Homerton University Hospital in London carried out a clinical trial during 2014-2016 that included 160 infertile couples undergoing IVF. Half had 4 sessions of acupuncture during their IVF cycle while the other half did not have any acupuncture. After 18 months, pregnancy rates were 46.2% for the acupuncture group and 21.7% for the untreated group.
Fifty-two overweight patients with a BMI of 25 or above, who were being treated for infertility, were referred to weight loss counseling. An endocrinologist monitored patients providing diet and exercise recommendations, metabolic screening and pharmacologic intervention when indicated.
- 32% of patients achieved meaningful weight loss (10% or more)
- Those who shed 10% or more body weight had dramatically improved fertility outcomes compared to patients who did not lose weight:
- 34% higher conception rates (88% vs. 54%)
- 34% more live births (71% vs. 37%)
It might be hard work to lose weight, but totally worth it, so get moving!
Fertility and Sterility Vol 101, Issue 5, pg 1400-1403, May 2014
Not if you’re under 44yrs of age! A recent study looked at birth outcomes for women using fresh donor eggs from IVF cycles in relation to their age as recipients. This means eggs were grown using an IVF protocol in one woman, retrieved and donated for fertilization, before being transferred into another female recipient with the hope of pregnancy and a live birth. The good news is that results only started to decline if the recipient woman was 45yrs or older. Here is a summary of the outcomes:
- Nearly 28,000 fresh donor egg IVF cycles carried out between 2008-2010 were analysed
- Female recipients were separated into five different age brackets:
- 34yrs or younger
- 50yrs or older
- All women from the first 2 age brackets (39 years and under) had similar rates of implantation, clinical pregnancy and live births
- Recipient women over the age of 45 had significantly worse results for implantation, pregnancy and live births
- Women over 50 had the worst outcomes (implantation, pregnancy, live births) demonstrating progressive decline with age.
- All results were compared to a reference group of women aged between 40-44yrs
Fertility and Sterility, Vol 101, Issue 5, pg 1331-1336.e1, May 2014
Interesting new research has looked at the long-term relationship between breast cancer and the use of fertility drugs. The study focused on clomiphene citrate (clomid) used to stimulate ovulation and gonadotophins (FSH, LH, hCG) used to promote and control egg production in IVF procedures.
Follow up data was collected for an average of 30 years until 2010, for almost 10,000 infertile women diagnosed between 1966-1988. The average age of women was 30yrs at infertility evaluation and 53yrs at breast cancer diagnosis.
The good news is that when compared to women who did not use fertility drugs, there were no overall increased risks of breast cancer with the use of clomid or gonadotrophins, including combined/sequential use. This is most likely due to the breadth of parameters that need to be considered in a long-term follow up study. When analysed more closely however, trends were observed;
- The risk of developing breast cancer was significantly increased for women who were 35 years and older using clomid for the first time.
- Using clomid for 12 or more cycles showed the highest correlation to breast cancer (age unrelated), particularly invasive cancers.
- When a high cumulative dose (2251mg or more) was combined with a high number of cycles (12 or more) the risk was also elevated.
It is worth noting that this type of exposure far exceeds current practices.
A slight increase in risk was observed between gonadotrophin use and invasive breast cancers, but this became significant if women remained infertile and never had children. This finding most likely reflects the resistant nature of a subset of infertility inherently linked with higher cancer risks.