Endometrial Receptivity Array (ERA): Is There an actual There, There?

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!

14 Comments

mariam

Dear Dr. Sher,
God bless for helping couples who are desperate for a child.
my case brief: my age is 38 years and married 7.6 years ago. I had an ectopic pregnancy (left tube removal by laparotomy) in Sept of 2012 about 7 years ago trying to conceive naturally. My partner’s age is 43 and have two kids with ex-partner and his SA showed no problem with quality or sperm count. However, my amh was found 0.6. Hence, i was given Tab fol-123 and tab ovares + once daily along with Sachet cholecalciferol once a week from 10th NOv till FET on feb 3rd 2020.

1. I had my first IVF-ICSI on 24th dec in NOVA IVI India for the first time. My amh was 0.6. so i
2. my meds were – memotas 225 IU and gonal F (injection) 150 IU from D2 to Day 10. Day 7, citrolix injections were given till D10. Trigger shot ovitrelle 0.25 mcg (injection) was given on mid-night D10 (timed).
3. D5 – follicle size right side 10.5, 11, & 1 SF. Left side all SF. D7 – 14, 14, 14 and left side 6, 1SF. Endo- 7 mm. d9 Right side 16.5, 17, 17.5 and left side 9 only. d10 – 19, 18, 18.5, 9. left side – 10, 1SF. Endo – 8.5 mm
4. Only 3 eggs could get retrieved. on day 3 only one had 7 cell which was used for embryo transfer. the other two we were told is a 3pn and a non-reactive one respectively.
5. doctor plan was ET would take place on d3. On d3 – progesterone level were appeared to be high (1.23 ng/ml), hence doctor ET on 3rth Feb (FET) .
6. in the luteal phase (16 days from FET), i was put on Tab miprogen (vaginal twice daily) and tab estrabet 2 mg (thrice daily), tab duphaston 10mg (twice), tab ecosprin 75 mg (once), embrayo sached (once daily 7 days), tab wysolone 5 mg (once daily), Tab folvite 5 mg (once daily), injection HCG 2000 IU HPSC on day of FET & one more after a day. Injection susten 100 mg alternate days for total 11 days.
7. On 18th feb we gave the BETA HCG test and it we receive value <0.100 mIU/ML. hence the IVF first cycle is declared to have been failed. My last period was on 15th jan.

8. The doctor's recommendation now is given below. Please advise if this is the way to go further or do something else in our case?
A. Hysteroscopy to view and analyze the uterine lining AND endometrium receptivity assay test (ERA).
B. The above should help in starting with II IVF ICSI cycle for success.

9. we sought photos of our embryos, the doctor suggested, they consider taking photos of embryos is not recommended as expossure to light, camera etc., is a risk to frozen embryo before trasnfer. Hence we dont know what happened and what do now?

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

This is too complex to address on this forum. We need to talk. What I can tell you is that you have diminished ovarian reserve and in my opinion, the protocols you were on are not optimal. We need to talk (see below).

The older a woman becomes, the more likely it is that her eggs will be chromosomally/genetically “incompetent” (not have the potential upon being fertilized and transferred, to result in a viable pregnancy). That is why, the likelihood of failure to conceive, miscarrying and of giving birth to a chromosomally defective child (e.g. with Down Syndrome) increases with the woman’s advancing age. In addition, as women age beyond 35Y there is commonly a progressive diminution in the number of eggs left in the ovaries, i.e. diminished ovarian reserve (DOR). So it is that older women as well as those who (regardless of age) have DOR have a reduced potential for IVF success. Much of this is due to the fact that such women tend to have increased production of LH biological activity which can result in excessive LH-induced ovarian male hormone (predominantly testosterone) production which in turn can have a deleterious effect on egg/embryo “competency”.
While it is presently not possible by any means, to reverse the age-related effect on the woman’s “biological clock, certain ovarian stimulation regimes, by promoting excessive LH production (e.g. short agonist/Lupron- “flare” protocols, clomiphene and Letrozole), can make matters worse. Similarly, the amount/dosage of certain fertility drugs that contain LH/hCG (e.g. Menopur) can have a negative effect on the development of the eggs of older women and those who have DOR and should be limited.
I try to avoid using such protocols/regimes (especially) in older women and those with DOR, favoring instead the use of the agonist/antagonist conversion protocol (A/ACP), a modified, long pituitary down-regulation regime, augmented by adding supplementary human growth hormone (HGH). I further recommend that such women be offered access to embryo banking of PGS (next generation gene sequencing/NGS)-selected normal blastocysts, the subsequent selective transfer of which by allowing them to to capitalize on whatever residual ovarian reserve and egg quality might still exist and thereby “make hay while the sun still shines” could significantly enhance the opportunity to achieve a viable pregnancy

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

• Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
• IVF: Factors Affecting Egg/Embryo “competency” during Controlled Ovarian Stimulation(COS)
• The Fundamental Requirements For Achieving Optimal IVF Success
• Ovarian Stimulation for IVF using GnRH Antagonists: Comparing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol.(A/ACP) With the “Conventional” Antagonist Approach
• Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
• The “Biological Clock” and how it should Influence the Selection and Design of Ovarian Stimulation Protocols for IVF.
• A Rational Basis for selecting Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) protocols in women with Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
• Diagnosing and Treating Infertility due to Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
• Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in Older women and Women who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): A Rational Basis for Selecting a Stimulation Protocol
• Human Growth Hormone Administration in IVF: Does it Enhances Egg/Embryo Quality and Outcome?
• The BCP: Does Launching a Cycle of Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS). Coming off the BCP Compromise Response?
• Blastocyst Embryo Transfers Should be the Standard of Care in IVF
• Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) versus “Fresh” ET: How to Make the Decision
• Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET): A Rational Approach to Hormonal Preparation and How new Methodology is Impacting IVF.
• Staggered IVF: An Excellent Option When. Advancing Age and Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) Reduces IVF Success Rate
• Embryo Banking/Stockpiling: Slows the “Biological Clock” and offers a Selective Alternative to IVF-Egg Donation.
• Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGS) in IVF: It Should be Used Selectively and NOT be Routine.
• Preimplantation Genetic Sampling (PGS) Using: Next Generation Gene Sequencing (NGS): Method of Choice.
• PGS in IVF: Are Some Chromosomally Abnormal Embryos Capable of Resulting in Normal Babies and Being Wrongly Discarded?
• PGS and Assessment of Egg/Embryo “competency”: How Method, Timing and Methodology Could Affect Reliability
• Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas:
• Traveling for IVF from Out of State/Country–
• A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF
• How Many Embryos should be transferred: A Critical Decision in IVF.
• The Role of Nutritional Supplements in Preparing for IVF
• Premature Luteinization (“the premature LH surge): Why it happens and how it can be prevented.
• IVF Egg Donation: A Comprehensive Overview

______________________________________________________
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
Sona

I agree with the mentioned above that Era is waste of time and money plus physical and emotional stress.

reply
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 and 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 have pre, or post-receptive endometria, suggesting that by deferring embryo transfer in women with pre-receptive endometria and bringing ET forward in women with post-receptive endometria, viable IVF pregnancy rates could be enhanced.
There is no doubt that ERA testing has opened the door to a very intriguing area new arena. But presently available data does not support this assay as being the “silver bullet” when it comes to implantation.
Further studies are needed to confirm the positive findings in what presently represents a relatively small subset of studies that support a clinical value for ERA. Here are 2 examples of a dissenting opinion::
• 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. Considering that there is currently no general agreement that ERA is uniformly beneficial. So, taking into account the financial cost, time delay and emotional impact, I believe this to be injudicious
There are so many variables involved in the success or failure of embryo implantation. These involve embryo competency, anatomical and immunologic factors and yes…technical skill in performing embryo transfer. Gold standard statistical analyses require that all confounding variable be controlled while examining the effect of changing only the one under consideration. This is the reason why, it is presently virtually impossible to perform reliable randomized controlled studies in IVF where there is a constant interplay of many changing variables. So, when it comes to accepting that ERA makes a real difference, I remain highly skeptical. Unfortunately, as with everything we adopt in IVF, it will take time and longitudinal experience to learn what works and what does not work.

___________________________________________________________
ADDENDUM: PLEASE READ!!
INTRODUCING SHER FERTILITY SOLUTIONS (SFS)
Hitherto I have personally performed IVF- treatment and related procedures on patients who, elected to travel to Las Vegas to be managed by me. However, with the launching of Sher-Fertility Solutions (SFS) in April 2019, I have taken on a new and expanded role. Now, rather than having hands-on involvement I confine my services to providing hour-long online Skype consultations to an ever-growing number of patients (emanating from >40 countries), with complex Reproductive problems, who seek access to my input, advice and guidance. All Skype consultations are followed by a detailed written report that meticulously describes and explains my recommendations for treatment. All patients are encouraged to share this report with their personal treating doctor(s), with whom [subject to consent and a request from their doctor] I will, gladly discuss their case with the “treating Physician”.
Through SFS I am now able to conveniently provide those who because of geography, convenience and cost, prefer to be treated at home or elsewhere by their chosen Infertility Physician.
“I wish to emphasize to all patients with whom I consult, that in the final analyses, when it comes to management, strategy, protocol and implementation of treatment, my advice and recommendations are always superseded by that of the hands-on treating Physician”.

Anyone wishing to schedule a Skype consultation with me, can do so by: Calling my concierge (Patti Converse) at 1-800-780-7437 (in the U.S.A or Canada) or 702-533-2691, for an appointment. Patients can also enroll online on my website, http://www.SherIVF.com, or email Patti at concierge@SherIVF.com .
I was very recently greatly honored in receiving an award by the prestigious; International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP). For more information, go to the press release on my website, http://www.sherIVF.com .

PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT SFS!

Geoff Sher

===========

reply
Sona

I was first time IVF patient and ERA test was given to me prior to FET in 2017. Doctors told to pay 1200 for ultrasounds,plus $870,plus extra $500 for lupron. The endometrial biopsy was a womb scratching and I suffered with a health damage- unable to walk without pain. After womb scratching my uterus was in pain for a long time. I had also skin rushes due to Lupron. At a day of embryo transfer my body was very weak and unhealthy. I do not recommended ERA test.

reply
Kalpana

Hello Sir,

In FET, my Endo thickness is 7.6 before starting progesterone but continued taking estrogen pills till my 12th week and miscarried at 16 weeks. ? When measured at 6 weeks, the Endo thickness was 21. Do you think it is because of the Endo thickness (7.6) before progesterone that have caused the miscarriage ?

reply
Swathi

Hi sir,
On day 16 my endometrium thickness is 9.7 but on day 21 which is on frozen embryo transfer day my endometrium is 8.5.what are my chances sir? Please reply me

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

The thickness after exposure to progesterone is irrelevant. It is thickness on esstrogen (at the “trigger” with regular IVF and prior to progesterone supplementation with FET).

Geoff Sher

reply
Lauren S

Hello Dr. Sher,
I just completed a medicated mock frozen embryo transfer cycle with an ERA biopsy after 5 days PIO. The ERA test was recommended by my RE because I have 1 excellent quality PGS normal embryo. I have never been pregnant. The ERA result showed Pre-Receptive by 24 hours. We are hoping to do the real transfer next cycle with an added day of Progesterone. I was told I’m in the 25% of people who result as Pre-Receptive after 5 days of Progesterone. I’m praying this test pays off for me. My progesterone level on day of mock transfer was 23 so I was very surprised by the Pre-Receptive result.

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Good luck Lauren! But frankly, I am not a strong proponent of ERA.

Geoff Sher

reply

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