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38 Year Old Has Five Failed Fresh IVF Cycles But Has Frozen Embies: Should She Try FET?


Hello - I have been reading you blogs for some time now and am so thankful that you take the time you do with such thoughtful answers.

I am 38 and husband is 41. My history is as follows: 2009 wasted time on clomid prescribed by my obstetrician, 2010 saw RE (reproductive endocrinologist) and began the real journeyMajor issue is male factor morphology but I suspect with my age quality may be issue too.

In 2010 we had 2 Fresh IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycles, first was a failure 3 eggs collected, thankfully 3 fertilized and implanted 2 (1 frozen) but no pregnancy, cycle 2 doubled my stim meds to 300 gonal f and 150 repronex, collected 13 eggs but transferred 2 "decent" but beta was very low around 70 the pregnancy continued to around 11 weeks saw heartbeat but clearly there was issues as the size kept loosing ground until miscarriage and D&E. Cycle 3 same meds, 13 eggs, transferred 2 on day 5 and then arrived my beautiful baby girl delivered 12/29/2011.  Fast forward to 2013 where I have done two more fresh cycles same protocol, birth control, 10 lupron, to 5 lupron when stimming, retrievals after 9-10 days of stims. Cycle 4 resulted in collecting 20 eggs, 2 "decent" transferred on day 5 (blastocyst and morula) very low beta resulted in loss about a week later.  Cycle 5 same protocol except menopur instead of repronex, collected 18 eggs, 14 fertilized and transferred 2 blastocysts on day 5. This was a negative. BTW all cycles are ICSI and included medrol, baby aspirin, antibiotics, vivelle patches and  progesterone in oil injections. 

My question is what are your thoughts on FET (frozen embryo transfer).  I have 4 frozen embryos 1 from cycle 1, 1 from cycle 4 and 2 from cycle 5. RE and hubby think I should take a break and try for FET. I and concerned as I don't want to "waste" a cycle insurance will cover on the lower cost option but the meds did really affect me this time and see their point about giving my body a rest. I am at a very reputable clinic in Boston and doc said 4 frozen is a lot due to their strict freezing criteria so am optimistic although obviously embyro age has no advantage. Would FET also be something you would recommend at this point? Fresh cycles are a big logistical challenge as my husband travels 70% of the time.

Also if I go back to fresh cycle is there anything significantly different you would do (btw I am also doing acupuncture). Thank -you in advance for your time. I also want to say I am very grateful for my daughter and don't want to seem selfish but I would really like her to grow up with a sibling. 

J. from Boston



Hello J. from the U.S. (Boston),

It sounds like you are in good hands.  Your clinic has accomplished several pregnancies, which is an IVF success.  Keep in mind that IVF can only give you the "opportunity" to become pregnant.  It can't make you pregnant because the last three steps (embryo hatching from its shell, attachment to the endometrial lining, and lining growing around the embryo are natural processes that are in God's hands.  That fact that you got a pregnancy (positive bHCG) shows that those steps occurred.  Continuation of the pregnancy is then based on pregnancy factors and not IVF factors.  Because of your age, your chances of a miscarriage are high due to abnormal embryos.  You've shown that you can get pregnant, and your ovaries stimulate very well.  Now it is just a matter of finding the perfect egg/embryo which will then lead to a successful pregnancy.  I wish all my 38 year olds responded as you do.  So hang in there!

I think I would advise proceeding with the FET cycle before another fresh cycle.  It is a much easier cycle on your body, and some newer studies are showing better pregnancy rates than fresh, probably because of the lack of overstimulation of the endometrial lining.  I don't completely agree that FET is "better" but it certainly gives a good chance.  If they fail, you can certainly try fresh cycles again.  I would advise two FET cycles consecutively.  In fact, I always advise my patients to do an FET cycle, if they have frozens, before trying a fresh cycle again.  You never know. . . the frozen might work.

In terms of additional protocol changes, you are doing everything that I have my patients do in terms of supplemental medications, but I also add low dose heparin (2000 U per day).  Not all RE's agree with this protocol, but it is an accepted protocol for recurrent pregnancy loss so you might want to ask your RE.

Thanks for following my Blog.

Good Luck,

Edward J. Ramirez, M.D.

Executive Medical Director

The Fertility And Gynecology Center

Monterey Bay IVF

Monterey, California, U.S.A.

Comment: Thank you much for the quick and thoughtful answer. I have several time contemplated seeking a more aggressive clinic despite my comfort level. Your response puts many of my worries at ease. You are truly a huge help to those of us in a constant state of limbo. Thanks again.

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