Frequently Asked Questions in IVF Treatment
In recent years, there have been significant advancements in in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, allowing many couples who struggled with infertility to achieve their dream of having a baby. However, despite these developments, some couples still face challenges in achieving pregnancy even after investing time, energy, money, and hope in IVF treatments. Many couples eagerly follow and explore every new innovation, different techniques, and emerging news in the field of assisted reproduction, as there is both a wealth of information and a considerable amount of misinformation.
Today, we will briefly discuss four lesser-known and highly intriguing topics in IVF treatment:
- Pregnancy Vaccine (Fertility Vaccine):
This method is employed to enhance the embryo’s ability to implant by stimulating the lining of the uterus. In this process, immune cells, especially monocytes, are separated from a blood sample taken from the woman on the egg retrieval day during IVF treatment. These cells are then cultured in a special medium, and the hormone CRH is added for positive contributions to the two-day culture. The fluid obtained, containing cytokines and hormones secreted by the immune cells, is introduced into the uterus before embryo transfer, aiming to modify the uterine environment positively.
This method is recommended for couples experiencing repeated IVF failures, meaning those who have not achieved pregnancy despite multiple high-quality embryo transfers or those facing recurrent miscarriages. However, it’s crucial to note that the success of the method has not yet been proven through well-planned controlled studies. Currently, it is considered an experimental technique with reported effectiveness in a limited number of centers.
- Microchip (Microfluidic Chip Technology for Sperm Selection):
Approximately half of the couples seeking IVF treatment encounter male infertility issues. The goal of this method is to select sperm with better DNA integrity—those of higher genetic quality—to obtain healthy embryos and increase the success of IVF. The technique mimics the physiology of natural conception, where sperm swim through the cervix and the uterus to reach and fertilize the egg in the fallopian tubes. The microchip technology involves floating sperm through microchannels, allowing a race where genetically intact, highly motile, and structurally superior sperm are expected to win, resulting in healthier embryos and higher pregnancy rates.
This method is primarily recommended for cases of male infertility or sperm abnormalities. However, more research is needed, particularly well-designed controlled studies comparing this method with other sperm selection techniques.
- Endometrial Injury or Stimulation:
One of the significant reasons for repeated IVF failures is the failure of implantation, meaning the embryo does not attach successfully. Endometrial injury involves scratching or stimulating the lining of the uterus. The procedure can be performed hysteroscopically or with instruments similar to a pipette, and various techniques and timings, such as before transfer or at different points in the menstrual cycle, can be employed. The goal is to induce a response in the uterus, and the cells collected during the process are believed to positively contribute to the implantation of embryos.
This technique can be recommended for couples facing repeated IVF failures despite high-quality embryo transfers. However, there is a need for well-planned, large-scale studies to demonstrate its efficacy.
- ERA (Endometrial Receptivity Assay) Test:
Achieving pregnancy in IVF requires not only high-quality embryos but also a receptive uterus that develops in parallel with the embryo. Molecular genetic studies have shown that the window of endometrial receptivity may vary among individuals. The ERA test allows for the determination of these variations, enabling the personalization of the embryo transfer day for specific patients, potentially increasing pregnancy rates.
In the ERA test, an endometrial biopsy is taken during the window of embryo implantation, and approximately 238 genes are examined to assess receptivity. If receptivity is determined to be favorable, a similar environment is created, and the embryo transfer is performed at an appropriate time.
This method may be beneficial for couples who have experienced multiple failed IVF attempts despite transferring high-quality embryos. Centers with a robust embryo freezing program might offer this method as a ray of hope for selected cases of repeated IVF failure.
In conclusion, these innovative approaches in IVF treatment offer potential solutions for couples facing challenges in achieving pregnancy. However, it’s crucial to emphasize that further research, particularly well-designed controlled studies, is essential to establish the effectiveness and widespread applicability of these methods.