I know you are waiting for the blastocyst blog. I am just getting some photos together and will have it ready for next time.

Like it or not, the holidays are here. Maybe it’s a good time to spread a little message of hope. Now hope isn’t for everyone, but let’s face it, it’s probably the number one thing that keeps us going. It’s an emotion than can be applied rather universally, applicable to mostly all of our basic functioning.

Anything we need or want, we hope for.

As stories from the internet have shown, some women with low chances can become pregnant.
Here are a few of my own. And these are only a few out of many others, these just came to mind.

Ms. A was 38 when we met. Her FSH was 22. She was “dismissed” from another program. 2 years earlier she delivered, but this was after trying for 18 months. The sperm motility was a little low, but the sample was close enough to normal, ICSI was not needed.
She first tried a day 2 start, her FSH was 13,4, and was cancelled and converted to IUI because there were only 3 follicles. The plan: keep trying. Her second cycle never got off the ground because of a day 2 FSH of 17.7.
Her FSH was 11.9 on her 3rd attempt and she went on to make 4 eggs, 4 fertilized . On day 3 one looked good, the other fair. This ended in an early biochemical loss.
Her next cycle we changed up the protocol a bit. She had 4 eggs, and 2 embryos transferred, both looked good. This worked, and she just delivered.
So here we have a woman who most doctors would tell there is no chance, but she persisted.

Ms. B was 35 when we met. Her FSH was 14. Her resting follicle count was less than 5. She started a cycle with an FSH of 12, got 6 eggs, poor fert and a cancelled transfer for arrested embryo growth.
Her second cycle was cancelled for no response (not one follicle).
She got pregnant on her own. This theme is an internet favorite. Buy the way, she did not use DHEA.

Mrs C. was 36 and suffered from severe edometriosis. She did 2 IVF cycles before we met.
She did 3 more retrievals with me, always making a good egg number and having good embryo quality. She travelled long distance to get to NYU. On her 3rd cycle (5th total) she became pregnant.

The next one goes under the dumb doctor category (that would be me). Mrs D, a 38 year old from overseas, e-mailed me and told me about her FSH of 25. Realizing she was from far away, I tried to save her some travel time and money and told her IVF was out, but donor egg was in. The couple came to see me, heard the donor egg schpeal and as I finished the husband looked up and said that his wife was going to be day 2 in a few days, could they try IVF while they were still in the States? Without boring him with the low odds speech, I just said, “sure why not.”
Sure enough the FSH was 12, she made 9 eggs and delivered twins. I think they are happy with me, but I am sure they have their reservations.

How can we put these all together?
1) They about women under 40. I don’t mean to exclude the 40 and over crowd from the hope discussion, as there are plenty similar stories about women in their 40’s, but the facts support that it’s easier to beat the odds when you are younger.
2) FSH may not be as important as we once thought. Again, a bad FSH is better under 40. Every so often there is a paper or abstract reminding us that pregnancy rates shoot down with increasing age and FSH levels. Which leads us to the next point:
3) Some infertile women can at times become pregnant on their own. We do use this fact when recommending that some women cancel their cycle or give up on IVF. We say yes you can get pregnant with IVF, but your odds are low, about the same as getting pregnant on your own. Of course this is much more difficult concept to accept when there is a severe male factor.

So for Mrs. A, C, and D, their persistence is what lead to their success. They did not accept the advice of a doctor; they did what they felt they needed to do. Of course we have to keep in mind that it is also true that there are women who try and try unsuccessfully.

Sometimes the fertility establishment is criticized for giving a bit too much hope, while profiting nicely from tons of women who are needlessly spending tons of dough. And sometimes we are criticized for not giving an infertile woman the chance she deserves.

But it will always be true that for most women with low odds, there is a small chance, and sometimes their only chance, using IVF. So it all goes back to getting to the right clinic and getting informed about your odds. After that it’s between you and your doctor, sometimes with a little tug of war.

Dr. Licciardi