New evidence identified on safety of IVF embryo screening method

Researchers at the University of Kent have identified crucial new evidence on the safety and efficacy of a controversial area of IVF treatment – preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A).

PGT-A is the screening for gross genetic (chromosomal) abnormalities in human IVF embryos with a view to improving IVF success rates and guarding against miscarriage. The UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s (HFEA) however recently assigned it a “red light” in terms of its safety and efficacy. The current study provides strong evidence for the benefits of PGT-A.
The, researchers used the HFEA’s own 2016-2018 data to examine live birth and other outcomes reported, with and without PGT-A. Statistical analysis of differences between PGT-A and “regular” IVF cycles was performed, grouping by maternal age, the leading known risk factor for chromosome abnormalities.

Data was gathered for nearly 2,500 PGT-A, out of a total of over 190,000 cycles in total. Live Birth Rate per embryo transferred and per treatment cycle was significantly higher for all PGT-A vs regular IVF age groups. In patients aged over 40, the reported live birth rates were 3-11 times greater when using PGT-A compared to regular IVF alone.
There was also a reduced number of transfers per live birth, particularly for women aged over 40, implying patients became pregnant faster if PGT-A was used.
Though the study identified strong evidence-based benefits of PGT-A, it is limited in matching with complete clinical indication information, PGT-A and non PGT-A cohorts.

PGT-A is a controversial process in IVF. Proponents argue that evidence suggests this treatment is effective and safe. Opponents argue that, until randomised clinical trials establish this unequivocally, patients should not be subjected to it; especially as this is a paid-for treatment.
On the basis of a traffic light system designed to assess the suitability of adjunct treatments for IVF, the HFEA previously assigned the process two Red Lights as a treatment whose efficacy and safety had not been established. This was recently changed to one red light.

Darren Griffin, Professor of Genetics at Kent and Lead Author on the paper said: ‘This data will hopefully aid the HFEA in their continual surveillance of the “Red traffic light” guidance that currently states there is no evidence that PGT-A is effective or safe. The guidance could be revised in the light of this new data for patient benefit. I appreciate the collegial way in which the HFEA have assisted in providing this data and their open-mindedness to the prospect of revisiting their guidance and traffic light system.’

Source: Obs Gynae &Midwifery News

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Alcohol ‘’kills’’ fertility

Alcohol kills fertilityAlcohol practically ‘’kills’’ fertility, or at least that is what collective data from multiple studies on alcohol and fertility indicate so.

Alcohol can dramatically impact both male and female reproductive system. It has been found that, in men, alcohol negatively affect major male sex hormones such as testosterone as well as the quality of the sperm. In fact, long term abuse of alcohol can eventually cause male hypogonadism and sterility.

Alcohol effects are equally great on the female reproductive system. Excessive alcohol consumption is related to decreased fertility in women and in some cases it could even cause sterility.  It appears that alcohol disrupts the egg maturation process, inhibits ovulation, blastocyst development and womb implantation. Therefore, it’s no surprise that even women who consume as little as 5 drinks per week or less have their fertility decreased, according to research.

However, it’s not only natural conception that can be hindered by alcohol but assisted conception as well. According to a recent study out of Harvard medical school, alcohol dramatically decreases chances of a successful IVF outcome. Study findings suggest that even small amounts of alcohol can negatively affect success rates of an IVF cycle.

Researchers reported that, for women, pregnancy chances started to go downhill when they consumed six units of alcohol per week which roughly corresponds to 2 large glasses of wine or 3 glasses of beer. In fact, the greatest drop of pregnancy chances was observed among women who consumed white wine regularly. Specifically, 2-3 large glasses of wine per week can decrease success rates by 24%.

On the other hand, women whose men where daily drinking beer had 30% less chance to conceive a child, while IVF success rates decreased by 38%.

So, study results are clear, if you want a baby you should definitely give up on alcohol, either a woman or a man, in order to increase your fertility and pregnancy chances.

The truth is there are a number of things that can cause infertility and are to blame for not achieving pregnancy, either naturally or through IVF. Yet for many of them people can do nothing about. When it comes to alcohol though, they definitely can.

Would you be willing to give up on alcohol completely for optimizing your pregnancy chances?

Conception and Pregnancy after 40

pregnant woman

As women grow older their fertility tends to faint

Nowadays, an increasing number of women consider conception after the age of 40. The incidents of women over 45 year old becoming mothers through assisted conception keep growing.
According to ESHRE, the percentage of women turning to Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) for making a baby has increased significantly. Over the last 15 years, it is estimated that the number of IVF cycles performed for women 40-45 year old has increased about ten times. This information indicates a drift of more and more women to making a family later in life.
Many women tend to think that as long as they have a period they are perfectly capable of getting pregnant, and this is partly true but not quite. It is correct that every woman, prior menopause, who has a period and ovulates, is possible to achieve pregnancy, even during climacterium; her chances though are quite small.
As women grow older their fertility tends to faint, they tend to have fewer eggs and of poor quality making natural conception less possible, especially after age 42. On the other hand, male fertility is not as age sensitive as the female fertility. A growing body of research reports that men of older age do produce more abnormal sperm and it takes longer for their partners to conceive but the fact is they keep producing sperm their whole lives.
Since a growing number of women now choose to delay pregnancy well into their 40s, let’s summarize a few things that women of advanced reproductive age seeking for an infertility treatment need to take under consideration prior treatment.
Subfertility diagnose: There are a number of fertility treatment options and different IVF protocols developed for serving different needs. Quite often though, couples of advanced age, knowing time is running for them, choose IVF straightway without considering any other treatment options, as it is known for its high success rates. Even though advanced age can be a cause of subfertility there might be other things causing infertility as well, like male factor, endometriosis and more. So finding out the exact cause of infertility is crucial for couples and their physician to decide which treatment benefits them most.
IVF success rates and Egg donation: success rates for women over 40 are dramatically decreased. A recent study reported that women age 40-41 had 15.6% chances of pregnancy following IVF, while for those aged 44 these rates dropped to 1.3%. Egg donation is an effective way for successful IVF for women with poor egg quality. It is a great option for women over 40 who want to boost their pregnancy chances, since success rates with egg donation are high.
Risk of chromosome abnormalities: Babies born to older mothers have a higher risk of certain chromosome problems, such as Down syndrome. Therefore it is critical for women to go through genetic screening tests that will assure the baby’s health.
Risk of miscarriage/pregnancy complications: older women have greater risk for experiencing a miscarriage within the first 3 months due to chromosomal abnormalities or other pregnancy complications later on. That is something that poses some substantial concern for women but being aware of it is necessary in order to be alert and prepared for any outcome.

Are you in favor of a later-in-life pregnancy?

Time-lapse embryo imaging may increase IVF success

Time-lapse embryo imaging in IVF labs may increase IVF success rates, according to British research, by selecting embryos with the highest implantation potential.

But what is time-lapsing imaging and what is the innovation of it that outbalances other methods for embryo selection?

Time-lapse embryo imaging

Time-lapse embryo imaging may increase IVF success rates up to 56%

Time-lapse embryo imaging refers to constant recording of embryos developing in the stable environment of an incubator up to the point of embryo transfer.  The embryo is monitored and surveyed in IVF clinics constantly under a temperature – controlled environment without removing it from it.

The innovation of the method lies in time-lapse photography, where a camera is set in the incubator, where the embryos are placed to grow, to record a number of images at regular intervals. With this method IVF specialists can be given the information needed for selecting the best quality embryos in terms of morphology and cell dividing rate for increasing chances of successful implantation. And the key point of the method is that this is possible to happen all the way through the embryos’ development, without them leaving the incubator until they are implanted in contrast to conventional methods; allowing roughly 5,000 embryo images to be taken.

According to the researchers in Reproductive BioMedicine Online journal, from Care fertility group, preliminary data concerning the methods efficiency are quite encouraging. The researchers in this study used the information provided from time-lapse embryo imaging to classify the embryos as high, medium or low chance of aneuploidy (chromosomal abnormalities). Such DNA abnormalities can increase the risk of failed implantation reducing pregnancy chances.

Researchers reported that time-lapse embryo imaging may increase IVF success rates up to 56%. In further detail, they found that from a total of 88 embryos imaged and implanted there was no live birth from the high risk group compared to 5 (19% success rate) and 11 babies (61% success rate) born from the medium and low risk groups respectively.

Some scientists argue that the small number of couples participated in this study is not enough for making the method a routine clinical tool. However, the concept of it along with preliminary data provided definitely make it a strong candidate for replacing previous standard IVF methods for embryo selection, where embryos have to be removed from the incubator once a day to be checked under a microscope, which is likely to negatively affect their healthy development.

Would you ask for time-lapse imaging to increase your

pregnancy chances through IVF?

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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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Olive oil triples IVF success

Women who are trying to achieve pregnancy through IVF it would be advisable to add foods like olive oil and avocado to their diet as they could triple IVF success rates, according to American researchers.

olive oil

Unsaturated fats could even triple chances of pregnancy following an IVF attempt

An American study revealed that such could even triple chances of pregnancy following an IVF attempt, thanks to the kind of fats they contain – unsaturated fats. Mono- and poly- unsaturated fats, apart from olive oil and avocado, are also found in salmon, nuts, sunflower oil and seeds in abundance.

The study population comprised 147 women who underwent IVF treatment at the fertility center of Massachusetts General Hospital. American scientists presented the study at the annual meeting of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Constantinople.

According to Dr Jorge Chavarro, assistant professor of nutrition from the Harvard School of Public Health, women who consumed the greatest amounts of mono- unsaturated fats were 3, 4 times more likely to get pregnant following IVF compared to those who consumed less.

Conversely, it was found that women with a higher intake of dietary saturated fats (mainly found in butter, red meat and dairy products) produced fewer quality eggs for IVF treatment, decreasing IVF success rates.

Scientists estimate that monounsaturated fats improve fertility and IVF success rates significantly by diminishing inflammation levels of the body. Dr Chavaro explained that among all ‘’good’’ unsaturated fat sources, olive oil and avocado had proven to be the best when it comes to fertility.

He also highlighted the fact that women considering IVF treatment as an option, wishing to improve their success rates, should probably improve their diet by avoiding saturated fats and consuming plenty of monounsaturated fat -rich foods.

Fish is another food rich in ‘’good fats’’, though of different kind, which they were not studied in this particular study but it has been demonstrated before that they also benefit women in need of IVF treatment.

would you consider adding olive oil and avocado to your diet?

10 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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