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Sperm Quality

Assessment and Significance in Fertility Treatments

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Structure spermatozoon/oocyte | Photo: Shutterstock

Egg and sperm cell are of equal importance for the development of the embryo. A closer look at the sperm factor suggests that the assessment of sperm quality followed by the selection of appropriate spermatozoa for the fertilization of the oocyte are important steps on the path towards the much longed-for child.

During fertilization, signaling cascades are triggered inside the oocyte by the fertilizing sperm. During the fusion of the sperm and oocyte plasma, the release of a factor carried within the sperm head changes the calcium concentration in the oocyte cytoplasm. This again induces a series of subsequent reactions, finally enabling the fertilization of the oocyte.

It will therefore become all the more important to perform a comprehensive analysis of sperm morphology (shape, structure). An existing impairment (e.g. identification of vacuoles = crater-like structures in the sperm head) may have negative impacts. Already at the end of the 1990s, electron microscopic investigations revealed a correlation between the presence of vacuoles and the impairment of natural male fertility (Berkovitz et al., 1999). Read more…

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An impuls towards parenthood

Hormonal stimulation in fertility treatment

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Precisely tailored to the woman’s individual situation, her body is prepared for pregnancy prior to receiving fertility treatment. The ovaries are stimulated with hormones, which is an important first step towards the long-awaited child.

The targeted administration of hormones is intended to induce the maturation of multiple follicles, each containing an oocyte. In medical terms, this kind of treatment is referred to as ovarian stimulation (→ details). Read more…

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Cumulative pregnancy rate

[← back to overview of the series “Success Rate”]


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Icon Image | Photo: Shutterstock

When analyzing success rates in fertility treatment, it often turns out that the stated values refer to cumulative pregnancy rates. But what exactly is meant by this type of pregnancy rate?

Cumulative is derived from the Latin word “cumulare” (to accumulate).
According to experts, the cumulative pregnancy rate takes account of all pregnancies achieved by IVF following several successive embryo transfers. Irrespective of whether these embryos derive from so-called “fresh cycles” (the fertilized oocyte develops inside an incubator and is usually transferred to the uterus on the fifth day of embryonic development) or from “cryo cycles” (for some reasons, the growing embryo can be frozen/cryopreserved, the frozen-thawed embryo can then be used in a future transfer).

Read more…

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“Natural cycle IVF”

IVF treatment in an unstimulated cycle

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Graphic representation female cycle | Photo: Shutterstock

For many women, starting fertility treatment is often associated with discomfort, since it entails hormone therapy involving the injection of specific preparations. Most women get used to it quickly, since what it does mean in any case is that they advance further on their way leading to the much longed-for aim: a child of their own.

Some women, however, are looking for an IVF therapy necessitating either a few doses of hormones or none at all. Terms such as “Natural cycle IVF” or “Mild Stimulation IVF” are bound to arouse interest and may sound promising at first. Read more…

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“When can I take the pregnancy test and what happens next?”

FAQs on fertility treatment

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Before and during fertility treatment, patients are often faced with a lot of impressions and information. Sometimes, however, this can be highly confusing, giving rise to a large number of questions.

After asking around, I discussed the issues with Univ. Prof. Dr. Herbert Zech, a specialist in reproductive medicine and founder of the IVF centers of the same name. Below please find his answers to some frequently asked questions:
Read more…

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… and if it doesn’t work?

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Doctors, medical assistants and embryologists in the laboratory, IT department, hygiene specialists, Info Center etc. We, as a team at the IVF Centers Prof. Zech dedicate our entire know-how and passion to helping infertile couples achieve a pregnancy with the help of assisted reproductive technology (ART).

In many cases, the patients are able to deliver the good news to us that their pregnancy test had come back positive and, later on, fetal heartbeat could be detected via ultrasound.
We particularly enjoy receiving cards or letters from happy parents in which they express their gratitude after the birth of their baby.

However, there are couples who get no chance of experiencing this kind of happiness. Read more…

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“Single Embryo Transfer” in IVF – Facts and Background

Part 5 of the series »Fertility treatment process«

[← back to the article overview of the series »Fertility treatment process«]
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“Does the transfer of two embryos increase my chances of becoming pregnant?”

This question is frequently asked by couples who want to learn more about the envisaged fertility treatment – for instance when they join us at our monthly information evenings in Salzburg. (→ for details, please click here)

My answer seems quite clear: “only marginally (5-7%)”

Why is that? Read more…

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“How old is too old?”

Fertility and advanced maternal age

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It is not only the term itself but also the definition of “advanced age” in connection with the desire to have children which gives rise to numerous discussions.

In English speaking countries the term “advanced maternal age” is most commonly used for all women aged 35 or more at the time of having their baby. Childbearing in women aged 45-49 years is referred to as “very advanced maternal age” and “extreme advanced maternal age” is used for those women giving birth to a child at the age of 50 or older.

The fact that today there are more and more women choosing to delay motherhood has a major impact on the number of children per women/couple, thus also affecting demographic developments. The assessment of the fertility potential is thus essential for being able to realistically judge the probability of success with IVF treatments.
Read more…

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Fertility Test for Everybody

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Sperm-Check using a smartphone app, ovulation tests, testing of hormone levels using ready-to-use test kits …
Fertility tests for self-/home testing are not entirely new, but obviously there are ever more inventive products featuring supposedly greater user friendliness. This, of course, arouses the interest of many men and women.

US researchers have recently presented a prototype of an accessory for smartphones that allows to analyze a semen sample for sperm concentration and motility (according to WHO criteria) using an appropriate App. The goal is to offer a fertility test for men that is simple and reasonably priced in the same way as are pregnancy tests, the scientists say.

But do such tests for men who wish to conceive a child actually provide sufficiently meaningful results? Read more…

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Implantation rate

[← back to the article overview of the series »Success Rate«]


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If practitioners of reproductive medicine talk about the implantation rate, they mean the percentage of those embryos that implanted themselves into the uterine lining after having been transferred to the womb. Fetal heartbeat can be visualized via ultrasound in order to definitely confirm the implantation of the embryo.

If we assume, for example, that 100 couples undergo IVF treatment involving the transfer of two embryos, resulting in the successful implantation of 50 embryos, this would mean an implantation rate of 25%.

The implantation rate depends on the age of the woman and is directly related to the number and quality of the embryos transferred. What does this mean with regard to the prospects of becoming pregnant? Are the chances significantly higher following the transfer of two embryos? Read more…