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Dr. Check Consult - Summary of Info

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Saturday, August 04, 2018 | 1 comments

Image: Newborn Family, by Stephanie Pratt on PixabayI was lucky enough to organise a Dr Check consult because I am in Australia, and also thinking of (maybe) cycling with him if things don't work out here at my clinic. I found him to be very helpful and patient with my questions, and although our discussion only lasted for 90 minutes - it began at 10.30pm his time and I wasn't the last one he had to speak to so he's clearly very very dedicated!

FSH: Cornell 2005 study said once someone's FSH has been above 15 (even once) then they must use donor eggs. He doesn't believe this and has had plenty of success encouraging women to try both naturally and with minimal stim cycles.

He said once you can achieve a 6-7-8 cell embryo then 65% of the time it should work if you are under 35 and if you are over 35 then 38-42% success (in the absence of other factors such as immune issues). A normal live pregnancy rate for someone 41-42 should be 20% per cycle (without distinguishing FSH as normal or abnormal).

WHY LOW DOSE STIM: He believes a high dose stim regime doesn't fry our eggs, but it does somehow affect implantation and this leads to lower success rates.

HOW DOES LOW STIM WORK: their premise is you don't add FSH on high FSH, i.e. they like to use estrogen to bring down your FSH if it is elevated. After this, he likes to let your own FSH drive your follicle growth - so whether or not they add FSH, and how much, is driven by your own levels during your cycle.

ANTAGNOSIST VS AGONIST: although there are some published studies suggesting lower success rates for an antagonist cycle, he believes these were earlier studies and it is no longer the case. He believes there are benefits to an antagonist cycle in that it is easier.

ESTROGEN PRIMING PROTOCOL: while he was the first to introduce estrogen to lower FSH before a cycle, he's not in favour of the full EPP because it means a whole month (while you're 1st on BCPs) is lost, ie. it takes two months in total, and seems to be wasting time.

BACK TO BACK CYCLES: this is case by case, but generally where there is no risk of hyper stim, then it should be OK.

ANY DIFFERENCE IN DRUGS: in their experience (and no studies have been done to confirm), very high doses of GONAL F seem to have had the lowest pregnancy rates. However when you use low doses it doesn't seem to matter whether you are using Gonal F, Follitism or Bravelle - they are all essentially the same ... He does seem to prefer Cetrorelix vs Ganerlix (sp?) though for antagonist cycles.

WHEN IS ENOUGH, ENOUGH? So long as you are producing nice embryos then even if you are over 40 years old, you have a chance of success with your own eggs. On the other hand, he is a pragmatist, so if you do want to increase your chances in any given cycle then donor eggs could boost success rates to 55%.

ABNORMAL FERTILISATION: I had a 3PN fertilisation on my last cycle and he suggested that it wasn't that my eggs are "suddenly old" but more likely a result of the protocol (very high stim of 900 Gonal F).

ICSI: in general he thinks arranged marriages aren't that good, i.e. your eggs probably know how to pick out the best partner better than we do. But he can see why in my case (where I only get 1-3 eggs) it might seem better to use it - even psychologically, because if you don't use ICSI and then they don't fertilise well you'd be upset (although the same could even have happened with it).

ASSISTED HATCHING: should definitely be done for older than 40 years, as the embryo is avoiding vital enzymes available to it on its way down the fallopian tube.

DAY 2 OR 3 OR BLAST: on Day 2 you can't hatch embryos so, for this reason, DAY 3 is better. On the other hand, on Day 3 some think the uterus is more sensitive/cramps more, so ... the only real advantage to blast is if you have lots of eggs and don't have a good freezing program ... on the whole, the best environment for them is inside you not in the lab.

IMMUNOLOGY: His background is in reproductive immunology. If you have NK Cells in your uterus, then they can have a protein that acts as a progesterone blocking factor and this can cause implantation problems. He thinks the studies show LIT can work, but it is hugely expensive and he thinks something like Intralipids (a free fatty acid from soybeans which can bind to the NK cells and deactivates them) works well too and is much cheaper ...

On the other hand, he doesn't think there are any tests which will reliably determine if you have got an NK Cell problem, so it would probably be best to just go off your history (ie, multiple IVF failures etc) ... Basically, he doesn't think anything else (like IVIG, etc) is needed and he wouldn't advocate them.

STERIODS: No good data to support the use of steriods (prednisone/dex) in IVF cycles. Doesn't think they are necessary.

HEPARIN: Only really helps people with implantation issues associated with APA. You can use it, but he doesn't really see a reason to do so.

MTHFR: I am homozygous, and he says it's quite common and heparin isn't really warranted - especially if you haven't got elevated homocysteine levels.

ASPIRIN: he hasn't seen any studies showing a difference in blood flow to the uterus or endometrial thickness based on aspirin. He thinks no aspirin (even low dose) is better.

VIAGRA/VAGINAL ESTROGEN: no good studies showing a significant difference in endometrial thickness with use of these, ie. wouldn't bother with them.

DHEA: he knows the Gleitcher (sp?) study showing higher implantation rates, but apparently it also showed higher miscarriage rates. Plus, he says it was a study on women around 30 years old where none of them had an FSH higher than 12. In other words, it's not convincing and he thinks pregnancy rates might be better without it.

ENDOMETRIOSIS: the studies are a little mixed. Some show no lower pregnancy rates in women with endo, some do. 2003 data showed IVF overcomes endo abnormalities, and 2005 studies showed endo does inhibit IVF success. If you have had multiple failed cycles without IVF then laparoscopy - a study showed 61% of women falling pregnant afterward vs 18% before. However, in my case where I have already had multiple laps for endo, he wouldn't advocate anymore.

HYDROSALPINX: I recently had my tubes removed due to hydrosalpinges (bilateral), and he said this is a good idea as plenty of research shows it impacts IVF success rates.

DIET/EXERCISE/SUPPLEMENTS: doesn't advocate anything special - regular healthy living etc ... don't have to give up exercise, sugar, meat or use only organic food etc etc etc.

GOLDEN EGG THEORY: the premise behind the high stim approach is the higher the better. The argument is our bodies are like a lottery - the higher the number of eggs achieved, the higher the probability of getting that one golden egg from the (presumably) bad lot.

Dr. Check feels our body knows how to identify the best of the eggs in our basket, and kicks out this one each month - so even if you use a low stim approach and get only 2 embryos, it's not necessarily a worse outcome than someone using high stim and getting 9 embryos ...

Source: Check Consult - Summary of Info - (Long)

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About Catherine: I am mom to three grown sons, two grandchildren and two rescue dogs. After years of raising my boys as a single mom, I remarried a wonderful man who had never had a child of his own. Unexpectedly, I found myself pregnant at 49!
Sadly we lost that precious baby at 8 weeks, and decided to try again. Five more losses, turned down for donor egg, foster care and adoption due to my age and losses - we have accepted that there will be no more babies in our house.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Clearly Dr. Check was NOT familiar with Dr. Gleicher's publications on DHEA. Dr. Gleicher ( published studies on women who had high FSH or who had failed previous IVFs and were recommended for oocyte donation, and were over 40. (In fact, their first DHEA patient was 42/43). Also, Gleicher's studies show a dramatic DECREASE in miscarriage rates (a decrease of 50% in women over 40) and an increase in spontaneous pregnancies, which is mirrored by results at Toronto West Fertility.

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