IVF Outcome in Patients with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal system disorder among women affecting between 5% and 10% of women of reproductive age worldwide. Women with PCOS may have enlarged ovaries that contain multiple small collections of fluid (subcapsular microcysts) that are arranged like a “string of pearls” immediately below the ovarian surface (capsule), interspersed by an overgrowth of ovarian connective tissue (stroma). The condition is characterized by abnormal ovarian function (irregular or absent periods, abnormal or absent ovulation and infertility, androgenicity (increased body hair or hirsutism, acne) and increased body weight – body mass index or BMI.

Women with PCOS are at increased risk that ovarian stimulation with gonadotropins will result in the, of development of severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), a life-endangering condition that is often accompanied by a profound reduction in egg quality. Such eggs will upon fertilization often yield an inordinately high percentage of “incompetent” embryos which have a reduced potential to propagate viable pregnancies.

Concern and even fear that their PCOS patients will develop of OHSS often leads the treating RE to take measures aimed at reducing these risks. In this regard, it is my opinion that the most important consideration is the selection and proper implementation of an individualized or customized   ovarian stimulation protocol.

What follows is a critical assessment of methods to prevent OHSS and/or limit its severity:

  1. PROLONGED COASTING…my preferred approach: My preferred approach is to use a long pituitary down-regulation protocol coming off the BCP which during the last 3 days is overlapped with the agonist, Lupron/Buserelin/Superfact. The BCP is intended to lower LH and thereby reduce stromal activation (hyperthecosis) in the hope of controlling LH-induced ovarian androgen (predominantly, testosterone) production and release. I then stimulate my PCOS patients using a low dosage of recombinant FSH-(FSHr) such as Follistim/Gonal-F/Puregon. On the 3rd day of such stimulation a smidgeon of LH/hCG (Luveris/Menopur) is added. Thereupon, starting on day 7 of ovarian stimulation, I perform serial blood estradiol (E2) and ultrasound follicle assessments, watching for the number and size of the follicles and the blood estradiol concentration [E2]. I keep stimulating (regardless of the [E2] until 50% of all follicles reach 14mm. At this point, provided the [E2] reaches at least >2,500pg/ml, I stop the agonist as well as gonadotropin stimulation and track the blood E2 concentration daily. The [E2] will almost invariably increase for a few days. I closely monitor the [E2] as it rises, plateaus and then begins to decline. As soon as the [E2] drops below 2500pg/ml (and not before then), I administer a “trigger” shot of 10,000U Profasi/ Novarel/Pregnyl or 500mcg Ovidrel/Ovitrel. This is followed by an egg retrieval, performed 36 hours later. Fertilization is accomplished using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) because “coasted” eggs usually have little or no cumulus oophoris enveloping them and eggs without a cumulus will not readily fertilize naturally. Moreover, they also tend to have a “hardened” envelopment (zona pellucida), making spontaneous fertilization problematic in many cases.  All fertilized eggs are cultured to the blastocyst stage  (up to day 5- 6 days) and thereupon are either vitrified and preserved for subsequent transfer in later hormone replacement cycles or (up to 2) blastocysts are transferred to the uterus, transvaginally under transabdominal ultrasound guidance. The success of this approach depends on precise timing of the initiation and conclusion of “prolonged coasting”. If started too early, follicle growth will arrest and the cycle will be lost. If commenced too late, too many follicles will be post-mature/cystic (>22mm) and as such will usually harbor abnormal or dysmature eggs.  Use of “Coasting” almost always prevents the development of severe OHSS, optimizes egg/embryo quality and avoids unnecessary cycle cancellation. If correctly implemented, the worst you will encounter is moderate OHSS and this too is relatively uncommon.
  2. MULTIPLE FOLLICLE ASPIRATION: In some cases, in spite of best effort, you inadvertently find mean follicle size to exceed 16mm, thereby leaving too little time to implement “coasting”. On other occasions, “coasting” fails to effectively lower the [E2} below 2,500pg/ml within 3 days. In such case the number of developing follicles can effectively and drastically reduced (culled) through selective transvaginal aspiration prior to initiating the “trigger” with 10,000U hCG. This will almost invariably be accompanied by a rapid and significant drop in the plasma estradiol concentration along with a drastic reduction in the risk of OHSS occurring without significantly compromising egg/embryo quality. Upon completing surgical follicular reduction, the surviving follicles can be allowed to continue their full development, at which point the hCG “trigger” can be implemented. The drawback associated with this approach is that it unfortunately interjects an additional surgical intervention into an already complex and stressful situation.
  3. EMBRYO FREEZING AND DEFERMENT OF EMBRYO TRANSFEDR (ET): OHSS is always a self-limiting condition. In the absence of continued exposure to hCG, symptoms and signs as well as the risk of severe complications will ultimately abate. Thus, in the absence of pregnancy, all symptoms, signs and risks associated with OHSS will disappear within about 10-14 days of the hCG trigger. Conversely, since early pregnancy is always accompanied by a rapid and progressive rise in hCG , the severity of OHSS will increase until about the 9th or tenth gestational week whereupon a transition from ovarian to placental hormonal dominance occurs, the severity of OHSS rapidly diminishes and the patient will be out of risk. Accordingly, in cases where in spite of best effort to prevent OHSS, the woman develops symptoms and signs of progressive overstimulation prior to planned ET, all the blastocysts should be vitrified and cryostored for FET in a subsequent hormone replacement cycle. In this way women with OHSS can be spared the risk of the condition spiraling out of control.
  4. TRIGGERING WITH LOW DOISAGE hCG; Because of the fact that hCG augments the development of OHSS, many RE’s prefer to use a reduced dosage of hCG for the “trigger. This is either done by administering 5,000U (half the traditional dosage) or by administering, a 250mcg (rather than 500mcg) of DNA recombinant form of hCGr (Ovidrel/Ovitrel) in the hope that by doing so the risk of critical OHSS developing will be lowered. While this indeed might be true, it is my opinion, that the reduced dosage is usually insufficient to optimize the efficiency of egg meiosis, especially when there are so many follicles present. Thus, while the use of a reduced “trigger” dosage of hCG might well reduce the risk and occurrence of OHSS-related life-endangering complications, the price to be paid is reduced egg quality/”competency”.
  5. “TRIGGERING” WITH A GnRH AGONIST (E.G. “LUPRON/BUSERELIN): More recently, an increasing number of RE’s are triggering egg maturation by way of injecting an agonist (Lupron/Buserelin/Superfact)  to initiate the patient’s own pituitary gland to release a large amount of LH.  The idea is to mimic what happens in natural cycles to promote egg maturation (meiosis) and ovulation, namely to have the agonist cause a “surge” in the release of body’s own pituitary LH to trigger egg meiosis (maturation). But the amount of LH released in by the pituitary gland is often insufficient to optimize meiotic egg maturation and thus, while this approach also lowers the risk of OHSS it again comes at the expense of egg quality/competency.

A word of caution: I do not use long term administration of antagonists (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron), such as with the agonist/antagonist conversion protocol (A/ACP) in high responders whom are at risk of developing OHSS prolonged in-cycle administration of  because it can interfere with the E2  assay (often causing the value to be understated), and serial measurement of E2 is a vital part of monitoring patients undergoing “coasting.”

8 Comments

Jay

Hello Dr. Geoffrey Sher,

Your article is very helpful. Thank you for providing this information! I recently went through my first cycle of IVF and I did end up getting a bad case of OHSS. Our fertility doctor even warn me I was a candidate of getting serve OHSS since I was 30 yrs old and have PCOs. Unfortunately when I took my trigger shot of Pregnyl HCG (10,000IU) I wasn’t instructed to also take Lupron, even though I purchased it with the rest of my fertility medication. After the retrieval of my follicles my ovaries were so enlarged that they were touching. The fertility clinic I went to didn’t want to wait until the OHSS calmed down before doing the transfer of my embryo either. I end up doing the transfer of my embryo 5 days after the retrieval. My embryo end up implanting properly and the OHSS got worse. My ovaries remained enlarged and continued touching each other. The doctor I was seeing continued to monitor me by having me do weekly ultrasounds. When I went end to do my “close out” appointment, I should’ve been 11 weeks and 2 days. Unfortunately my fetus stopped growing at 10 weeks and 2 days per their measurements of it. The OHSS end up causing me to miscarry and I had to take cytotec to end the pregnancy. Even after ending the pregnancy my ovaries remain enlarge. I’m now fearing they’re going to eventually erupt or cause long term damage to my body. Do you have any recommendations?

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

_Women like yourself are at risk that ovarian stimulation with gonadotropins will result in the, of development of severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), a life-endangering condition that is often accompanied by a profound reduction in egg “competency” and on fertilization often yield an inordinately high percentage of “incompetent” embryos which have a reduced potential to propagate viable pregnancies.
Concern that a patient will develop of OHSS often leads the treating RE to take measures aimed at reducing the risk of this life-endangering condition. One such measures is to “trigger” egg maturation prematurely in the hope of arresting further follicular growth and the other, is to initiate the “trigger” with a reduced dosage of hCG (i.ed. 5,000U rather than the usual 10,000U of of Pregnyl/Profasi/Novarel, to use or 250mcg rather than 500mcg of Ovidrel or to supplant the hCG “trigger” with a Lupron “trigger” which causes a prompt LH surge from the woman’s pituitary gland to take place. While such measures do indeed reduce the risk of OHSS to the mother, this often comes at the expense of egg quantity and “competency”. Fewer than the anticipated number of eggs are harvested and those that are retrieved are far more likely to be “immature” and chromosomally abnormal (aneuploid”), or “immature” , thereby significantly compromising IVF outcome.
Against this background, It is my considered opinion that when it comes to performing IVF in women at risk of developing OHSS, the most important consideration must be the selection and proper implementation of an individualized or customized ovarian stimulation protocol. Thereupon, rather than prematurely initiating the “trigger” to arrest further follicle growth, administering a reduced dosage of hCG or “triggering with a GnRH agonist (e.g. Lupron/Buserelin) that can compromise egg “competency”….. use of one of the following techniques will often markedly reduce the risk of OHSS while at the same time protecting egg quality:
1. PROLONGED COASTING…my preferred approach: My preferred approach is to use a long pituitary down-regulation protocol coming off the BCP which during the last 3 days is overlapped with the agonist, Lupron/Buserelin/Superfact. The BCP is intended to lower LH and thereby reduce stromal activation (hyperthecosis) in the hope of controlling LH-induced ovarian androgen (predominantly, testosterone) production and release. I then stimulate my PCOS patients using a low dosage of recombinant FSH-(FSHr) such as Follistim/Gonal-F/Puregon. On the 3rd day of such stimulation a smidgeon of LH/hCG (Luveris/Menopur) is added. Thereupon, starting on day 7 of ovarian stimulation, I perform serial blood estradiol (E2) and ultrasound follicle assessments, watching for the number and size of the follicles and the blood estradiol concentration [E2]. I keep stimulating (regardless of the [E2] until 50% of all follicles reach 14mm. At this point, provided the [E2] reaches at least >2,500pg/ml, I stop the agonist as well as gonadotropin stimulation and track the blood E2 concentration daily. The [E2] will almost invariably increase for a few days. I closely monitor the [E2] as it rises, plateaus and then begins to decline. As soon as the [E2] drops below 2500pg/ml (and not before then), I administer a “trigger” shot of 10,000U Profasi/ Novarel/Pregnyl or 500mcg Ovidrel/Ovitrel. This is followed by an egg retrieval, performed 36 hours later. Fertilization is accomplished using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) because “coasted” eggs usually have little or no cumulus oophoris enveloping them and eggs without a cumulus will not readily fertilize naturally. Moreover, they also tend to have a “hardened” envelopment (zona pellucida), making spontaneous fertilization problematic in many cases. All fertilized eggs are cultured to the blastocyst stage (up to day 5- 6 days) and thereupon are either vitrified and preserved for subsequent transfer in later hormone replacement cycles or (up to 2) blastocysts are transferred to the uterus, transvaginally under transabdominal ultrasound guidance. The success of this approach depends on precise timing of the initiation and conclusion of “prolonged coasting”. If started too early, follicle growth will arrest and the cycle will be lost. If commenced too late, too many follicles will be post-mature/cystic (>22mm) and as such will usually harbor abnormal or dysmature eggs. Use of “Coasting” almost always prevents the development of severe OHSS, optimizes egg/embryo quality and avoids unnecessary cycle cancellation. If correctly implemented, the worst you will encounter is moderate OHSS and this too is relatively uncommon.
2. EMBRYO FREEZING AND DEFERMENT OF EMBRYO TRANSFEDR (ET): OHSS is always a self-limiting condition. In the absence of continued exposure to hCG, symptoms and signs as well as the risk of severe complications will ultimately abate. Thus, in the absence of pregnancy, all symptoms, signs and risks associated with OHSS will disappear within about 10-14 days of the hCG trigger. Conversely, since early pregnancy is always accompanied by a rapid and progressive rise in hCG , the severity of OHSS will increase until about the 9th or tenth gestational week whereupon a transition from ovarian to placental hormonal dominance occurs, the severity of OHSS rapidly diminishes and the patient will be out of risk. Accordingly, in cases where in spite of best effort to prevent OHSS, the woman develops symptoms and signs of progressive overstimulation prior to planned ET, all the blastocysts should be vitrified and cryostored for FET in a subsequent hormone replacement cycle. In this way women with OHSS can be spared the risk of the condition spiraling out of control.
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.
· Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
· 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?
· Taking A Fresh Look at Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), its Presentation, Prevention and Management
· Preventing Severe Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) with “Prolonged Coasting”
· Understanding Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and the Need to Customize Ovarian Stimulation Protocols.
· “Triggering” Egg Maturation in IVF: Comparing urine-derived hCG, Recombinant DNA-hCG and GnRH-agonist:
· The “Lupron Trigger” to Prevent Severe OHSS: What are the Pro’s and Con’s?
• .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.
• Implications of “Empty Follicle Syndrome and “Premature Luteinization”
• Premature Luteinization (“the premature LH surge): Why it happens and how it can be prevented.
• Preventing Severe Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) with “Prolonged Coasting”
_________________________________________________________________________________________

ADDENDUM:

SHER FERTILITY-SOLUTIONS (SFS): AN EXCITING NEW CHAPTER IN MY PROFESSIONAL CAREER
Geoffrey Sher MD

Sher-Fertility Solutions (SFS) will be officially launched in April 2019. Through SFS I will provide fertility consultations (via SKYPE) to an ever-growing number of patients (from >40 countries) with complex Reproductive Dysfunction (RD) who seek access to my input and guidance.

In the past, I have limited my consultations with patients from afar to those who expressed a willingness to travel to Las Vegas for treatment by me. But now with the “birth” of SFS, all this is about to change. With one notable exception I will, as of April, 2019, no longer be conducting and performing hands-on IVF treatments. Rather, I will focus on providing SKYPE consultations and guidance to as many patients as possible. The one important exception will apply to approximately 1,000 existing patients who, following IVF previously performed by me, have remaining eggs or embryos stored (cryopreserved) at SIRM-LV and wish for me to perform their Frozen Embryo Transfers (FETs). I have agreed to accommodate such patients…..but only through August, 2019.

Patients will have ready access online, to SFS: by going to http://www.SherIVF.com; by phone (1-800-780-7437 or 702-533-2691) and via email (sher@sherivf.com or concierge@sherIVF.com). A onetime fee of $400.00, will provide enrollees with access to: a full review of all their medical records (+ assistance in requisitioning additional records, as needed); a comprehensive initial 1 hour, SKYPE consultation with me; additional SKYPE consultations (as might be required); a written medical report (which will include a recommended plan of action) that you can share with a Physician(s) of choice. I would, subject to your approval and a request by such Physician(s), also be willing to discuss your case with him/her/them. I will in due course post on my website, a list of Fertility Physicians in key locations all over the United States and abroad, whom I endorse and to whom I would be willing to direct SFS patients for subsequent treatment.

I have good news for those of you who are interested in traveling to Las Vegas for IVF. Dr Russel Foulk, Medical Director of SIRM-LV has expressed a willingness to be receptive to, treatment plans that I recommend for SFS patients Moreover, Dr Foulk has graciously agreed to interact with me during such treatments. I highly recommend Dr Foulk to those of you who, following consultation with me, wish to have me remain involved in the implementation of your treatment. This having been said, the final say in any management decision is always up to the treating physician.

It is both my objective and commitment to serve as a resource to SFS patients on complex RD issues such as: Unexplained IVF failure; Recurrent Pregnancy loss (RPL); Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction-IID; Genetic/chromosomal issues; effects of Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR) and advancing age on reproductive performance, etc.

I hope to ultimately expand the National and International reach of SFS, through my website (www.sherIVF.com) , through online webinars as well as Town hall- type consumer-based seminars, workshops and through social media. At the same time I will continue blogging on my website and doing bi-weekly Live-feed Facebook presentations (at “Dr Geoffrey Sher”) on a variety of subjects and topical issues.

For me this is a very exciting venture. Please become part of the SFS family and help spread the word!
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 .

reply
Rachel B

I’m currently in a FET, and we put in 2, 5 day embryos. My beta at 10dp5dt was 18.5, 12dp5dt was 50.9 and then 14dp5dt was 128.9. Do I need to be concerned with ectopic or miscarriage with low betas even though they are over doubling? I had an ectopic rupture (naturally) and have one scarred tube left so am wondering if I should request an ultrasound next week. I have two more beta hcgs this week. Any advice is appreciated. I have one son who is almost a year and a half from my 5 day embryos, and lost 22 week twin daughters in 2015 IVF due to undiagnosed UTI. All were 5 day embryos.

Thanks,
Rachel

reply
Lindsay

Dr. Sher,

I just completed a failed FET. I am 34 and of a health weight, with “borderline” PCOS. I’ve never been pregnant naturally. My RE had high hopes for my egg retrieval, but of 24 follicles, 18 eggs were retrieved. Of the 18, only 10 were mature, and only three of those fertilized. The embryologist mentioned that some of the eggs appeared abnormal. We were shocked that one of the three fertilized eggs made it to a day 5, 4BB blastocyst. I had the blast transferred about two weeks ago and it failed to implant, I am assuming because it was abnormal. I was on an antagonist protocol with Menopur. I have a follow up scheduled with my RE, but I am sure she will tell me that I need to consider donor eggs. My husband and I are not sure if we are quite ready to go that route, and would love to try IVF again if we might have more success, but if I am unable to produce any eggs that will result in a quality embryo, we do not want to waste our time, money or emotions. I know there are many variables, but have you seen success with a similar patient under a different protocol? Or would you also suggest donor eggs as a next step? Thank you!

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Let me start by saying that I would not recommend an egg donor at this time. Rather, the stimulation protocol used needs to be carefully reviewed and revised. There is no doubt that PCOS exacts a toll on egg quality. This having been said, the egg quality can in large part protected through the judicious implementation of an individualized protocol for ovarian stimulation.

Women with PCOS are hypersensitive to gonadotropin stimulation and are often at risk of developing serious complications associated with severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Concern for this occurring often leads the treating physician to take precautionary measures aimed at slowing down or stopping hyperstimulation. Such measures include:
1. Cutting the stimulation short to prevent the E2 from rising too high. Unfortunately this often results in the eggs being underdeveloped at the time of the “trigger” and thus, far more likely to end up being “immature”., “dysmature” and “incompetent”.
2. Administering a lower “trigger dosage” of hCG , supplanting it (partially or completely) with an Agonist trigger (e.g. Lupron/Buserelin/aminopeptidyl/Superfact). While such measures can certainly reduce the risk/severity of OHSS, it often comes at the expense of egg competency (see below).
In my opinion, another error of commission during ovarian stimulation of women with PCOS is the indiscriminate use of drugs that either elicit an exaggerated ovarian LH-induced testosterone response (e.g. clomiphene or Letrozole), or provide too much LH (e.g. Menopur/Menogon). Too much ovarian testosterone is harmful to egg development and thus prejudicial to embryo quality/competency.
In my opinion the best way to approach ovarian stimulation for IVF in women with PCOS, is through the use of a low dosage, FSH-dominant Long ovarian down-regulation protocol, done in readiness for “prolonged coasting” (see below) and “triggering” egg maturation with a full 10,00U dosage of hCG or (no less than) 500mcg of recombinant hCG (Ovidrel)….see below is If this is implemented appropriately, with proper timing, egg/embryo quality can be optimized.

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.
• Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
• 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
• Taking A Fresh Look at Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), its Presentation, Prevention and Management
• Preventing Severe Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) with “Prolonged Coasting”
• Understanding Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and the Need to Customize Ovarian Stimulation Protocols.
• “Triggering” Egg Maturation in IVF: Comparing urine-derived hCG, Recombinant DNA-hCG and GnRH-agonist:
• The “Lupron Trigger” to Prevent Severe OHSS: What are the Pro’s and Con’s?

If you are interested in seeking my advice or services, I urge you to contact my concierge, Julie Dahan ASAP to set up a Skype or an in-person consultation with me. You can also contact Julie by phone or via email at 702-533-2691/ Julied@sherivf.com You can also apply online at http://www.SherIVF.com .

*FYI
The 4th edition of my newest book ,”In Vitro Fertilization, the ART of Making Babies” is available as a down-load through http://www.Amazon.com or from most bookstores and public libraries.

Geoffrey Sher MD

reply
Kristy

I am just starting my 4th IVF cycle. I have pcos, amh of 11.4, and 60+ afc at baseline. Last cycle I had 26 eggs retrieved, 21 mature, 20 fertilized with icsi, ended up with 12 blasts of which we had 2 pregnancies. Last cycle we triggered with Lupron after 8 days of stimulation. Should I ask about doing an hcg trigger instead of lupron with this cycle?

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

You at risk of developing OHSS. Typically, women with irregular ovulation/menstruation, young women, those with high ovarian reserve (AMH=>6ng/ml) and those who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) who undergo ovarian stimulation with fertility drugs are at increased risk of developing severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), a life endangering condition. In cases of OHSS egg “competency” (quality) is often severely compromised.
The fear of OHSS developing often prompts RE’s to trigger egg maturation prematurely with hCG in the hope of arresting the process before ovarian stimulation spirals out of control, increasing physical risk and causing a high percentage of harvested eggs to end up being “incompetent”, (“immature/dysmature).
Also in an attempt to reduce the risks of OHSS, some RE’s trigger egg maturation using a reduced dosage of hCG or through inducing an outpouring of pituitary LH an agonist such as Lupron or Buserelin. While such approaches indeed reduce the risk and severity of OHSS, they often result in many eggs failing to mature. Thus lowering risk by reducing the dosage of hCG or by using an agonist “trigger”, often comes at the expense of egg “competency”.
In women with PCOS, poor egg “competency” is also often attributable to high ovarian LH-induced testosterone. Such eggs have reduced fertilization potential, often yielding “poor quality embryos”. While poor egg “competency” in women with PCOS can be due to the fact that such eggs are more prone to having intrinsic quality deficits, it is (in my opinion), more commonly attributable to aberrant intra-ovarian hormonal changes brought about by severe ovarian hyperstimulation. This effect, can be prevented or curtailed through implementation of individualized or customized ovarian stimulation protocols that minimize over-exposure to excessive LH-induced ovarian male hormones (androgens) which can best be accomplished by limiting the use of LH-containing gonadotropins such as Menopur and by using a procedure that I introduced in 1989, known as “prolonged coasting” (see below).
Approaches to preventing or containing OHSS include:
1. PROLONGED COASTING: My preferred approach is to use a long pituitary DR protocol coming off up to 2 months on the BCP, overlapped in the last 3 days with the agonist, Lupron. The BCP is intended to lower LH and thereby reduce stromal activation (hyperthecosis) in the hope of controlling ovarian androgen (predominantly, testosterone) production and release. I then stimulate with low dosage recombinant FSF-FSHr (Follistim/Gonal-F/Puregon) to which I add a smidgeon of LH/hCG (Luveris/Menopur) from the 3rd day. Then, starting on day 7 of ovarian stimulation, I perform serial blood estradiol (E2) and ultrasound follicle assessments, watching for the # of follicles and [E2]. If there are > 25 follicles, I keep stimulating (regardless of the [E2] until 50% of all follicles reach 14mm. At this point, provided the [E2] reaches at least >2,500pg/ml, I stop the agonist as well as gonadotropin stimulation and track the blood E2 (without continuing US, follicle measurements) ) daily. The [E2] will almost invariably increase for a few days. I watch the E2 rise (regardless of how high a blood concentration it reaches) and then track it coming down again. As soon as the [E2] drops below 2500pg/ml (and not before then), I administer a “trigger” shot of 10,000U hCGu (Profasi/ Novarel/Pregnyl) or hCGr (Ovidrel/Ovitrel-500mcg) and perform an egg retrieval 36 hours later. ICSI is a MUST because “coasted” eggs usually have no cumulus oophoris envelopment and eggs without a cumulus will not readily fertilize naturally. Moreover, they also tend to have a “hardened” envelopment (zona pellucida), making spontaneous fertilization problematic in many cases. All fertilized eggs are cultured to blastocyst (up to 6 days) and are then either vitrified and preserved for subsequent transfer in later hormone replacement cycles or up to two (2) fresh blastocysts are transferred transvaginal under US guidance.. The success of this approach depends on precise timing of the initiation and conclusion of “prolonged coasting”. If you start too early, follicle growth will stop and the cycle will be lost. If you start too late, you will encounter too many post-mature/cystic follicles (>22mm) that usually harbor abnormally developed eggs. Use of “Coasting” avoids unnecessary cycle cancellation, severe OHSS, and optimizes egg/embryo quality. The worst you will encounter is mild to moderate OHSS and this too is uncommon. The obvious remedy for these adverse effects on egg and endometrial development is to employ stimulation protocols that limit ovarian over-exposure to LH and allowing the time necessary for the follicles/eggs to develop optimally, prior to administering hCG through the judicious implementation of “Prolonged coasting” (PC).
2. MULTIPLE FOLLICLE ASPIRATION: In some cases, where because of mean follicle size exceeding 16mm or when “coasting” fails to effectively lower the [E2} below 2,500pg/ml within 3 days, the number of developing follicles can effectively and drastically reduced through target transvaginal aspiration, 1-3 PRIOR to planned the hCG trigger. This will almost invariably be accompanied by a rapid and significant drop in the plasma [E2] and in the process will drastically reduce the risk of OHSS occurring without significantly compromising egg/embryo quality. The drawback of this effective approach is the fact that it interjects an additional surgical intervention into an already complex and stressful situation. i
3. TRIGGERING WITH LOW DOISAGE hCG; Because of the fact that hCG augments the development of OHSS (unless preceded by “coasting”), may RE’s prefer to use a lower dosage of hCG for the “trigger. This is either done by administering 5,000U (half the traditional dosage) or by administering, a 250mcg (rather than 500mcg) of DNA recombinant form of hCGr (Ovidrel/Ovitrel. Some clinicians, when faced with a risk of OHSS developing will deliberately elect to reduce the “trigger” dosage of hCG administered (from 10,000U to 5,000U or 250mcg of recombinant hCG-Ovidrel) in the hope that by doing so the risk of critical OHSS developing will be lowered. While this might indeed be true, it is my opinion, that such a reduced dosage is usually insufficient to optimize the efficiency of egg meiosis, e3specially when there are so many follicles present. While the use of a reduced “trigger” dosage of hCG does indeed reduce the risk and occurrence of OHSS-related life-endangering complications, the price to be paid is reduced egg quality/”competency”.
4. “TRIGGERING” WITH A GnRH AGONIST (E.G. “LUPRON/BUSERELIN): More recently, an increasing number of RE’s prefer to trigger meiosis by way of an agonist (Lupron/Buserelin/Superfact () “trigger” rather than through the use of hCG. The idea is to mimic what happens in natural cycles to promote egg maturation (meiosis) and ovulation, namely to have the agonist cause a “surge” in the release of body’s own pituitary LH to trigger egg meiosis (maturation) .But the amount of LH released in by the pituitary gland is often insufficient to optimize meiotic egg maturation and thus, while this approach also lowers the risk of OHSS it again comes at the expense of egg quality/competency.

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.
• Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
• Treating Out-of-State and Out-of-Country Patients at Sher-IVF in Las Vegas:
• A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF
• Preventing Severe Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) with “Prolonged Coasting.
• “Triggering” Egg Maturation in IVF: Comparing urine-derived hCG, Recombinant DNA-hCG and GnRH-agonist:
• The “Lupron Trigger” to Prevent Severe OHSS: What are the Pro’s and Con’s?
If you are interested in seeking my advice or services, I urge you to contact my concierge, Julie Dahan ASAP to set up a Skype or an in-person consultation with me. You can also contact Julie by phone or via email at 702-533-2691/ Julied@sherivf.com You can also apply online at http://www.SherIVF.com .

*The 4th edition of my book,”In Vitro Fertilization, the ART of Making Babies” is available as a down-load through http://www.Amazon.com or from most bookstores and public libraries.

Geoffrey Sher MD

reply

Ask a question or post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *