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"Infertility Nightmare" After TTC For Seven Years & Two Failed IVFs

Posted Jan 05 2013 2:17pm
QUESTION
Hi, I was very much hoping you could help me with my infertility nightmare!

Myself - 30 yrs old, AMH: 3 / FSH 9 / ttc 7 years / diagnosed this year with severe endometriosis mostly around my ovaries.

My partner - 39 yrs old - no issues

After trying unsuccessfully naturally for 4 years (tried using ov kits but no signs of ov) I consulted my gp and was referred to our local hospital for 'basic fertility tests'. No issues apparently found and I was diagnosed with 'unexplained infertility'!

I was then given 3 months of clomid and a follow up appointment for 6 months later! Clomid did nothing for me (no ovulation detected on ov kits). My periods were horrendous whilst on this and shortened to 24 days following it. They went back to 28-29 days after a few months.

I was then referred to another hospital for IVF. Again only the basic tests were carried out (blood, semen etc). This was when I was found to have an AMH of 3.

IVF 1 - 0.5 burselin / 4 vials of menopur / gonasi hcg trigger shot / 2x 200mg cyclogest.

Stimmed for 12 days in total - produced 10 eggs of which 5 fertilised. Transferred 1 hatching blast on day 5. Other 4 embryos did not make it to freeze.

Day 3 started to spot pink blood & by day 5 had period. I did have a very strong 'immune reaction' the day after transfer (flu like symptoms which lasted 12 hrs).

My consultant advised he thought the egg quality was to blame causing the early bleed after implantation.

I insisted on further tests and 3 months later has a Hysteroscopy and LAP (laparoscopy). I was then diagnosed with severe endometriosis. I was also given a cervical dilation due to a difficult transfer. I apparently have a small and narrow cervix and a forward tilting uterus.

IVF 2 - 0.5 buserelin / 6 vials of menopur / gonasi hcg shot / 3x 200mg of cyclogest (after my insisting).

Stimmed for 13 days and was very slow to respond this time. Six eggs collected of which 3 fertilised. Two blasts transferred on day 5 (1 more advanced than the other). Day 4 after transfer pink spotting again again developed into period. Felt slightly unwell the day after transfer (but not as intense as the first ivf).

Both IVF's resulted in negatives.

My questions are
1. What is your opinion on the early bleeds? Do you think it's embryo quality (I don't know there officially grading by the lab). Or is it an immune issue possibly lined to the endo? Or both? My aim next is to have level 1 and 2 immune testing.

2. Do you think the progesterone support is enough? May I possibly also need estrogen support? My doctor does not believe in this!
My aim is to try with DE next time due to my poor response on IVF 2. Do you agree? My main concern is the amount of time I have been infertile plus the 2 failures. I have never achieved a pregnancy yet. Do I have hope in your opinion?

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.

N. from Ireland

ANSWER: Hello N. from Ireland,

Please note that detailed and comprehensive recommendations cannot be given without review of your medical records. This venue only allows for short and succinct answers so I hope it suffices.

Embryo quality DOES NOT cause post-transfer bleeding. If bleeding occurred, there is probably no way to know exactly what the bleeding was from, however, the first question would be whether or not there was an adequate luteal phase i.e. whether the progesterone you took produced adequate levels. If you took the medication orally, it would not be adequate. The only way to take progesterone with IVF is either vaginally or by injection. Vaginal progesterone can, however, cause some cervical bleeding because of some eroding effects on the cervix. This is not an indication of an immune problem.

Estrogen is required for adequate endometrial formation as manifest by endometrial thickness and a trilaminar pattern on ultrasoud. Estrogen is also required in the implantation phase and is easy to use so many IVF programs do add this to the regimen.

I'm afraid I don't know what you mean by "DE", so cannot comment.

There is always hope. The key is to find the proper treatment, the proper doctor and the proper clinic to make that happen. I tell my patients, "we can get almost anyone pregnant. It is just a matter of what needs to be done to do so." The only sure way to fail is to stop trying.

Good Luck, Dr. Edward J. Ramirez, M.D., FACOG

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION:

Hi Dr Ramirez, many thanks for your reply and for taking the time.

Regarding the progesterone I was taking this rectally by Cyclogest pessarie 400mg x3 daily. The reason for taking it rectally is that i tend to suffer from thrush. I'm now wondering whether taking this rectally was not sufficient. I am also concerned I am not maybe absorbing the progesterone enough therefore and I'm now keen to try injections next time.

I do tend to suffer with a shorter luteal phase of 10 days before spotting / bleeding on natural cycles.

I will defiantly suggest using estrogen next time. I can not understand other than a hormone in-balance why i would twice suffer from such an early bleed. My lining on the last scan was found to be 10.9 and of a trilaminar pattern.

'DE' stands for donor eggs. I was advised after my first failure not to try more than 3 times with my own eggs. After my poor response to this cycle and the outcome again I am almost definitely considering trying with donor eggs on my third cycle. I just hope to try and determine any other causes for failure before doing this.

Other than the above and the immune testing the only other issue I'm concerned about was the fact both of my embryo transfers have not been straightforward. Although the second transfer was not as painful as the first, I could still feel the catheter going all the way up into my uterus which was incredibly uncomfortable.

Its such a pity your clinic is far, far away!

Thanks again for your time. If I am to reach a successful outcome in the future I will be to sure to come back and update this to hopefully give other women possible clues to their failures.

N. from Ireland

FOLLOW-UP ANSWER:

Hello Again,

I see no reason why you need to consider Donor eggs. Rather, I think you need to consider changing to a different clinic! Pregnancy rates vary highly from one clinic to another. For example, we have 14 clinics within 100 miles of my center and based on Nationally reported statistics (we are required to report to the Federal Government annually), our clinic has the third highest pregnancy rates within this area. The lowest clinics have rates that are 1/2 of our rate. So where you go makes a difference.

Upon reading your follow-up letter, I saw a significant problem that you have. The embryo transfer is one of the most critical steps, if not the most critical steps, in the IVF treatment process (see my Blog posting on "Step Seven: Embryo Transfer"  ). You can have absolutely PERFECT embryos but if they are not transferred appropriately, the cycle will FAIL. The transfer should be a completely PAINLESS procedure and you should not feel a thing. If the catheter touches the back of the uterine cavity or there is bleeding, either of these will cause failure. Maybe that is the main problem? Technique is part of what makes one doctor different from another in terms of pregnancy rates.

I know that I am "far away" but I have had the pleasure of seeing patients from France, Italy, Serbia, Germany, South Korea thus far. Many of these patients tried in local clinics and failed. So, yes it is a 12 hour trip by air, and would definitely cost more for hotel, etc., but if the result is a positive one, would it not be worth it? I'm not trying to induce you to come to my center, but the point I am making is that patients don't have to suffer and endure multiple failures with their local clinic if it is not the best one.

Good Luck,

Dr. Edward J. Ramirez, M.D., FACOG
Executive Medical Director
The Fertility and Gynecology Center
Monterey Bay IVF Program
www.montereybayivf.com Monterey, California, U.S.A.

Comment: Thank you once again Dr Ramirez, I was very interested to read your answer & your article regarding embryo transfer & will be taking this up with the hospital on my follow up appointment in the new year. N.
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