“Triggering” Egg Maturation in IVF: Comparing urine-derived hCG, Recombinant DNA-hCG and GnRH-agonist

Ideal egg development sets the scene for optimal egg maturation that occurs 36-42h prior to ovulation or egg retrieval. Without prior optimal egg development (ovogenesis), egg maturation will be dysfunctional and most eggs will be rendered “incompetent” and unable upon fertilization to propagate viable embryos. In IVF, optimal ovogenesis requires the selection and implementation of an individualized approach to controlled ovaria stimulation (COS). Thereupon, at the ideal time, maturational division of the egg’s chromosomes (i.e. meiosis) is “triggered” through the administration of hCG or an agonist such as Lupron, which induces an LH surge. The dosage and timing of the “trigger shot” profoundly affects the efficiency of meiosis, the potential to yield “competent” (euploid) mature (M2) eggs, and as such represents a rate-limiting step in the IVF process.

Triggering meiosis with Urine-derived hCG (Pregnyl/Profasi/Novarel) versus recombinant hCG (Ovidrel): Until quite recently, the standard method used to “trigger” egg maturation was through the administration of 10,000 units of hCGu. Subsequently, a DNA recombinant form of hCGr (Ovidrel) was introduced and marketed in 250 mcg doses. But clinical experience strongly suggests that 250 mcg of Ovidrel is most likely not equivalent in biological potency to 10,000 units of hCG.  It probably only has 50%-70% of the potency of a 10,000U dose of hCGu and as such might not be sufficient to fully promote meiosis, especially in cases where the woman has numerous follicles. For this reason, I firmly believe that when hCGr  is selected as the “trigger shot” the dosage should best  be doubled to 500 mcg at which dosage it will probably have an equivalent effect on promoting meiosis as would 10,000 units of hCGu. Having said this, it is my personal opinion that it is unnecessary to supplant hCGu with hCGr since the latter is considerably more expensive and is probably no more biopotent than the latter.  

Some clinicians, when faced with a risk of OHSS developing will deliberately elect to reduce the dosage of hCG administered as a trigger in the hope that by doing so the risk of critical OHSS developing will be lowered. It is my opinion, that such an approach is not optimal because a low dose of hCG (e.g., 5000 units, hCGu or 25omcg hCGr) is likely inadequate to optimize the efficiency of meiosis  particularly when it comes to cases such as this where there are  numerous follicles.  

It has been suggested that the preferential use of an “agonist (Lupron) trigger” in women at risk of developing severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome could potentially reduce the risk of the condition becoming critical and thereby placing the woman at risk of developing life-endangering complications. It is with this in mind that many RE’s prefer to trigger meiosis by way of an “agonist (Lupron) trigger rather than through the use of hCG.  The agonist promptly causes the woman’s pituitary gland to expunge a large amount of LH over a short period of time and it is this LH “surge” that triggers meiosis. The problem with using this approach, in my opinion, is that it is hard to predict how much LH will be released in by the pituitary gland.  For this reason, I personally prefer to use hCGu for the trigger, even in cases of ovarian hyper stimulation with one important proviso – she underwent “prolonged coasting” in order to reduce the risk of critical OHSS, prior to the 10,000 unit hCGu “ trigger”.

The timing of the “trigger shot” to initiate meiosis:  This should coincide with the majority of ovarian follicles being >15 mm in mean diameter with several follicles having reached 18-22 mm. Follicles of larger than 22 mm will usually harbor overdeveloped eggs which in turn will usually fail to produce good quality eggs. Conversely, follicles less than 15 mm will usually harbor underdeveloped eggs that are more likely to be aneuploid and incompetent following the “trigger”.  

 

25 Comments

Kate

Would the 250mcg of Ovidrel not be optimal for IUI as well? I am using injectables (Follistim/Gonal F 75) and Menopur (75) and have approximately 2-3 mature follicles between 16-22 each cycle. My past cycle was a chemical. Thank you for any insight!!

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

My advice is to use 10000U hCG (Pregnyl/Profasi/Novarel) or 5,000U Ovidrel!

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

reply
Nanette

Hi Dr. Sher,

I have read your blog that you suggest 10,000 HCG trigger 36 hrs prior to egg retrieval. My doctor gave me 10,000 HCG 34 hrs prior to egg retrieval. I ended up with half the eggs retrieved as immature (M1) that they will try to culture in the lab to mature into M2 before doing ICSI to fertilize. Do you think by doing the trigger 2 hrs later prior to egg retrieval (34 hrs. vs. 36 hrs) cause half the eggs retrieved to be immature (M1)? I asked my doctor on why the later trigger and his response was to prevent a premature ovulation before retrieval.

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I respectfully differ with your doctor. However, triggering two hours sooner , alone does not explain the high percentage of immature eggs. Far more likely is that the protocol used for ovarian stimulation needs to be reviewed critically.

It is important to understand the influence species, age of the woman as well as the effect of the COS protocol can have on egg/embryo quality and thus on IVF outcome. The selection of an individualized protocol for ovarian stimulation is one of the most important decisions that the RE has to make and this becomes even more relevant when dealing with older women, those with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) and women with PCOS. Such factors will in large part determine egg competency, fertilization potential, the rate of blastocyst generation and indeed IVF outcome.
I strongly recommend that you visit http://www.SherIVF.com. Then go to my Blog and access the “search bar”. Type in the titles of any/all of the articles listed below, one by one. “Click” and you will immediately be taken to those you select. Please also take the time to post any questions or comments with the full expectation that I will (as always) respond promptly.

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

______________________________________________________
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
Andi

Dr. Sher,

I am 41, and have gone through 2 cycles so far, and both times only retrieved 3 eggs (all mature M2) each time, even through there were 14 follicles on first cycle and 10 follicles on 2nd cycle. I am thinking perhaps I have a case of borderline empty follicle syndrome? Reading your blog, I think you might say that not high enough dose of HCG was given as you always suggest 10,000 units. On the first cycle, only 5,000 units was given. On 2nd cycle, double trigger was used with 30 units of Lupron, and then just 2,000 units of HCG, and egg retrieval was on Cycle Day 12 vs. Cycle Day 15 on first cycle, as my Doctor thought maybe it was triggered too late with eggs overly mature on first cycle. Below are my ultrasound measurements and labs for both cycles before trigger shot. On my first cycle, all 3 eggs fertilized with one arrested on Day 3, and two arrested on Day 5. On 2nd cycle, still pending results. What are your thoughts to improve egg yield if I have to do another cycle?

First cycle: measurements on day of trigger shot
Left Ovary
< 5mm 1
Follicles: 9mm, 11mm, 10mm, 9mm, 24mm, 19mm, 11mm
Cyst: None
Right Ovary
Follicles: 17mm, 15mm, 12mm, 21mm, 15mm, 21mm
Cyst: None

Labs:
LH 4.0 mIU/ml
FSH 13.9 mIU/ml
PROGESTERONE 0.26 ng/mL
ESTRADIOL 1607.5 pg/ml

Trigger shot was:
Pregnyl/Novarel HCG 5,000 units, Inject 5,000 units subcutaneously into lower abdomen (your procedure will take place 35 hours later

Second cycle: measurements on day before trigger shot
Left Ovary
Follicles: 6mm, 9mm, 16mm
Cyst: None
Right Ovary
Follicles: 11mm, 9mm, 5mm, 10mm, 15mm, 16mm, 11mm
Cyst: None

Labs:
LH 3.5 mIU/ml
FSH 13.5 mIU/ml
PROGESTERONE 0.24 ng/mL
ESTRADIOL 417.2 pg/ml

Trigger shot was:
Pregnyl 2000 IU, SQ injection into lower abdomen (35 hours before procedure)
Lupron 30 units, Inject 30 units, SQ injection into lower abdomen (35 hours before procedure)

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

While age is an important factor, I truly believe the protocol used for ovarian stimulation in your case needs to be reviewed and revised.

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 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.

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
Andi

Dr. Sher,

Here’s a recap of my last 2 cycles. I would appreciate your advice on the ideal protocol to use. From reading your articles, I surmise you will suggest to not take Clomid, and to use 10,000 HCG trigger as any less is not high enough dosage for full meiosis to take place. My main issue seems to be lower egg yield than expected on retrieval, so I am thinking I may have borderline empty follicle syndrome. Thank you for your insight on what to do to improve outcome for next cycle.

1st cycle: no birth control

Labs at start of cycle:
AMH: 1.69 ng/mL (may be lower because of Vitamin D deficiency according to one of your articles)
VITAMIN D, 25-OH, TOTAL 24 ng/mL
VITAMIN D, 25-OH, D3 24 ng/mL
VITAMIN D, 25-OH, D2 <4 ng/mL
FSH 6.1 mIU/ml
ESTRADIOL 46.7 pg/ml

Starting Day 4 of cycle as I got in later appointment for baseline monitoring.

BEGIN Clomiphene Citrate 50 mg, take 1 tablet by mouth once daily for 5 days
BEGIN Gonal F 75 units, inject 75 units subcutaneously between 8-10 PM as instructed

Starting Day 9 of cycle

Labs:
LH 4.1 mIU/ml
FSH 7.9 mIU/ml
ESTRADIOL 473.4 pg/ml

CONTINUE Clomiphene Citrate 50 mg, take 1 tablet by mouth once daily
CONTINUE Gonal F 75 units, inject 75 units subcutaneously between 8-10 PM as instructed
BEGIN Menopur 75 IU, Inject 75 units subcutaneously into your lower abdomen between 8-10 PM, as directed

Day 13 of cycle:

Labs:
LH 4.0 mIU/ml
FSH 13.9 mIU/ml
PROGESTERONE 0.26 ng/mL
ESTRADIOL 1607.5 pg/ml

Clomiphene Citrate 50 mg, Take 1 tablet by mouth once tonight at 3PM, then discontinue.
Pregnyl/Novarel HCG 5,000 units, Inject 5,000 units subcutaneously into lower abdomen 7/11 @ 10:30 pm (your procedure will take place 35 hours later)

Results: Just 3 eggs total retrieved out of 14 follicles (all mature M2)

2 of the eggs arrested, and one made to blastocyst on Day 6 but poor quality (4CC) and lab discarded. On Day 5, the embryo was only 2BB, so it seems was slow growing. Do you think they should have at least attempted to do PGS testing, and not just discard? Lab's explanation was there were too few cells, and not enough to biopsy and survive.

2nd cycle: Birth control Alesse for 12 days starting after last egg retrieval day

Labs at start of cycle:
FSH 7.1 mIU/ml
ESTRADIOL 28.4 pg/ml

Starting Day 3 of cycle:

BEGIN Clomiphene Citrate 50 mg, take 1 tablet by mouth once daily
BEGIN Gonal F 100 units, inject 100 units subcutaneously between 8-10 PM as instructed

Starting Day 6 of cycle:

Labs:
LH 3.8 mIU/ml
FSH 10.6 mIU/ml
PROGESTERONE 0.16 ng/mL
ESTRADIOL 110.6 pg/ml

Clomiphene Citrate 50 mg, take 1 tablet by mouth once daily
DECREASE Gonal F to 75 units, inject 75 units subcutaneously between 8-10 PM as instructed
ADD Menopur 75 IU, Inject 75 units subcutaneously into your lower abdomen between 8-10 PM, as directed

Starting Day 9 of cycle:

Labs:
LH 3.5 mIU/ml
FSH 13.5 mIU/ml
PROGESTERONE 0.24 ng/mL
ESTRADIOL 417.2 pg/ml

CONTINUE Clomiphene Citrate 50 mg, take 1 tablet by mouth once daily
CONTINUE Gonal F 75 units, inject 75 units subcutaneously between 8-10 PM as instructed
CONTINUE Menopur 75 IU, Inject 75 units subcutaneously into your lower abdomen between 8-10 PM, as directed

Starting Day 10 of cycle:
Clomiphene Citrate 50 mg, take 1 tablet by mouth once 5:30 pm today only, then DISCONTINUE
Gonal F 75 units, inject 75 units subcutaneously 5:30 pm today only, then DISCONTINUE
Menopur 75 IU, Inject 75 units subcutaneously into your lower abdomen 5:30 pm today only, then DISCONTINUE
Pregnyl 2000 IU, SQ injection into lower abdomen @ 9:15 pm (35 hours before procedure)
Lupron 30 units, Inject 30 units, SQ injection into lower abdomen @ 9:15 pm (35 hours before procedure)

Results: Just 3 eggs total retrieved out of 10 follicles (all mature M2)

2 of the eggs arrested, and one made it to Day 5 blastocyst (4BB) and sent to PGS for testing.

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Very respectfully, these are far from ideal protocols for you. First, Clomiphene is not an ideal adjunct stimulation with IVF and when/if used in combination with gonadotropins, should only be used for 5 days. Second, The trigger with Lupron, is in my opinion less than ideal.

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
Andi

Dr. Sher,

I realize from reading your blog, that in your opinion that you never use Clomid or use too much LH derived drugs like Menopur especially for older women, and always suggest triggering with 10,000 HCG. While there are a lot of things to potentially change in the ideal protocol for me, do you think just changing the triggering protocol to 10,000 units of HCG will improve egg retrieval yield? It seems I am responding OK with the stims with an average of 12 follicles per cycle, but just retrieving 3 eggs each time, with the other follicles empty, so 25% yield seems low.

Perhaps, I should schedule a Skype consultation with you if this question is too much to discuss on a blog post.

Thanks

CRYSTAL

Hello, I am 38 years old. I’m doing mini IVF. Low AMH last july was 0.94, which I know is not terrible. I do have some genetic mutations which were dx by bloodwork only with MFM, PAI-1, MTHFR, thrombophilia with factor 2, never had a blood clot or problem thank God. I have been doing IVF for almost a year since September 2019, but with current clinic since Dec 2019. I have done 3 retrievals, I usually have a low AFC being like 2-4 and I wind up getting about 2-3 eggs at retrieval, 100% fertilization rate. 4 out of 6 embryos have made it to day 6 and 1 day 7 blast but PGS tested with non invasive technique and 3 complex abnormal and 1 high mosaic. My last retrieval end of June yielded 3 eggs however 1 degenerated instantly and the other 2 fertilized normally but failed to make blast stage by day 7. (my clinic grows to day 7) that cycle I took menopur 75 and HGH 7 units daily. I strongly feel it was the menopur, As I never had that issue with not making blast or degenerating. My other cycles I have been on clomid just 25mg and have done pretty well. My other thing is they have been triggering me with Lupron 15 units I believe. After reading some of your blogs that is why I’m sending you this question. Just wanted to get your insight and advice. Thank you

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

I think you know from this blog that I personally never prescribe clomiphene for IVF, that I am opposed to mini-IVF and that I never trigger with a GnRH agonist.

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
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

The protocol used for ovarian stimulation in women with DOR is a very crucial decision.

Women who (regardless of age) have diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) have a reduced potential for IVF success. Much of this is due to the fact that such women tend to have increased production, and/or biological activity, of LH. This can result in excessive ovarian male hormone (predominantly testosterone) production. This in turn can have a deleterious effect on egg/embryo “competency”.
While it is presently not possible by any means, to reverse the effect of DOR, certain ovarian stimulation regimes, by promoting excessive LH production (e.g. short agonist/Lupron- “flare” protocols, clomiphene and Letrozole), can in my opinion, make matters worse. Similarly, the amount/dosage of certain fertility drugs that contain LH/hCG (e.g. Menopur) can have a negative effect on the development of the eggs of older women and those who have DOR and should be limited.
I try to avoid using such protocols/regimes (especially) in women with DOR, favoring instead the use of the agonist/antagonist conversion protocol (A/ACP), a modified, long pituitary down-regulation regime, augmented by adding supplementary human growth hormone (HGH). I further recommend that such women be offered access to embryo banking of PGS (next generation gene sequencing/NGS)-selected normal blastocysts, the subsequent selective transfer of which by allowing them to capitalize on whatever residual ovarian reserve and egg quality might still exist and thereby “make hay while the sun still shines” could significantly enhance the opportunity to achieve a viable pregnancy
Please visit my new Blog on this very site, www. SherIVF.com, find the “search bar” and type in the titles of any/all of the articles listed below, one by one. “Click” and you will immediately be taken to those you select. Please also take the time to post any questions or comments with the full expectation that I will (as always) respond promptly

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

___________________________________________________
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
Laura

Hello Dr. Sher,
I’m presently doing my 2nd IVF cycle (cycle day7 stim day 5). My 1st IVF attempt started out well and then ultimately failed miserably. I’m 35 yo and was on 300 follistim + 150 menopur for 1st cycle. What happened was I became overstimulated and estrogen went sky high (> 7500, 30+ follicles). They triggered with Lupron because afraid of OHSS. At retreival, empty follicles d/t Lupron trigger did not work. I then was told to retrigger immediately with 1/2 Lupron and 1/2 dose HCG which did allow retreival of eggs from other ovary, but only 1 euploid out of 15 retreived. Afterwards, I became very ill with OHSS.

This 2nd IVF cycle I’m using 150 follistim + 75 menopur (half of last time, also Cetrotide). Presently, I have approx 12 follicles growing on stim day 5. I’m planning to trigger with 10,000 HCG this time. When exactly is best time to trigger ? And, should the HCG 10,000 be given SQ or IM. I have read a couple of articles that actually recomended the IM route of HCG as the dose was more exact. I would value your opinion on this dosage adjustment and route of HCG?

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

This cycle sounds better. The “trigger” with 10,oooU hCG is in my opinion, preferable by far . And, I trigger when several follicles measure 18-22mmand 50% of all follicles measure >15mm.

Good luck!

Please keep me in the loop!

Good luck!

Geoff Sher

reply
Jared Beutler

Hi, I am asking on behalf of my wife. We are not doing IVF yet but you are using Follistim AQ and letrozole to promote ovulation and then Ovidrel as the trigger shot. My wife has been temperature monitoring and it is not going up during the supposed ovulation window. Do you think switching to 10,000 units of urine-derived HCG would increase her chance of ovulating? Do you have any articles to back up your claims that recombinant hcg only produces about 50-70% response as compared to 10,000 units of urine-derived hcg? Thanks for your help

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Ideal egg development sets the scene for optimal egg maturation that occurs 36-42h prior to ovulation or egg retrieval. Without prior optimal egg development (ovogenesis), egg maturation will be dysfunctional and most eggs will be rendered “incompetent” and unable upon fertilization to propagate viable embryos. In IVF, optimal ovogenesis requires the selection and implementation of an individualized approach to controlled ovaria stimulation (COS). Thereupon, at the ideal time, maturational division of the egg’s chromosomes (i.e. meiosis) is “triggered” through the administration of hCG or an agonist such as Lupron, which induces an LH surge. The, dosage and timing of the “trigger shot” profoundly affects the efficiency of meiosis, the potential to yield “competent (euploid) mature (M2) eggs, and as such represents a rate limiting step in the IVF process .

“Triggering meiosis with Urine-derived hCG (Pregnyl/Profasi/Novarel) versus recombinant hCG (Ovidrel): Until quite recently, the standard method used to “trigger” egg maturation was through the administration of 10,000 units of hCGu. Subsequently,, a DNA recombinant form of hCGr (Ovidrel)was introduced and marketed in 250 mcg doses. But clinical experience strongly suggests that 250 mcg of Ovidrel is most likely not equivalent in biological potency to 10,000 units of hCG. It probably only has 50%-70%of the potency of a 10,000U dose of hCGu and as such might not be sufficient to fully promote meiosis, especially in cases where the woman has numerous follicles. For this reason, I firmly believe that when hCGr is selected as the “trigger shot” the dosage should best be doubled to 500 mcg at which dosage it will probably have an equivalent effect on promoting meiosis as would 10,000 units of hCGu. Failure to “trigger” with 10,000U hCGu or 500mcg hCGr, will in my opinion increase the likelihood of disorderly meiosis, “incompetent (aneuploid) eggs” and the risk of follicles not yielding eggs at egg retrieval (“empty follicles”). Having said this, it is my personal opinion that it is unnecessary to supplant hCGu with hCGr since the latter is considerably more expensive and is probably no more biopotent than the latter.

Some clinicians, when faced with a risk of OHSS developing will deliberately elect to reduce the dosage of hCG administered as a trigger in the hope that by doing so the risk of critical OHSS developing will be lowered. It is my opinion, that such an approach is not optimal because a low dose of hCG (e.g., 5000 units, hCGu or 250mcg hCGr) is likely inadequate to optimize the efficiency of meiosis particularly when it comes to cases such as this where there are numerous follicles. It has been suggested that the preferential use of an “agonist (Lupron) trigger” in women at risk of developing severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome could potentially reduce the risk of the condition becoming critical and thereby placing the woman at risk of developing life-endangering complications. It is with this in mind that many RE’s prefer to trigger meiosis by way of an “agonist (Lupron) trigger rather than through the use of hCG. The agonist promptly causes the woman’s pituitary gland to expunge a large amount of LH over a short period of time and it is this LH “surge” that triggers meiosis. The problem with using this approach, in my opinion, is that it is hard to predict how much LH will be released in by the pituitary gland. For this reason, I personally prefer to use hCGu for the trigger, even in cases of ovarian hyperstimulation hyperstimulated, with one important proviso…that being that is she underwent “prolonged coasting” in order to reduce the risk of critical OHSS, prior to the 10,000 unit hCGu “ trigger”.

The timing of the “trigger shot “to initiate meiosis: This should coincide with the majority of ovarian follicles being >15 mm in mean diameter with several follicles having reached 18-22 mm. Follicles of larger than 22 mm will usually harbor overdeveloped eggs which in turn will usually fail to produce good quality eggs. Conversely, follicles less than 15 mm will usually harbor underdeveloped eggs that are more likely to be aneuploid and incompetent following the “trigger”.

Geoff Sher

reply
Jenna

Dear Dr Sher,
Thank you for all your posts and your answers to many questions. I really need your insights for my most recent devastating cycle which failed so mysteriously- because everything looked good on paper.
I started estrace pills(6mg/day)and testosterone gel on CD3, which lasted for about a month, immediately followed by the stim.
The protocol my doctor used is as follows:
day 1&day2 AM Gonal-F 175iu,+omnitrope1/2 vial+dexamethasone 1 pill
PM clomiphene 1pill +menopur 75iu, day 3 to day 10 : AM GonalF 250iu+ omnitrope 1/2 vial+ dexamethasone 1pill PM clomiphene 1pill + menopur 75iu

Citrotide was added to the protocol since day 5, but i was advised to only do 1/7-1/8 of a vial each day in the AM all the way to before trigger. The last citrotide shot was increased to 1/2 vial before trigger.

The trigger was given on the 11th day at 7:45 pm . I was instructed to do a combination of Lupron 40iu + Ovidrel 250.

The retrieval day was at 6:30am on the 13th day. Tragically, 5 of the expected follicles were empty and the only 2 collected were GV and M1. So in the end NOT one mature egg was obtained.

I was shattered.

As I was going through the cycle I was always told everything looked good- my estrodial growth, my follicle growth, and I was told I responded well to the drugs. My estrodial was about 2400 one day before trigger. My baseline AFC was 8ish , after the stim the doctor was expecting 7ish eggs . Follicle sizes before trigger were: 14+16 (L) ,14+16×4 (R).

Dr Sher could you please tell me in your opinion what was wrong? Could you please point out what in your opinion was bad in this treatment? I did take DHEA low dose on/off more than 2 months bofore the cycle , was that inappropriate as well? I really really appreciate your opinions and help.
PS, my baseline FSH was 5 , LH 2.8 AMH 1.66, AFC7-8 age 39

Jenna

reply
Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Very respectfully, I would need much more information to comment authoritatively. What I can tell you however, is that aside from age and ovarian reserve, in my opinion, the protocol used for ovarian stimulation is the most important consideration, and respectfully (again) the overall protocol used in your case was in my opinion, not optimal. I also find fault with the use of testosterone supplementation as well as DHEA (see below).

One of the commonest questions asked by patients undergoing IVF relates to the likelihood of their eggs fertilizing and the likely “quality of their embryos. This is also one of the most difficult questions to answer. On the one hand many factors that profoundly influence egg quality; such as the genetic recruitment of eggs for use in an upcoming cycle, the woman’s age and her ovarian reserve, are our outside of our control. On the other hand the protocol for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) can also profoundly influence egg/embryo development and this is indeed chosen by the treating physician.

First; it should be understood that the most important determinant of fertilization potential, embryo development and blastocyst generation, is “competency” of the embryo that is mostly affected by the numerical chromosomal integrity (ploidy) of the egg. While sperm quality does play a role, in the absence of moderate to severe sperm dysfunction this is (moderate or severe male factor infertility a relatively small one). Human eggs have the highest rate of numerical chromosomal irregularities (aneuploidy) of all mammals. In fact only about half the eggs of women in their twenties or early thirties, have the required number of chromosomes (euploid), without which upon fertilization they cannot propagate a normal pregnancy. As the woman advances into and beyond her mid-thirties, the percentage of eggs euploid eggs declines progressively such that by the age of 40 years, only about one out of six are likely to be chromosomally normal. By her mid-only about forties one in ten of her eggs will be euploid and by 4r years of age, fewer than one in twenty will be euploid.

Second; embryos that fail to develop into blastocysts are almost always aneuploid and not worthy of being transferred to the uterus because they will either not implant, will miscarry or could even result in a chromosomally abnormal baby (e.g. Down syndrome). However, it is incorrect to assume that all embryos reaching the blastocyst stage are will be euploid (“competent”). ). It is true that since many aneuploid embryos are lost during development and that those failing to survive to the blastocyst stage are far more likely to be competent than are earlier (cleaved) embryos. What is also true is that the older the woman who produced the eggs, the less likely it is that a given blastocyst will be “competent”. As an example, a morphologically pristine blastocyst derived from the egg of a 30 year old woman would have about a 50:50 chance of being euploid and such a microscopically normal embryo would have 25%-30% chance of propagating a healthy, normal baby, while a microscopically comparable blastocyst derived through fertilization of the eggs from a 40 year old, would be about half as likely to be euploid and/or propagate a healthy baby and by 45 years of age…less than 5%. .

While the effect of species on the potential of eggs to be euploid at ovulation is genetically preordained and nothing we do can alter this equation, there is unfortunately a lot we can (often unwittingly) do to worsen the situation by selecting a suboptimal protocol of controlled ovarian stimulation (COS). This, by creating an adverse intraovarian hormonal environment will often disrupt normal egg development and lead to a higher incidence of egg aneuploidy than otherwise might have occurred. Older women, women with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) and those with polycystic ovarian syndrome are especially vulnerable in this regard.

During the normal, ovulation cycle, ovarian hormonal changes are regulated to avoid irregularities in production and interaction that could adversely influence follicle development and egg quality. As an example, small amounts of androgens (male hormones such as testosterone), that are produced by the ovarian stroma (tissue surrounding ovarian follicles) during the pre-ovulatory phase of the cycle enhance late follicle development, estrogen production by the granulosa cells (that line the inner walls of follicles), and egg maturation. However, over-production of testosterone can adversely influence the same processes. It follows that COS protocols should be individualized and geared toward optimizing follicle growth and development time while avoiding excessive ovarian androgen (testosterone) production and that the hCG “trigger shot” should be carefully timed.

The importance of the IVF stimulation protocol on egg/embryo quality cannot be overstated. This factor seems often to be overlooked or discounted by those IVF practitioners who use a “one-size-fits-all” approach to ovarian stimulation. My experience is that the use of individualized/customized COS protocols can greatly improve IVF outcome in patients at risk – particularly those with diminished ovarian reserve (“poor responders”) and those who are “high responders” (women with PCOS , those with dysfunctional or absent ovulation, and young women under 25 years of age).

While no one can influence underlying genetics or turn back the clock on a woman’s age, any competent IVF specialist should be able to tailor the protocol for COS to meet the individual needs of the patient.
During the normal ovulation cycle, ovarian hormonal changes are regulated to avoid irregularities in production and interaction that could adversely influence follicle development and egg quality. As an example, small amounts of androgens (male hormones such as testosterone) that are produced by the ovarian stroma (the tissue surrounding ovarian follicles) during the pre-ovulatory phase of the cycle enhance late follicle development, estrogen production by the granulosa cells (cells that line the inner walls of follicles), and egg maturation.

However, over-production of testosterone can adversely influence the same processes. It follows that protocols for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS should be geared toward optimizing follicle growth and development (without placing the woman at risk from overstimulation), while at the same time avoiding excessive ovarian androgen production. Achievement of such objectives requires a very individualized approach to choosing the protocol for COS with fertility drugs as well as the precise timing of the “trigger shot” of hCG.

It is important to recognize that the pituitary gonadotropins, LH and FSH, while both playing a pivotal role in follicle development, have different primary sites of action in the ovary. The action of FSH is mainly directed towards the cells lining the inside of the follicle that are responsible for estrogen production. LH, on the other hand, acts primarily on the ovarian stroma to produce male hormones/ androgens (e.g. androstenedione and testosterone). A small amount of testosterone is necessary for optimal estrogen production. Over-production of such androgens can have a deleterious effect on granulosa cell activity, follicle growth/development, egg maturation, fertilization potential and subsequent embryo quality.

Furthermore, excessive ovarian androgens can also compromise estrogen-induced endometrial growth and development.

In conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which is characterized by increased blood LH levels, there is also increased ovarian androgen production. It is therefore not surprising that “poor egg/embryo quality” is often a feature of this condition. The use of LH-containing preparations such as Menopur further aggravates this effect. Thus we recommend using FSH-dominant products such as Follistim, Puregon, and Gonal-F in such cases. While it would seem prudent to limit LH exposure in all cases of COS, this appears to be more vital in older women, who tend to be more sensitive to LH

It is common practice to administer gonadotropin releasing hormone agonists (GnRHa) agonists such as Lupron, and, GnRH-antagonists such as Ganirelix and Orgalutron to prevent the release of LH during COS. GnRH agonists exert their LH-lowering effect over a number of days. They act by causing an initial outpouring followed by a depletion of pituitary gonadotropins. This results in the LH level falling to low concentrations, within 4-7 days, thereby establishing a relatively “LH-free environment”. GnRH Antagonists, on the other hand, act very rapidly (within a few hours) to block pituitary LH release, so as achieve the same effect.

1. Long Agonist (Lupron/Buserelin) Protocols:
The most commonly prescribed protocol for Lupron/gonadotropin administration is the so-called “long protocol”. Here, Lupron is given, starting a week or so prior to menstruation. This results in an initial rise in FSH and LH level, which is rapidly followed by a precipitous fall to near zero. It is followed by uterine withdrawal bleeding (menstruation), whereupon gonadotropin treatment is initiated while daily Lupron injections continue, to ensure a “low LH” environment. A modification to the long protocol which I prefer using in cases of DOR, is the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol (A/ACP) where, upon the onset of a Lupron-induced bleed , this agonist is supplanted by an antagonist (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) and this is continued until the hCG trigger. In many such cases I supplement with human growth hormone (HGH) to try and further enhance response and egg development.

2. Lupron Flare/Micro-Flare Protocol:
Another approach to COS is by way of so-called “(micro) flare protocols”. This involves initiating gonadotropin therapy simultaneous with the administration of GnRH agonist (e.g. Lupron/Buserelin). The intent here is to deliberately allow Lupron to elicit an initial surge (“flare”) in pituitary FSH release in order to augment FSH administration by increased FSH production. Unfortunately, this “spring board effect” represents “a double edged sword” because while it indeed increases the release of FSH, it at the same time causes a surge in LH release. The latter can evoke excessive ovarian stromal androgen production which could potentially compromise egg quality, especially in older women and women with PCOS, whose ovaries have increased sensitivity to LH. I am of the opinion that by evoking an exaggerated ovarian androgen response, such “(micro) flare protocols” can harm egg/embryo quality and reduce IVF success rates, especially in older women, and in women with diminished ovarian reserve. Accordingly, I do not prescribe them at all.

3. The agonist/antagonist conversion protocol (A/ACP):
With the A/ACP, GnRH antagonist (Ganirelix, Cetrotide, and Orgalutron) is administered by daily injection from the onset of COS. The A/ACP COS-cycle is launched with the woman coming off a monophasic birth control pill that was administered starting in the 1st 5 days of the preceding cycle and continued for at least 10 days. The BCP is then overlapped with an agonist (e.g. Lupron/buserelin) for three days, whereupon the BCP is stopped and the agonist (Lupron/buserelin) is continued until the onset of menstruation. At or around this point, the agonist (Lupron/Buserelin) is supplanted by an antagonist (Cetrotide/Ganirelix/Orgalutron) and concurrently COS is initiated using an FSH-dominant bias (mainly Follistim/Gonal-F/ Puregon + a small dosage of a menotropins such as Menopur). The combined antagonist/gonadotropin therapy is continued until the hCG trigger. For the reasons cited above, I prescribe some form of the A/ACP for my older IVF patients and those with DOR. ]
A/ACP with estrogen priming: The A/ACP can be modified for women with very severe DOR through incorporation of “estrogen priming”. We have reported on the fact that the administration of intramuscular estradiol starting about a week prior to commencement of COS. This often markedly enhances ovarian response (presumably by “estrogen priming” enhancing the sensitivity of ovarian FSH-receptors).
There is one draw-back to the use of the A/ACP. This is the fact that prolonged administration of GnRH antagonist throughout the stimulation phase of the COS cycle compromises the predictive use of serial plasma estradiol measurements as an indication of ovarian response to COH. The blood estradiol levels tend to be much lower in comparison with cases where GnRHa alone is used.The reason for the lower blood concentration of estradiol seen with prolonged exposure to GnRH-antagonist might be due to the result of subtle, antagonist-induced alterations in the configuration of the estradiol molecule, such that currently available commercial test used to measure estradiol levels are rendered less sensitive/specific. Accordingly, when the A/ACP protocols are employed, we rely much more heavily on the measurement of follicle growth by ultrasound than on the estradiol levels. Because of this downside, I refrain from using this approach in “high responders” who may be at risk of developing of severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) and in whom the accurate measurement of plasma estradiol plays a very important role in the safe management of their COS cycles.
4. The “Trigger”: hCG (Profasi/Pregnyl/Novarel) versus agonist (Lupron/Buserelin/Superfact):
With ovulation induction using fertility drugs, the administration of 10,000U hCGu (the hCG “trigger”) mimics the LH surge, sending the eggs (which up to that point are immature (M1) and have 46 chromosomes) into maturational division (meiosis) This process is designed to halve the chromosome number, resulting in mature eggs (M2) that will have 23 chromosomes rather that the 46 chromosomes it had prior to the “trigger”. Such a chromosomally normal, M2 egg, upon being fertilized by mature sperm (that following maturational division also has 23 chromosomes) will hopefully propagate embryos that have 46 chromosomes and will be “competent” to propagate viable pregnancies. The key is to trigger with no less than 10,000U of hCGu (Profasi/Novarel/Pregnyl) and if hCGr (Ovidrel) is used, to make sure that 500mcg (rather than 250mcg) is administered. In my opinion, any lesser dosage will reduce the efficiency of meiosis, and increase the risk of the eggs being chromosomally abnormal. . I also do not use the agonist (Lupron) “trigger”. This approach which is often recommended for women at risk of overstimulation, is intended to reduce the risk of OHSS. The reason for using the Lupron trigger is that by inducing a surge in the release of LH by the pituitary gland it reduces the risk of OHSS. This is true, but this comes at the expense of egg quality because the extent of the induced LH surge varies and if too little LH is released, meiosis can be compromised, thereby increasing the percentage of chromosomally abnormal and of immature (M1) eggs. The use of “coasting” in such cases) can obviate this effect

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

• The IVF Journey: The importance of “Planning the Trip” Before Taking the Ride”
• Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) for IVF: Selecting the ideal protocol
• The Fundamental Requirements for Achieving Optimal IVF Success
• Use of GnRH Antagonists (Ganirelix/Cetrotide/Orgalutron) in IVF-Ovarian Stimulation Protocols.
• Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH) Measurement to Assess Ovarian Reserve and Design the Optimal Protocol for Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in IVF.
• The “Biological Clock” and how it should Influence the Selection and Design of Ovarian Stimulation Protocols for IVF.
• A Rational Basis for selecting Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) protocols in women with Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
• Diagnosing and Treating Infertility due to Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
• Ovarian Stimulation in Women Who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): Introducing the Agonist/Antagonist Conversion protocol
• Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (COS) in Older women and Women who have Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR): A Rational Basis for Selecting a Stimulation Protocol
• Optimizing Response to Ovarian Stimulation in Women with Compromised Ovarian Response to Ovarian Stimulation: A Personal Approach.
• Egg Maturation in IVF: How Egg “Immaturity”, “Post-maturity” and “Dysmaturity” Influence IVF Outcome:
• 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?
. The use of DHEA
• 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.

Geoff Sher
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ADDENDUM:

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 .

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Abbey

I’ve done 3 rounds of IVF and have had difficulty retrieving eggs in all 3 cycles. I’m 36 years old with a 3.9 AMH level. My protocol was 150u of Menopur, 150u or 175u of Gonal F (went up to 175u in the 3rd cycle) and 5u of Lupron while on stims. I start with 10u of Lupron when I start the birth control pill and decrease it to 5u when stims are introduced. For cycles 1 and 3, my trigger has been Ovidrel and for cycle 2, my trigger was Pregnyl. First cycle yielded 2 eggs (expecting 8), second cycle yielded 11 eggs (expecting 13-15) and third cycle yielded 4 eggs (expecting 15-17). Each time, we get far fewer eggs than we’re expecting. Estradiol levels have been good too – 3400 in cycle 2, 3641 in cycle 3. Basically, everything looks great on paper and then we have such poor results during retrievals. Do you have any thoughts on what is causing the retrieval problems? Do you think it has to do with the drug protocol or trigger shot? I’ve been on stims for 9 days in each cycle.

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

Hi Abbey,

In my opinion, your protocol for ovarian stimulation needs to be reviewed and revised. This is likely where the problem lies. It is my opinion that you might be getting too low a dosage of Ovidrel or Pregnyl.

Here is the protocol I advise for women, who have adequate ovarian reserve.
My advice is to use a long pituitary down regulation protocol starting on a BCP, and overlapping it with Lupron 10U daily for three (3) days and then stopping the BCP but continuing on Lupron 10u daily (in my opinion 20U daily is too much) and await a period (which should ensue within 5-7 days of stopping the BCP). At that point an US examination is done along with a baseline measurement of blood estradiol to exclude a functional ovarian cyst and simultaneously, the Lupron dosage is reduced to 5U daily to be continued until the hCG (10,000u) trigger. An FSH-dominant gonadotropin such as Follistim, Puregon or Gonal-f daily is started with the period for 2 days and then the gonadotropin dosage is reduced and a small amount of menotropin (Menopur—no more than 75U daily) is added. This is continued until US and blood estradiol levels indicate that the hCG trigger be given, whereupon an ER is done 36h later. I personally would advise against using Lupron in “flare protocol” arrangement (where the Lupron commences with the onset of gonadotropin administration.
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
• “Triggering” Egg Maturation in IVF: Comparing urine-derived hCG, Recombinant DNA-hCG and GnRH-agonist:
If you are interested in my advice or medical services, I urge you to contact my patient concierge, ASAP to set up a Skype or an in-person consultation with me. You can also set this up by emailing concierge@sherivf.com or by calling 702-533-2691 and/or 800-780-743. You can also enroll for a consultation with me, online at http://www.SherIVF.com.
Also, my book, “In Vitro Fertilization, the ART of Making Babies” is available as a down-load through http://www.Amazon.com .

Geoffrey Sher MD

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Adelle stevenson

I am on my 4th cycle and have always had 250mg of ovidril as my trigger. I am 41yrs old with Amh of 10 ( which I’m sure has reduced after 2 failed cycles in a row) I have only had 3 mature eggs from my last 2 cycles. ( 1st cycle elenova/menopur 250mg & 2nd cycle gonal f 275mg/luverus)
This cycle I am on decapeptyl & 450 menopur with 250mg ovidril trigger. Would you suggest I ask my for a double trigger? I am doing ivf in Australia

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Dr. Geoffrey Sher

In my opinion, 250mcg Ovidrel is not an optimal trigger dosage. I believe it should be doubled.

Geoff Sher

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