Can environment make a different to IVF outcomes?

When it comes to factors that could possibly have an impact on IVF success, the things that often spring to mind are often those we can influence ourselves – a healthy diet, not smoking or drinking too much – or the kind of add-ons that have become increasingly popular in many clinics such as embryo glue or time-lapse.

For most fertility patients, the type of liquid embryos are placed in at the clinic would not be the first thing to consider when it comes to treatment outcomes – in fact, it’s not something most of us think about at all. However, new research carried out at Boston Place Clinic by Dr Stuart Lavery of IVF Hammersmith, suggests that the culture medium used by the clinic can make a difference to the way that embryos grow. You can read more about the research here 

Why one embryo may be better than two

Embryo,_8_cellsWhen it comes to embryo transfer, some people still worry that putting one back will reduce their chances of success. In fact, for those who have good quality embryos putting them both back will just increase your chances of having a multiple pregnancy – and although twins or triplets may sound like a wonderful idea when you are trying to conceive, it is the biggest health risk from fertility treatment. Now, some interesting new research suggests that perhaps it isn’t just those who have good embryos who should be having one embryo transferred.

A study by scientists at Nurture in Nottingham found that putting back one low quality embryo alongside a high quality one reduced the chance of becoming pregnant by more than a quarter. It was only when neither of the embryos were good quality that putting back two actually increased rather than decreased the chances of a successful pregnancy. You can read more about the research here.

This does back up the idea that single embryo transfer is the best option for many – but not all – fertility patients. It should always be something you discuss with the team treating you but it is really important to be aware that putting back more than one embryo may not increase the chances of success.

The true impact of fertility problems

Cmhc-LqWYAAWk88It’s all too easy for those not affected to brush off the impact of fertility problems on people’s lives, but a new study from Fertility Network UK with Middlesex University London has come up with some bleak figures.

As Susan Seenan, Chief Executive of Fertility Network UK explains, “This survey paints an incredibly stark, distressing picture of what it is like to experience fertility problems in this country. Sadly, in the UK, the inability to have children without medical help means having to face a series of emotional, social and financial hurdles. These include often having to pay crippling amounts of money for your own medical treatment, a lack of affordable, accessible counselling and emotional support, and the deterioration of core relationships. Far more needs to be done to help individuals through the far-reaching devastation fertility issues wreak.”

Key findings include:

  • 90 per cent of respondents reported feeling depressed; 42% suicidal
  • 54% had to pay for some or all of their treatment; 10% spending more than £30,000 (the average was £11,378)
  • 74% said their GP did not provide sufficient information
  • 70% reported some detrimental effect on their relationship with their partner
  • 75% noted the lack of a supportive workplace policy
  • 75% would have liked to have counselling if it was free; only 44% did receive counselling and, of these, over half had to fund some of it themselves

You can read the full survey results here 

Competition and consumerism linked to declines in fertility

Basket_of_moneyNew research from the States suggests that competition for jobs and more availability of consumer goods is linked to lower fertility. The team of anthropologists from Georgia have even developed a mathematical model to back up their arguments. They say that there is a worldwide pattern which shows that fertility declines when there is more social inequality.

When I first read this, I imagined it was suggesting some peculiar link between consumerism and fertility, but when you examine the facts more closely it’s more a combination of things that we’ve already known, including the fact that women who are more educated are more likely to delay having children – but if you are interested, you can find out more about the research from Emory University here

Fertile Minds Forum

I think there may still be time to register for a forum being held tomorrow evening in London called the “Fertile Minds Forum London – Talking About Infertility”. It is open to anyone with an interest in fertility, either in your professional or your personal life, and it based around some new  research on communication about infertility at Lancaster University which highlights the gap between the experience of infertility and how it is viewed by the public and clinics.

The team from Lancaster want you to contribute to the discussion to look at how their research can be used to improve communication and the experiences of people going through fertility problems. They will be looking at a number of key areas including
•Stereotypical representations of childlessness
•Problems with clinical communication
•Managing expectations and loss
You can book via EventBrite here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fertile-minds-forum-london-talking-about-infertility-tickets-21485533810?aff=es2

Fertility research request

Another research request, this one from a team at Oxford University. They are keen to interview people who have had IVF/ICSI in the UK in the last five years. They want to talk to people about their views on allowing their personal data to be used in fertility research – if you had treatment in this time frame, you would have been asked if you were willing to allow information to be used for research purposes.

If you have had fertility treatment at a clinic in the UK in the last five years and live in England, you can contact Dr Claire Carson if you would like to know more about this research project or are interested in taking part. You can call her on 01865 289755 or email claire.carson@npeu.ox.ac.uk

Have you had IVF in the last 5 years?

If you’ve had fertility treatment in the last five years, a team of researchers from Oxford University are keen to interview you for their work looking at how and why people decide whether to allow their personal data to be used for fertility research.

If you might be interested, or want to know more about the project, you can contact Dr Claire Carson at claire.carson@npeu.ox.ac.uk or you call call her on 01865 28975. You will need to have had fertility treatment in a clinic in the UK in the last five years and you also need to live in England.

Fertility research – can you help?

Would you be able to spend a couple of minutes completing a quick questionnaire to help a research team?

They are keen to find out people’s views about time lapse imaging which some clinics are now offering with IVF/ICSI treatment. They want to assess whether fertility patients think a research trial to see how effective this is would be useful. You don’t need to have any personal experience of it but you do need to have had or be going to have IVF/ICSI.

If you have a spare couple of minutes, you can find their questions here – https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/66KDPTQ