Friday, August 14, 2015

What can you learn from your IVF cycle ?

For most patients, IVF is primarily a treatment that can help them have a baby. After all, the goal of IVF is a successful pregnancy, and when the IVF treatment results in a baby, everyone is happy. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there is a lot of uncertainty attached to it , and the outcome can swing either ways.

The other aspect is that even if an IVF cycle doesn’t result in a baby, it can give us invaluable diagnostic and prognostic medical information; this is something we would never be able to otherwise get.

Unexplained Infertility

And so, when we label a couple as having unexplained infertility , the reason we call it that is because we neither have the technology nor tools to be able to determine why the patient isn’t getting pregnant in her bedroom. If we do IVF for this couple, we might find that they have total fertilization failure; that the man’s sperm are not able to fertilize her eggs, despite the fact that:

His semen analysis report are completely normal
Sperm count is normal
Morphology and motility are also normal

In simple words it means that it was just because we did IVF that we were able to conclude that the “unexplained infertility” was in fact male fertility caused by sperm dysfunction. This condition can successfully be treated by doing ICSI. The point I’m trying to make here that we would never have been able to make this diagnosis had we not done IVF.

An Example

What’s even more important is that every IVF cycle gives us specific and useful prognostic information. Let’s look at another example. Every 38-year-old woman knows that her chances of getting pregnant are far less than those of a woman who is 25 years of age. Despite this, she wants a much more precise estimate and may ask- “Doctor, are my chances 5% or 25%?” Now, this can be an extremely difficult question for us to answer for an individual patient.

More Clarity in Prognosis

While we can test her AMH level and her antral follicle count (both allow us to estimate her ovarian reserve), we will never know how good her ovarian response will be until we actually start her IVF treatment and superovulate her. We have seen women with a low AMH level get pregnant – and those with a normal AMH level who grow poor quality eggs.

After all, these tests all have their own limitations when applied to individual patients. However, once we have done an IVF cycle, we have much more data based on which we can counsel her more intelligently. We can see:

How many eggs she grows
What the quality of the eggs is
Quality of the embryos her eggs form

More than a Treatment

Based on this information, even if her IVF cycle isn’t successful, we can confidently advice her whether another IVF cycle with her own eggs will be worth the effort, or whether using donor eggs might be a better option for her.

This is why it’s important for patients to understand that IVF is much more than just a treatment – it’s a great diagnostic and prognostic tool as well, which gives us information we can never get from any other test available today.

Need more information? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at so that I can guide you better!

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