CALL US AT: (877) 838.BABY


Archive for the ‘cryopreservation’ Category

4 Hot Fertility Questions at ASRM 2016

By David Kreiner MD

November 7th, 2016 at 7:45 am

The theme for the 2016 ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine) conference in Salt Lake City, Utah was “Scaling New Heights in Fertility”.  As one whose life on Long Island sheltered me from views of snow-capped mountain tops, the perspective of the attendees appeared to climb higher and perhaps to possibilities never previously conceived.

I summarize here 4 Hot Fertility Questions that were debated and discussed in the conference:

1)      Should PGS screening be routine for all IVF patients?

2)      Should all IVF transfers be restricted to blastocysts only?

3)      Should we freeze all embryos and transfer in an unstimulated cycle?

4)      What is the best treatment for the patient with diminished ovarian reserve?

Should PGS screening be routine for all IVF patients? 

The theoretical benefit of Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening, or“PGS”, testing is that it allows one to select a single “tested normal” embryo in the presence of multiple embryos which is more likely to implant and less likely to miscarry.  Absent testing the chromosome number of the embryos, to insure a similar chance of conception one might transfer two embryos– increasing the likelihood that twins would result in a pregnancy at greater risk for prematurity and complications affecting the health of the babies.  Most miscarriages are the result of abnormal chromosomes and if the embryos had normal chromosomes then there should be less of a chance the pregnancy would result in miscarriage.

The argument against routine PGS testing is based mainly on the fact that the test is not 100% accurate or predictive of either normalcy or abnormalcy in addition to not obtaining a result in some cases.  It is argued that the error rate is only 1% but there is a phenomenon called mosaicism where an embryo may have more than one cell line. It is not rare that an embryo which has an abnormal cell line in addition to a normal one can, during development, shed the abnormal cells and evolve normally.  However, PGS testing may pick up only the abnormal cell or detect both normal and abnormal and then there is the question of what to do with the mosaic embryos since there is no current way to predict whether these embryos will ultimately be normal.

Another argument against routine PGS testing is that most abnormal embryos never implant anyway and that perhaps the reduction in miscarriages with PGS is not as great as predicted.  Still another argument that holds true for younger patients in particular is that the pregnancy rate for a single blastocyst transfer is nearly as high without PGS testing and that one can achieve equal success without the risk of discarding potentially normal embryos.

Should all IVF transfers be restricted to blastocysts only?

In addition to improving the ability to select the best embryo, the proposed advantages of a blastocyst transfer (typically 5-6 days old) versus a cleaved embryo transfer (usually 3 days old) include the following:

  • an embryo transferred 5-6 days after ovulation is closer to the natural physiologic state
  • there are thought to be fewer uterine contractions 5-6 days post ovulation than 3 days;
  • blastocysts have a larger diameter and are thought to be less likely to be pushed into the fallopian tubes—which may lead to a lower ectopic pregnancy rate;
  • there is a shorter time to implantation and therefore less opportunity for a deleterious event to occur to an embryo in the uterus.

However, there are some patients, in particular older or those with more fragile embryos, which have been shown to fail to conceive on multiple occasions after a blast transfer but successfully get pregnant and deliver healthy babies after transfer of cleaved embryos.  Furthermore, there is evidence that in some of these cases embryos that may have been destined to otherwise result in a normal pregnancy may fail to develop to blast in the laboratory.

Should we freeze all embryos and transfer in an unstimulated cycle?

There is a growing consensus nationally among IVF programs that the endometrium is less receptive to embryo implantation during a stimulated cycle–especially one in which the estradiol and/or progesterone levels are high.  Although convincing patients to delay transfer to a subsequent unstimulated cycle is a challenge, growing evidence is pushing the field in this direction.

What is the best treatment for the patient with diminished ovarian reserve?

Optimal treatment of the patient with diminished ovarian reserve remains a challenge to the IVF program.  There is growing evidence that adjuvant therapy, including such things as acupuncture and Chinese herbs as well as supplements such as CoQ10 and DHEA, may improve a patient’s response to stimulation and improve pregnancy rates.  Other strategies include sensitizing follicles with estradiol and/or Growth Hormone pre-treatment and banking embryos from multiple cycles with transfer during an unstimulated cycle.  Still another strategy is milder stimulation in an attempt to improve the quality of the retrieved egg/s.

There were many heights achieved during this meeting and to this boy from Queens I was impressed not just with the science and the breathtaking vistas of the regal mountains forming a horseshoe around Salt Lake City but also with the most pleasing goodness of the people native to the city who genuinely offered their time to help make our experience a pleasant one.

 

no comments

When Should I Freeze My Eggs?

By Dr. Michael Zinger

August 4th, 2016 at 3:43 pm

 

image credit: stockimages/freedigitalphotos.net


Every woman is born with a limited supply of eggs.  As this supply ages, the likelihood of each remaining egg to have the capability to become a baby diminishes.  However, this loss of potential is not spread evenly over the years, rather it is a shallow decline that usually continues into the mid-30’s, followed by a steeper loss that typically happens from the late 30’s into the early 40’s.  Over a matter of 5 years, the odds of one egg having the potential to make a baby decreases by about 80%.  Of course, not every woman is typical and the age at which this transition starts can vary quite a bit.

 

The only way to effectively protect the potential of eggs over time is cryopreservation, also known as egg freezing.  Once frozen, the capacity of the eggs to create a successful pregnancy is maintained through the years.

 

Gynecologists often ask me at which age to refer their single patients to me to discuss egg freezing.  The answer is not simple.  Certainly we do not want to put a patient through this process if it is likely that she will meet the right partner and form a family without ever using those eggs.  It would have been an unnecessary medical procedure with associated expense and lost time and effort.

 

On the other hand, we have to weigh the risk that the steeper decline in the eggs’ potential will happen before the woman has met her future partner and completed her family.  If we could predict when that decline will happen in each woman then this question would be much easier.  Unfortunately, our testing is only accurate in identifying this steeper decline when it is already occurring, at which point we have already missed the opportunity to freeze high-potential eggs.

 

Most of my egg-freeze patients are in their mid-30’s.  On average, at this point, only subtle changes in the potential of eggs have occurred, whereas within a few years, more drastic changes usually start.   Therefore, this timing does make sense for most women, but not everyone.

 

A concern about waiting until the mid 30’s is the possibility of an earlier decrease in egg potential.  While that is unusual, it tends to also be unpredictable.  Factors that contribute may include a history of smoking, a history of ovarian surgery or conditions that may lead to such surgery (e.g. endometriosis), or having a mother or older sister that experienced either an earlier menopause or infertility due to loss in egg potential.  Women with these factors should consider freezing eggs in their early 30’s or even late 20’s.    But, most often, if an early decrease occurs, it is without any predisposing factors and with no known cause.  Therefore, even without predisposing factors, cautious women, who want to minimize the risk of missing the opportunity, should also consider freezing their eggs in their early 30’s.

 

Of course, just as some women unpredictably have an earlier loss, some also have good potential that persists even past 40.  This can be determined at an initial visit with a fertility specialist through sonogram and blood tests.  So, for women who have not yet frozen eggs, even at 41 or 42 it makes sense to come in for evaluation and determine if this could still be worthwhile.

no comments

To Single Embryo Transfer (or Not to)?: That is the Question

By Tracey Minella

February 11th, 2015 at 12:24 pm

 

Credit: stockimages/ freedigitalphotos.net


One of the hardest parts of undergoing in vitro fertilization is the difficult decision of how many embryos to transfer back…because each embryo transferred has the potential to implant and develop into a baby.

In the 1980s when IVF was new and success rates were understandably low, it was common to transfer as many as 6 embryos back. Even then, many women did not conceive. Others conceived multiple pregnancies. Still others conceived only one.

Happily, today the technology has been dramatically fine-tuned, resulting in much higher IVF success rates and, because fewer embryos are being transferred, fewer multiple pregnancies.

Some women can’t or don’t want to have a multiple pregnancy and are interested in a program that virtually eliminates the risk of more than a singleton pregnancy. Some of their reasons include possible health risks for the mother or babies, concerns over the higher costs of raising multiples, or the fear of being placed on bed rest and its potential financial impact.

On the other hand, because IVF can be expensive and often not covered by insurance, and because the couples attempting it may have already been trying to conceive for a long time with and without medical assistance and expense, it’s tempting to want to “put all your eggs in one basket”. These couples want to transfer a higher number of embryos back to maximize their chance of conceiving in that one cycle or because they can’t afford to do more cycles. Many couples think of the possibility of twins as a bonus. Two-for-one. Instant family. Dream come true.

But if the financial burden was lessened, and the odds of a live birth from transferring one embryo were nearly comparable to the odds for transferring more, would that make a difference to you? Would you opt for the statistically safer singleton pregnancy vs. the statistically riskier multiple pregnancy? Would you really prefer a multiple pregnancy or would you rather have a succession of singleton pregnancies, the way you originally planned before infertility entered your life?

Deep, emotionally-charged decision. No right answer. Just the right answer for you.

Some good news that may affect your decision is 20-year study of 92,000 patients from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland, recently published in the on-line Oxford Journal, Human Reproduction, on January 21, 2015. The Nordic study found that the health of children born from IVF has significantly improved and that the risks of pre-term or severely pre-term births have declined dramatically…and it’s primarily due to transferring just one embryo. In addition, the stillborn and infant death rate for singletons and twins born through IVF has declined. http://bit.ly/1Ejgg1o

For those interested, Long Island IVF has a well-established Elective Single Embryo Transfer Program with success rates comparable to traditional IVF in select patients. If you elect to transfer one embryo in your fresh cycle you get free cryopreservation of your embryos and free storage for six months or until a live birth occurs. As an additional incentive to motivate patients to make safer choices, we offer patients transferring a single embryo during their fresh stimulation cycle up to three frozen embryo transfers, within a year of their retrieval or until a live birth occurs, for the price of one. For more details and information on whether SET may be right for you, visit http://www.longislandivf.com/single_embryo_transfer.cfm or ask your LIIVF physician.

* * * * * * ** * * * * *

What did/would you consider when deciding how many embryos to transfer? Is the elective SET program something you did/would consider? Why or why not?

 

 

no comments

National Twins Days

By Tracey Minella

July 30th, 2014 at 10:22 pm

 

image courtesy of david castillo dominici/freedigitlaphotos.net


Twins. Gotta love ‘em.

For the majority of couples struggling with infertility, the idea of having two babies at once…especially in cases of a long, expensive treatment history… is a dream come true. Times two! For some, twins are a “two-fer” that helps “justify” the expense of IVF and IUIs. Twins are also a great way to quickly “catch up” in the total number of children department. After years of having none, suddenly you are the parents of two… instant “standard American family”. In fact, many call it quits after twins.

On the other hand, twins (or triplets) make others nervous. The fact is that a multiple pregnancy can be more complicated than a singleton. Many infertile couples have stressed enough over just getting pregnant and may prefer to avoid the additional worries a high risk multiple pregnancy sometimes presents. This fear, coupled with financial incentives, has driven the popularity of quality Single Embryo Transfer (SET) programs which may offer comparable success rates. For information on Long Island IVF’s SET Program success rates and incentives, click: http://www.longislandivf.com/single_embryo_transfer.cfm

But those lucky enough to have twins will agree that once they arrived safely, it’s mostly two times the pleasure and two times the fun.

This year, August 1-3 is the National Twins Days Festival. http://www.twinsdays.org/, which is billed as the largest annual gathering of twins in the world.

We are inviting all our parents of twins (or more) who are so inclined, to SHOW US YOUR TWINS! Upload your favorite photo to our Facebook page any time between August 1-3. We want to see all those cuties…the ones born this week, the ones who are leaving for college, and the ones in between!

Your success will give others hope. (But those who find viewing baby photos difficult will have advance notice to avoid viewing those posts on the page on those days.)

* * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If you could control it, would you prefer having twins or one baby at a time?

 

no comments

The ABCs of IVF

By David Kreiner MD

May 9th, 2014 at 9:15 am

 

credit: digitalart/freedigitalphotos.net

If you’re not pregnant yet and you’re wondering what to do, this post may shed some light on infertility diagnoses and treatments. Yes, there’s a lot to learn. Yes, it can be overwhelming. But the good news is that you can go to the head of the class by the time you finish reading this post.

Dr. David Kreiner of Long Island IVF gives you the low-down and the lingo. It’s everything you need to know, from A to… well… P. And what better letter to stop at? “P” is for pregnant:

“Why me? My wife never had any infections, surgery or any other problem? I have no difficulty ejaculating and there’s plenty to work with so why can my friends and neighbors and coworkers get pregnant and we can’t?”

I hear these questions daily and understand the frustrations, anger and stress felt by my patients expressing these feelings through such questions. There are many reasons why couples do not conceive. An infertility workup will identify some of these. A semen analysis will pick up a male factor in 50-60% of cases. A hysterosalpingogram will locate tubal disease in about 20% of cases. Another 20-30% of women do not ovulate or ovulate dysfunctionally. A post coital test may identify that the problem is that the sperm is not reaching the egg. It may not be able to swim up the cervical canal into the womb and up the tubes where it should normally find an egg to fertilize. When these tests are normal a laparoscopy may be performed to identify the 20-25% of infertile women with endometriosis. However, even when this is normal and there is no test that logically explains the lack of success in achieving a pregnancy; an IVF procedure may both identify the cause and treat it successfully.

What is IVF?

In Vitro Fertilization, IVF, is the process of fertilizing a woman’s eggs outside the body in a Petri dish. Typically, a woman’s ovaries are stimulated to superovulate multiple eggs with gonadotropin hormones, the same hormones that normally make a woman ovulate every month. Injections of these hormones are usually performed by either the husband or wife subcutaneously in the skin of the lower belly with a very tiny needle. It takes 9-14 days for the eggs to mature. She will then take an HCG injection which triggers the final stage of maturation 35-36 hours prior to the egg retrieval. This is performed in an operating room, usually with some anesthetic. The eggs are inseminated in the lab and 3-5 days later, embryos are transferred into the uterus with a catheter placed transvaginally through the cervix into the womb.

What is ICSI?

Some times even in the presence of a normal semen analysis, and normal results on all the infertility tests, fertilization may not occur without microsurgically injecting the sperm directly into the egg. This procedure is called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection or ICSI and may achieve fertilization in almost all circumstances where there is otherwise a sperm cause for lack of fertilization.

If it looks like a sperm and swims like a sperm, why doesn’t it work like a sperm?

A South African gynecologist, Thinus Kruger, discovered that small differences in the appearance of sperm affected the sperm’s ability to fertilize an egg. In 1987, Thinus demonstrated that when we used the very strict Kruger criteria for identifying a normal sperm, we were able to identify most men who had normal semen analyses and were yet unable to fertilize their wife’s eggs. Most of these couples suffered from unexplained infertility except now utilizing the Kruger criteria for sperm morphology we were able to identify the problem. Today, these couples are successfully treated with the ICSI procedure.

Old eggs?

As women age, the percentage of genetically abnormal eggs increases. These older eggs are less likely to fertilize, divide normally into healthy embryos or result in a pregnancy. When older women do conceive they are more likely to miscarry then when they were younger. Aging of eggs begins in the 20’s but accelerates after age 35. This is why a woman’s fertility drops as she gets older. The age at which it becomes significant for a woman varies. Some women in their 30’s have significant aging of their egg. Others less so and may have a good number of healthy eggs into their 40’s.

ABC’s of IVF

Assisted Hatching is when the embryologist makes a hole in the shell around the embryo called the zona pellucidum. This is performed minutes prior to embryo transfer and may be performed chemically with acid tyrodes, mechanically with a micropipette or with a laser. It is commonly believed that older eggs may lead to embryos with a thicker or harder shell that may prevent the natural hatching of an embryo that must occur prior to the embryo implanting into a woman’s lining of her womb.

Blastocyt embryo transfers occur on day 5 or 6 after the egg retrieval. This is the embryonic stage when an embryo normally implants into the womb. These embryos have been selected to be healthier by virtue of the fact that they have made it to this stage. Statistically, the pregnancy rates for women who have had blastocysts transferred is higher than when the same number is transferred on day 3 using “cleaved” embryos of 4-10 cells. As the advantage of the blastocyst transfer may be only a matter of selection, it is thought that there may be no advantage if the embryologist is able to select just as well the best embryos to transfer on day 3 which is typically the case when there are not excess numbers of high quality embryos which will vary according to the patient and be dependent on the age of the patient.

Bravelle – Brand of FSH, follicle stimulating hormone which is a gonadotropin used to stimulate a woman’s ovaries to superovulate and make multiple eggs mature during the IVF cycle.

Cetrotide – Brand of Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Antagonist that prevents a woman’s pituitary gland from producing LH, luteinizing hormone. LH increases can trigger premature ovulation and stimulate testosterone and progesterone production which can be harmful to a woman’s egg production and prematurely mature the lining of womb potentially affecting implantation.

Co-culture of a woman’s endometrial cells from the uterine lining or granulosa cells from aspirated ovarian follicles along with the embryos in the same culture dish is thought to provide growth factors for the embryos which may improve the health and growth of the embryos.

Cleavage Stage Embryos are 2-10 cell embryos transferred on day 2 or 3. They are often graded by their lack of fragmentation and granularity of the inside of the cell cytoplasm; A to D or 1to 5 with A or 1 being the best grade.

Cryopreservation or freezing can be performed on individual eggs where it may serve as a way to preserve a woman’s fertility either due to aging or in preparation for surgery, chemotherapy or radiation which may affect future access to a woman’s eggs.  It may be performed on cleaved embryos or blastocyst embryos that are already fertilized either because they are in excess of the desired number of embryos to be transferred fresh or to bank for a future PGS/PGD or to improve implantation by delaying transfer to a subsequent unstimulated cycle.

Embryo Glue is a protein supplement to the transfer media prepared minutes prior to transfer to make the embryo more likely to stick to the lining of the womb. It is believed that some embryos may not implant since they are not adhering to the lining and do not get an opportunity to burrow into the endometrium.

Estradiol is produced by the granulosa cells of the follicle which surround the egg in the ovary. As follicles are stimulated and grow they produce more estradiol. We measure estradiol to monitor development of the follicles. It also helps to prepare the lining of the womb for implantation.

Follistim – Brand of FSH, follicle stimulating hormone which is a gonadotropin used to stimulate a woman’s ovaries to superovulate and make multiple eggs mature during the IVF cycle.

Ganirelix – Brand of Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Antagonist that prevents a woman’s pituitary gland from producing LH, luteinizing hormone. LH increases can trigger premature ovulation and stimulate testosterone and progesterone production which can be harmful to a woman’s egg production and prematurely mature the lining of womb potentially affecting implantation

Gonal F – Brand of FSH, follicle stimulating hormone which is a gonadotropin used to stimulate a woman’s ovaries to superovulate and make multiple eggs mature during the IVF cycle.

Gonadotropins – FSH, follicle stimulating hormone and LH, luteinizing hormone stimulate the follicles in the ovary to mature and produce ovarian hormones, estradiol, testosterone and progesterone. It also is used to stimulate a woman’s ovaries to superovulate and make multiple eggs mature during the IVF cycle. We adjust the ratio of FSH and LH to achieve goals of optimal follicular development and maturation while trying to minimize the risk of hyperstimulation. Typically we administer the gonadotropins to the woman for 8-14 days before giving her HCG 35-36 hours prior to the egg retrieval

HCG is human chorionic gonadotropin, the pregnancy hormone we measure to see if your wife is pregnant. We follow the numbers to monitor the growth and health of the pregnancy. HCG has the same biological effect as LH and therefore can be used to mature the egg in the same way as if it were getting ready to ovulate. We therefore administer HCG to women 35-36 hours prior to the egg retrieval. Brand names for HCG include Pregnyl and Ovidrel.  HCG is occasionally used in place of HMG (Menopur, see below) with similar effects.

HMG – Human Menopausal Gonadotropins are purified from the urine of menopausal women since they have high levels of FSH and LH. Menopur is the brand of HMG used in IVF stimulations containing a 1:1 ratio of FSH to LH. We adjust the ratio of FSH and LH to achieve goals of optimal follicular development and maturation while trying to minimize the risk of hyperstimulation. Adding pure FSH, i.e. Bravelle, Follistim or Gonal F will increase the ratio of FSH to LH which may be desirable especially early in a stimulation. Some patients may not need any supplemental LH and are stimulated with FSH only. HMG is sometimes added towards the end of a stimulation to minimize the risk of hyperstimulation syndrome.

Hyperstimulation syndrome is a condition which occurs approximately 3% of the time as a result of superovulation of a woman’s ovaries with gonadotropins. A woman’s ovaries become enlarged and cystic, fluid accumulates in her belly, and occasionally around her lungs. When it becomes excessive, it may make it uncomfortable to breathe. We remove this excess fluid with a needle. Women can also become dehydrated and put them at risk of developing blood clots. We therefore recommend fluids high in salt content like V 8 and Campbell’s chicken soup. We give patients baby aspirin to prevent clot formation and a medication called cabergoline which helps prevent the development of Hyperstimulation.  It may also be recommended to freeze all the embryos and postpone the transfer to a later cycle as pregnancy can significantly exacerbate Hyperstimulation syndrome as well as potentially be more likely to implant in a subsequent cycle.

ICSI – Some times even in the presence of a normal semen analysis, and normal results on all the infertility tests, fertilization may not occur without microsurgically injecting the sperm directly into the egg. This procedure is called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection or ICSI and may achieve fertilization in almost all circumstances where there is otherwise a sperm cause for lack of fertilization

Lupron is a Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone Agonist that must be administered after a woman ovulates or concurrent with progesterone or oral contraceptive pills to effectively suppress gonadotropins. Lupron prevents a woman’s pituitary gland from producing LH, luteinizing hormone. LH increases can trigger premature ovulation and stimulate testosterone and progesterone production which can be harmful to a woman’s egg production and prematurely mature the lining of womb potentially affecting implantation

Monitoring of a woman’s stimulation with gonadotropins is performed by transvaginal ultrasound examination of her ovarian follicles and blood hormone levels. The gonadotropin doses can be adjusted according to the results of the monitoring. The timing of the HCG and subsequent egg retrieval are likewise based on the monitoring. Typically, a woman need not be monitored more frequent than every 3 days initially but may need daily monitoring as she approaches follicular maturation to determine timing of the HCG injection and retrieval.

Morula is the stage between the cleavage stage embryo and blastocyst. It is when the embryo is a ball of cells and is usually achieved by the 4th day after insemination.

Oral contraceptive pills are often given prior to the stimulation to help time stimulation starts and bring a woman’s reproductive system to a baseline state from which the stimulation may be initiated.

PGD/PGS is preembryo genetic diagnosis and screening.  PGD refers to diagnosing the presence of a single gene disorder in the embryo.  Typically, patients with a prior history of producing a child with this disorder or where both partners are known carriers for a genetic disease are candidates for PGD.  Alternatively, patients could make the diagnosis in pregnancy by chorionic villus sampling or amnioscentesis.  PGS is screening for chromosomal abnormalities and has been used to improve success after embryo banking, to prevent chromosomally caused recurrent miscarriages, to improve success with older patients’ IVF cycles and for family balancing/gender selection.  Embryos are biopsied 3 days after retrieval in the cleaved state or 5 or 6 days after retrieval in the blastocyst state. 

Progesterone is an ovarian hormone that prepares the lining of the womb for implantation. We measure it during stimulation to check if the lining is getting prematurely stimulated. We add it to the woman after the retrieval to better prepare the lining and continue it as needed to help sustain the implanted embryo until the placenta takes over production of its own progesterone.  It may be administered as an intramuscular injection in which it is placed in various oil media to facilitate absorption.  It may also be administered as vaginal suppositories or tablets either as compounded micronized progesterone or in the commercially prepared brands; Endometrin and Crinone.

* * * * * *

Did you find this helpful?

no comments

The Dilemma of Excess Embryos

By Tracey Minella

January 25th, 2014 at 9:32 am

credit: wiki commons public domain

 

There is so much to focus on when beginning IVF. Insurance and financing issues. Learning about all the medications, as well as how to inject many of them. Understanding the processes of daily monitoring and blood work, of retrievals and transfers. Deciding how many embryos to transfer back and whether to cryopreserve the others.

Most people do cryopreserve the embryos which are not transferred back on a fresh IVF cycle. These frozen embryos are often thawed and used in a later cycle, either years later after a successful fresh cycle or sooner if the fresh cycle was unsuccessful.

Sometimes, especially in cases where patients only transfer back one embryo, like patients in Long Island IVF’s Single Embryo Transfer Program http://bit.ly/1jjvr3y patients may obtain enough embryos from their first fresh IVF cycle to satisfy all of their family-building needs through subsequent frozen embryo transfers. They may have one baby, then another a few years later, and then yet another…all from one retrieval. Yes, they are the lucky ones.

I remember… almost casually… signing off on the cryo consent, my primary focus being on all the matters that had an immediate effect on my first fresh cycle. I wanted to be pregnant now. I’d worry about what to do with any leftover frozen embryos… after I had all the children I wanted … later. It took a few cycles before I finally had any embryos left over to freeze, but the moment I did, I set in motion a decision more complicated and emotional than I initially imagined.

What to do with excess embryos is about as personal a decision as there is. If you don’t have too many, do you keep transferring them until they are gone? Do you donate them…full genetic siblings to your other children…to another couple? Do you donate them to research if your state allows? Do you just keep them in storage and pay the fees? Do you discard them?

I was reminded of the difficulty of this decision when I read about New Zealand’s law limiting the amount of time that embryos can remain in storage to ten years. http://bit.ly/1f7uypm . Fortunately, there is no such law in New York. It is stressful enough for patients to decide what to do with excess embryos without the government imposing an arbitrary time limit on them.

There is no single right answer. Just a right answer for you.

* * * * * * * * * * *

If you cryopreserved embryos, are you comfortable with your initial decision on how they should be handled? Or are you undecided?

 

no comments

Infertility Podcast Series: Journey to the Crib: Chapter 34: Fertility Treatment During This Economic Downturn

By David Kreiner MD

December 5th, 2013 at 7:57 pm

 

Welcome to the Journey to the Crib Podcast.  We will have a blog discussion each week with each chapter.  This podcast covers the final chapter, Chapter Thirty-Four: Fertility Treatment During This Economic Downturn. You, the listener, are invited to ask questions and make comments.  You can access the podcast here: http://podcast.longislandivf.com/?p=149

Fertility Treatment During This Economic Downturn


Financial hardships have increased fertility challenges for many couples attempting to build their families.  In regions where patients do not have insurance coverage for their IVF procedures it is unlikely that they proceed with the treatment that is necessary for them to be able to complete their families.

In places that do provide coverage for IVF, such as Massachusetts, 5% of all babies born are as a result of IVF.  Elsewhere in the U.S., IVF accounts for only 1% of births suggesting that the financial cost of IVF denies access for approximately 80% of couples in need.

The problem of the cost of IVF is compounded by the fact that patients are driven to transfer multiple embryos to limit the cost and avoid additional fees from cryopreservation, embryo storage and frozen embryo transfers.  These multiple transfers increase the risks of multiple pregnancy and preterm delivery with subsequent complications to the babies from preterm birth.

We, at Long Island IVF, attempt to make IVF more accessible and safer by offering income based grants, free cryopreservation, storage and discounted frozen embryo transfers to patients electively transferring single embryos.  We have also offered free IVF cycles through best video/essay contests to a few needy patients over the past few years.

It is our sincere wish and hope that a bill that is presently in front of Congress offering a tax credit to patients going through IVF is passed thereby making IVF that much more affordable to our patients in need.

* * * * * * **  * * * *

Was this helpful in answering your questions about fertility treatment during this economic downturn? Are you aware of the pending proposed Family Act, which would offer a tax credit to infertile women wishing to undergo infertility treatment (similar to the current adoption credit for those wanting to pursue adoption)? Have you urged your legislators to support this important legislation?

Please share your thoughts about this podcast here. And ask any questions and Dr. Kreiner will answer them.

no comments

Infertility and National Prematurity Awareness Month

By Tracey Minella

November 19th, 2013 at 10:53 am

 

photo credit: praisaeng/freedigitalphotos.net

Infertility is a disease. Its course often follows a common progression. It often starts with the abandonment of what turns out to have been unnecessary birth control. It then progresses through a repeated series of monthly disappointments until charts, thermometers, and the “chore-mentality” move into the bedroom. ObGyn intervention becomes an RE referral. A battery of tests and invasive procedures follow. Sometimes there’s Clomid. Maybe even ovulation induction with IUIs. Possibly, there’s IVF.

It’s no wonder that most infertility patients are so caught up in the all-consuming grind of simply trying to get pregnant, that they don’t think past getting that positive pregnancy test. They don’t think that…after all that time and sacrifice…something could threaten that hard-earned pregnancy.

It’s National Prematurity Awareness Month. And there is no better time to focus on what you can do to reduce your chances of having a premature baby than before you become pregnant.

It’s not always known why babies are born prematurely, but according to the Mayo Clinic*, some risk factors can include:

  • Pregnancy with twins, triplets or other multiples
  • Problems with the uterus, cervix or placenta
  • Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or using illicit drugs
  • Poor nutrition
  • Some infections, particularly of the amniotic fluid and lower genital tract
  • Some chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Being underweight or overweight before pregnancy.

 

According to the CDC**, some of the symptoms or warning signs of pre-term labor include:

  • Contractions (the abdomen tightens like a fist) every 10 minutes or more often.
  • Change in vaginal discharge (leaking fluid or bleeding from the vagina).
  • Pelvic pressure—the feeling that the baby is pushing down.
  • Low, dull backache.
  • Cramps that feel like a menstrual period.

If you are doing IVF, one of the things you may want to consider to reduce your chances of prematurity is having a single embryo transfer (“SET”), if your doctor feels you are a good candidate. Doing so virtually eliminates your chance of a multiple pregnancy. In addition to the safety considerations for mother and baby, SET at Long Island IVF offers financial incentives, including free cryopreservation and reduced rates for subsequent frozen embryo transfers. Click here for more information about Long Island IVF’s Single Embryo Transfer Program. http://bit.ly/WpzCvv

As an IVF mom of two preemies myself, let me acknowledge that very often, babies arrive early for reasons beyond our control. Sadly, the outcomes are not always happy. But knowledge is power, so control what you can, watch for the signs, and listen to that little voice if you feel something is amiss. And remember that the vast majority of these hard-earned pregnancies do turn out just fine.

*http://mayocl.in/HWaNGz

** http://1.usa.gov/IdCytZ

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Do you worry about prematurity? If so, would you consider SET to reduce the chance of a multiple pregnancy?

Photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/agree-terms.php?id=100141619 /praisaeng

 

no comments

Infertility Podcast Series: Journey to the Crib: Chapter 30: The Gift of Life and Its Price

By David Kreiner MD

November 9th, 2013 at 11:56 am

 

Welcome to the Journey to the Crib Podcast.  We will have a blog discussion each week with each chapter.  This podcast covers Chapter Thirty: The Gift of Life and Its Price. You, the listener, are invited to ask questions and make comments.  You can access the podcast here: http://podcast.longislandivf.com/?p=141

The Gift of Life and Its Price

 

IVF has been responsible for over 1 million babies born worldwide who otherwise without the benefit of IVF may never have been.  This gift of life comes with a steep price tag that according to a newspaper article in the New York Times in 2009 was $1 Billion per year for the cost of premature IVF babies.

 

According to the CDC reported in the same NY Times issue, thousands of premature babies would be prevented resulting in a $1.1 Billion savings if elective single embryo transfer (SET) was performed on good prognosis patients. 

 

The argument often given by a patient who wants to transfer multiple embryos is that to do SET would lessen their chances and to go for additional frozen embryo transfers is costly.

 

In fact, if one considers the combined success rate of the fresh and frozen embryo transfers that are available from a single stimulation and retrieval, the success rate is at least as high if not higher in the cases of fresh single embryo transfers. 

 

At Long Island IVF, in an effort to eliminate the financial motivation for multiple embryo transfers, we offer free cryopreservation and embryo storage for a year to our single embryo transfer patients.  In addition, we offer them three (3) frozen embryo transfers for the price of one for up to a year after their retrieval.

 

IVF offered with single embryo transfer is safer, less costly and probably the most effective fertility treatment available for good prognosis patients.                     

 

* * * * * * **  * * * *

Was this helpful in answering your questions about single embryo transfers?

Please share your thoughts about this podcast here. And ask any questions and Dr. Kreiner will answer them.

no comments

Infertility Podcast Series: Journey to the Crib: Chapter 29: Why the Wyden Bill Does Not Support Fertility Patients

By David Kreiner MD

November 3rd, 2013 at 11:20 am

 

Welcome to the Journey to the Crib Podcast.  We will have a blog discussion each week with each chapter.  This podcast covers Chapter Twenty-Nine: Why the Wyden Bill Does Not Support Fertility Patients. You, the listener, are invited to ask questions and make comments.  You can access the podcast here: http://podcast.longislandivf.com/?p=138

Why “The Wyden Bill” Does Not Support Infertility Patients

 

IVF results subjected to government audit were mandated to be reported with the passage of the “Wyden bill”.   The intent of the CDC and national reproductive society (SART) was to assist infertility patients by informing them of the relative success of all IVF programs in the country. 

 

Unfortunately, what sometimes creates the best statistical results is not always in the best interest of the mother, child, family and society.  Now that prospective parents are comparing pregnancy rates between programs there is a competitive pressure on these programs to reports the best possible rates.   Sounds good…unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way for the following reasons.

 

Patients with diminished ovarian reserve, who are older or for any number of reasons have a reduced chance for success, have a hard time convincing some programs to let them go for a retrieval.  In 2008, we reported our success, 15% with patients who stimulated with three or fewer follicles.  Sounds low and in fact many of these patients were turned away by other IVF programs in our area.  However, for those families created as a result of their IVF, these “miracle” babies are a treasure that they otherwise… if not for our program giving them their chance… would never have been born.

 

Another unfortunate circumstance of featuring live birth rate per transfer as the gold standard for comparison is that it pressures programs to transfer multiple embryos thereby increasing the number of high risk multiple pregnancies created.  This is not just a burden placed on the patient for their own medical and social reasons but these multiple pregnancies add additional financial costs that are covered by society by increasing costs of health insurance as well as the cost of raising an increased number of handicapped children.

 

William Petok, the Chair of the American Fertility Association’s Education Committee reported on the alternative Single-Embryo Transfer (SET) “Single Embryo Transfer:  Why Not Put All of Your Eggs in One Basket?”.  He stated in November 2008, that although multiple rather than single-embryo transfer for IVF is less expensive in the short run, the risk of costly complications is much greater.  Universal adaptation of SET cost patients an extra $100 million to achieve the same pregnancy rates as multiple transfers, but this approach would save a total of $1 billion in healthcare costs.

 

We have offered SET since 2006 with the incentive of free cryopreservation, storage for a year and now a three for one deal for the frozen embryo transfers within the year in an effort to drive patients to the safer SET alternative. 

 

If we are going to report pregnancy rates with IVF as is required by the Wyden Bill, let us put all programs on the same playing field by enforcing the number of embryos to be transferred and even promoting minimal stimulation IVF for good prognosis patients.  The Wyden Bill without the teeth to regulate such things as the number of embryos transferred and reporting success per embryo transfer does more harm than good.  Let us promote safer alternatives and report in terms of live birth rate per stimulation and retrieval, including frozen embryo transfers, so that there is a better understanding of the success of a cycle without increasing risks and costs from multiples.

 

* * * * * * **  * * * *

Was this helpful in answering your questions about the Wyden Bill, IVF success rates and reporting requirements, and SET?

Please share your thoughts about this podcast here. And ask any questions and Dr. Kreiner will answer them.

no comments


The Fertility Daily Blog by Long Island IVF
© Copyright 2010-2012