‘Assault Course’ for Sperm Developed to Increase Fertility Treatment Success

fertility treatment success

IVF treatment could soon become much more effective thanks to a group of scientists from the Stanford University in the US. Professor Erkan Tüzel and his team developed a device which they cleverly dubbed SPARTAN in order to improve the sperm selection process.

The ‘assault course’ puts the sperm through its paces, seeing which ones reach the end in the fastest time. The fastest sperm can then be used in fertility treatments to improve success rates.

How does the SPARTAN device work?

SPARTAN is just 14 millimetres long and it consists of many posts that the sperm need to swim through. This means, not only do the sperm need to be fast, but they also need to be healthy too. It works to filter out sperm with poor mobility, choosing only the healthiest and fastest sperm for IVF treatment.

The sperm are inserted into the device via injection. Once the healthiest and fastest sperm have made it to the opposite end, they’re collected and used immediately in an IVF cycle.

Sperm with slight deformities such as bent heads, will struggle to make it through the course first. So, the sperm which is chosen will have much better DNA integrity. The device is the latest sperm-sorting technique and it’s greatly improved the selection process. Not only does it better identify the healthiest and fastest sperm, but it also avoids potentially damaging the sperm, like some sorting processes can. Most impressively, the device works within just half an hour and it’s really easy to use.

Lowering the stress and cost of IVF

The new SPARTAN device provides hope for couples who are struggling to conceive. It’s no secret that IVF can be expensive. Most couples will need to undergo a number of rounds of IVF before they achieve success. When you consider that the cost of each cycle can cost up to £5,000, it’s easy to see just how unaffordable the treatment can be; especially with the new restrictions placed upon the NHS who in some cases, no longer provide a free IVF cycle.

Using the SPARTAN device, couples could see the number of IVF cycles needed, reduced significantly. This can really reduce the stress associated with the treatment, as well as increase the chances of achieving pregnancy.

It’s estimated every 1 in 6 couples experiences fertility issues, with approximately half of cases caused partially by poor sperm mobility. Sperm needs to be fast in order to fertilise an egg, so those with poor mobility have a much lower chance of conception. Therefore, sperm sorting devices such as this one, can prove invaluable in helping men with poor sperm mobility to conceive.

The company behind the development of SPARTAN are now seeking FDA approval for the device, which they plan to release onto the commercial market in July 2018. It is an exciting time for the physicians behind the device, as well as for couples considering IVF treatment.

British Fertility Society Releases Fertility Preservation Guidelines

British Fertility Society release fertility preservation guidelines

In January 2018, clinicians were given new fertility preservation guidelines for female patients who are undergoing medical treatments.

The British Fertility Society released the new guidelines on 4th January, with the aim of helping clinicians and the fertility community, to decide the best treatment options moving forward. Here, we’ll explore the guidelines and what it means for women currently undergoing medical treatments such as chemotherapy.

Why were new fertility preservation guidelines introduced?

The new guidelines were introduced to meet the modern needs of patients. Over the years, society and lifestyles have changed. For example, many women are now career-driven, leaving having children until later in life. A lot of these women are also single when they choose to undergo fertility treatment.

Fertility clinics are also starting to see a rise in transgender patients looking for help to have a child. After undergoing hormonal treatments and surgery, many transgender patients can be left infertile. That’s where techniques such as embryo, ovarian tissue and egg freezing can prove invaluable.

Cancer cases are also on the rise unfortunately and new evidence published last year found that cancer rates are set to increase six times faster in women than men. Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, can lead to infertility so more focus is needed on fertility preservation and the new guidelines address this issue. They are designed to advise clinicians on how best to preserve fertility in women who are undergoing medical treatment.

Alternative techniques should be considered

Although the report covers well-established treatment options such as freezing unfertilised eggs, it also recommends alternative techniques.

This is because current traditional fertility preservation techniques for women such as embryo preservation, rely upon the partner’s sperm to fertilise the egg before it is frozen. As there has been a rise in single women seeking fertility preservation, new techniques have been desperately required to meet their needs. These days, it is more common for the eggs to be frozen unfertilised.

While unfertilised egg preservation has become more common, there are new experimental techniques also gaining in popularity. It is these techniques that the British Fertility Society is hoping to highlight in the guidelines.

One of these experimental techniques focuses on helping to preserve fertility in women undergoing medical treatment such as radiation and chemotherapy. Rather than simply freezing eggs, the treatment freezes part of the ovary. That way, it avoids life-saving treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy causing permanent infertility.

Ovarian transposition is another potential option for patients. This technique aims to spare fertility for those undergoing medical treatment. It involves moving the ovary away from the treatment area, so that radiation does not damage it. This spares fertility and also eliminates the need for more invasive fertility treatment down the line.

These new guidelines are a fantastic step forward in terms of fertility preservation. They meet the needs of modern times and provide an excellent resource for clinicians to ensure they are providing the very best fertility preservation advice and treatment. The new experimental treatments are changing the industry, making it possible for those affected by serious conditions such as cancer, to maintain their fertility.

New Hollywood Film Lays Bare the Truth About Fertility Treatment

truth about fertility treatment in Private Life

Hollywood films aren’t just entertaining; they can be pretty eye-opening, too. Every so often, a film comes along which educates viewers about more serious issues and the new Netflix Original movie Private Life is one of them.

Written and directed by Tamara Jenkins, the film was one of the opening choices at the Sundance Film Festival. It features a top-star cast and covers the issue of infertility. Showing just how draining the fertility treatment process can be, Private Life also provides plenty of dark humour to keep viewers entertained.

Highlighting the reality for many IVF patients

There aren’t many films which highlight the harsh reality IVF patients face. While you might think that going through IVF treatment together would bring couple’s closer together, sadly this isn’t always the case. Private Life manages to show the truth about IVF treatment, while also adding a little dark humour to balance it out.

In the film, Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn play the lead roles of 47- and 41-year-old Richard and Rachel; a couple who have struggled with fertility issues for years. After failing to get pregnant via IVF using her own eggs, Rachel and her husband decide to use a donor to get pregnant, played by actress Kayli Carter. Throughout the film, Richard and Rachel begin to grow apart as hormone injections and frequent doctor’s visits put a halt to their sex life.

IVF can be extremely stressful, and it can push a relationship to the limit. It is something many couples are not prepared for and Private Lives provides an interesting insight.

Relationship advice for those undergoing fertility treatment

While the stress, frustration and upset of IVF treatment can place significant tension on a relationship, there are ways that a couple can minimise the negative effects.

First and foremost, before embarking on IVF treatment, it’s recommended couple’s sit down and talk about key issues. How do you both feel about the level of medical intervention you’ll experience, for example? There will be a lot of tests, doctor’s appointments and procedures carried out along the way and it’s important both partners are happy with the level of intrusion they might face.

Once you do go ahead, the main things which tend to cause pressure and stress within the relationship are blame and a lack of confidence. It’s easy to start playing the blame game, especially when you’re waiting for results. It can be agonising, and the frustration felt at the problems experienced can be aimed at each other. However, what you need to remember is that, regardless of who has the fertility issue, it isn’t their fault. Deep down you know that, but it’s important to remember it before pointing the finger.

At Chiltern Fertility, we do advise couples to go through the counselling process offered when they begin IVF, as this can help them to explore their feelings in a healthier environment.

Study Finds Using Frozen Embryos for IVF Just as Successful

frozen embryos

A landmark study has revealed frozen embryos prove just as successful for IVF as fresh ones. In fact, the technique used could actually be more effective according to the results of the fertility study due to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

So far, the frozen embryo technique has been somewhat controversial. In 2010, the government released its own figures stating that frozen embryos had a 10 per cent less chance of being successful than fresh ones. This new study clearly disputes those findings and provides hope for infertile women across the globe.

Understanding the findings

The international study was led by researchers from China and Vietnam. It involved almost 800 infertile women and it revealed promising results. Frozen embryos were discovered to result in pregnancy for 36 per cent of women, while fresh embryos resulted in pregnancies in 35 per cent.

More importantly, frozen embryos were also found to result in a higher percentage of live births. It showed 34 per cent of pregnancies in the frozen group resulted in live births, whereas 32 per cent of live births were recorded in the fresh embryo group.

Why are these results promising?

Women seeking fertility treatment have a number of difficult decisions to make. One of them, is whether or not they should opt for frozen or fresh embryos. Up until now, fresh embryos have been thought to be the best possible option. However, as the findings of this landmark study show, that isn’t actually the case.

So, why does it matter? Well, frozen embryos are an ideal solution for those looking to preserve their fertility. Numerous factors can cause women to become infertile before they are ready to have children. Cancer treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy, are well-known to cause infertility. Many women are also now putting off having a family until they’ve focused on their careers.

So, fertility preservation has become extremely important. Being able to use frozen embryos with the knowledge they’re just as effective as fresh ones, can encourage more women to take the necessary steps to preserve their fertility.

Being aware of the facts and understanding the effectiveness of using frozen embryos is vital in terms of helping women and couples make the right treatment choice.

Should all embryos be frozen?

As the study reveals such promising results, it begs the question – should all embryos be frozen? While fresh embryos were shown to have a slightly lower success rate, it wasn’t a significant difference. Therefore, that alone isn’t a good argument to start freezing all embryos. However, findings have also revealed that frozen embryo transfers can reduce the risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).

The majority of OHSS cases are said to be relatively minor, but there is a possibility it could prove fatal. So, moving forward, freezing all embryos could prove to be a positive step, not only to improve live birth success, but to reduce the risk of OHSS too.

If nothing else, this new landmark study provides reassurance to women who may need to have their embryos frozen. It has disproved official findings that the frozen transfer method was unsafe and less likely to prove successful.

Sugary Drinks May Reduce Chance of IVF Success

sugary drinks and IVF success

New research carried out by an Israeli obstetrician has revealed women trying to get pregnant with IVF should limit the amount of sugary drinks they consume. Even just one sugary drink per day can have disastrous consequences on the reproductive system.

While it is common for patients to be advised against smoking and drinking caffeine and alcohol, up until now there’s been no real knowledge of the damage sugary drinks can cause in terms of IVF success. Here, we’ll look at the link between sugary drinks and their potential effect on fertility.

Understanding the fertility study

The IVF study began in 2012 and concluded in 2014. It analysed beverage habits provided by 340 IVF patients and looked at how they affected IVF outcomes. To gather the information, the patient’s medical records were assessed, along with a self-reported beverage consumption survey.

Initially, the researchers expected to discover that caffeinated drinks had the largest impact on the failure of IVF. However, they were surprised to discover it was actually sugary drinks which had the most significant effect on the chance of success. In fact, there was no link discovered at all between caffeinated drinks, diet-soda and coffee and IVF success.

Sugary drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup or sucrose were particularly found to limit the chances of IVF success. They linked to a lower number of fertilised, mature oocytes and ultimately led to fewer IVF cycles leading to a live birth.

The risk to IVF success is the same regardless of whether the sugary drinks are caffeinated or not.

The alarming truth behind sugary drinks and IVF

The results of the study have revealed some alarming statistics those undergoing IVF will want to be aware of. Published within the Fertility and Sterility journal of American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the recent research revealed sugary drinks were a larger threat to IVF success than caffeinated drinks.

In fact, drinking just one sugary drink per day, according to the study conducted at the Harvard University, could reduce the chances of IVF success by as much as 12%. Drinking more than one sugary drink per day can also reduce a patient’s chance of having a live birth by 16%.

Earlier research discovered sugar can trigger stress hormones to be released which are detrimental to the health of the reproductive system. In order for embryos and eggs to thrive, they require a healthy blood glucose environment. Sugary drinks can already reduce the quantity of high quality embryo’s, so the fact it also makes it harder for the embryos to survive is a double blow for IVF patients.

The good news is, thanks to this research, patients now have a much better idea of what they should and more importantly, shouldn’t be drinking. As diet soda showed no sign of damaging IVF success, patients could switch to diet sugar-free drinks to satisfy their cravings.

The fertility specialists at Chiltern Fertility will be able to recommend dietary and lifestyle changes you can make to increase your chances of success.

Rise in Single Women Seeking IVF Treatment

IVF and single women

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has revealed that the number of single women seeking IVF treatment has doubled in the last decade. In the last five years, approximately 3,000 single women have opted to undergo IVF treatment. This is despite the fact they are young, healthy and fertile. So, what is driving more single women to seek IVF treatment?

IVF and single women: a growing trend

There are a number of reasons more single women than ever before are deciding to go down the IVF route. Largely, it comes down to career choices.

In the past, women were happy to stay at home, raise a family and take care of the daily chores. These days however, they are much more career focused. Rather than settling down, women choose to focus on climbing the career ladder and find Mr Right later in life. The trouble is, when they do reach the point where they want to start a family, finding the right partner while their biological clock is ticking, isn’t easy. So, rather than give up on the idea of starting a family, they decide to start IVF alone.

It isn’t just older women who are choosing to undergo IVF alone. There’s also been a substantial rise in the number of women under the age of 35 opting to go down the fertility treatment route. These women feel they are ready for a baby right now and they aren’t letting the fact that they don’t have a partner get in their way.

In just one year, the number of single women undergoing IVF treatment rose by 20%. Year upon year this figure continues to rise; highlighting just how much society’s view of families has changed.

Is it a good idea to undergo IVF as a single woman?

Some experts are concerned over the rising number of single women opting to undergo IVF treatment. They claim the lack of a father figure needs to be addressed and could be potentially damaging to the resulting child’s wellbeing.

However, others argue that having a more traditional home with a mother and a father isn’t a guarantee that the home environment will be healthy. In many cases, children are better off being raised by one loving parent, than they would be in an unhappy home environment with two parents. They state women seeking IVF treatment should be treated equally regardless of their marital status or sexuality.

It is certainly a positive sign that women are now able to choose when they want to start a family. They don’t need to feel pressurised into finding Mr Right before their biological fertility clock runs out. It shows just how far society and fertility treatments have come.

There are many reasons why single women may choose to undergo IVF treatment. Provided they have the financial resources to bring up a child, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to undergo fertility treatments and start a family whenever they choose to do so. The fact women have these rights is something to be celebrated and it shows just how far society has come.

Call us on 01865 782856 if you want to arrange an IVF consultation and discuss your fertility options.

HFEA Issue Positive Report on IVF Sector

HFEA IVF safety

The HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority), has carried out its first ever report into the state of the UK’s IVF sector, and the results are extremely positive. One of its proudest achievements was the reduction in multiple birth rates for IVF patients, to just 11%.

The goal of the report was to provide both patients and IVF clinics with a clear insight into the state of the UK’s fertility sector.

Drop in multiple birth rates boosts IVF safety

The report looked at the performance of research laboratories and fertility clinics from 2016-2017. It also combined separate reports carried out previously on patient feedback, incidents and inspection findings.

One of the most positive findings included in the IVF report was the reduced multiple birth rate. The number of multiple births has been reduced from 24% in 2009, to just 11%, thanks to the work carried out between HFEA and licensed fertility clinics. Even more impressive, is the fact the multiple birth rate has reduced without affecting pregnancy or live birth rates. In fact, pregnancy rates have soared from 24% to 32% since 2008.

Reducing multiple birth rates has increased the safety of IVF patients, whilst also lowering the stress placed upon the NHS neonatal and antenatal sector.

The report also provided an insight into how many licensed fertility clinics were currently operating within the UK. It states there are a total of 132 research and treatment clinics in operation, with 34% being privately run clinics, 29% were a combination of private and public clinics, 22% were NHS only clinics, and the final 15% are research clinics.

Though largely positive, there are some areas of concern

The report did reveal mostly positive feedback, however there were some areas of concern. As the number of patients undergoing IVF has increased in recent years, so too has the number of adverse incidents.

Approximately 76,500 IVF treatments were carried out within the UK in 2016, showing an annual increase of 6%. However, it also revealed an 8.5% increase in adverse incidents. These are basically things which went wrong during the treatments. Although it is logical the number of adverse incidents would rise with a significant increase in patients, it is still something the sector needs to be aware of.

Interestingly, the number of severe, Grade B adverse incidents has dropped. It is the lesser serious Grade C incidents which have risen. There was also just one Grade A incident reported in 2016, where inadequate paperwork led a baby to be born with cystic fibrosis – a lethal disease. On the whole however, Grade A adverse incidents are extremely rare.

So, steps do need to be taken by clinics to reduce the number of Grade C adverse incidents. However, largely the sector is performing exceptionally well, and improvements are continuously being made.

This report is the first of its kind since HFEA was founded 27 years ago. It represents the sectors dedication to being as transparent as possible. The increased pregnancy rates and reduced multiple birth rates are definitely something to be celebrated.

New Year, New You? Why Giving Up Booze Can Boost Your Fertility Chances

alcohol and fertility

If you’re looking to boost your fertility chances this year, the first thing you’ll want to do is reduce, or completely eliminate alcohol from your diet. While many patients know alcohol can reduce their chances of fertility, they often don’t realise even moderate amounts can damage the chances of conception.

Studies show just 5 drinks per week can lower women’s fertility

There have been several studies which have looked into the effects of alcohol on fertility, but one of the most compelling took place over a period of three years. The study followed 430 couples aged between 20-35. The women who drank five or less alcoholic drinks per week, were discovered to have a lower fertility rate than those who didn’t drink. However, interestingly it didn’t affect the length of time it took them to get pregnant.

After following up after the sixth fertility cycle, approximately 64% of the women who drank five or less drinks per week had fallen pregnant. However, those who drank more than 5 drinks per week, had a slightly lower pregnancy rate of 55%. They also took longer to fall pregnant than those who drank 5 or less drinks a week.

Although the study identified a link between female fertility and alcohol consumption, it didn’t appear to affect men in the same way. It claimed regardless of how much alcohol men drank, it did not affect their fertility rates. However, before men get too excited, newer studies have shown alcohol can reduce the concentration and motility of a man’s sperm when consumed regularly.

Numerous studies have been conducted over the years to determine alcohol’s effect on fertility. They have produced some compelling findings, such as women who do seek fertility treatment tend to have a much higher alcohol intake than women who managed to become pregnant naturally. They have also shown that alcohol can slow down the release of hormones which are developed within the adrenal glands. This can directly affect the health of eggs, as well as significantly reduce libido.

National Health and Medical Research Council warn against heavy alcohol consumption

It isn’t just fertility chances which are affected by alcohol. Studies also show it also poses a risk to babies which are conceived. The National Health and Medical Research Council has warned against the adverse effects heavy drinking in particular, can have on babies conceived.

It’s already well-known that alcohol can be extremely harmful to babies if consumed during pregnancy. Mothers who drink more than one or two units of alcohol a day whilst pregnant, increase the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. However, drinking heavily prior to conception can also impact baby’s health. Therefore, it is much safer to avoid drinking alcohol completely until after the birth.

This latest study into how alcohol affects a woman’s fertility chances highlights how important it is to give up alcohol when you’re trying to get pregnant. Even small quantities can make it more difficult to conceive. Therefore, prior to starting any fertility treatment, it is highly recommended patients, both men and women, cut out alcohol completely.

Could the Kiss Hormone Aid in Fertility Treatments?

fertility options

Doctors in the UK are currently working on a more natural fertility option after the recent discovery that the kiss hormone could be a safer, more effective form of IVF treatment. It is estimated that one in six couple’s experiences fertility issues within the UK, causing significant social and mental health implications.

Conventional IVF treatment can prove successful for couple’s struggling with fertility, but it isn’t without its risks. The treatment is renowned for being a long and difficult process, but most worryingly, it can also lead to life-threatening complications. While the incidence of such complications is rare, the risk is always a worry for those seeking treatment. That’s why this new discovery is causing excitement and hope within the industry.

What is the kiss hormone and how does it aid fertility?

The Kisspeptin hormone is naturally occurring within the body and it’s used by the brain to trigger ovulation. Landmark studies carried out in 2003, also determined it plays a large role in puberty. Without the hormone, the studies showed humans and animals were unable to enter puberty. The hormone has also been shown to be extremely important in the reproduction system of both animals and humans.

In order to determine whether Kisspeptin could be an asset during fertility treatment, the Imperial College conducted clinical trials. A total of £1.5 million was provided by the National Institute for Health Research and the Medical Research Council to aid with the trial and the results have proven extremely promising.

Since the trials begun at the Imperial College, there have been 73 healthy babies delivered via Kisspeptin IVF treatment. There were 176 couples taking part in the trials and the live birth rate was recorded at 36%, an impressive 10% more than standard IVF treatment.

The Kisspeptin hormone replaces the Human Chronic Gonadotropin (HCG) used in conventional IVF. It has proven to be gentler on the body, and effective at releasing a larger number of eggs.

How soon will the treatment be available?

Although the results of the study are promising, Kisspeptin based IVF treatment isn’t likely to be introduced for quite some time. Now the doctors have discovered its effectiveness, they’re working on developing an adapted form of Kisspeptin alongside a private drug company.

They are also looking for funding for an additional large-scale study which will highlight the effectiveness and safety of the treatment.

What fertility options do couples have right now?

The Kisspeptin IVF treatment may not be available for years, but there are treatment options currently available for couples which have proven to be effective. While conventional IVF can produce significant risks, complications are rare, and it remains one of the most effective treatments on offer.

Other fertility options available include ovulation induction, IUI, egg donation and ICSI. The treatment recommended will depend upon the results of an extensive fertility assessment. No two couple’s fertility issues are the same, so a thorough assessment is required to determine the most effective form of treatment to fit their circumstances.

Overall, the new research into Kisspeptin IVF treatment has provided hope for those who may need IVF treatment in the future. However, for now patients have numerous fertility treatment options which could prove effective. Book an assessment today to start your fertility journey.

Stay Well This Winter

ivf advice

When you’re trying to conceive, it’s really important to make sure you’re fit and healthy. However, when the cold, harsh winter weather arrives, it can prove problematic. Not only do the cold nights and dull days make it more difficult to eat healthier, but they also bring another potential hazard – viruses.

Winter is commonly referred to as cold and flu season. The trouble is, if you do get ill while you’re trying to conceive, whether naturally or via fertility treatments, your success rate is going to drop significantly.

The good news is, there are ways you can protect yourself this winter. Below, you’ll discover some of the top ways to stay well this winter and boost your chances of conception.

IVF Advice: Be wary of getting a flu shot

Flu vaccinations are a great way to protect yourself against seasonal illnesses, but what about if you’re trying to conceive? There’s a lot of conflicting advice surrounding whether flu shots can hamper your chances of getting pregnant or not, so it can be difficult to know what to believe.

On the whole, flu vaccinations are recommended by the NHS; particularly for pregnant women. However, if you do a little research, some vaccinations contain the virus known as H1N1. This has been linked to miscarriages and there’s been talk that it could be used in this winter’s vaccinations. Therefore, it is highly recommended you talk to your doctor or fertility specialist before getting a flu vaccination, just to be on the safe side.

IVF Advice: Maintain a healthy diet

It may be more difficult to stick to a healthy diet in winter, but doing so is vital to your chances of conception. There are plenty of comforting healthy foods you can indulge in during the colder months, it’s just a matter of finding new, delicious and healthy recipes.

Eating a nutritious, healthy diet in winter helps to prevent illness, while also helping to fight off a cold or flu faster if it does develop. Focus on getting your five  portions of fruit and vegetables each day and avoid overindulging in Christmas treats.

It may be tough to resist temptation, but you just need to remind yourself why you’re doing it. A healthy diet plays a huge role in fertility so maintaining a healthy diet is essential.

IVF Advice: Keep yourself active

Equally as important as diet is exercise. When it’s super-cold outside, the last thing you feel like doing is exercising. However, keeping active will also boost your chances of conception, as well as help to keep the immune system strong.

If your usual exercise routine consists of getting outdoors, why not mix it up and sign up to indoor classes?

Does season really affect IVF chances?

Numerous studies have been conducted over the years to determine whether seasons do have an impact on IVF success rates. One study conducted in 2010, revealed patients have an increased chance of success with IVF in the spring.

However, the reasons why different seasons may affect IVF success is still relatively unknown. What is known, is that winter can be a tough season for those undergoing fertility treatments. The advice above will help you to increase your chances of success, but above all else, it’s the holidays so don’t forget to relax and enjoy it!