fertility treatment BLOG - IVF Zentren Prof. Zech
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“And here she is… THE LOVELY LOUISE”

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… was the headline in the British “Daily Mail” many years ago, because in 1978 Louise Brown was born in Oldham (GB). She was the world’s first so-called “test-tube baby” – that is to say, the first human born as a result of in vitro fertilization (IVF). By her birth, the world celebrated a major milestone in assisted reproductive technology, while at the same time offering hope to countless couples.

Back then, the physiologist Robert Edwards and the gynecologist Patrick Steptoe performed the “artificial insemination”. This laid the foundation for today’s reproductive medicine. In 2010, Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the development of in vitro fertilization.

Meanwhile, most of the first “test-tube babies” are parents themselves – the same is true for Louise Brown who has written a book about her life. Read more…

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“Large or Small?”

Study on how to optimize ovarian stimulation/follicular aspiration

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Fertility treatment usually starts with the stimulation phase. This means that the woman has to undergo customized hormone therapy in order to induce her ovaries to produce multiple follicles, each containing an oocyte. The number and growth of follicles within the ovaries are closely monitored by ultrasound examinations.

During the stimulation cycle, the ovarian follicles do not grow at the same pace, resulting in the presence of follicles of various sizes. This growth determines the optimal timing, for both the induction of final oocyte maturation (“Triggering Ovulation”) and subsequently the collection of the ova. The right timing is finally decisive for the success of the treatment. If the duration of ovarian stimulation is either too short or too long, this may reduce the number of follicles containing so-called competent oocytes. By this we mean the ability of an oocyte to mature, become fertilized and develop into an embryo capable of reaching the blastocyst stage and implant itself into the uterus. Numerous factors can play a role here. Do they also include follicular size? Read more…

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“I’m not a real woman, because I’m not able to have children”

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Women and their partners – who, for a long time, have been struggling in vain to conceive – talk about the above and many other thoughts and feelings associated with their situation.

It is in particular the social environment that fuels such thoughts by quotes like: “Now you are married. And what about…? When will you finally have a baby?”. One feels embarrassed and even slightly ashamed and does not know how to deal with the fact of not being able to get pregnant while other couples seem to have no difficulties at all.

According to statistics, one in five couples is in a similar situation, i.e. affected by unintentional childlessness. So, what could be done? Read more…

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What is actually meant by miscarriage?

Part 2 of our topic series »Trying to conceive after a miscarriage«

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[← article overview of the topic-series »Trying to conceive after a miscarriage«]

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If a pregnancy cannot be brought to term but instead ends in spontaneous abortion or miscarriage, this could be a devastating experience, especially for those couples who had long been trying in vain to get pregnant and have decided to finally undergo fertility treatment. In order to be able to cope with this traumatic event and find out what exactly happened, a sound medical explanation or diagnosis could be very helpful. The prerequisite for this, however, is the clear determination of the gestational age at the time of miscarriage and the type of pregnancy loss. Read more…

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Spermiogram

What’s possible nowadays when it comes to the assessment of male fertility

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The causes of unwanted childlessness may vary widely from one couple to another and therefore require an individual approach. This is why the male factor is moving more and more into the focus of attention of science.

Today, we know that spermatozoa ought to be investigated with considerably greater accuracy in order to recognize any possible disorders. Such disorders might have an impact on the fertilization of the ovum, on embryonic development and possibly also on the health of the child.

What is a spermiogram?

A spermiogram (semen analysis) enables to obtain an overview regarding male sperm quality by analyzing and evaluating the semen in the laboratory by means of special methods and technologies. The results obtained provide information on a male’s reproductive capacity. Read more…

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Hypnosis in fertility treatment

When does it make sense and how does it work?

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Hypnosis to quit smoking, for weight loss, as an aid to psychotherapy …
… to name just a few areas that hypnotherapy has been successfully applied to. But what about using this “tool” when dealing with unintended childlessness and during IVF treatment?

As a clinical psychologist at the IVF Zentren Prof. Zech I have for many years concerned myself very closely with this question. At our IVF centers, joint studies have been carried out into the issue. These studies were based on our general approach which is to focus on the personal and medical situation of the couple in order to find the best possible mode of treatment for them. Depending on the initial situation, supporting measures, such as hypnotherapy may be used. Read more…

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“What can we expect from the IVF center of our choice?”

FAQs on the services and quality standards of a fertility clinic, using the IVF Centers Prof. Zech as an example

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When it comes to choosing an IVF center, most people´s decisions are based on the pregnancy rate obtained by the center in question. This is quite understandable. However, one should be careful not to rely on one single success parameter, but first ask the following question: “What can we expect from the IVF center of our choice?”

This means that certain requirements pertaining to the IVF center need to be clarified in advance, thus ensuring that the treatment provided is suitable to bring about a successful pregnancy outcome.

Prof. Dr. Herbert Zech, an experienced physician and founder of the IVF centers of the same name, answers to the most commonly asked questions by couples seeking fertility support. Read more…

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“Good Swimmers” – but is this enough?

Additional information as part of the semen analysis can be provided by molecular biological assessment of sperm quality

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In the evaluation of male fertility through the analysis of a semen sample under a microscope, the desired outcome is to see a lot of “good swimmers” among the spermatozoa – although this still says little or nothing about their morphology and inner structure. Thanks to modern technologies, it is now possible to go into this in greater detail. This is done by extending semen analysis beyond the existing WHO criteria by adding so-called molecular diagnostics.

WHO criteria to serve as the basis

A spermiogram (semen analysis) implies an analysis of the ejaculate on the basis of standardized investigation methods and associated reference values laid down by the World Health Organization (WHO).
This spermiogram forms the foundation and provides a first overview of the situation as regards concentration, motility, vitality, structure and morphology of the spermatozoa. However, when dealing with involuntary childlessness, these parameters alone may not be sufficient for reliable detection of male factor infertility. Read more…

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Diagnosis: PCO Syndrome

A syndrome with a complex nature as the potential cause of the involuntary childlessness

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One evening, my friend Gudrun called, telling me that she had been diagnosed with PCO syndrome by her gynecologist. She asked me to exactly explain the disorder to her.

Gudrun is a healthy woman in her early 30s. She has taken the pill for several years for contraceptive purposes and to regulate her somewhat irregular menstrual cycle. Now that she has met Mr. Right and they wish to start a family, she has stopped taking the pill. But nothing happened so far – no menstrual bleeding and no pregnancy occurred. At first, Gudrun took a wait-and-see attitude. After 4 months, she went to see her gynecologist and was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). “But I have a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and sufficient exercise,” says Gudrun. She had used the Internet to learn more about possible causes. Now she was at a loss what to do. She needed a personal clarification and remembered that I work for a fertility center.
Read more…

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Increased Risk of Hypertension due to IVF?

A new study has created a great deal of uncertainty among patients

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A recently published study (see link) conducted by a Swiss working group on the increased risk of high blood pressure in children conceived by assisted reproductive technologies (ART) is currently making big waves, not least through nonstop media coverage. Additionally, this was fueled by some statements made by the senior author of this publication. He insists that IVF should be considered as a cardiovascular risk factor, similar to the risk from smoking (NZZ of 7 September 2018).

Thus, the study suggests a direct correlation between IVF treatments and specific health risks. This, of course, leads to much uncertainty among couples who either have already started treatment or who are still considering the use of assisted reproductive technologies. Against this background, it is even more important for us at the IVF Zentren Prof. Zech to provide a scientifically well-founded analysis of this study in order to enable our patients to make informed, fact-based decisions. To this end, we have published a response letter (more to follow) in the specialist magazine Journal of the American College of Cardiology where the study was published. In that respect, we would like to give a few words of explanation. Read more…