Friday, June 25, 2010
Diminished Ovarian Reserve: I Have Failed 3 IVF Cycles, Blighted Ovum -- Where Should I Go Next?
Dr., I am 34 and have been diagnosed with diminished reserve.
I have done three IVF cycles. In the first, we got 5 eggs, after fertilizing all had testing and all found to have some anomoly, none transferred. Second, the clinic let me ovulate...didn't even get to extract eggs. Third got 2 eggs, only 1 fertilized, only a 4 cell with a lot of fragmentation, & I knew it was not going to work. Just found out I have a blighted ovum.
My question: Obviously my chances are not very good on my own and I realize donor eggs are my best option but I am finding it difficult to give up.
I am in health care and I guess my question if you can offer any advice is: For example in certain types of cancer there are certain centers that are more leading experts than others for certain types of cancers. Is that possibly the case with this disease? Is there a center that is the leading expert at diminished ovarian reserve that can help me? I had these 3 IVF at 2 different clinics and neither were very compassionate and treated me just like a number taking a shot in the dark at my protocol.
The last clinic the MD REALLY got my hopes up and now that it hasn't worked has dropped off the face of the planet. So my question is, are there leading experts in this arena that maybe know more specifics about what type of protocol might work best for me??
Hello B. from the U.S.,
First of all, let me say that diminished ovarian reserve is NOT a disorder and is not a cause of infertility. It simply means that the patient's ovaries don't stimulate well and is often indicated by a high cycle day #2 or 3 FSH level. It is not an indication of egg quality in any way. Secondly, you are still young. You still have a good chance of pregnancy with your own eggs even if only a few are retrieved. I would still expect your pregnancy rate to exceed 50% per cycle (ours is 73%). I would not have wasted any of the cycles because there is no way to know if the good egg was in that batch. Even normal women do not ovulate good eggs all the time, and that is why it can take several months of trying to get pregnant. It is the same with IVF. Even if my patient has only one follicle I still try for this reason.
In terms of your question regarding the best center for your problem, I'm afraid there is no one center that is best for this problem. All IVF clinics have patients with decreased ovarian reserve, and each IVF center has different statistics and different ways of taking care of their patients. We all use different protocols as well. One question I would ask is what was your protocol? Were you given the max stimulation (600IU of FSH in either pure FSH (gonal-f, follistim, bravelle) or a combination (one of the previous with Menopur, Pergonal, Repronex). These latter medications have FSH in them as well so for instance if you took 450IU of Follistim + 150IU of Menopur, you would have a total dose of 600IU of FSH. I use this as my highest protocol.
In addition, timing is critically important. If the HCG trigger was given with the follicle size of 18 mms, it is possible that the egg did not have adequate time to mature, whereas 20 mms or 24 mms would have been better. As you can see, there are many variations in treatments. That is why there is no one center that is better than any other.
In my center, for example, I have extensive experience with low responders and use a high protocol for those patients. I also am a smaller, boutique-type center that prides itself and excels in providing one-on-one personalized care from beginning to the end. I am the only doctor, involved with my patients' progress from day one. That is what makes us different from some of our competitors in the big cities that operate more impersonally and do not give you access to the RE as much. All of these are facts and qualities that a patient should look for and seek out. They are paying a LOT of money for this treatment so they should demand their money's worth in all aspects.
With all that said, low responders are difficult because part of the success of IVF comes from having a large pool of eggs to work with. We know that in all cycles, there are going to be good eggs and bad eggs, so if we have an increased number, then there is a higher likelihood of getting a good egg. For low responders who don't stimulate well, and hence, don't give a lot of eggs to work with, that just means it may take more attempts before that good egg emerges. I would recommend that you NOT give up. After all, you have really only done two IVF cycles since the second one was cancelled. I am confident that you will be successful if you can continue to try. If you want a quicker solution, then donor eggs would be the option, only because a donor with normal ovarian function will yield more eggs to work with. Since you have had a blighted ovum, it means that the IVF cycle worked (remember, IVF only can produce embryos. The pregnancy, because of the last implantation step, still has to occur naturally). This confirms that you can get pregnant, and it is just a matter of getting a good egg/embryo into you. If you were 40, I would advise differently and lean more toward donor, but at your young age, you should keep trying.
Maybe you should consider coming to Monterey :) ! It is a beautiful place to visit as well.
Good Luck and don't give up hope!
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