Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Seventh IVF Cycle Brings Success But Patient Worried About Progesterone Levels


Hi Doctor!

I have recently become pregnant after my 7th IVF, and am currently 6 weeks. I had 2 very good quality blastocysts transferred and am awaiting my 7 weeks scan next week to see the heartbeat and hopefully tell if it's twins. I have been going in for blood tests to monitor my progesterone levels and initially I was taking 2 cyclogest (400mgs) a day, it then increased to 3 and now 4 a day. This was because my prog levels were fluctuating from 80 and 150 and my FS feels 150 is a good level. My last test showed it at 200. From doing my research, I realise that normal prog levels can be anything above 30 and less than 100. Are mine too high? IS there any danger of having prog at 150-200?

My Bhcg has also been monitored every 2-3 days and they have been climbing nicely, from 193,447,1863, 4990 and now 13900. Are those indicative of a viable pregnancy?Many thanks for your help and advice.

Regards, N. from the U.K.


Hello N. from the U.K.,

Congratulations! I'm glad you persevered because most patients would not try IVF 7 times. All your levels are fine. Your progesterone is not too high and there is no danger with a level of 200. I'm surprised your doc is chasing the levels. Your bHCG levels are great. With a level of 13,900, the gestational sac should already be visible within the uterus, so your doc should go ahead and do a scan this week rather than wait until next week. At this point it is important to confirm the uterine pregnancy because there is a 2-5% risk of ectopic pregnancy with IVF (tubal pregnancy). If it were in the tube, this would be the time to treat it as medication can be used instead of surgery.

I don't mention this to scare you, but I normally do my first ultrasound at 6 weeks gestational age for this reason. You might want to ask your doctor to do so as well. More than likely everything will be fine. Again congratulations!

Follow-Up Question:

Hi Doctor,

Thanks so much for your advice, I really appreciate it. I took your advice and scheduled a scan for today, which confirmed a single uterine pregnancy and we saw the heartbeat. So it is a relief! I am currently 6 weeks and 4 days. Is there any chance of things going wrong after seeing a heartbeat? I haven't had any bleeding or haven't had any major cramping. I also haven't been experiencing nausea and morning sickness, but I have had lower back pain, fatigue, and strangely enough throbbing ankle or feet pain now and then. Thank you for your time and help. Regards, N.

Follow-Up Answer:

Hello N.,
Congratulations! At 6 weeks with the findings of a fetus of appropriate size and a good heartbeat, those are good signs for the pregnancy. There is still a risk of miscarriage that runs about 40% until 8 weeks gestational age. Your doctor should probably repeat the ultrasound in two weeks. If everything looks fine at the next ultrasound (8+weeks), then the risk of miscarriage drops to 5% until 12 weeks gestational age.

Of course there are lots of problems that can occur in pregnancy. Everyone has the same risks. But if you worried about every possible risk, you would go crazy and not enjoy your pregnancy. For now, I would recommend that you take things in stride and day to day. Don't worry about the future because you don't necessarily have control over it. Hope for the best because that is the most likely outcome. And as the sailors of olde used to say, pray for good winds!

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

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