Safer IVF treatment
One of the main advantages to having treatment at CREATE is that we achieve excellent results with a much less intense drug regimen than conventional, high stimulation IVF.
Conventional 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. Further, the approach of conventional, high stimulation IVF does not increase the chance of success. However at CREATE, our Mild stimulation IVF involves taking low-dose stimulation drugs for just 5 days, our Natural Modified IVF cycle includes 3-4 days and our Natural cycle IVF does not include any stimulating drugs at all.
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, high stimulation 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. 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. Here at CREATE, under the leadership of Professor Nargund, we have built up a wealth of knowledge on how to create tailored IVF protocols. We have also boldly embraced the new In Vitro Maturation (IVM), invented by our scientific director,Professor RC Chian, which avoids drugs altogether. Most importantly, we have achieved this safety record whilst maintaining excellent success rates for our patients.
Maintaining the health of the patient is also important for the outcome of treatment; when the body is not bombarded with high doses of drugs, it means a healthier body and uterus that may be more receptive to implantation. The lower amount of drugs means a better quality of life while undergoing treatment, as it is less time consuming, there are fewer painful injections, and fewer side effects. It means that the costs of treatment are reduced, as the drugs make up a significant proportion of the overall cost of treatment.
Our ultimate priority at CREATE is to have healthy women, healthy eggs and healthy babies, and we believe that not giving more drugs than is necessary is integral to this philosophy.
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 around birth weight in particular that shows that babies born from Natural and Mild IVF tend to have higher birth weights on average than babies born from conventional, highstimulation IVF. Babies born from milder forms of treatment are also less likely to be premature. One study found that collecting a greater number of eggs is associated with lower birthweights 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. The cause of this may be that higher quality eggs are selected, or perhaps that the endometrial conditions are more conducive to the growth of the baby, due to lower drug doses.