Safer IVF treatment - Creating an 'OHSS-free' clinic
One of the main advantages to having treatment at CREATE is that we achieve excellent results with reduced side-effects and complications.
Conventional, high stimulation IVF performed at other IVF clinics uses drug protocols that shut down a woman’s normal cycle through a process called downregulation, before re-starting the cycle with very high doses of stimulating drugs. With this approach, treatment takes between 4-6 weeks and the side effects can be intense and in the worst cases life-threatening. However at CREATE, our Natural and Mild IVF is much gentler and consequently eliminates many of the side-effects and complications of IVF treatment.
Reducing the levels of drugs not only has a positive impact on the quality of eggs collected, it also leads to healthier embryos and healthier patients. For example, there is evidence to suggest that a high proportion of embryos created in conventional IVF have chromosomal abnormalities; we prefer to focus on embryos quality rather than quantity.
OHSS and other side effects
The health of the patient is also very important to us, and the risks of side effects that IVF carries can be minimised by using fewer drugs. For example, Ovarian Hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is a common, potentially serious complication of fertility treatment. Professor Nargund, our Medical Director, has therefore made a commitment to minimise the incidence of OHSS and other complications of IVF, in order to create more ‘women-friendly’ treatments.
She believes that there is a better way of performing IVF, a way that could combines safety and success. Having witnessed the complications and side-effects of stimulation in her early career, she feels that these are ‘man-made’ conditions, caused purely by medical intervention, not nature. She believes that rather than managing OHSS, we should do everything we can to prevent and minimise it. Professor Nargund decided to make a commitment to finding ways to make safe Natural Cycle IVF (IVF without drugs) and Minimal Stimulation IVF more successful. By using Natural Cycle or Natural Modified IVF, OHSS and many other side-effects of fertility drugs are eliminated from clinical practice, and by using tailored Mild Stimulation protocols, the worst risks and complications of OHSS can be avoided.
We are very proud to say that since our foundation, we have not had any patient admitted to hospital with ‘severe’ OHSS. It has not been an easy process to combine safety and success, but here at CREATE we have built up a wealth of knowledge on how to create safe tailored IVF protocols. We have also boldly embraced the new In Vitro Maturation (IVM) technique, invented by our scientific director, Professor RC Chian, which avoids drugs altogether. Most importantly, we have achieved our exemplary safety record whilst maintaining excellent success rates for our patients.
Our policy of choosing to focus of on quality rather than quantity of embryos has positive implications for the health of resulting babies. There is evidence that shows that babies born from Natural IVF tend to have healthier birth weights on average than babies born from conventional, high stimulation IVF. Babies born from more natural forms of IVF treatment are also less likely to be premature. One study found that collecting a greater number of eggs is associated with lower birth weights and more premature births of resulting babies. Another found that babies born from natural cycles had significantly higher birth weights than babies born from standard stimulated cycles. It is thought that this may be because the endometrial conditions are healthier for implantation in more natural IVF treatment compared with conventional IVF treatment.