Monday, December 12, 2011

Can I Thicken Endometrium With Estrogen?


Dear Dr. Ramirez,

I´m 35 years old (will be 36 in Feb). I have been trying to get pregnant for 2 years (had a miscarriage a year ago). After going to a reproductive clinic, I´ve tried Clomid for 2 cycles with no success, an it really thinned up my endometrium, which usually wasn´t very thick (7-8mm). So my RE recommended to change to Menopur in the next cycle and do a IUI (My husband´s Kruger morphology is 5% - lab reference 4% all the rest is good). This current cycle (no meds) she did an sonogram on me on day 12 (my last period, which followed the Clomid treatment, was only 21 days longer and she wanted to check me for cysts). I had a 20mm follicle and several smaller ones, but my endometrium although trilaminar was only 7mm. For all I have been reading 7mm is not optimal thickness, although my doctor seems to think it´s ok and there´s no need to do anything.

So I was wondering how can I prime it before ovulation? Will taking estrogen help? Will it interfere with ovulation? What are the cycle days you normally recommend your patients to take it and what is the dosage?

Thanks for your time. I really appreciate it. C. from Brazil


Hello C. from Brazil,

Yes, you can use estrogen in addition to the Menopur. I use it as an estrogen patch (Climara 0.2 mg per week up to 0.4 mg) or vaginal tablet (FemHRT, Estrace 1 mg up to 4 mg per day). As the follicles grow, they produce more and more estrogen so that should help as well. 7 mm is the minimum size needed, but ideally it should be 9 mms.

In terms of treatment, keep in mind that you have three problems going on. My opinion is that the more problems there are, the higher the treatment level you need to use. The problems identified are: (1) thin endometrial lining, (2) age factor (going on 36yo) and (3) severe male factor. Because of the age and SEVERE male factor, I would advise IVF with ICSI as the treatment of choice. The sperm may not have the ability to fertilize the egg naturally and so ICSI is required. This can only be done with IVF. IVF is also the only treatment that helps to increase pregnancy rates related to age, which is an egg problem, by increasing the number of eggs available to fertilize.

Follow-Up Question:

Thanks for answering my question, Dr. Ramirez.

When would I start taking the estradiol, cd1 and go up to ovulation? I´d like to know so I can talk to my doctor about it.

Also, now I am really concerned about the severe male factor. Is a 5% Kruger morphology that bad even if the sperm concentration is high (85 million/ml) and they show good motility (>70%)? For the IUI procedure, after swim up test and washes, can the doctor choose only the sperm that have good morphology? I´ve read that some doctors think that the Kruger method is really too strict and based on it, most males would be called fertile. What´s your opinion on that? Is there any treatment for sperm morphology (my husband is 37yo)?Thanks again for your valuable time and input! C. from Brazil

Follow-Up Answer:

Hello Again,

1. The estradiol patch or vaginal suppository would begin with CD#1 or 2.

2. If only 5% of the sperm are anatomically normal (morphology), even with an 85 Million count that means only 3.2 Million are available to actually fertilize the sperm (85 Million x 75% motility = 63.75 Million motile x 5% = 3.2 Million). This is inadequate for natural fertility. In addition, when there are sperm abnormalities, there is a high chance that there could be a defect in its ability to fertilize, and there is no test for that other than with IVF. For that reason ICSI is recommended. The embryologist will only take anatomically normal forward swimming sperm for the ICSI (if they are good embryologists).

3. I somewhat agree with the opinion regarding Kruger, but the decision has to be made based on the information that you have. Even 5% normal morphology is pretty low using Kruger.4. Unfortunately, other than ICSI there is no good treatment methods available to change morphology. There are two products that he can try, which are basically vitamins, called Proxeed and Fertility Blend. These can be purchased via the internet. He would need to use them for 3 months minimum. He can then repeat the semen analysis and see if this helps at all.

Good Luck,
Dr. Edward J. Ramirez, M.D., FACOG
Executive Medical Director
The Fertility and Gynecology Center
Monterey Bay IVF Program
Monterey, California, U.S.A.

Comment: Thank you again Dr. Ramirez. I wish I was still living in the US to go to your clinic :)

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