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Male Factor Infertility -- IVF Cycle FET Positive But Ended With Miscarriage: Should I Seek A Second Opinion?

Posted Jun 22 2010 12:00am

Question:

Dr. Ramirez,

My husband and I are a 29yo healthy couple with male factor infertility. Motility is less than 1%, morphology is about 25-30%, and count is pretty low-normal. There are no female issues. We have done 2 IVF/ICSI cycles and one FET (frozen embryo transfer). The first IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycle, I was mildly hyperstimmed. The egg quality wasn't great, and we had about a 50% fertilization rate. We transferred 2 grade A embryos that did not result in pregnancy. No embryos made it to day 5. IVF #2 was much better and had an 80% fertilization rate. 2 day-3 grade A embryos were transferred, but there was no implantation. There were 2 day-6 blasts that were frozen. Both were starting to hatch upon thawing, and the FET resulted in a singleton pregnancy with a heartbeat at about 7 weeks. Unfortunately, I miscarried (no heartbeat) at 8 weeks.

My question to you is when should I seek a second opinion? We had planned on obtaining a 2nd opinion if the FET was unsuccessful, but we feel like technically it was successful. We like the place we go to right now and feel that they are familiar with us. We are planning to do IVF #3 in the near future and are torn as to whether we should stay here or move on. If we stay with the current practice, we will not be changing the protocol since it was successful last time. Although it has been suggested, we are not ready to use donor sperm since we were able to grow 2 blasts and achieve a pregnancy. We are located in Missouri.

Thanks in advance for your time.

Answer:

Hello L. from Missouri,

I agree with your statement that technically the FET was successful. In fact, the FET cycle WAS successful. Remember, IVF can only give you the opportunity to become pregnant. It cannot MAKE you pregnant because the last two steps in the natural process, embryo hatching and implantation, are NATURAL steps and we don't have the technology to make that happen. So, the fact that an embryo did those two steps and the pregnancy went to 7 weeks is a success. And, it is a very good sign because it now shows that what you are doing can work!

I would not give up on that clinic yet. In fact, pregnancy rates with FET are lower than fresh cycles, so a success with an FET is good. They deserve the credit. Now that they have stimulated you twice, know how you react, etc., they are hopefully in a good position to build on that the next cycle. You have to give them some credit for that.

Overall, I would hang in there. You've proven that it can work. Whether or not the pregnancy continues is solely and completely dependent on the embryo. It was probably an abnormal embryo. Now, you just need to get a good one there and you'll go all the way. Don't look back, just look forward. You should now be more encouraged than before because you know that it can work. It is just a matter of time!

On a personal note, I have a patient that I was able to get pregnant on her first try at the age of 36 and she had a beautiful child. She just came back to me for her second child at 39 (worse chances statistically) and became pregnant again, but it was an abnormal pregnancy and ended in a miscarriage. I found out today, that she is planning to transfer to another clinic because they have a "special" research program going on that gives patients a significant discount. You can't believe how heart broken and how I feel rejected by this. I put my heart and soul into my patients, and they get the best care that they can receive. I know that logically the cost is a significant issue, and this is what is driving the patient, but having gotten so close to a success, when we have been successful before, is difficult for me. That is what your clinic will think too. They'll ask themselves, "why is she leaving when we were successful under less odds?"

Good Luck,

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

Twitter with me at @montereybayivf, and follow me on Facebook at http://bit.ly/9Iw9oV

Comment: Dr. Ramirez clearly stated his opinion and seemed to have genuine answers. I appreciate his advice and his providing this service
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