Many of our acupuncture patients have been asking about our time today at IVF Australia’s clinic in Westmead. A few weeks ago we had the first session of a two-part seminar/master class for GPs learning more about IVF and the current strategies used. IVF Australia take a different approach than Genea in regards to our Chinese medicine clinic. IVF Australia acknowledges that we see a large number of fertility couples, and hopes that by working more closely we will feel more confident in referring to them. Calling us ‘Doctor’ all day was helpful…
Today, we spent time in the IVF laboratory viewing: a) the cryo-chambers where the eggs, sperm and embryos are kept frozen, b) the retrieval areas and egg/sperm cleaning preparation areas, c) the IVF/ICSI stations, d) the incubators for embryos and e) the ultrasound guided transfer room. Then we attended two presentations on the process patients go through on entering the IVF program, and some of the common situations that are seen in clinic.
It was a really good two-part program. What surprised us was the openness of the specialists. We asked pointed questions about topics that come up all the time in clinic for us and our patients, and these questions were acknowledged and answered honestly. It seems abundantly clear that most clients undergoing IVF do not have the same information presented to them as the GPs/we did.
The main target of our questions was AMH and sperm.
We see clients all the time who come to us from their GPs/specialists with low AMH results and are distraught. It was repeatedly reinforced to us today that AMH is not measure of a woman’s ability to fall pregnant naturally. It is a measure that is used to determine how much FSH stimulation is safe for the woman. When confronted with the fact that most women are not properly informed about the meaning of an AMH result, the specialists agreed that this is a serious problem that needs remedying.
Sperm. More and more, male factors are a significant contributor to infertility. ICSI ‘solves’ the problem. However, when confronted about advising men about modifiable factors that would improve fertility outcomes, the specialists agreed totally. Men can drastically improve pregnancy and live birth rates by improving their health. Of course, this also applies to women. However, it seems that, not only in our clinic but also in IVF clinics all over, men are often non-compliant with lifestyle changes. While ICSI can take a sub-optimal sperm and inject it into the egg and potentially make a blastocyst, it is clear that these embryos have a greater risk of miscarrying or having birth defects. The main lifestyle culprits being smoking and alcohol consumption, but also diet, exercise, sleep and stress levels.
It was refreshing to see that the specialists share our frustration that fertility medicine often requires the woman to undergo extensive intervention, while the man… cums in a cup. Even when faced with his partner having to undergo multiple stimulation cycles due to failed embryos, he still won’t contribute more than a deposit. This is why we get so excited in clinic when a man agrees, even begrudgingly, to improve his choices.
We feel that IVF is an amazing medicine that can overcome some serious issues. However, too often (in our experience) couples fail to understand the significance of several factors that are within their personal control which can drastically improve their outcomes naturally. From our time within the IVF world, we feel renewed vigour in the work we do, and our confidence is bolstered that we’re on the right track with our patients.