ASRM Updates 2008 -- Update 1
Fertility Flash. Among those attending the conference from PFC were Dr. Philip Chenette and Dr. Isabelle Ryan and Peggy Orlin, MFT. Their reviews cover the following topics: Update #1: Ovarian Stimulation Techniques, Update #2: PGD and Aneuploidy Screening Techniques, Update #3: Egg Freezing, Update #4: Acupuncture, and Update #5: Men and ART. Update #1: Ovarian Stimulation Techniques: Changes in ovarian stimulation techniques evolve as a better understanding of the medications and their effects on eggs and ovaries develops. Letrozole (Femara) is increasingly being used as a mild stimulation for ovarian follicle growth and as an additional medication with gonadotropins (e.g. Follistim). In a study on the use of letrozole in preparation for IVF in breast cancer patients, a group from New York showed that breast cancer recurrence or the incidence of invasive carcinoma in the opposite breast does not appear to be increased after stimulation using letrozole and FSH for fertility preservation. For patients with PCOS, researchers from France compared stimulation with a GnRH agonist, similar to Lupron, with oral contraceptives plus agonist. In these preliminary results, dual suppression does not provide any obvious effect in harmonizing the group of developing follicles nor in improving the quality of oocytes and embryos. This study is still ongoing in order to test these results in a larger population. In patients that produce an excessive number of follicles in response to stimulation, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is possible. To prevent this, the fertility drugs are sometimes stopped mid-stimulation; the follicles are coasted they grow without stimulation, with a lower risk of OHSS. An alternative to coasting is the use of Ganirelix, a GnRH antagonist, in a salvage protocol. Probability of live birth with the Ganirelix salvage protocol was similar to controls. High-grade embryos were more common with this regimen, in contrast to coasting. The miscarriage rate was slightly higher, but not statistically significant. These results suggest that the Ganirelix salvage regimen is a superior alternative to coasting in women at risk for OHSS. A group in Montpelier, France is interested in gene expression in the follicle after use of fertility drugs. Using gene chips they measured gene expression in patients exposed to urinary FSH products and recombinant FSH. Significant differences were found meaning that different genes are being expressed in follicles of women receiving pure FSH (Gonal-f or Follistim) as compared to genes being expressed in follicles of women receiving urinary FSH (Repronex or Menopur) the meaning of these changes will have to await further study. On the other hand, a long debate about the effectiveness of urinary and recombinant FSH products is a bit closer to resolution. A meta-analysis from a group in Egypt examined pregnancy outcomes and risks in a group of previously published studies. No significant differences were found. Their conclusion was that urinary gonadotropin (hMG) is as effective as recombinant gonadotropin with regards to clinical outcomes and patient safety. Philip Chenette, MD
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