Thursday, January 26, 2012

How Can I Have A Year Of The Dragon Baby?

Dear Doctor,

We are a Chinese couple who would like to have a baby this year. We have been trying for many months in the natural way for timing the baby for the Dragon year but we are not successful so far. We are thinking that maybe we can make our chances better for a baby this year if we go see a baby specialist here in Hong Kong. My wife is 34 years old and I am 38 years old. We have been trying for six months now. If we try for test tube baby, can we choose for a boy or girl? What would you suggest would be the proper next step for us?

Thank you, you are very kind for your advice. L. from Hong Kong


Dear L. from Hong Kong,

I appreciate the fact that many Chinese couples are looking forward to having a child in the Year of the Dragon. If you wish to time your wife's pregnancy for a delivery within this Chinese lunar year, you do not have much time to spare! In essence, since you have been trying to conceive already for six months, it may be time to look at alternatives. I will go over all your options, from least complicated to the most aggressive:

First option:

What I would suggest if you still choose to go the "natural way" for just this month, is that your wife begin taking prenatal vitamins that have at least 1 mg of Folic acid within it, and that you keep in mind that the actual fertile days are pretty narrow - 2-3 days. If your wife has regular and predictable cycles, you can predict ovulation by counting back 14 days from the period. That would show where ovulation probably occurred in the previous cycle and by counting from the first day of her period, gives you an idea of what cycle day ovulation occurred. Then with this information, you can use the calendar method by counting from the period the number of days where you can both expect ovulation to occur. You need to stop intercourse 5 days from that anticipated ovulatory day, then start intercourse two days prior and have intercourse daily, once per day, with having only one ejaculation per day for five days.

Second option:

I think that an IUI (intra uterine insemination or artificial insemination) is a better starting point and should be done right away, but you need to make sure that the appropriate treatment is being done to increase your chances. IUI's are better than trying naturally because the number of eggs ovulated are increased with fertility medications, timing is better known by ultrasound surveillance and the sperm is injected into the tubes to await the egg. Ideally, your wife should be ovulating 3 eggs per cycle, or have 3 eggs of ovulatory size (18-24 mms) so maximize the chances that an egg will find and get into a tube. You did not say if either one of you have been tested for infertility. In your age group (34yo), your chances of natural pregnancy are about 10% per month and with IUI, up to 24% per month.

At my center, typically, we do an hsg (hysterosalpingogram) to see if the woman's tubes are open and viable. We also do a semen analysis on her partner. A negative result in either of these tests would make it quite difficult for you to immediately succeed with either an IUI or naturally.

Third and probably best option:

Considering the fact that you do not have much time and that you are considering gender selection, then IVF (in vitro fertilization) or "test tube baby" may be the best choice if you wish to conceive within the next few months.

With IVF the woman can produce many follicles and as long as you get at least one good embryo, IVF has a better pregnancy chance than IUI because it is accomplishing 7 of the 9 steps your body goes through to achieve pregnancy (IUI only accomplishes one). The remainder have to be accomplished by your body. That is what gives IVF a pregnancy rate of 60-76% per cycle in your age group.

If you wish to do gender selection, then IVF with PGS (pre implantation genetic screening) is the only option you have. A microscopic biopsy of the trophectoderm (the outer cell layer of an embryo) is done by the embryologist and sent to a lab for analysis. Recently it has been shown that the pregnancy rates from a single PGS-selected euploid embryo were 58% and 60.7% compared to 42% and 40.7%, respectively, from a morphologically comparable but non-PGS-selected embryo. Interestingly, the miscarriage rates were seen to decrease to 6% and 6.3% from 12% and 12.5%, respectively. With transfer of one embryo, the risk of multiple gestation is essentially eliminated.

I know that in China, Korea and Japan, genetic screening for gender selection is not allowed. Here in California it is, though. We have had Asian patients come to us who have chosen to have PGS for gender selection and succeeded. Your chances would be reasonable if normal embryos were obtained and transferred. You can choose to freeze or vitrify some embryos and transfer one fresh (vitrification is a method of rapid cooling of embryos that minimizes ice crystal formation which has further improved success). If one is transferred and it takes (implants), I would expect that there would not be any abnormalities in the fetus or child.

I wish you luck in the Year of the Dragon and hope that you will find a good physician in Hong Kong or abroad that will be willing to work with you and help you succeed in your quest for a child this year.

I hope all this information is helpful.

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

1 comment:

  1. Wow what a nice post.I am impressed from it.

    Thanks for more sharing.............

    Laith Salma



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