IVF Treatment and the Uterine Lining
IVF treatments is a type of assisted reproductive technology technique which is often used in women who are unable to become pregnant on their own. In this treatment the woman's eggs, or donor eggs, are fertilized with her partner's sperm outside of the body and then transferred into her uterus for pregnancy . This process has been successful in many women, however some women suffer from repeated failed IVF treatments. There have been many identified causes of these failures, a notable one being a thin uterine lining.
Each month during a woman's menstrual cycle, the lining of her uterus becomes thicker in order to be able to support a pregnancy. If the woman does not become pregnant this lining is then shed, which causes menstrual bleeding. However, if a women does become pregnant, this thickened lining becomes essential to her pregnancy success. In some women this thickening process never occurs. Thus, during an IVF cycle when a fertilized egg is transferred the uterine lining is unfavorable for pregnancy and the cycle fails.
Typically, when a woman is diagnosed with a thin lining there are several options for treatment including vitamin E, amino acids, hormonal support, vascular medications and even Viagra. However, the success rates of these treatments is widely variable and often the woman approaches her date for implanting the fertilized egg and yet still does not have enough lining to support a pregnancy. Therefore the IVF cycle is canceled. The frequency of this occurrence is why doctors and researchers have continued to look for better ways to treat women with this condition.
New Research Successful in Thickening the Uterine Lining
Researchers at the infertility center, Center for Human Reproduction (CHR), examined several women who experienced thin uterine linings and were unresponsive to typical treatment options. Each of these women were given a uterine lining perfusion of a drug called granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF). After receiving the treatment all of the women experienced adequate thickening within two days and were eligible for embryo transfer. Even more surprisingly, all of these women were able to get pregnant.
“Conventional treatments for inadequate [uterine lining] have had spotty success at best. Without G-CSF perfusion, these patients, likely, would not have reached embryo transfer," explains the Director of Clinical ART at the infertility center CHR, Dr. David Barad. "That all of them also conceived was a big surprise, and is, of course, quite remarkable."
G-CSF is a drug which acts on the body to create and mature stem cells. It is typically used in patients who have received chemotherapy to help them recover faster. The researchers believe that this medication's ability to speed up and encourage new cell production is what caused the uterine lining to thicken.
"The efficacy of G-CSF in improving [uterine lining], and possibly pregnancy rates in general, still needs to be confirmed in randomized controlled trials," adds Norbert Gleicher, MD, lead author of the report and Medical Director of the infertility center CHR. "Indeed, we already started two such trials to test both hypotheses; but until first results become available later in 2011, we caution against over-interpreting results of this small pilot study."
Although the results are preliminary, the message to women who suffer from repeated failed IVF cycle is that there is, indeed, still hope.
Resource: PR Newswire Press Release