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Frequent Fertility Questions

Posted Nov 06 2009 10:01pm 1 Comment
Hello to all,
Here is your latest entry.

What if I have had miscarriages but my HSG and clotting tests are normal? Make sure you get the karyotype test, the blood test to check your chromosomes.

What if your partner recently had a vasectomy reversal and the motility is only 20% with poor morphology. Will these numbers improve with time? Hard to say. If there is not much improvement in 6 months, there will probably not be much change after that.

Are there any tests to explain poor embryo quality? At this time there are none. We don’t know why within a batch of embryos, some look good and others do not. We don’t know why some women make nicer embryos than other women.

What about shared risk IVF programs? They have their pluses and minuses. The name is deceiving. It sounds like your doctor is somehow contributing to and sharing your financial burden, but this is not the case. Shared risk means the other patients in the program are all sharing the risk. The price of shared risk in many cases does not include all of your costs. It’s all figured out mathematically. Some patients will end up pay less, some pay more, but what the average a person pays in most shared risk programs is the same the average person would pay without the program.

Are there options other than IVF ICSI with 6% motility? Realistically; no. Miracles can happen. We don’t know why but to get pregnant on your own, your need millions of moving sperm. Even IVF without icsi requires millions, although not as many as you need for a natural pregnancy.

What if you are young and have had 4 unexplained miscarriages and your workup is normal? Facing another pregnancy and miscarriage sounds impossible to you, and your doctor says there are no other tests? The unemotional cold hard fact is that trying again is the only real option and the odds are that the next pregnancy will be successful. Your miscarriage risk is higher than others without your history. I’m not saying trying again is the best thing for you, I understand why you may not want to.

Mini IVF. It has its place. Things to watch out for are any hidden costs, which could be high. There is a higher chance that there will be no egg retrieved. You really need to know what the deliver rate is for people your age. The “pregnancy rate” is not the delivery rate. There are different versions of mini IVF. Most involve clomid, but sometimes low doses of injections are added. Also be careful about the freezing option. Many times the doctor will say the lining is not right and he wants to freeze the embryos, so they can be transferred when the lining is more favorable. This gets a mini Arghh. Mini IVF has a lower pregnancy rate and freezing embryos probably makes the rates lower still. Plus if the goal of mini IVF is to save money, it seems that the costs will add up between the cycle, the freeze and the frozen transfer.

What if you have been offered frozen donor eggs (not embryos). This could be a good option. Ask for details (not an estimate) about success at your clinic. If they do not have good results from at least 10-15 thaws, you may want to reconsider. People in the field feel all of donor egg will be using frozen eggs in the near future, although today the science is still new.

Should you consider a surrogate if you have had 2 failed fresh DE cycles, one with a proven donor? If you have no uterine issues i.e. a nice lining and no scaring/previous surgery, the added benefit from a carrier will be minimal. However, if you have access to a good carrier and are open to the idea it is not unreasonable to at least explore the option.

What if you only have access to insemination M-F? Not great. Most of the time there is room for getting inseminated a little early or late, but having weekend services available to you is much better.

Does natural cycle insemination increase your odds of twins? No. Twins come from 2 or more eggs and in the natural cycle, usually only one is produced.

What if you have pain and your doctor is not listening? Maybe your doctor does not feel that you have a pelvic problem that requires further evaluation because your exam and ultrasound are normal, and she does not feel a laparoscopy is right for you. If that’s the case your doctor needs to at least give you another complete exam and a repeat the ultrasound, and then needs to discuss your options. She needs to let you know what she is thinking and visa versa. If you can’t get this with her, try someone else.

What if you are 41, and have gotten pregnant easily twice. Is there an advantage to going to IVF? Theoretically yes because if you have more than one embryo to transfer you will increase your odds of success. The dilemma is that you are getting pregnant on your own easily, which does not necessarily mean you will get pregnant easily with IVF. If you decide to try on your own again, get help quickly if you don’t get pregnant soon.

What if you have stage 3 endometriosis and have not become pregnant with a few iuis? You should consider moving to IVF sooner than average. Pregnancy even without drugs is certainly possible, but the odds are lower because of potential tubal issues related to the endometriosis.

What about stress management programs to increase the odds of conception? I think these programs are extremely helpful. I started the NYU Fertility Center Wellness Program, which incorporates acupuncture, mind-body and yoga into our practice. I don’t like selling these things as ways to get you pregnant, because more research needs to be done. But they are very beneficial for stress management and treatment tolerance.

What’s better for low sperm counts, IVF/ICSI or donor sperm? Donor sperm is a lot easier and cheaper and may lead to a quicker pregnancy. That being said, most people prefer partner’s sperm, IVF and ICSI.

Could a hydrosalpinx prevent pregnancy? The answer is yes. A publication of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine states that a hydrosalpinx can lower pregnancy rates by as much as 50%. I think it’s closer to 30%. Many years ago I would remove a hydrosalpinx in any woman wishing to attempt IVF. More recently I let people know that a hydro will lower the odds in some women but not all, and with the hydro the odds are still good. So I let them decide if they want the surgery prior to IVF. Having a hydro will increase the chances of an ectopic pregnancy with IVF. Hydros can be a problem even if you are not yet a candidate for IVF. In other words if one tube is normal and the other a hydro, removing the hydro may help you get pregnant on your own.

What if you are 44 and were told the chances of IVF are 5%, but you make 14 eggs and have nice embryos? Are your odds higher? Yes they are. Most, but not all, women who get pregnant in their mid 40’s are lucky enough to make a high egg number. The more the better.

What if you were just diagnosed with terrible endometriosis and are offered Lupron? There are no good studies showing Lupron will take away any of the endometriosis or improve scarring. The story is different for pain; Lupron can help tremendously with that.

How to find the best IVF clinic? Start with SART.org and look up the pregnancy rates for your age group. The tables are a little hard to read, go to the line that says live births per retrieval. After that it’s about chatting it up in person and on line.

What if you are obese and the doctor is worried about doing IVF in the office safely? Different doctors will have different thresholds for maximum weight. Some are more relaxed when dealing with very obese patients. So get more opinions. Some IVF centers do their retrievals in the hospital, and they may be more eager to treat you. At 26 you do have time to lose weight before you start, which would be better for the baby. There is new data every day on the detrimental effects of obesity on the fetus. The old saying"you are what you eat" has been replaced by "you are what your mom eats."

What if you have a 2 cm endometrioma on your ovary? As long as they are sure that’s what it is, and it’s not another type of tumor, a 2 cm endometrioma will not hurt your chances of conceiving with IVF.

What next? You are young and have had a baby then 3 miscarriages, the workup doesn’t show much. Too many women have been hit with similar issues. It’s all about the tough decision to continue. If you get pregnant again, odds are that you will have the baby. However the thought of facing another loss sometimes overwhelms us. I try to encourage more attempts, but it’s your decision in the end.

Thanks for reading and read the disclaimer 5.17.06.

Dr. Licciardi
Comments (1)
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I have a question and hopefully you wouldn't mind helping me out so I know the facts...

I'm a mom of three children.  2 were in my younger years from a previous relationship....  (one shot one kill babies if you know what I mean). *wink*

Well after my toad of an x....  I continued on with life and found my prince charming...  He unfortunately had stage 2 hypertention issues...  This is suspected to be the cause of the 19mil count we got with poor mobility and other related issues...

We got pregnant 2 times, during our 2 years of trying.  Both were unsucessful.  One being a chemical pregnancy and the other being a blighted ovum back to back.  We went through IVF because of our concerns of fertility issues. 

They extracted 13 eggs, 6 fertilized.... 6 made it to blast stage.... (5 day) Grades: 3AB, 3AA, 4AA, 4AA, 5AA, 5AA....  Later that day one 4AA became a 5AA...

Both impanted with confirmed 2 sacks at 6 weeks, but only 1 HB....  Later the second sack reobsorbed leaving 1 healthy pregnancy...

Recently I got pregnant again... again a blighted ovum which is now being blamed on my husbands poor sperm quality....  We're under going IVF again...  I had a D&C done to rid my body of the bad pregnancy and will start IVF after my first flow....

So here's my question...  I know....  I have a tendency to TMI...  Hope you don't mind:

I have had a sucessful fresh IVF cycle 2 years ago at age 29.  Transfered  two 5AA blasts and got 1 healthy baby boy.  No fertility issues known except my husband with high blood pressure issues and sperm count of 19mil. (qualifying us for IVF because of mobility issues and what not).  I am about ready to under go anouther transfer at age 31.  Will be transfering one 5AA blast, and one 4AA blast with the potential of the 4AA becomming a 5AA by the time of the transfer....  What are my chances of single pregnancy, and what is my chances of twin pregnancy.  I'm looking for the statistics so I understand risks and possability of sucess.

I just need to know what I should do and what risks I'm taking...  It means so much to me have anouther baby with my husband, but I also want to have a healthy pregnancy...  Just would like a estimated statistic for me.  My Dr said he doesn't get into statistics, just said I have a very good chance of getting pregnant and that's it....

Please e-mail me at christina_m_stephens@yahoo.com

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