Huge trial underway for ‘very promising’ AI tool to boost IVF success

Australian fertility experts are now testing the technique, which uses artificial intelligence to improve the odds of a successful pregnancy, in the largest trial of its kind in the world.
As part of the international study, led by national fertility provider Virtus Health, 1000 patients will be recruited at five IVF clinics across Australia, alongside sites in Ireland and Denmark.

artificial intelligence

During each IVF cycle, embryos will be grown in an incubator fitted with time-lapse cameras to assess the embryo during the five-day incubation period.
The embryo ranking system was built by training the artificial intelligence using thousands of images where it was known whether the pregnancy was successful or not.
What the AI tool can do is analyze .all the embryos. The embryo with the highest score can then be selected for transfer by the embryologist with the aim of accelerating the chance to a successful pregnancy

Dr Illingworth said the purpose of the study was to determine whether the technology can shorten the time it takes a woman to fall pregnant, ultimately saving aspiring parents thousands of dollars in fertility treatment.

Best vitamins to help you get pregnant faster

vitamins

Several vitamins available on the market could improve the chances of getting pregnant

Are you having fertility issues? Well, before you turn to medical assistance, vitamins could just be all you need to help you get pregnant faster.
The good news is there are several vitamins available on the market with the potential to improve chances of getting pregnant, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, zink and vitamin B12.
Vitamin C is considered to be quite beneficial for men trying to make a baby. It helps prevent sperm from sticking together and restores sperm damage done by chemicals in tobacco smoke. Thus, vitamin C improves sperm motility and decreases damaged sperm cells number. Men are commonly recommended to receive up to 1000 mg of vitamin C daily for a positive outcome.
At this point, it should be noted that women should receive only as much vitamin C as contained in a prenatal vitamin supplement, given that too much of vitamin C could dry up the cervical mucus harming fertility. Plus excess of it could turn the body acidic and is likely to create an environment that sperm cannot survive.
One of best ‘’fertility vitamins’’ for women who wish to get pregnant is vitamin E. It appears it can improve egg quality and is commonly recommended a supplemental intake of at least 400 IU of the vitamin. Men can also benefit from a vitamin E supplementation. They should receive the same amount as women daily, in order to improve sperm capacity. It is advisable to be received together with vitamin C for maximum absorption.
Another vitamin, not quite known for fertility, is B12 which is particularly important for men. Men who smoke or consume large amounts of processed meat are usually B12 deficient. So, by adding at least 100 mcg of it in their nutrition could have their fertility improved. It is also known to support a healthy neural tube development of the developing embryo, so women can also benefit from an increased B12 intake.

Have you checked into the possibility of a nutritional deficiency that could decrease your pregnancy chances?


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Can darkness protect female fertility?

Can darkness protect female fertility? New research says yes! Women who wish to achieve pregnancy are now advised to avoid late nights and artificial light as it can harm their fertility and, as a consequence, decrease chances of conception.

darknessEvery time we turn on the light at night, the production of melatonin is reduced. Melatonin is a hormone secreted in the brain, in response to darkness, that helps regulate other hormones in the body and is commonly known for its sleep effects. However, fertility experts from the University of Texas report another quite important role of the hormone in female fertility.

A review of studies, published in ‘’Fertility and Sterility’’, that summarized previous research results on the role of melatonin and circadian cycle on achieving pregnancy in women, provided evidence that melatonin protects the ovary, eggs and placenta from the disastrous effects of free radicals as it exhibits unique oxygen scavenging abilities. That means that melatonin prevents the production of ROS (reactive oxygen species) saving the reproductive system from oxidative damage.

Russel J. Reiter, professor of cellular biology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and lead researcher of the study, reported that ‘’darkness is important for female fertility as well as for protecting the developing embryo’’.

He also recommended women trying to get pregnant to spend at least 8 hours in the darkness during the night. Ideally, all lights should be off, however if there must be a light on, red or yellow are preferable. White and blue light should be avoided as these colours could disturb the biological clock.

So, can darkness protect female fertility? The main conclusion of the study review was that the circadian cycle and melatonin, both linked to darkness, are crucial for optimal function of the reproductive system. Additionally, the circadian cycle should remain stable smooth and undisturbed from one day to the other otherwise it is more likely for a women’s biological clock to go out of tune. Professor Reiter would advise the same for pregnant women in order to support fetus development.

Would you choose darkness over light for protecting your fertility?

Vitamin D is associated with increased likelihood of pregnancy, livebirth and reduced pregnancy loss

vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, although the association between preconception vitamin D concentrations and livebirth is unknown.

The study aimed to assess the association between preconception vitamin D and pregnancy outcomes among women with proven fecundity.

The findings were published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology and 1191 women had available data on preconception 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations.

According to the study sufficient preconception 25-hydroxyvitamin D (≥75 nmol/L) was associated with increased likelihood of pregnancy and livebirth. Increased vitamin D concentrations before conception, but not in early pregnancy, were associated with reduced pregnancy loss.

Male infertility tools: FISH analysis and DNA fragmentation test

ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies) advances have now provided couples with accurate genetic screening tests like FISH analysis and DNA fragmentation test, as diagnostic tools for male infertility aiding them in improving theirs chances of pregnancy.

Infertility is not primarily a woman’s problem, as it is mistakenly believed. It is estimated that infertility for about half of couples is due to a male factor, either alone or in addition to female factors. So, if a couple suffers from infertility problems men should also be evaluated for infertility.

FISH analysis and DNA fragmentation test

FISH analysis and DNA fragmentation tests are diagnostic tools for male infertility

However, the routinely used in IVF clinics semen analysis testing appears to be inadequate in diagnosing the male factor infertility. In many cases couples dealing with conception problems have given a basic semen analysis testing result that is normal in terms of sperm concentration, motility and morphology. Yet the problem remains. In such cases genetic screening tests that can detect genetic abnormalities can be of great help, comprising diagnostic tools of great clinical value.

DNA fragmentation test is a genetic test that according to fertility doctors is associated with every fertility checkpoint and in contrast to conventional semen analysis it can discriminate between the sperm of fertile and infertile men. This test could explain the reason why you are not parents yet as high levels of DNA fragmentation can inhibit a successful pregnancy despite the type of fertility treatment provided. High levels of damaged DNA have been correlated to a series of things like infections, smoking, and exposure to environmental toxic chemicals.

Another quite useful genetic test given in IVF clinics is FISH (Fluorescent In Situ Hybridisation). FISH analysis is a genetic test screening for genetic abnormalities providing information about the sperm chromosomes. It consists of sperm chromosome-specific DNA probes labeled with fluorochromes. FISH is an advanced technique that can now facilitate evaluation of sperm aneuploidy.

Both, FISH analysis and DNA fragmentation tests are diagnostic tools for male infertility that can support a specialized diagnose of male factor especially for couples who have experienced repeated IVF failures and pregnancy loss.

If male factor infertility is the source of your trouble would you advise your doctor on proper genetic testing for improving your pregnancy chances?


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Embryo transfer media compounds boost IVF success rates

Current research suggests that specific compounds, called adherence compounds, when added into embryo transfer culture media boost IVF success rates.

Embryo transfer media compounds

Hyaluronic acid (HA), an adherence compound, can boost IVF success rates

Assisted reproductive technologies are generally considered to be successful medical procedures, but not successful enough. Couples diagnosed with infertility are commonly given an IVF (in vitro fertilisation) or ICSI (intracytoplasmisc injection) treatment. These treatments are the most successful forms of infertility treatments in IVF clinics and have similar success rates, however not successful enough given the increased demand for test-tube babies.

A great body of research is focused on studying how to boost IVF success rates while minimizing any adverse effects like multiple pregnancies. Part of this research has studied the effects of the addition of adherence compounds into the embryo transfer culture media.

Currently a scientific review analyzing 16 randomized studies on the above objective has reported that hyaluronic acid (HA), an adherence compound, can boost IVF success rates. Researchers compared embryo transfer media with different concentrations of the hyaluronic acid including high, low and no HA. As for the outcome most studies conducted their research by measuring live birth rates, pregnancy chances, implantation rates and multiple pregnancy rates. The women that took part in the studies aged 27.5-35.7 in average.

According to the review results hyaluronic acid increased IVF success rates in terms of live birth and pregnancy chances when added in the culture medium used for embryo transfer (450 vs 367). Fertility experts think that adherent compounds may actually increase the embryo potential for adhering to the uterus.

On the other hand, it was also found that the addition of the adherent compound increased chances of multiple pregnancies. Researchers argue that this result is probably linked to the number of embryos transferred by fertility doctors which quite often exceeds the 2 embryos. Thus, in such cases where more than one embryo is transferred into the womb, an adherent compound by promoting successful implantation could increase risk of a multiple pregnancy. Complementary studies investigating the outcome of using these enhanced transfer media for only single embryo transfer are necessary for optimizing these compounds’ contribution to a successful IVF outcome.

Would you risk a multiple pregnancy if it was to boost your pregnancy chances? We would be happy to receive your feedback.


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Ovulation Calculator: Because Timing Matters

Ovulation Calculator

12 to 24 hours after the woman ovulates, she is no longer able to achieve pregnancy during that cycle.

Whether you are considering the potential of getting pregnant or systematically trying to conceive, you are probably going to need an ovulation calculator; because timing matters when it comes to fertility.
One in two couples is trying to conceive the wrong days of the woman’s ovulation cycle, probably due to lack of knowledge. A better understanding of fertility, ovulation process and how this is involved in a woman’s menstrual cycle in overall can be of great help for couples who aim to achieve pregnancy.

There are only a few days (typically 6) in each menstrual cycle that you have high chances of getting pregnant, the days prior and during ovulation. So it is critical to be aware of when are these days during your ovulation cycle for successful fertilisation.

What is ovulation at first place?

Ovulation is the procedure happening once in every menstrual cycle when hormonal changes cause the ovary to release an egg. This occurs about 12-16 days before the initiation of your next menstrual cycle.
While an egg survives for no longer than 24 hours after its release, the sperm cell can maintain its viability for up to 5 days. Therefore, you might be surprised to know that sexual intercourse 4 to 5 days prior egg release can lead to the desired outcome, pregnancy.

Fertile Window

The overall ‘’fertile window’’, taking into account the lifespan of the sperm and the lifespan of the egg as well, is roughly 6 days. So the ‘’fertile window’’ applies to the time period during menstrual cycle where unprotected sexual intercourse can lead to conception. At the end of the ‘’fertile window’’, the likelihood of conception declines rapidly and by 12 to 24 hours after the woman ovulates, she is no longer able to achieve pregnancy during that cycle.

Due to menstrual irregularities it might be hard for women to predict their most fertile days, but this knowledge is crucial for getting pregnant. An accurate way for finding out your fertile days is to measure the basic fertility hormones (LH, estrogen). This can be easily done by using an ovulation test or a fertility monitor at home, identifying your full ‘’fertile window’’.

How do you know your “Fertile window”?


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Why We Love Pregnancy (and you should too)

Why We Love Pregnancy

Giving birth to a baby is without doubt the most intense, life changing experience for a woman.

The birth of a baby is a life event that can’t be compared to any other experience in terms of significance and importance. The responsibility of nurturing and watching children grow and develop changes the appreciation of life and health, with a resulting long term impact upon individuals, families and ultimately, society.
Giving birth to a baby is without doubt the most intense, life changing experience for a woman. However, believe it or not, a baby isn’t the only good thing that women get out of pregnancy. The extra hormones necessary for the embryo development can also have a positive impact on your well-being and general health condition during and after pregnancy. Studies show that most women have a positive pregnancy experience reporting just a few negative symptoms that had to deal with while pregnant.
During their pregnancy women can experience some wonderful changes taking place in their body that they will definitely love, such as:
Improvements to skin and complexion. Women love the fact their hair look thicker and their skin nice and radiant. That happens because during pregnancy the rate at which hair falls out slows right down. As for the skin, since extra moisture is retained under the skin, women’s complexions look shiny and less wrinkled.
Enhanced senses. High levels of estrogen increase the sense of smell in pregnant women and that seems to enhance their perception of taste, meaning you can probably enjoy the taste of your food more than usually.
Diminished menstrual pain. Once the menstrual cycle resumes, after childbirth, it is very likely that the overall period pain that women usually experience, as well as the annoying cramps will be diminished. This pain reduction is a well-known phenomenon even though the reason this happens is not quite known yet.
In addition to positive body changes we could not but mention these little pleasures that women expecting a baby love to enjoy without guilt like eating more, having a nap after lunch, taking time off work and of course allowing themselves to be spoiled by their loved ones.

Thinking of getting pregnant soon?


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10 IVF myths

IVF-myths

Many people think of IVF as the answer to all infertility problems

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) as an infertility treatment could not but be accompanied by its fair share of myths.The contribution of IVF and generally Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) in the rapidly growing field of
medical technologies and healthcare services, available for disease treatment and life quality enhancement, is undoubtedly unique.

There are studies suggesting a higher implantation rate with frozen embryo transfer

However, many people think of IVF as the answer to all infertility problems. Others believe that IVF is a treatment of high cost, affordable only for a small number of people such as business people or movie stars.

Here is a list of most commonly believed IVF myths:

Myth #1: IVF always results in multiple pregnancies like twins or higher-order multiples

FALSE: The risk for a multiple pregnancy can be decreased by reducing the number of embryos transferred, especially in young women.

Myth #2: Patients undertaking an IVF cycle have no control over the outcome of the treatment

FALSE: The success rate of an IVF cycle is highly dependent on a thorough evaluation of the couple and a careful coordination of both a medical and a scientific approach for each couple. There are a number of things IVF specialists have to deal with in order to optimize the chances of a pregnancy such as ovarian stimulation monitoring and timing of oocyte retrieval.

Myth #3: IVF is the answer to all infertility problems

FALSE: Depending on the case of infertility for each patient there are more options for treatment like Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI) and ovulation induction (OI) with medications.

Myth #4: IVF is only for wealthy people

FALSE: Though the cost of IVF is not low, it is not less affordable than some major procedures like heart surgery or joint replacement.

Myth #5: IVF increases women’s fertility

FALSE: Technically, IVF does the opposite. The hormones that are taken at the beginning of a cycle are made to stop a woman’s natural fertility process. Then the next round of hormones creates a synthetic cycle for optimizing the chances of pregnancy.

Myth #6: IVF babies have a significantly high risk of birth defects and malformations

FALSE: Even though some evidence seem to indicate that there may be some increased risk for birth defects in babies born through IVF, current studies suggest that the difference in the incidence of birth defects between naturally conceived  and IVF babies is not high significant.

Myth #7: IVF requires admission in the hospital

FALSE: It does not require overnight admission.  It is an out-patient treatment.

Myth #8: IVF is the last resort for infertile couples

FALSE: IVF is only one of the options available for infertility treatment, but in cases where IVF is not applicable there are other types of Assisted Reproductive Technology that work for patients like egg donor, sperm donor or surrogate.

Myth #9: Insurance covers IVF costs

FALSE: Usually there is no fertility insurance coverage but it is advisable to check with the insurance company before starting an IVF treatment.

Myth #10: IVF is successful in all cases

FALSE: Unfortunately this is not true; IVF is successful in up to 40% of cases. Multiple factors contribute to IVF success rates including the age of the woman.

Any more IVF myths to add?


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