ERA and, is one of the main reasons why I question the reliability of reported data (positive or negative).
The fact is that IVF (and related technologies) constitute neither a “pure science” nor a “pure art”. Rather they represent an “art-science blend”, where scientific principles applied to longitudinal experience and technical expertise coalesce to produce a biomedical product that will invariably differ (to a greater or lesser degree) from one set of clinical circumstances to another.
Since, the ultimate goal of applied Assisted Reproductive Medicine is to safely achieve the birth of a viable and healthy baby, the tools we apply, that are aimed at achieving this end-point, are honed through the adaptation of scientific principles and concepts, experience and expertise, examined and tested longitudinally over time. Needless to say, the entire IVF/ET process is of necessity subject to change and adaptation as new scientific and technical developments emerge.
This absolutely applies to the ERA as well!

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

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Abby

Can a woman’s implantation window for an FET (ERA results) change after she gives birth? Or does it always stay the same ? Thanks!

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Annie

Hi Dr. Sher,

On your (A/ACP) protocol , you state where, upon the onset of a GnRHa-induced bleed, the agonist is supplanted by an antagonist (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) and this is continued until the hCG trigger. Are you saying the antagonist should be taken on the day of trigger as well or is the last dose the day before trigger?

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Ginger

Hello Doctor,

I am 37 years old and this is my first pregnancy. Currently I am at 7th week. My hcg levels are raising very slow than expected and my doctor has some concerns. Could you please provide you expertise.

first beta 12/23 -602
12/28 – 1595
1/4 – 3678 ; 1st US – 5w6d (gestational sac and fetal pole with 116 hb detected)
1/11- 5153 ; 2nd US- 6w6d (as per my doc gestational sac is small and didn’t grow as expected but baby size is 9mm with 126 hb)

Sir, is this still a viable pregnancy ?

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Only time will tell. Do a repeat US in a week for a more definitive answer.

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

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ER

Hello Dr. Sher – I am turning 43 next month. I banked several euploid embryos and will attempt to transfer shortly. I live in France and my clinic is in another country. After 7 banking cycles I do not think I will do any more stimulation cycles. As a child I was diagnosed with asthma and I am pre-diabetic. I don’t know if that qualifies as underlying conditions, but I feel uneasy traveling for and attempting the FET at the height of Covid. I also would prefer not to take the vaccine while pregnant due to a lack of information. In your opinion, is it advisable to wait to receive the vaccine before undergoing the FET? Thank you for this wonderful forum!

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Either defer the vaccine of have it done and then wait 4-6bweeks after the 2nd shoot before initiating a cycle.Please discuss with your personal RE for his/her input, before proceeding.

Good luck,

Geoff Sher

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Rebecka

Hello can you give me some insight ? I had a hcg level of 96 at 14pdo
the second was only 127 at 16 dpo. Is this okay?

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

It is a slowish rise. I suggest repeating in 2 days to see if it picks up substantially!

Geoff Sher

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Rachel

Thank you Dr. Sher-
What do you think of inositol supplements for someone not diagnosed with PCOS but with poor egg quality? Specifically I am wondering about Ovasitol by Theralogix.

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Kristina F

Hi, my Hcg was 337 on 16 DPO and 89 hours later it was 1,788 on 20DPO , online calculator says the numbers doubled every 37 hours. Does that sound good?? Thanks in advance.
Also my progesterone was 15.5 on 16dpo should I be taking a progesterone supplement ? My OB won’t see me until 10 weeks… thanks.

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

This does not look discouraging to me at this stage. And yes, there would be no harm in taking progesterone supplements.

Geoff Sher

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cool step

I’m 43.8 yrs old, have a healthy 10 yrs old- natural preg, had 2 early miscarriages after that (work up negative). When I was 41 (spouse 43 then) went through IVF, was able to get a frozen embryo 4bb, Genetic testing says normal XX embryo, however delay in transfer due to death in family/covid/personal reasons. Planning to start transfer process soon. You had earlier recommended, to go ahead.
Any comments on covid vaccine? I am a HCW and have received dose 1 of Moderna on 12/26, will be due for my 2nd dose in 4 weeks, FET scheduled 01/26, I am confused..
I know there is not much data, however any insight from your end would be much appreciated. Thanks again

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

For safety sake, I would wait about 1 month after the 2nd vaccination before starting.

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

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HSB

A friend of mine was diagnosed by you with high NK cells and cytokines. She went on to have one healthy baby girl treating them with just steroids. Second baby was a still born female that passed around 15 weeks and they don’t know why but they assume it was some sort of cord issue . Then she got pregnant with twins and one passed at 8 weeks and the other, a male is due any day now.

My question is, is it possible for one twin to stop developing because of the NK & cytokines but the other to do just fine? I am really interested in reproductive immunology . Thank you for your time.

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

It is possible, depending on the type of immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID)…i.e alloimmune versus autoimmune. Go to the home page of this website and download a free copy of my E-book on immunology for details.

cause of IVF failure. In the pursuit of optimizing outcome with IVF, the clinician has a profound responsibility to meticulously assess and address this important issue if IVF success is to be optimized. This is especially relevant in cases of “unexplained IVF failure, Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (RPL) and in women suspected of having underlying anatomical and immunologic factors. Doing so will not only maximize the chance of a viable pregnancy but enhancing placentation, will at the same time promote the noble objective of optimizing the quality of life after birth.”
IVF success rates have been improving over the last decade. The average live birth rate per embryo transfer in the U.S.A for women under 40y using their own eggs , is currently better than 1:3 women. However, there is still a wide variation from program to program for IVF live birth rates, ranging from 20% to near 50%. Based upon these statistics, the majority of women undergoing IVF in the United States require two or more attempts to have a baby. IVF practitioners in the United States commonly attribute the wide dichotomy in IVF success rates to variability in expertise of the various embryology laboratories. This is far from accurate. In fact, other factors such as wide variations in patient selection and the failure to develop individualized protocols for ovarian stimulation or to address those infective, anatomical and immunologic factors that influence embryo implantation are at least equally important.
About 80% of IVF failures are due to “embryo incompetency” that is largely due to an irregular quota of chromosomes (aneuploidy) which is usually related to advancing age of the woman and is further influenced by other factors such as the protocol selected for ovarian stimulation, diminished ovarian reserve (DOR)m and severe male factor infertility. However in about 20% of dysfunctional cases embryo implantation is the cause of failure.
Anatomical Endo-uterine Lesions: This blog article will focus on implantation dysfunction and IVF failure due to:
• Anatomical abnormalities in the uterine cavity (e.g. scarring, polyps and encroaching fibroid tumors)
• A thin endometrial lining
• Immunologic rejection of the embryos
Several studies performed both in the United States and abroad have confirmed that a dye X-Ray or hysterosalpingogram (HSG) will fail to identify small endouterine surface lesions in >20% of cases. This is significant because even small uterine lesions have the potential to adversely affect implantation. Hysteroscopy is the traditional method for evaluating the integrity of the uterine cavity in preparation for IVF. It also permits resection of most uterine surface lesions, such as submucous uterine fibroids (myomas), intrauterine adhesions and endometrial or placental polyps. All of these can interfere with implantation by producing a local “inflammatory- type” response similar in nature to that which is caused by an intrauterine contraceptive device. Hysterosonography (syn; HSN/ saline ultrasound examination) and hysteroscopy have all but supplanted HSG to assess the uterine cavity in preparation for IVF. HSN which is less invasive and far less expensive than is than hysteroscopy involves a small amount of a sterile saline solution is injected into the uterine cavity, whereupon a vaginal ultrasound examination is performed to assess the contour of the uterine cavity.
Endometrial Thickness: As far back as in 1989 I first reported on the finding that ultrasound assessment of the late proliferative phase endometrium following ovarian stimulation in preparation for IVF, permits better identification of those candidates who are least likely to conceive. We noted that the ideal thickness of the endometrium at the time of ovulation or egg retrieval is >9 mm and that a thickness of less than 8 mm bodes poorly for a successful outcome following IVF.
Then in 1993, I demonstrated that sildenafil (Viagra) introduced into the vagina prior to hCG administration can improve endometrial growth in many women with poor endometrial development. Viagra’s mechanism of action is improvement in uterine blood flow with improved estrogen delivery…thereby enhancing endometrial development.
Immunologic factors: These also play a role in IVF failure. Some women develop antibodies to components of their own cells. This “autoimmune” process involves the production of antiphospholipid, antithyroid, and/or anti-ovarian antibodies – all of which may be associated with activation of Natural Killer (NK) cells in the uterine lining. Activated NK cells (NKa) release certain cytokines (TH-I) that if present in excess, often damage the trophoblast (the embryo’s root system) resulting in immunologic implantation dysfunction (IID). This can manifest as “infertility” or as early miscarriages). In other cases (though less common), the problem is due to “alloimmune” dysfunction. Here the genetic contribution by the male partner renders the embryo “too similar” to the mother. This in turn activates NK cells leading to implantation dysfunction. These IID’s are treated using combinations of medications such as heparin, Clexane, Lovenox, corticosteroids and intralipid (IL).

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.

• A Fresh Look at the Indications for IVF
• 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.
• 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?
• Blastocyst Embryo Transfers Should be the Standard of Care in IVF
• Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
• IVF: Approach to Selecting the Best Embryos for Transfer to the Uterus.
• Fresh versus Frozen Embryo Transfers (FET) Enhance IVF Outcome
• Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET): A Rational Approach to Hormonal Preparation and How new Methodology is Impacting IVF.
• Genetically Testing Embryos for IVF
• Staggered IVF
• Staggered IVF with PGS- Selection of “Competent” Embryos Greatly Enhances the Utility & Efficiency of IVF.
• 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
• Endometrial Receptivity Array (ERA): Is There an actual “There, There”?
• IVF Failure and Implantation Dysfunction:
• Diagnosing and Treating Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID)
• 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
• A Thin Uterine Lining: Vaginal Viagra is Often the Answer (update)
• Cervical Ureaplasma Urealyticum Infection: How can it Affect IUI/IVF Outcome?
• The Role of Nutritional Supplements in Preparing for IVF
• The Basic Infertility Work-Up
• Defining and Addressing an Abnormal Luteal Phase
• Male Factor Infertility
• Routine Fertilization by Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): An Argument in Favor
• Hormonal Treatment of Male Infertility
• Hormonal Treatment of Male Infertility
• Antisperm Antibodies, Infertility and the Role of IVF with Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
• Endometriosis and Infertily
• Endometriosis and Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction (IID) and IVF
• Endometriosis and Infertility: Why IVF Rather than IUI or Surgery Should be the Treatment of Choice.
• Endometriosis and Infertility: The Influence of Age and Severity on Treatment Options
• Early -Endometriosis-related Infertility: Ovulation Induction (with or without Intrauterine Insemination) and Reproductive Surgery Versus IVF
• Deciding Between Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
• Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): Who Needs it & who Does Not: Pro’s & Con’s!IUI-Reflecting upon its Use and Misuse: Time for a Serious “Reality Check
• Mode of Action, Indications, Benefits, Limitations and Contraindications for its ue
• Clomiphene Induction of Ovulation: Its Use and Misuse!
ADDENDUM: PLEASE READ!!
INTRODUCING SHER FERTILITY SOLUTIONS (SFS)
Founded in April 2019, Sher Fertility Solutions (SFS) offers online (Skype/FaceTime) consultations to patients from > 40 different countries. All consultations are followed by a detailed written report presenting my personal recommendations for treatment of what often constitute complex Reproductive Issues.

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

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

Geoff Sher

reply
HSB

Thank you for pointing me towards your book. The cause of her immune implantation dysfunction is endometriosis. Is that auto immune? And could that cause the still birth and then for one twin to pass at 8 weeks?

reply
Samantha

Dr Sher,
I conceived a baby through my first ivf in 2018. I have had several failures since then. All with a natural FET. Should I consider ERA? Will there be any benefit? My specialist says no because I have already had a success birth.

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I agree with your RE. However, I respectfully do not advocate NC FET’s.

Until less than a decade ago, most women undergoing IVF would have embryos transferred to the uterus in the same cycle that the egg retrieval was performed (“Fresh” Embryo Transfer). This was because embryo cryopreservation (freezing) was a hazardous undertaking. In fact, it resulted in about 30% not surviving the freezing process and those that did, having about one half the potential of “fresh embryos to implant and propagate a viable pregnancy. The main reason for the high attrition rate associated with embryo cryopreservation is that the “conventional” freezing” process that was done slowly and this resulted in ice forming within the embryo’s cells, damaging or destroying them. The introduction of an ultra-rapid cryopreservation process (vitrification) freezes the embryos so rapidly as to avoid ice crystals from developing. As a result, >90% survive the freeze/thaw process in as good a condition as they were prior to being frozen and thus without being compromised in their ability to propagate a viable pregnancy.
Recently, there have been several articles that have appeared in the literature suggest that an altered hormonal environment may be the reason for this effect. There have also been reports showing that when singletons (pregnancy with one baby) conceived naturally are compared to singletons conceived through a “fresh” embryo transfers they tend to have a greater chance of low birth weight/prematurity. This difference was not observed in babies born following FET. Hence, there is a suspicion that the altered hormonal environment during the fresh cycle may be the causative factor.
Available evidence suggests that FET (of pre-vitrified blastocysts) is at least as successful as is the transfer of “fresh” embryos and might even have the edge. The reason for this is certainly unlikely to have anything to do with the freezing process itself. It more than likely has to do with two factors:
a) An ever increasing percentage of FET’s involve the transfer of PGS-tested, fully karyotyped, euploid blastocysts that have a greater potential to propagate viable pregnancies, than is the case with “fresh” ET’s where the embryos have rarely undergone prior PGS selection for “competency”…and,
b) With targeted hormone replacement therapy for FET, one is far better able to better to optimally prepare the endometrium for healthy implantation than is the case where embryos are transferre3d following ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs.
There are additional factors other than method used for embryo cryopreservation that influence outcome following FET. These include
• An emerging trend towards selective transferring only advanced (day 5-6) embryos (blastocysts).
• (PGS) to allow for the selective transfer of genetic competent (euploid) embryos
• Addressing underlying causes of implantation dysfunction (anatomical and immunologic uterine factors) and
• Exclusive use of ultrasound guidance for delivery of embryos transferred to the uterus.
Against this background, the use of FET has several decided advantages:
• The ability to cryostore surplus embryos left over after fresh embryo transfer
• The ability to safely hold embryos over for subsequent transfer in a later frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycle (i.e. Staggered IVF) in cases where:
1. Additional time is needed to perform preimplantation Genetic testing for embryo competency.
2. In cases where ovarian hyperstimulation increases the risk of life-endangering complications associated with critically severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).
3. To bank (stockpile) embryos for selective transfer of karyotypically normal embryos in older women or those who are diminished ovarian reserve
4. The ability to store embryos in cases of IVF with third party parenting (Egg Donation; Gestational Surrogacy and Embryo donation) and so improve convenience for those couples seeking such services.
Preimplantation Genetic Sampling with FET:
The introduction of preimplantation genetic sampling (PGS) to karyotyping of embryos for selective transfer of the most “competent” embryos, requires in most cases that the tested blastocysts be vitribanked while awaiting test results and then transferred to the uterus at a later date. Many IVF programs have advocated the routine use of PGS in IVF purported to improve IVF outcome. But PGS should in my opinion should only be used selectively. I do not believe that it is needed for all women undergoing IVF. First there is the significant additional cost involved and second it will not benefit everyone undergoing IVF, in my opinion.
While PGS is a good approach for older women and those with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) and also for woman who experience recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) or “unexplained” recurrent IVF failure recent data suggests that it will not improve IVF success rates in women under 36Y who have normal ovarian reserve, who represent the majority of women seeking IVF treatment. Nor is it needed in women (regardless of their age) undergoing IVF with eggs donated by a younger donor. This is because in such women about 1:2/3 of their eggs/embryos are usually chromosomally normal, and in most cases will upon fertilization produce multiple blastocysts per IVF attempt, anyway. Thus in such cases the transfer of 2 blastocysts will likely yield the same outcome regardless of whether the embryos had been subjected to PGS or not. The routine use of
It is another matter when it comes to women who have diminished ovarian reserve and/or DOR contemplating embryo banking and for women with unexplained recurrent IVF failure, recurrent pregnancy loss and women with alloimmune implantation dysfunction who regardless of their age or ovarian reserve require PGS for diagnostic reasons.
Embryo Banking: Some IVF centers are doing embryo banking cycles with Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS). With Embryo Banking” several IVF cycles are performed sequentially (usually about 2 months apart), up to the egg retrieval stage. The eggs are fertilized and the resulting advanced embryos are biopsied. The biopsy specimens are held over until enough 4-8 blastocysts have been vitribanked, thus providing a reasonable likelihood that one or more will turn out to be PGS-normal. At this point the biopsy specimens (derived all banking cycles) are sent for PGS testing at one time (a significant cost-saver), the chromosomally normal blastocysts are identified and the women are scheduled for timed FET procedures….. with a good prospect of a markedly improved chance of success as well as a reduced risk of miscarriage.
Standard (proposed) Regimen for preparing the uterus for frozen embryo transfer FET) is as follows:

The recipient’s cycle is initiated with an oral contraceptive-OC (e.g. Marvelon/Lo-Estrin; Lo-Ovral etc) for at least 10 days. This is later overlapped with 0.5 mg. (10 units) Lupron/Lucrin (or Superfact/Buserelin) daily for 3 days. Thereupon the OC is withdrawn and daily 0.25 mg (5 units) of Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact injections are continued. Menstruation will usually ensue within 1 week. At this point, an ultrasound examination is performed to exclude ovarian cyst(s) and a blood estradiol measurement is taken (it needs to be <70pg/ml) until daily progesterone administration is initiated some time later. The daily Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact is continued until the initiation of progesterone therapy (see below).

Four milligram (4mg) Estradiol valerate (Delestrogen) IM is injected SC, twice weekly (on Tuesday and Friday), commencing within a few days of Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact-induced menstruation. Blood is drawn on Monday and Thursday for measurement of blood [E2]. This allows for planned adjustment of the E2V dosage scheduled for the next day. The objective is to achieve a plasma E2 concentration of 500-1,000pg/ml and an endometrial lining of >8mm, as assessed by ultrasound examination done after 10 days of estrogen exposure i.e. a day after the 3rd dosage of Delestrogen.. The twice weekly, final (adjusted) dosage of E2V is continued until pregnancy is discounted by blood testing or an ultrasound examination. Dexamethasone 0.75 mg is taken orally, daily with the start of the Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact. Oral folic acid (1 mg) is taken daily commencing with the first E2V injection and is continued throughout gestation. Patients also receive Ciprofloxin 500mg BID orally starting with the initiation of Progesterone therapy and continuing for 10 days.

Luteal support commences 6 days prior to the ET, with intramuscular progesterone in oil (PIO) at an initial dose of 50 mg (P4-Day 1). Starting on progesterone administration-Day 2, PIO is increased to 100 mg daily continuing until the 10th week of pregnancy, or until a blood pregnancy test/negative ultrasound (after the 6-7th gestational week), discounts a viable pregnancy.

Also, commencing on the day following the ET, the patient inserts one (1) vaginal progesterone suppository (100 mg) in the morning + 2mg E2V vaginal suppository (in the evening) and this is continued until the 10th week of pregnancy or until pregnancy is discounted by blood testing or by an ultrasound examination after the 6-7th gestational week. Dexamethasone o.75mg is continued to the 10th week of pregnancy (tailed off from the 8th to 10th week) or as soon as pregnancy is ruled out. With the obvious exception of the fact that embryo recipients do not receive an hCG injections, luteal phase and early pregnancy hormonal support and immuno-suppression is otherwise the same as for conventional IVF patients. Blood pregnancy tests are performed 13 days and 15 days after the first P4 injection was given.

Note: One (1) vaginal application of Crinone 8% is administered on the 1st day (referred to as luteal phase day 0 – LPO). On LP Day 1, they will commence the administration of Crinone 8% twice daily (AM and PM) until the day of embryo transfer. Withhold Crinone on the morning of the embryo transfer and resume Crinone administration in the PM. Crinone twice daily is resumed from the day after embryo transfer. Contingent upon positive blood pregnancy tests, and subsequently upon the ultrasound confirmation of a viable pregnancy, administration of Crinone twice daily are continued until the 10th week of pregnancy.

Regime for Thawing and Transferring Cryopreserved Embryos/Morulae/Blastocysts:

Patients undergoing ET with cryopreserved embryos/morulas/blastocysts will have their embryos thawed and transferred by the following regimen.

Day 2 (P4) Day 4 (P4) Day 5 (P4) Day 6 (P4)
PN Thaw ET
Day 3 Embryo Thaw ET
Blastocysts frozen on day 5 post-ER Thaw in PM
ET
Blastocysts frozen on day 6, post-ER Thaw in AM
ET in PM

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

Patients are encouraged to share the information I provide, with their treating Physicians and/or to avail themselves of my personal hands-on services, provided through batched IVF cycles that I conduct every 3 months at Los Angeles IVF (LAIVF) Clinic, Century City, Los Angeles, CA.

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

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

Geoff Sher

reply
Mandy

No question, just wanted to say THANK YOU! I had a consult with you in September after 3 failed transfers with euploid embryo’s with seemingly no reason why. You provided a recommendation of an autoimmune protocol that I was able to have my RE agree to follow and am now 9 weeks pregnant with my first baby! Thank you once again for taking the time to listen to me and provide your expertise. Happy New Year Dr Sher!

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I am so happy for you Mandy!

I wish you all the joy and happiness possible!

Geoff Sher

reply
Anonymous

I found your forum very helpful and wanted to get your opinion on my IVF protocol used. I am 39.5 yrs old and this is my first IVF cycle. My doctor (a respected fertility specialist in Boston) has indicated that I have very good ovarian reserve for my age and my AMH last June was 2.48. I am attempting IVF with ICSI and PGT-A due to using donor sperm (only ART vials available) and all my tests are “good”, with a goal of having enough normal embryos to freeze for potential second pregnancy in the future.
I started with a birth control pill on day 1 of my menstrual cycle for 10 days. I was told to wait for a withdrawal bleed (I had intermittent dark spotting while on the pill) which came on day 13 (more of a red bleed). I was instructed to start 2 days after that (cycle day 15) with 300 UI of Gonal F and 150 IU Menopur for 2 nights and add Cetrotide 0.25 on third night. My baseline was never tested before starting stims as I was told the withdrawal bleeding would indicate hormones are at baseline. I then went in for Estradiol test after 3 days of stims and it was 581. They lowered the doses to 225 Gonal f and 75 Menopur (same dose cetrotide). On day 6 I had 5 measurable follicles (and 10-20 smaller ones under 11mm) : left three 12 to 16.2mm and right two 11 to 12mm. Estradiol 1238, LH 2.57, Progesterone 1.08. I went in again on day 8 (after 7 days of stims) and I was a bit disappointed that I only have 8 measurable ones. Largest ones on the left: 22.1 mm, 16.5, 17.3, 14.8, 13.6 and 12. Right: 15.8 and 14.2. Estradiol 1633 and progesterone 1.28.. They said to continue same doses. On day 9 I had 13 measurable follicles and multiple smaller ones. Left: 13.8mm, 12.8mm, 16.4mm, 20.1mm, 17.2mm, 15.0mm, 26.1mm, 18.3mm, 15.4mm, 18.9mm. Right: 10.5mm, 18.0mm, 17.7mm. I clearly had a dominant follicle way larger than the next largest one which I understand you do not want in IVF. My estradiol was 2433 and progesterone 1.36.
That day (day 9) I was asked to stop stims and do cetrotide and trigger shot of leuprolide 80 units. Morning after trigger shot my LH was 49.45, progesterone 6.7.
I had my egg retrieval today and they only found 4 eggs! Naturally, I am quite disappointed as I was expecting 6 eggs in worst case scenario and was hoping for ~10. In your opinion, did the protocol not work and what would you recommend for the next one? Something to lower my FSH?

I am somewhat disappointed because the goal was to get enough eggs for PGT-A testing and potential second pregnancy in the future. But knowing the statistics I doubt there will be enough. So it’s likely I will need another cycle to get more normal embryos but wondering if this is the right protocol for me as I read your comments regarding overlapping the BCP with an agonist which in my case wasn’t done although I did have withdrawal bleeding. Also, noticed your comment about never doing more than 75 IU of Menopur and they started me with 150 IU for the first 3 days. Then after testing my estradiol they said they wanted to slow things down – wonder if 75 IU of Menopur would be better for the next cycle? and can they really be sure my hormones are at the right baseline without doing bloodwork before starting the stims? Thank you in advance for any insights.

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

You are correct, I personally launch my IVF cycles with the BCP but overlap with Lupron to encourage antral follicle preparation. I also prefer to avoid using a “Lupron “trigger”, for reasons outline below.

We should really talk. I suggest you contact my assistant, Patti Converse (702-533-2691) and set up an online consultation with me.

The importance of the IVF stimulation protocol on egg/embryo quality cannot be overstated. This factor seems often to be overlooked or discounted by t IVF practitioners who use a “one-size-fits-all” approach to ovarian stimulation. My experience is that the use of individualized/customized COS protocols can greatly improve IVF outcome. While no one can influence underlying genetics or turn back the clock on a woman’s age, any competent IVF specialist should be able to tailor the protocol for COS to meet the individual needs of the patient.
Gonadotropins (LH and FSH), whether produced by the pituitary gland or administered by way of fertility drugs, have different “targeted” sites of action in the ovary. FSH targets cells that line the inner wall of the follicle (granulosa cells) and also form the cumulus cells that bind the egg to the inner surface of the follicle. Granulosa cells are responsible for estrogen production.
LH, on the other hand, targets the ovarian connective tissue (stroma/theca) that surrounds ovarian follicles resulting in the production of male hormones such as testosterone (predominantly), androstenedione and DHEA. These androgens are then transported to the granulosa cells of the adjacent follicles in a “bucket brigade fashion”. There FSH converts testosterone to estradiol, causing granulosa cells to multiply (proliferate) and produce estradiol, follicles to grows and eggs to develop (ovogenesis) It follows that ovarian androgens (mainly testosterone) is absolutely indispensable to follicle/ egg growth and development.
However, the emphasis is on a “normal” amount of testosterone. Over-exposure of the follicle to testosterone can in my opinion, compromise egg development and lead to an increased likelihood of chromosomal irregularities (aneuploid) following LH/hCG-induced egg maturational division (meiosis) and compromise embryo “competency/quality.
Ovarian androgens can also reach the uterine lining where they sometimes will compromise estrogen receptor -induced endometrial growth and development.
A significant percentage of older women and those who have diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) have increased LH activity is increased. Such women either over-produce LH and/or the LH produced is far more biologically active. Chronically increased LH activity leads to overgrowth of ovarian connective tissue (stroma/theca). This condition, which is often referred to as Stromal Hyperplasia or hyperthecosis can result in excessive ovarian androgen/testosterone production and poorer egg-embryo quality/competency, Similarly, women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), also characteristically have Stromal hyperplasia/hyperthecosis due to chronically increased LH activity. Thus they too often manifest with increased ovarian androgen production. It is therefore not surprising that “poor egg/embryo quality” is often also a feature of PCOS.
In my opinion, the over-administration of LH-containing menotropins such as Menopur, [which is comprised of roughly equal amount of FSH and hCG ,which acts similar to LH)], to older women, women with DOR and those who have PCOS can also lead to reduced egg/embryo competency . Similarly, drugs such as clomiphene or Letrozole that cause the pituitary gland to release excessive amounts of LH, are also potentially harmful to egg development and in my opinion, are best omitted from IVF COS protocols. This is especially the case when it comes to older women and those with DOR, who in my opinion should preferably be stimulated using FSH-dominant products such as Follistim, Puregon, Fostimon and Gonal-F.
Gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa): GnRHa such as Lupron, Buserelin, Superfact, Gonopeptyl etc. are often used to launch ovarian stimulation cycles. They act by causing an initial outpouring followed by a depletion of pituitary gonadotropins. This results in LH levels falling to low concentrations, within 4-7 days, thereby establishing a relatively “LH-free environment”. When GnRHa are administered for about 7 days prior to initiating gonadotropin stimulation (“long” pituitary down-regulation”), the LH depletion that will exist when COS is initiated, will usually be protective of subsequent egg development. In contrast, when the GnRHa administration commences along with the initiation of gonadotropin therapy, there will be a resultant immediate surge in the release of pituitary LH with the potential to increase ovarian testosterone to egg-compromising levels , from the outset of COS. This, in my opinion could be particularly harmful when undertaken in older women and those who have DOR.
GnRH-antagonists such as Ganirelix, Cetrotide and Orgalutron, on the other hand, act very rapidly (within hours) to block pituitary LH release. The purpose in using GnRH antagonists is to prevent the release of LH during COS. In contrast, the LH-lowering effect of GnRH agonists develops over a number of days.
GnRH antagonists are traditionally given, starting after 5th -7th day of gonadotropin stimulation. However, when this is done in older women and those (regardless of age) who have DOR, LH-suppression might be reached too late to prevent the deleterious effect of excessive ovarian androgen production on egg development in the early stage of ovarian stimulation. This is why, it is my preference to administer GnRH-antagonists, starting at the initiation of gonadotropin administration.
My preferred Protocols for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS):
1. “Long” GnRHa (Lupron/Buserelin/Superfact/Gonopeptyl) Pituitary Down-regulation Protocol: The most commonly prescribed protocol for GnRHa/gonadotropin administration is the so-called “long protocol”. Here, GnRHa is given, starting a week or so prior to menstruation. This results in an initial rise in FSH and LH , which is rapidly followed by a precipitous fall to near zero. It is followed by a withdrawal bleed (menstruation), whereupon gonadotropin treatment should commence, while daily Lupron injections continue, to ensure a “low LH” environment. A modification to the “long protocol” which I prefer prescribing for older women and in cases of DOR, is the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol (A/ACP) where, upon the onset of a GnRHa-induced bleed, the agonist is supplanted by an antagonist (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) and this is continued until the hCG trigger. In many such cases I often supplement with human growth hormone (HGH) in such cases in an attempt to enhance egg mitochondrial activity and so enhance egg development. This approach is often augmented with preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) of all embryos that reach the expanded blastocyst stage of development by day 5-6 post-fertilization. I also commonly recommend blastocyst banking to many such patients.
2. Short (“Flare”) GnRHa Protocol: Another GnRHa usage for COS is the so called “(micro) flare protocol”. This involves initiating gonadotropin therapy commensurate with initiation of gonadotropin administration. The supposed objective is to deliberately allow Lupron to elicit an initial surge (“flare”) in pituitary FSH release in order to augment FSH administration by increased FSH production. Unfortunately, this “spring board effect” constitutes “a double-edged sword”. While it indeed increases the release of FSH, it at the same time causes a surge in LH release. The latter can evoke excessive ovarian stromal/thecal androgen production which could potentially compromise egg quality, especially when it comes to older women and women with DOR. I am of the opinion that by evoking an exaggerated ovarian androgen response, such “(micro) flare protocols” can harm egg/embryo quality and reduce IVF success rates, especially when it comes to COS in older women, and in women with diminished ovarian reserve. Accordingly, I do not prescribe such protocols to my IVF patients.
3. Estrogen Priming – This is the approach I sometimes prescribe for my patients who have virtually depleted ovarian reserve , as determined by very low blood anti-Mullerian hormone AMH levels (<0.2ng/ml or 2 pmol/L) and are thus likely to be very “poor responders”. It involves a modified A/ACP. We start with estrogen skin patches applied every 2nd day (or with the BCP) for 10 days or longer, overlap it for 3 days with a GnRHa whereupon the estrogen priming is stopped. Th GnRHa is continued until the onset of menstruation (usually 5-7 days later) to cause pituitary LH, down-regulation. Upon menstruation and confirmation by ultrasound and measurement of blood estradiol levels that adequate ovarian suppression has been achieved, The patient is given twice-weekly injections of estradiol valerate (Delestrogen) for a period of 7-8 days whereupon COS is initiated using a relatively high dosage FSH-(Follistim, Fostimon, Puregon or Gonal F), which is continued along with daily administration of GnRH antagonist until the “hCG “trigger.” This approach is often augmented with HGH administration throughout the process of COS and by preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) of all embryos that reach the expanded blastocyst stage of development by day 5-6 post-fertilization. I also commonly recommend blastocyst banking to many such patients.
Estrogen Priming has succeeded in significantly enhancing ovarian response to gonadotropins in many of otherwise very poor responders.
Triggering egg Maturation prior to egg Retrieval: hCG versus GnRHa
With ovulation induction using fertility drugs, the administration of 10,000U hCGu (Pregnyl; Profasi, Novarel) or 500mcg hCGr (Ovidrel/Ovitrel) “trigger”) sends the eggs (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 they had prior to the “trigger”. Such a chromosomally numerically normal (euploid), mature (MII) eggs, upon being fertilized will (hopefully) propagate euploid embryos that have 46 chromosomes and will be “: competent” to propagate viable pregnancies. In my opinion, the key is to always “trigger” with no less than 10,000U of hCGu or 500mcg hCGr (Ovidrel/Ovitrel). Any lesser dosage often will reduce the efficiency of meiosis and increase the risk of the eggs being aneuploid. I personally do not use the agonist (Lupron) “trigger”, unless it is combined with (low dosage) hCG. The supposed reason for using the agonist, (Lupron) “trigger” is that by inducing meiosis through compelling a surge in the release of LH by the pituitary gland, the risk it reduces the risk of OHSS. This may be true, but it 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 likelihood of aneuploid and immature (MI) eggs. And there are other better approaches to preventing OHSS (e.g. “prolonged coasting”), in my opinion.
Use of the Birth Control Pill (BCP) to launch IVF-COS.
In natural (unstimulated) as well as in cycles stimulated with fertility drugs, the ability of follicles to properly respond to FSH stimulation is dependent on their having developed FSH-responsive receptors. Pre-antral follicles (PAF) do not have such primed FSH receptors and thus cannot respond properly to FSH stimulation with gonadotropins. The acquisition of FSH receptor responsivity requires that the pre-antral follicles be exposed to FSH, for a number of days (5-7) during which time they attain “FSH-responsivity” and are now known as antral follicles (AF). These AF’s are now able to respond properly to stimulation with administered FSH-gonadotropins. In regular menstrual cycles, the rising FSH output from the pituitary gland insures that PAFs convert tor AF’s. The BCP (as well as prolonged administration of estrogen/progesterone) suppresses FSH. This suppression needs to be countered by artificially causing blood FSH levels to rise in order to cause PAF to AF conversion prior to COS commencing, otherwise pre-antral-to –antral follicle conversion will not take place in an orderly fashion, the duration of ovarian stimulation will be prolonged and both follicle and egg development may be compromised. GnRH agonists cause an immediate surge in release of FSH by the pituitary gland thus causing conversion from PAF to SAF. This is why women who take a BCP to launch a cycle of COS need to have an overlap of the BCP with an agonist. By overlapping the BCP with an agonist for a few days prior to menstruation the early recruited follicles are able to complete their developmental drive to the AF stage and as such, be ready to respond appropriately to optimal ovarian stimulation. Using this approach, the timing of the initiation of the IVF treatment cycle can readily and safely be regulated and controlled by varying the length of time that the woman is on the BCP.
Since optimizing follicular response to COS requires that prior to stimulation with gonadotropins, FSH-induced conversion from PAF to AF’s first be completed and the BCP suppresses FSH, it follows when it comes to women launching COS coming off a BCP something needs to be done to cause a rise in FSH for 5-7 days prior to menstruation heralding the cycle of CO S. This is where overlapping the BCP with a GnRHa comes in. The agonist causes FSH to be released by the pituitary gland and if overlapped with the BCP for several days and this will (within 2-5 days) facilitate PAF to AF conversion…. in time to start COS with the onset of menstruation. Initiating ovarian stimulation in women taking a BCP, without doing this is suboptimal.
I strongly recommend that you visit www.SherIVF.com. Then go to my Blog and access the “search bar”. Type in the titles of any/all of the articles listed below, one by one. “Click” and you will immediately be taken to those you select. Please also take the time to post any questions or comments with the full expectation that I will (as always) respond promptly.
• The IVF Journey: The importance of “Planning the Trip” Before Taking the Ride”
• Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
• The Fundamental Requirements For Achieving Optimal IVF Success
• Use of GnRH Antagonists (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) in IVF-Ovarian Stimulation Protocols.
• Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
• The “Biological Clock” and how it should Influence the Selection and Design of Ovarian Stimulation Protocols for IVF.
• A Rational Basis for selecting Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) protocols in women with Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
• Diagnosing and Treating Infertility due to Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
• Ovarian Stimulation in Women Who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): Introducing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion protocol
• Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in Older women and Women who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): A Rational Basis for Selecting a Stimulation Protocol
• Optimizing Response to Ovarian Stimulation in Women with Compromised Ovarian Response to Ovarian Stimulation: A Personal Approach.
• Egg Maturation in IVF: How Egg “Immaturity”, “Post-maturity” and “Dysmaturity” Influence IVF Outcome:
• Commonly Asked Question in IVF: “Why Did so Few of my Eggs Fertilize and, so Many Fail to Reach Blastocyst?”
• Human Growth Hormone Administration in IVF: Does it Enhances Egg/Embryo Quality and Outcome?
• The BCP: Does Launching a Cycle of Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS). Coming off the BCP Compromise Response?
• Staggered IVF
• Staggered IVF with PGS- Selection of “Competent” Embryos Greatly Enhances the Utility & Efficiency of IVF.
• Staggered IVF: An Excellent Option When. Advancing Age and Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) Reduces IVF Success Rate
• Embryo Banking/Stockpiling: Slows the “Biological Clock” and offers a Selective Alternative to IVF-Egg Donation
• Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGS) in IVF: It should be Used Selectively and NOT be Routine.
• IVF: Selecting the Best Quality Embryos to Transfer
• Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS) Using: Next Generation Gene Sequencing (NGS): Method of Choice.
• PGS in IVF: Are Some Chromosomally abnormal Embryos Capable of Resulting in Normal Babies and Being Wrongly Discarded?
• PGS and Assessment of Egg/Embryo “competency”: How Method, Timing and Methodology Could Affect Reliability
• IVF outcome: How Does Advancing Age and Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) Affect Egg/Embryo “Competency” and How Should the Problem be addressed.

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

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

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

Geoff Sher

reply
Magda

Thank you,, Dr Sher. I am working on your questionnaire in order to schedule a consultation.

In the meantime, what do you think in my case of starting cetrotide with Gonal F from day 1 of stimms and replacing Menopur with lo dose hCG? Do I still even need anything in addtion to Gonal/Cetrotide? It was also then mentioned to combine lupron with hCG for the trigger.

reply
Pomu

Hi,
I was reading somewhere that the hearbeat rate at 7weeks 1 day should be around 140-150.Is 127 a slow heart beat number or its completely fine.Little worried so need your advise.

reply
sheeba ravs

Hello Dr Sher,

Hope all is well. I had one qq related to ultrasound. I am currently 7w 2 d pregnant after 5 day embryo transfer with grade AB. I had 3 ultrasounds every week. One on 22nd dec where they saw the position of the fetus and fetal pole. The next was on 29th where we saw the flicker and measurement and HCG on this day was 21035. The radiologist mentioned the week of 29th that they would hear the heartbeat next week which would be today(1/5). I just came back from the appointment and they had mentioned to me that everything looks fine (growth, flicker), BUT we could not hear the heartbeat yet but only the flicker was seen. Just a bit worried if this is normal and when can we expect to hear the heartbeat in later weeks? They have scheduled me for next week. Please let me know your inputs. Thank you in advance.

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Give it another week and then you will know for sure!

G-d bless!

Geoff Sher

reply
LJ

Hello Dr. Sher,
I had a FET on 12/17/20 with 2 day3 embryos. My first beta was on 12/28/20 and came back at 186. My second beta was on 12/30/20 and came back at 266. They told me to stay on my meds and have my levels tested again today, 1/4/21. The results just came back at 705. Could you give me your thoughts on these results and what your recommendation would be for the next step?

Thank you so much,
LJ

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

That is a slowish rise. Unfortunately, you will need to wait this out. Ultimately, it could require an US at 6-7 weeks to give a definitive answer.

Geoff Sher

reply
LJ

Ok, great – thank you. They said to have me test one more time on Friday, 1/8/21 and I have an US on Monday, 1/11/21. They said I would be about 6 weeks and it should give us some answers. Thank you so much for what all you do here. I wish I were in Vegas to be able to see you. LJ

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

You are welcome!

I perform my IVF cycles in New York; NY.

G-d bless!

Geoff Sher

reply
Pomu

Hi,

We have our first ultrasound at 7 weeks 1 day (after fet) and heart beat is 127.Please advise if this looks good. What is a good range for this time period.

reply
Leslie Shaid

Hi,
I had a beta test done 10 days post ivf transfer which my results were 343. Then 4 days later it went up to 1089. Two days later it went up to 1210 and five days later it down to 789. What do you think the fate of my pregnancy is?

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I hope I am wrong, but these numbers are not very encouraging!

Sorry!

G-d bless!

Geoff Sher

reply
Leslie

What do you think caused a high beta then all of a sudden a drop? Do you suggest stopping estradiol 2mg three times a day and progesterone which I am on twice a day?

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I suggest you discuss any drug alterations with your treating RE.

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

reply
Leslie

Thank you for your response. What do you think caused a high hcg then a drop in hcg? Do you recommend stopping estradiol 2mg three times a day and progesterone I take twice a day?

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

It is hard to say . It will take an US at 6-7 weeks for confirmation.

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

reply
Monica Sanderson

Hi Dr Sher, I’ve been seeing some suggestions that low dose naltrexone might be helpful in down-regulating nk activation & in turn improve fertility. For example, its now part of the protocol at CNY Fertility. Do you have any recommendations about low dose naltrexone? Thanks very much, Monica

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

In my opinion, there is absolutely no evidence that this is valid.

Feel free to call my assistant, Patti Converse to set up a consultation with me to discuss!

Geoff Sher
PH: 702-533-2691

reply
Sydney

Hi doctor. I have had betas every other day since about five days after blastocysts transfer, so for about two weeks now. It’s been doubling every time except for today.. Today’s beta was 6,960. It was 3,724 Sunday so 488 off from doubling. Is this worrisome? I am worried! Thank you.

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

No!~ ! do not think there is significant problem by you staying the course. It looks very promising to me!

Happy new year!

Geoff Sher

reply
Katrina Gutierrez

Hi Dr Sher!
I’m hoping for some clarification. I had my FET on 12/14 and my first beta was 12/23 at 44, 2nd one was 12/28 at 117 and my 3rd was 12/30 at 257.
My clinic doesn’t seem to hopeful and I am very worried. I have a 4th beta along with an U/S coming up.

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I would not be so quick to
write this “pregnancy off!

Good luck~!

Geoff Sher

reply
Helen

Thank you for your answer.
Since the trigger shot (diphereline) inSeptember I have been experiencing an unpleasant dryness of the palms and of the halo/nipple. Palms are ok now, but parts of halo continue to be dry. It goes back to normal when menstruation is to appear and becomes dry again day 11-12. No one knows to tell me what’s happening. It’s not quite a crust, more like a reptile quality of the skin. Have you ever encountered that? Thank you.

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Frankly, no~! I have not seen this. However, I am reasonably certain sure it is hormonal and will abate!

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

reply
Rachel

Hi Dr. Sher- Thank you so very much for helping everyone. I am 40 with normal numbers and no underlying conditions other than age. 2 egg retrievals with only one normal embryo which did not implant. After an antagonist protocol for the first (4 eggs retrieved, 1 PGS normal) we tried a micro flare protocol (9 eggs retrieved and none were normal. My RE wants to do estrogen priming for the next cycle. What do you think? Is there anything else I should do? I am using a sperm donor from a trusted bank. Thank you again.

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I would need much more information in order to comment authoritatively. However, below is some information that might shed some light!

The importance of the IVF stimulation protocol on egg/embryo quality cannot be overstated. This factor seems often to be overlooked or discounted by t IVF practitioners who use a “one-size-fits-all” approach to ovarian stimulation. My experience is that the use of individualized/customized COS protocols can greatly improve IVF outcome. While no one can influence underlying genetics or turn back the clock on a woman’s age, any competent IVF specialist should be able to tailor the protocol for COS to meet the individual needs of the patient.
Gonadotropins (LH and FSH), whether produced by the pituitary gland or administered by way of fertility drugs, have different “targeted” sites of action in the ovary. FSH targets cells that line the inner wall of the follicle (granulosa cells) and also form the cumulus cells that bind the egg to the inner surface of the follicle. Granulosa cells are responsible for estrogen production.
LH, on the other hand, targets the ovarian connective tissue (stroma/theca) that surrounds ovarian follicles resulting in the production of male hormones such as testosterone (predominantly), androstenedione and DHEA. These androgens are then transported to the granulosa cells of the adjacent follicles in a “bucket brigade fashion”. There FSH converts testosterone to estradiol, causing granulosa cells to multiply (proliferate) and produce estradiol, follicles to grows and eggs to develop (ovogenesis) It follows that ovarian androgens (mainly testosterone) is absolutely indispensable to follicle/ egg growth and development.
However, the emphasis is on a “normal” amount of testosterone. Over-exposure of the follicle to testosterone can in my opinion, compromise egg development and lead to an increased likelihood of chromosomal irregularities (aneuploid) following LH/hCG-induced egg maturational division (meiosis) and compromise embryo “competency/quality.
Ovarian androgens can also reach the uterine lining where they sometimes will compromise estrogen receptor -induced endometrial growth and development.
A significant percentage of older women and those who have diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) have increased LH activity is increased. Such women either over-produce LH and/or the LH produced is far more biologically active. Chronically increased LH activity leads to overgrowth of ovarian connective tissue (stroma/theca). This condition, which is often referred to as Stromal Hyperplasia or hyperthecosis can result in excessive ovarian androgen/testosterone production and poorer egg-embryo quality/competency, Similarly, women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), also characteristically have Stromal hyperplasia/hyperthecosis due to chronically increased LH activity. Thus they too often manifest with increased ovarian androgen production. It is therefore not surprising that “poor egg/embryo quality” is often also a feature of PCOS.
In my opinion, the over-administration of LH-containing menotropins such as Menopur, [which is comprised of roughly equal amount of FSH and hCG ,which acts similar to LH)], to older women, women with DOR and those who have PCOS can also lead to reduced egg/embryo competency . Similarly, drugs such as clomiphene or Letrozole that cause the pituitary gland to release excessive amounts of LH, are also potentially harmful to egg development and in my opinion, are best omitted from IVF COS protocols. This is especially the case when it comes to older women and those with DOR, who in my opinion should preferably be stimulated using FSH-dominant products such as Follistim, Puregon, Fostimon and Gonal-F.
Gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa): GnRHa such as Lupron, Buserelin, Superfact, Gonopeptyl etc. are often used to launch ovarian stimulation cycles. They act by causing an initial outpouring followed by a depletion of pituitary gonadotropins. This results in LH levels falling to low concentrations, within 4-7 days, thereby establishing a relatively “LH-free environment”. When GnRHa are administered for about 7 days prior to initiating gonadotropin stimulation (“long” pituitary down-regulation”), the LH depletion that will exist when COS is initiated, will usually be protective of subsequent egg development. In contrast, when the GnRHa administration commences along with the initiation of gonadotropin therapy, there will be a resultant immediate surge in the release of pituitary LH with the potential to increase ovarian testosterone to egg-compromising levels , from the outset of COS. This, in my opinion could be particularly harmful when undertaken in older women and those who have DOR.
GnRH-antagonists such as Ganirelix, Cetrotide and Orgalutron, on the other hand, act very rapidly (within hours) to block pituitary LH release. The purpose in using GnRH antagonists is to prevent the release of LH during COS. In contrast, the LH-lowering effect of GnRH agonists develops over a number of days.
GnRH antagonists are traditionally given, starting after 5th -7th day of gonadotropin stimulation. However, when this is done in older women and those (regardless of age) who have DOR, LH-suppression might be reached too late to prevent the deleterious effect of excessive ovarian androgen production on egg development in the early stage of ovarian stimulation. This is why, it is my preference to administer GnRH-antagonists, starting at the initiation of gonadotropin administration.
My preferred Protocols for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS):
1. “Long” GnRHa (Lupron/Buserelin/Superfact/Gonopeptyl) Pituitary Down-regulation Protocol: The most commonly prescribed protocol for GnRHa/gonadotropin administration is the so-called “long protocol”. Here, GnRHa is given, starting a week or so prior to menstruation. This results in an initial rise in FSH and LH , which is rapidly followed by a precipitous fall to near zero. It is followed by a withdrawal bleed (menstruation), whereupon gonadotropin treatment should commence, while daily Lupron injections continue, to ensure a “low LH” environment. A modification to the “long protocol” which I prefer prescribing for older women and in cases of DOR, is the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol (A/ACP) where, upon the onset of a GnRHa-induced bleed, the agonist is supplanted by an antagonist (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) and this is continued until the hCG trigger. In many such cases I often supplement with human growth hormone (HGH) in such cases in an attempt to enhance egg mitochondrial activity and so enhance egg development. This approach is often augmented with preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) of all embryos that reach the expanded blastocyst stage of development by day 5-6 post-fertilization. I also commonly recommend blastocyst banking to many such patients.
2. Short (“Flare”) GnRHa Protocol: Another GnRHa usage for COS is the so called “(micro) flare protocol”. This involves initiating gonadotropin therapy commensurate with initiation of gonadotropin administration. The supposed objective is to deliberately allow Lupron to elicit an initial surge (“flare”) in pituitary FSH release in order to augment FSH administration by increased FSH production. Unfortunately, this “spring board effect” constitutes “a double-edged sword”. While it indeed increases the release of FSH, it at the same time causes a surge in LH release. The latter can evoke excessive ovarian stromal/thecal androgen production which could potentially compromise egg quality, especially when it comes to older women and women with DOR. I am of the opinion that by evoking an exaggerated ovarian androgen response, such “(micro) flare protocols” can harm egg/embryo quality and reduce IVF success rates, especially when it comes to COS in older women, and in women with diminished ovarian reserve. Accordingly, I do not prescribe such protocols to my IVF patients.
3. Estrogen Priming – This is the approach I sometimes prescribe for my patients who have virtually depleted ovarian reserve , as determined by very low blood anti-Mullerian hormone AMH levels (<0.2ng/ml or 2 pmol/L) and are thus likely to be very “poor responders”. It involves a modified A/ACP. We start with estrogen skin patches applied every 2nd day (or with the BCP) for 10 days or longer, overlap it for 3 days with a GnRHa whereupon the estrogen priming is stopped. Th GnRHa is continued until the onset of menstruation (usually 5-7 days later) to cause pituitary LH, down-regulation. Upon menstruation and confirmation by ultrasound and measurement of blood estradiol levels that adequate ovarian suppression has been achieved, The patient is given twice-weekly injections of estradiol valerate (Delestrogen) for a period of 7-8 days whereupon COS is initiated using a relatively high dosage FSH-(Follistim, Fostimon, Puregon or Gonal F), which is continued along with daily administration of GnRH antagonist until the “hCG “trigger.” This approach is often augmented with HGH administration throughout the process of COS and by preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) of all embryos that reach the expanded blastocyst stage of development by day 5-6 post-fertilization. I also commonly recommend blastocyst banking to many such patients.
Estrogen Priming has succeeded in significantly enhancing ovarian response to gonadotropins in many of otherwise very poor responders.
Triggering egg Maturation prior to egg Retrieval: hCG versus GnRHa
With ovulation induction using fertility drugs, the administration of 10,000U hCGu (Pregnyl; Profasi, Novarel) or 500mcg hCGr (Ovidrel/Ovitrel) “trigger”) sends the eggs (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 they had prior to the “trigger”. Such a chromosomally numerically normal (euploid), mature (MII) eggs, upon being fertilized will (hopefully) propagate euploid embryos that have 46 chromosomes and will be “: competent” to propagate viable pregnancies. In my opinion, the key is to always “trigger” with no less than 10,000U of hCGu or 500mcg hCGr (Ovidrel/Ovitrel). Any lesser dosage often will reduce the efficiency of meiosis and increase the risk of the eggs being aneuploid. I personally do not use the agonist (Lupron) “trigger”, unless it is combined with (low dosage) hCG. The supposed reason for using the agonist, (Lupron) “trigger” is that by inducing meiosis through compelling a surge in the release of LH by the pituitary gland, the risk it reduces the risk of OHSS. This may be true, but it 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 likelihood of aneuploid and immature (MI) eggs. And there are other better approaches to preventing OHSS (e.g. “prolonged coasting”), in my opinion.
Use of the Birth Control Pill (BCP) to launch IVF-COS.
In natural (unstimulated) as well as in cycles stimulated with fertility drugs, the ability of follicles to properly respond to FSH stimulation is dependent on their having developed FSH-responsive receptors. Pre-antral follicles (PAF) do not have such primed FSH receptors and thus cannot respond properly to FSH stimulation with gonadotropins. The acquisition of FSH receptor responsivity requires that the pre-antral follicles be exposed to FSH, for a number of days (5-7) during which time they attain “FSH-responsivity” and are now known as antral follicles (AF). These AF’s are now able to respond properly to stimulation with administered FSH-gonadotropins. In regular menstrual cycles, the rising FSH output from the pituitary gland insures that PAFs convert tor AF’s. The BCP (as well as prolonged administration of estrogen/progesterone) suppresses FSH. This suppression needs to be countered by artificially causing blood FSH levels to rise in order to cause PAF to AF conversion prior to COS commencing, otherwise pre-antral-to –antral follicle conversion will not take place in an orderly fashion, the duration of ovarian stimulation will be prolonged and both follicle and egg development may be compromised. GnRH agonists cause an immediate surge in release of FSH by the pituitary gland thus causing conversion from PAF to SAF. This is why women who take a BCP to launch a cycle of COS need to have an overlap of the BCP with an agonist. By overlapping the BCP with an agonist for a few days prior to menstruation the early recruited follicles are able to complete their developmental drive to the AF stage and as such, be ready to respond appropriately to optimal ovarian stimulation. Using this approach, the timing of the initiation of the IVF treatment cycle can readily and safely be regulated and controlled by varying the length of time that the woman is on the BCP.
Since optimizing follicular response to COS requires that prior to stimulation with gonadotropins, FSH-induced conversion from PAF to AF’s first be completed and the BCP suppresses FSH, it follows when it comes to women launching COS coming off a BCP something needs to be done to cause a rise in FSH for 5-7 days prior to menstruation heralding the cycle of CO S. This is where overlapping the BCP with a GnRHa comes in. The agonist causes FSH to be released by the pituitary gland and if overlapped with the BCP for several days and this will (within 2-5 days) facilitate PAF to AF conversion…. in time to start COS with the onset of menstruation. Initiating ovarian stimulation in women taking a BCP, without doing this is suboptimal.
I strongly recommend that you visit www.SherIVF.com. Then go to my Blog and access the “search bar”. Type in the titles of any/all of the articles listed below, one by one. “Click” and you will immediately be taken to those you select. Please also take the time to post any questions or comments with the full expectation that I will (as always) respond promptly.
• The IVF Journey: The importance of “Planning the Trip” Before Taking the Ride”
• Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
• The Fundamental Requirements For Achieving Optimal IVF Success
• Use of GnRH Antagonists (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) in IVF-Ovarian Stimulation Protocols.
• Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
• The “Biological Clock” and how it should Influence the Selection and Design of Ovarian Stimulation Protocols for IVF.
• A Rational Basis for selecting Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) protocols in women with Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
• Diagnosing and Treating Infertility due to Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
• Ovarian Stimulation in Women Who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): Introducing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion protocol
• Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in Older women and Women who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): A Rational Basis for Selecting a Stimulation Protocol
• Optimizing Response to Ovarian Stimulation in Women with Compromised Ovarian Response to Ovarian Stimulation: A Personal Approach.
• Egg Maturation in IVF: How Egg “Immaturity”, “Post-maturity” and “Dysmaturity” Influence IVF Outcome:
• Commonly Asked Question in IVF: “Why Did so Few of my Eggs Fertilize and, so Many Fail to Reach Blastocyst?”
• Human Growth Hormone Administration in IVF: Does it Enhances Egg/Embryo Quality and Outcome?
• The BCP: Does Launching a Cycle of Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS). Coming off the BCP Compromise Response?
• Staggered IVF
• Staggered IVF with PGS- Selection of “Competent” Embryos Greatly Enhances the Utility & Efficiency of IVF.
• Staggered IVF: An Excellent Option When. Advancing Age and Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) Reduces IVF Success Rate
• Embryo Banking/Stockpiling: Slows the “Biological Clock” and offers a Selective Alternative to IVF-Egg Donation
• Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGS) in IVF: It should be Used Selectively and NOT be Routine.
• IVF: Selecting the Best Quality Embryos to Transfer
• Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS) Using: Next Generation Gene Sequencing (NGS): Method of Choice.
• PGS in IVF: Are Some Chromosomally abnormal Embryos Capable of Resulting in Normal Babies and Being Wrongly Discarded?
• PGS and Assessment of Egg/Embryo “competency”: How Method, Timing and Methodology Could Affect Reliability
• IVF outcome: How Does Advancing Age and Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) Affect Egg/Embryo “Competency” and How Should the Problem be addressed.

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

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

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

Geoff Sher

reply
Helen

Hello, doctor. I’ve had my ivf stimulation in September, haven’t had the transfer yet. My body was definitely not ready. I want to try a natural Fet. Only one blastocyst, a 5 AA so I want to optimize my chances for the transfer. Today is the 15th day of the cycle, a 6.83 mm trilaminar endometrium, haven’t ovulated yet at the time of consultation. 1. Would you recommend a transfer this month? 2. Would you choose a natural cycle? Thank you.

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I do not do natural cycle FET’s.

Until less than a decade ago, most women undergoing IVF would have embryos transferred to the uterus in the same cycle that the egg retrieval was performed (“Fresh” Embryo Transfer). This was because embryo cryopreservation (freezing) was a hazardous undertaking. In fact, it resulted in about 30% not surviving the freezing process and those that did, having about one half the potential of “fresh embryos to implant and propagate a viable pregnancy. The main reason for the high attrition rate associated with embryo cryopreservation is that the “conventional” freezing” process that was done slowly and this resulted in ice forming within the embryo’s cells, damaging or destroying them. The introduction of an ultra-rapid cryopreservation process (vitrification) freezes the embryos so rapidly as to avoid ice crystals from developing. As a result, >90% survive the freeze/thaw process in as good a condition as they were prior to being frozen and thus without being compromised in their ability to propagate a viable pregnancy.
Recently, there have been several articles that have appeared in the literature suggest that an altered hormonal environment may be the reason for this effect. There have also been reports showing that when singletons (pregnancy with one baby) conceived naturally are compared to singletons conceived through a “fresh” embryo transfers they tend to have a greater chance of low birth weight/prematurity. This difference was not observed in babies born following FET. Hence, there is a suspicion that the altered hormonal environment during the fresh cycle may be the causative factor.
Available evidence suggests that FET (of pre-vitrified blastocysts) is at least as successful as is the transfer of “fresh” embryos and might even have the edge. The reason for this is certainly unlikely to have anything to do with the freezing process itself. It more than likely has to do with two factors:
a) An ever increasing percentage of FET’s involve the transfer of PGS-tested, fully karyotyped, euploid blastocysts that have a greater potential to propagate viable pregnancies, than is the case with “fresh” ET’s where the embryos have rarely undergone prior PGS selection for “competency”…and,
b) With targeted hormone replacement therapy for FET, one is far better able to better to optimally prepare the endometrium for healthy implantation than is the case where embryos are transferre3d following ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs.
There are additional factors other than method used for embryo cryopreservation that influence outcome following FET. These include
• An emerging trend towards selective transferring only advanced (day 5-6) embryos (blastocysts).
• (PGS) to allow for the selective transfer of genetic competent (euploid) embryos
• Addressing underlying causes of implantation dysfunction (anatomical and immunologic uterine factors) and
• Exclusive use of ultrasound guidance for delivery of embryos transferred to the uterus.
Against this background, the use of FET has several decided advantages:
• The ability to cryostore surplus embryos left over after fresh embryo transfer
• The ability to safely hold embryos over for subsequent transfer in a later frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycle (i.e. Staggered IVF) in cases where:
1. Additional time is needed to perform preimplantation Genetic testing for embryo competency.
2. In cases where ovarian hyperstimulation increases the risk of life-endangering complications associated with critically severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).
3. To bank (stockpile) embryos for selective transfer of karyotypically normal embryos in older women or those who are diminished ovarian reserve
4. The ability to store embryos in cases of IVF with third party parenting (Egg Donation; Gestational Surrogacy and Embryo donation) and so improve convenience for those couples seeking such services.
Preimplantation Genetic Sampling with FET:
The introduction of preimplantation genetic sampling (PGS) to karyotyping of embryos for selective transfer of the most “competent” embryos, requires in most cases that the tested blastocysts be vitribanked while awaiting test results and then transferred to the uterus at a later date. Many IVF programs have advocated the routine use of PGS in IVF purported to improve IVF outcome. But PGS should in my opinion should only be used selectively. I do not believe that it is needed for all women undergoing IVF. First there is the significant additional cost involved and second it will not benefit everyone undergoing IVF, in my opinion.
While PGS is a good approach for older women and those with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) and also for woman who experience recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) or “unexplained” recurrent IVF failure recent data suggests that it will not improve IVF success rates in women under 36Y who have normal ovarian reserve, who represent the majority of women seeking IVF treatment. Nor is it needed in women (regardless of their age) undergoing IVF with eggs donated by a younger donor. This is because in such women about 1:2/3 of their eggs/embryos are usually chromosomally normal, and in most cases will upon fertilization produce multiple blastocysts per IVF attempt, anyway. Thus in such cases the transfer of 2 blastocysts will likely yield the same outcome regardless of whether the embryos had been subjected to PGS or not. The routine use of
It is another matter when it comes to women who have diminished ovarian reserve and/or DOR contemplating embryo banking and for women with unexplained recurrent IVF failure, recurrent pregnancy loss and women with alloimmune implantation dysfunction who regardless of their age or ovarian reserve require PGS for diagnostic reasons.
Embryo Banking: Some IVF centers are doing embryo banking cycles with Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS). With Embryo Banking” several IVF cycles are performed sequentially (usually about 2 months apart), up to the egg retrieval stage. The eggs are fertilized and the resulting advanced embryos are biopsied. The biopsy specimens are held over until enough 4-8 blastocysts have been vitribanked, thus providing a reasonable likelihood that one or more will turn out to be PGS-normal. At this point the biopsy specimens (derived all banking cycles) are sent for PGS testing at one time (a significant cost-saver), the chromosomally normal blastocysts are identified and the women are scheduled for timed FET procedures….. with a good prospect of a markedly improved chance of success as well as a reduced risk of miscarriage.
Standard (proposed) Regimen for preparing the uterus for frozen embryo transfer FET) is as follows:

The recipient’s cycle is initiated with an oral contraceptive-OC (e.g. Marvelon/Lo-Estrin; Lo-Ovral etc) for at least 10 days. This is later overlapped with 0.5 mg. (10 units) Lupron/Lucrin (or Superfact/Buserelin) daily for 3 days. Thereupon the OC is withdrawn and daily 0.25 mg (5 units) of Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact injections are continued. Menstruation will usually ensue within 1 week. At this point, an ultrasound examination is performed to exclude ovarian cyst(s) and a blood estradiol measurement is taken (it needs to be <70pg/ml) until daily progesterone administration is initiated some time later. The daily Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact is continued until the initiation of progesterone therapy (see below).

Four milligram (4mg) Estradiol valerate (Delestrogen) IM is injected SC, twice weekly (on Tuesday and Friday), commencing within a few days of Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact-induced menstruation. Blood is drawn on Monday and Thursday for measurement of blood [E2]. This allows for planned adjustment of the E2V dosage scheduled for the next day. The objective is to achieve a plasma E2 concentration of 500-1,000pg/ml and an endometrial lining of >8mm, as assessed by ultrasound examination done after 10 days of estrogen exposure i.e. a day after the 3rd dosage of Delestrogen.. The twice weekly, final (adjusted) dosage of E2V is continued until pregnancy is discounted by blood testing or an ultrasound examination. Dexamethasone 0.75 mg is taken orally, daily with the start of the Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact. Oral folic acid (1 mg) is taken daily commencing with the first E2V injection and is continued throughout gestation. Patients also receive Ciprofloxin 500mg BID orally starting with the initiation of Progesterone therapy and continuing for 10 days.

Luteal support commences 6 days prior to the ET, with intramuscular progesterone in oil (PIO) at an initial dose of 50 mg (P4-Day 1). Starting on progesterone administration-Day 2, PIO is increased to 100 mg daily continuing until the 10th week of pregnancy, or until a blood pregnancy test/negative ultrasound (after the 6-7th gestational week), discounts a viable pregnancy.

Also, commencing on the day following the ET, the patient inserts one (1) vaginal progesterone suppository (100 mg) in the morning + 2mg E2V vaginal suppository (in the evening) and this is continued until the 10th week of pregnancy or until pregnancy is discounted by blood testing or by an ultrasound examination after the 6-7th gestational week. Dexamethasone o.75mg is continued to the 10th week of pregnancy (tailed off from the 8th to 10th week) or as soon as pregnancy is ruled out. With the obvious exception of the fact that embryo recipients do not receive an hCG injections, luteal phase and early pregnancy hormonal support and immuno-suppression is otherwise the same as for conventional IVF patients. Blood pregnancy tests are performed 13 days and 15 days after the first P4 injection was given.

Note: One (1) vaginal application of Crinone 8% is administered on the 1st day (referred to as luteal phase day 0 – LPO). On LP Day 1, they will commence the administration of Crinone 8% twice daily (AM and PM) until the day of embryo transfer. Withhold Crinone on the morning of the embryo transfer and resume Crinone administration in the PM. Crinone twice daily is resumed from the day after embryo transfer. Contingent upon positive blood pregnancy tests, and subsequently upon the ultrasound confirmation of a viable pregnancy, administration of Crinone twice daily are continued until the 10th week of pregnancy.

Regime for Thawing and Transferring Cryopreserved Embryos/Morulae/Blastocysts:

Patients undergoing ET with cryopreserved embryos/morulas/blastocysts will have their embryos thawed and transferred by the following regimen.

Day 2 (P4) Day 4 (P4) Day 5 (P4) Day 6 (P4)
PN Thaw ET
Day 3 Embryo Thaw ET
Blastocysts frozen on day 5 post-ER Thaw in PM
ET
Blastocysts frozen on day 6, post-ER Thaw in AM
ET in PM

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

Patients are encouraged to share the information I provide, with their treating Physicians and/or to avail themselves of my personal hands-on services, provided through batched IVF cycles that I conduct every 3 months at Los Angeles IVF (LAIVF) Clinic, Century City, Los Angeles, CA.

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

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

Geoff Sher

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I am not in favor of NC-FET’s.

Until less than a decade ago, most women undergoing IVF would have embryos transferred to the uterus in the same cycle that the egg retrieval was performed (“Fresh” Embryo Transfer). This was because embryo cryopreservation (freezing) was a hazardous undertaking. In fact, it resulted in about 30% not surviving the freezing process and those that did, having about one half the potential of “fresh embryos to implant and propagate a viable pregnancy. The main reason for the high attrition rate associated with embryo cryopreservation is that the “conventional” freezing” process that was done slowly and this resulted in ice forming within the embryo’s cells, damaging or destroying them. The introduction of an ultra-rapid cryopreservation process (vitrification) freezes the embryos so rapidly as to avoid ice crystals from developing. As a result, >90% survive the freeze/thaw process in as good a condition as they were prior to being frozen and thus without being compromised in their ability to propagate a viable pregnancy.
Recently, there have been several articles that have appeared in the literature suggest that an altered hormonal environment may be the reason for this effect. There have also been reports showing that when singletons (pregnancy with one baby) conceived naturally are compared to singletons conceived through a “fresh” embryo transfers they tend to have a greater chance of low birth weight/prematurity. This difference was not observed in babies born following FET. Hence, there is a suspicion that the altered hormonal environment during the fresh cycle may be the causative factor.
Available evidence suggests that FET (of pre-vitrified blastocysts) is at least as successful as is the transfer of “fresh” embryos and might even have the edge. The reason for this is certainly unlikely to have anything to do with the freezing process itself. It more than likely has to do with two factors:
a) An ever increasing percentage of FET’s involve the transfer of PGS-tested, fully karyotyped, euploid blastocysts that have a greater potential to propagate viable pregnancies, than is the case with “fresh” ET’s where the embryos have rarely undergone prior PGS selection for “competency”…and,
b) With targeted hormone replacement therapy for FET, one is far better able to better to optimally prepare the endometrium for healthy implantation than is the case where embryos are transferre3d following ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs.
There are additional factors other than method used for embryo cryopreservation that influence outcome following FET. These include
• An emerging trend towards selective transferring only advanced (day 5-6) embryos (blastocysts).
• (PGS) to allow for the selective transfer of genetic competent (euploid) embryos
• Addressing underlying causes of implantation dysfunction (anatomical and immunologic uterine factors) and
• Exclusive use of ultrasound guidance for delivery of embryos transferred to the uterus.
Against this background, the use of FET has several decided advantages:
• The ability to cryostore surplus embryos left over after fresh embryo transfer
• The ability to safely hold embryos over for subsequent transfer in a later frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycle (i.e. Staggered IVF) in cases where:
1. Additional time is needed to perform preimplantation Genetic testing for embryo competency.
2. In cases where ovarian hyperstimulation increases the risk of life-endangering complications associated with critically severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).
3. To bank (stockpile) embryos for selective transfer of karyotypically normal embryos in older women or those who are diminished ovarian reserve
4. The ability to store embryos in cases of IVF with third party parenting (Egg Donation; Gestational Surrogacy and Embryo donation) and so improve convenience for those couples seeking such services.
Preimplantation Genetic Sampling with FET:
The introduction of preimplantation genetic sampling (PGS) to karyotyping of embryos for selective transfer of the most “competent” embryos, requires in most cases that the tested blastocysts be vitribanked while awaiting test results and then transferred to the uterus at a later date. Many IVF programs have advocated the routine use of PGS in IVF purported to improve IVF outcome. But PGS should in my opinion should only be used selectively. I do not believe that it is needed for all women undergoing IVF. First there is the significant additional cost involved and second it will not benefit everyone undergoing IVF, in my opinion.
While PGS is a good approach for older women and those with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) and also for woman who experience recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) or “unexplained” recurrent IVF failure recent data suggests that it will not improve IVF success rates in women under 36Y who have normal ovarian reserve, who represent the majority of women seeking IVF treatment. Nor is it needed in women (regardless of their age) undergoing IVF with eggs donated by a younger donor. This is because in such women about 1:2/3 of their eggs/embryos are usually chromosomally normal, and in most cases will upon fertilization produce multiple blastocysts per IVF attempt, anyway. Thus in such cases the transfer of 2 blastocysts will likely yield the same outcome regardless of whether the embryos had been subjected to PGS or not. The routine use of
It is another matter when it comes to women who have diminished ovarian reserve and/or DOR contemplating embryo banking and for women with unexplained recurrent IVF failure, recurrent pregnancy loss and women with alloimmune implantation dysfunction who regardless of their age or ovarian reserve require PGS for diagnostic reasons.
Embryo Banking: Some IVF centers are doing embryo banking cycles with Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS). With Embryo Banking” several IVF cycles are performed sequentially (usually about 2 months apart), up to the egg retrieval stage. The eggs are fertilized and the resulting advanced embryos are biopsied. The biopsy specimens are held over until enough 4-8 blastocysts have been vitribanked, thus providing a reasonable likelihood that one or more will turn out to be PGS-normal. At this point the biopsy specimens (derived all banking cycles) are sent for PGS testing at one time (a significant cost-saver), the chromosomally normal blastocysts are identified and the women are scheduled for timed FET procedures….. with a good prospect of a markedly improved chance of success as well as a reduced risk of miscarriage.
Standard (proposed) Regimen for preparing the uterus for frozen embryo transfer FET) is as follows:

The recipient’s cycle is initiated with an oral contraceptive-OC (e.g. Marvelon/Lo-Estrin; Lo-Ovral etc) for at least 10 days. This is later overlapped with 0.5 mg. (10 units) Lupron/Lucrin (or Superfact/Buserelin) daily for 3 days. Thereupon the OC is withdrawn and daily 0.25 mg (5 units) of Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact injections are continued. Menstruation will usually ensue within 1 week. At this point, an ultrasound examination is performed to exclude ovarian cyst(s) and a blood estradiol measurement is taken (it needs to be <70pg/ml) until daily progesterone administration is initiated some time later. The daily Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact is continued until the initiation of progesterone therapy (see below).

Four milligram (4mg) Estradiol valerate (Delestrogen) IM is injected SC, twice weekly (on Tuesday and Friday), commencing within a few days of Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact-induced menstruation. Blood is drawn on Monday and Thursday for measurement of blood [E2]. This allows for planned adjustment of the E2V dosage scheduled for the next day. The objective is to achieve a plasma E2 concentration of 500-1,000pg/ml and an endometrial lining of >8mm, as assessed by ultrasound examination done after 10 days of estrogen exposure i.e. a day after the 3rd dosage of Delestrogen.. The twice weekly, final (adjusted) dosage of E2V is continued until pregnancy is discounted by blood testing or an ultrasound examination. Dexamethasone 0.75 mg is taken orally, daily with the start of the Lupron/Lucrin/Superfact. Oral folic acid (1 mg) is taken daily commencing with the first E2V injection and is continued throughout gestation. Patients also receive Ciprofloxin 500mg BID orally starting with the initiation of Progesterone therapy and continuing for 10 days.

Luteal support commences 6 days prior to the ET, with intramuscular progesterone in oil (PIO) at an initial dose of 50 mg (P4-Day 1). Starting on progesterone administration-Day 2, PIO is increased to 100 mg daily continuing until the 10th week of pregnancy, or until a blood pregnancy test/negative ultrasound (after the 6-7th gestational week), discounts a viable pregnancy.

Also, commencing on the day following the ET, the patient inserts one (1) vaginal progesterone suppository (100 mg) in the morning + 2mg E2V vaginal suppository (in the evening) and this is continued until the 10th week of pregnancy or until pregnancy is discounted by blood testing or by an ultrasound examination after the 6-7th gestational week. Dexamethasone o.75mg is continued to the 10th week of pregnancy (tailed off from the 8th to 10th week) or as soon as pregnancy is ruled out. With the obvious exception of the fact that embryo recipients do not receive an hCG injections, luteal phase and early pregnancy hormonal support and immuno-suppression is otherwise the same as for conventional IVF patients. Blood pregnancy tests are performed 13 days and 15 days after the first P4 injection was given.

Note: One (1) vaginal application of Crinone 8% is administered on the 1st day (referred to as luteal phase day 0 – LPO). On LP Day 1, they will commence the administration of Crinone 8% twice daily (AM and PM) until the day of embryo transfer. Withhold Crinone on the morning of the embryo transfer and resume Crinone administration in the PM. Crinone twice daily is resumed from the day after embryo transfer. Contingent upon positive blood pregnancy tests, and subsequently upon the ultrasound confirmation of a viable pregnancy, administration of Crinone twice daily are continued until the 10th week of pregnancy.

Regime for Thawing and Transferring Cryopreserved Embryos/Morulae/Blastocysts:

Patients undergoing ET with cryopreserved embryos/morulas/blastocysts will have their embryos thawed and transferred by the following regimen.

Day 2 (P4) Day 4 (P4) Day 5 (P4) Day 6 (P4)
PN Thaw ET
Day 3 Embryo Thaw ET
Blastocysts frozen on day 5 post-ER Thaw in PM
ET
Blastocysts frozen on day 6, post-ER Thaw in AM
ET in PM

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

Patients are encouraged to share the information I provide, with their treating Physicians and/or to avail themselves of my personal hands-on services, provided through batched IVF cycles that I conduct every 3 months at Los Angeles IVF (LAIVF) Clinic, Century City, Los Angeles, CA.

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

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

Geoff Sher

reply

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