Saturday, August 31, 2013

Similar IVF Protocol But Different Results: Why?

Hi Dr. Ramirez,

I'm back again with a question about my recent IVF (second one). This IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycle we did the same protocol as last time (antagonist) but started off at a higher dose of Gonal-f based on my response last cycle. This cycle we started off at 300iu gonal-f and 75iu menopur whereas last cycle we started with 225iu gonal f and 75 IU menopur but had to increase to 300 IU gonal f after day 4 showed an E2 of only 90. Both cycles I started out with similar AFCs of 10 and 12 at suppression check. My usual AFC is between 16-20. Last cycle it seemed that I recruited more follies along the way and ended up with an E2 of 3030 and 23 eggs retrieved (17 of which were mature based on icsi and conventional fert rates as we did 50/50 split fertilization). This cycle my E2 was 2100 at trigger and they retrieved 12 eggs (still waiting on fert report today but we are doing all conventional fertilization).

My question is why did I have such a different response this cycle given that we started off at a higher dose this cycle compared to last? Last cycle we went up from 225iu gonal to 300 IU gonal at day 4 and stayed there until trigger. this cycle we started at 300iu gonal and stayed there until we added ganirelex on day 7. At that point my E2 stalled and do they increased my gonal f to 375iu gonal f and kept me there until trigger.

As always thanks for your advice/insight. S. from the U.S.A.

Hello S. from the U.S. (Virginia).

The human body is not a consistent nor predictable structure so I can't explain why your response is different.  I have always explained to patients that have low response to stims that the ovaries can react differently each cycle and your experience is a case in point.  That being said, I would not have increased your dosage since your stimulation was so good the previous time and you bordered on entering OHSS territory.  In any case, IVF is not a contest where the person with the highest number of follicles or eggs wins the prize.  The goal is to find 1 or 2 perfect eggs that will lead to perfect embryos and a successful pregnancy.  So despite the fact that you stimulated less, that might be a better thing.  Bottom line is you only need one good one.  Also, there have been some studies showing that when a patient stimulates hard with lots of follicles, sometimes the egg quality suffers and the pregnancy rate drops.  This is especially true in PCO patients.  In those patients, our preference is to stimulate less and get fewer follicles.
So, in any case, as the saying goes: "I don't think you should sweat the nitty gritty" i.e the fine details.  Hope for the one perfect one.  That is the goal.

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.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Is A Tubal Reversal A Good Option For Me?

I am a 33 year old mother of two. My children are 11 and nearly 10 years old.  After the birth of my second child in 2003 I had surgery to prevent further pregnancies. (I was in an unhappy marriage and only 23, and couldn't see myself ever getting out with 2 children.) The doctor was reluctant, because I was so young, but he decided to go ahead and perform the sterilization surgery. My tubes are not cut or clipped or burnt, they just have little clips on them to prevent the egg from passing through.  But just as many people predicted, now I regret the decision.  
I am divorced, my children are growing up, and I am in a wonderful relationship with a man who has no children of his own but would very much like to have one.  Barring infertility issues on his part, is there much hope of us being able to reverse my tubal and conceive a child of our own?  I don't have any other medical issues. I am healthy and active, average healthy weight, non-smoking, non-drinking...same for him. He is 39 and I'll be 34 this year, so we feel like the clock is ticking on any opportunity for another child.  Can this surgery be done, what are the odds of conception afterwards, what factors do I need to consider, how long do you need to wait after the surgery before trying to conceive.  And what is the average cost??  I appreciate any answers you can give me on the matter.
Thank-you! K. from Kentucky

Hello K. from the U.S. (Kentucky),

The type of tubal ligation that you have is the best to reverse because the majority of the tube is kept intact and there is minimal damage to adjacent tubes.  Also, considering you are young still, a tubal reversal would be a good option in your case. A good and experienced gynecologist or reproductive specialist can do the reversal either by laparoscopy (using a scope and little incisions) or by a mini-laparotomy (a small incision above the pubic bone. You would want to find a surgeon who is well experienced in this and does them a lot to get the best chances for success.  
I have had a patient who went to North Carolina to have hers done by a doc who only does reversals. The risks for this procedure are the same risks as for any surgery (infection, bleeding, general anesthesia, injury to adjacent structures, failure) but this is not considered a major surgery, but rather should be an outpatient (same day) surgery.  In terms of success, those rates can vary widely so I can't give you an exact number.  A good surgeon will have an 80% success rate in patients under 35 years old after 1 year of trying.  If a pregnancy does not occur within 1 year, then the procedure probably has failed.  
Basically, with a tubal reversal, all you are doing is attempting to restore your natural fertility rate. This rate is very age dependent.  Your chances of natural pregnancy at 25 years old was 85% per year whereas at 35 it will be 30% per year because your eggs have aged.  So, keep these statistics in mind. The alternative to a tubal reversal, and with a higher likelihood of success is In Vitro Fertilization, but the down side is you would have to do this every time you wanted a child from this point on.  With a reversal, you could continue to have children by natural means if you wanted more than one.  Cost wise, tubal reversal will vary depending on the doctor, the clinic and whether or not it is done in an outpatient surgery center or hospital.  The cheapest I have seen is about $6000 and is done in an outpatient surgery center.  Hospital performed reversals will be $15,000-18,000.  I hope that gives you the information you needed.

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 so much, once again. Armed with the information you provided, we can now move forward! I feel like I got lucky having my question go to such a knowledgeable and open volunteer!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Secondary Amenorrhea: A Description, Not A Diagnosis


Hello Dr. Ramirez,
I'm 20 and 293 pounds. I have had  Secondary Amenorrhea for close to 4 years now. It is apparently being caused by my weight. I'm not planning to TTC for at least another 12 or 13 years. I don't hate babies but it's not just a good time on the emotional or financial level to have them. If I'm able to get down to a decent weight and get rid of this disease,  What are my chances of getting pregnant when it's time for me to TTC???

There's a history of Diabetes in my family and I haven't had a asthma attack since I was 8.My mom had thyroid disease before I was born but I don't think that's genetic. But I don't have any other diseases than the SA at the current moment and my hormone levels were just fine at my last doctor appt which was last October. I've been on progesterone more than I count and it gets me a period but I want to have it without the help of drugs. Is there some kind of natural cure to SA??
I know that it seems a bit silly to ask about this NOW but I'm not getting any real answers about this disease from my OB. Everytime I asked my OB about this, she would tell me not to worry about it or brings a therapist in the room to basically tell me that I'm crazy.

She's since moved her practice out of state and I have a new OB that I'll start seeing very soon. But how in the hell am I crazy for wanting to be proactive about my own health?? I'm sorry for the language but I'm just so fed up about this and at my wits end.

I know that I'm not producing eggs right now but what else could this be doing to my body?? Do I have a reason to be concerned about it besides the obvious infertility scare?? If I do get rid of this disease,  Is there some kind of leftover side effect that could cause me to get Ovarian Cancer in the future??

I don't have these answers and I need to know what's going on. Please help me clear at least some of this up.

Thank You. D. R. from Michigan.


Hello D. R. from the U.S. (Michigan),

Good riddance to your previous Ob doctor!  "Secondary Amenorrhea" is a description of a problem and NOT a diagnosis.  It just means that you used to have periods and now you don't.  It doesn't explain the cause.  The most common reason for old women to have secondary amenorrhea is menopause.  The most common reason for young women to have secondary amenorrhea is pregnancy.  However, a close second is an ovarian disorder called "Polycystic ovarian disease."  This diagnosis is manifested by irregular or rare natural menstrual cycles and at least one of the following findings: ovaries that look like PCO ovaries on ultrasound, inverted FSH/LH ratio, obesity, hirsuitism (increased facial hair), elevated testosterone levels, diabetes, elevate insulin levels signifying insulin resistance.  I think that you have PCOD but without a thorough endocrine evaluation, I cannot say for sure. 
With this disorder, you have a hormonal imbalance and that needs to be corrected.  The most simple way to do that is to use a low androgen birth control pill such as Yaz.  Once you are ready for pregnancy, then you will have to use fertility medications, which actually do not increase your fertility but induce your ovaries to ovulate, so that you can give off an egg to get pregnant.  You need to see a COMPETENT gynecologist or a reproductive endocrinologist to be evaluated and treated correctly!

You may want to see a more detailed explanation of Polycystic Ovarian Disease on my website.

Glad you wrote! Good Luck,
Edward J. Ramirez, M.D.
Executive Medical Director
The Fertility And Gynecology Center
Monterey Bay IVF

Monterey, California, U.S.A.



Related Posts with Thumbnails