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For years in the “Champions League of IVF”

Setting benchmarks in fertility treatment…

…Prof. Herbert Zech in a detailed interview in our Fertility-Treatment-BLOG:

Professor Zech, already 29 years ago you have been on everyone’s lips in Vorarlberg, South Tyrol, Switzerland and Southern Germany after having achieved the first pregnancies following IVF treatment. What has happened since then?

Prof. Herbert Zech
Prof. Dr Herbert Zech

It is true that since I have started my medical work, we have been successfully performing fertility treatment first at the University of Innsbruck (1981-1983), and then, since the end of 1984 in Bregenz. The key factor in this success was, above all, our tremendous commitment and hard work. At that time there was no possibility to monitor and trigger ovulation by drug treatment in order to allow egg retrieval to be performed at a specific moment.
We therefore needed to rely on the “natural” onset of ovulation, which in turn meant that we had to work almost round-the-clock. To this end, we also performed egg retrieval during night time, for instance after midnight or in the morning around five so as to create optimal conditions to achieve a pregnancy.
And this is how we achieved the birth of the first “test-tube-babies” in Austria – 1983 in Tyrol and 1985 in Vorarlberg. At that time, this was a real sensation, and of course there was considerable press interest in the issue.

Read more…


“Using science to overcome infertility”

How to correctly assess embryonic development

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“After my wife’s oocytes had been fertilized by my sperm and some of the impregnated ova have developed into embryos, we now want to know which embryo is the one most suitable for being transferred to the uterus and what our chances are to achieve a pregnancy and the birth of a healthy child.“

What matters most to these intended parents – and what they share in common with many others – is that they want to know more about the development of their embryos. Embryo formation is probably one of the most important steps in the course of an IVF treatment. In order to evaluate the developmental potential of embryos prior to performing embryo transfer, the professional knowledge of experienced biologists is needed. Such assessment can be supported by using an assistive tool – the so-called “Time-Lapse Analysis”, which allows for monitoring embryonic development by means of time-lapse imaging using a special camera system (e.g. EmbryoScope). Subsequently, the embryo with the highest implantation potential (Single-Embryo-Transfer) is to be determined on the basis of pre-established criteria. This approach, of course, raises some questions:

Could it happen that embryos whose early development has to be regarded as suboptimal are nevertheless able to result in pregnancy and the birth of a healthy baby?

Moreover, can it be justified that instead of transferring these embryos, the focus is put on the success of a subsequent future IVF cycle – an attempt with an uncertain outcome?

To answer these questions, a study was carried out. The results have been published in the renowned scientific journal RBM Online. The study shows how important it is to do research in this field of reproductive medicine. Read more…


“You are what you eat”

by | Published on 9. May 2014, in Science.
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Due to modern reproductive medicine which is aimed at identifying in detail the reasons for involuntary childlessness, the so-called “paternal effect” increasingly becomes the focus of research attention.
This also holds true for the IVF Centers Prof. Zech, where the focus is placed on the medical evaluation of clinical findings of both partners in a couple as well as on a treatment tailored to their individual needs so as to provide them with the best chances to conceive a healthy child – if possible as early as the first treatment cycle.

From today’s perspective, we can assume that men can significantly contribute to a successful pregnancy outcome by a healthy diet, in which the optimal balance of vitamins, in particular with regard to folic acid is of the uttermost importance. Read more…


“Social Freezing”

Emancipated family planning or a lifestyle trend?

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“I am frightened – to be more precise – it is almost like a feeling of panic, when I think about the ticking of my biological clock!”

“I am going to have ovarian surgery, and I am concerned about the impact this may have on my fertility.”

Our experience has shown that these scenarios reflect the worries of many women. Most of them are under enormous pressure when it comes to family planning. More and more physicians have to deal with their patients’ desire to take precautionary measures. Modern reproductive medicine offers the option of female fertility preservation, which is often referred to as “Social Freezing”.

But what does this mean in practical terms? Read more…


On the trail of Lindbergh

This is about pioneers, innovations and heart’s desires

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It was Charles Lindbergh’s ambitious goal to be the first pilot to fly an aircraft non-stop across the Atlantic. This made him a pioneer in the history of aviation. Being a pioneer in the field of reproductive medicine, Prof. Herbert Zech has always been concerned with helping couples all over the world to overcome unwanted childlessness.

30 years ago, he founded the IVF Centers Prof. Zech in Bregenz, thus setting global standards. He managed for instance to fulfill the heartfelt desire of the first couples undergoing fertility treatment in Russia (former USSR) and Hungary. Read more…


Egg retrieval – Narcosis performed by experienced anesthetists

Part 4 of the series »Fertility treatment process«

by | Published on 4. February 2014, in Treatment.
[← back to the article overview of the series »Fertility treatment process«]
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In order to provide couples undergoing IVF treatment with optimum treatment conditions, the specialists at the IVF Centers Prof. Zech in Bregenz are supported by a team of anesthetists – the Bodensee ANÄSTHESIE GbR. The medical specialists Michael Brandt, Erich Goldscheider and Andreas Franz are working on an outpatient basis, using the latest anesthesia techniques in various clinics and medical practices in the Lake Constance region. Apart from working with the highest quality standards, their main focus is always on people.

This will be of paramount importance, in particular shortly before oocyte retrieval (follicular puncture), a time which, for many patients, can be extremely nerve-racking and disturbing. In order to relieve the strain on the couple, at the IVF Centers Prof. Zech there is always a joint discussion with the patient, the treating doctor and the anesthetist about the details of the intervention under short-term anesthesia (sedoanalgesia). Read more…



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The hormonal stimulation of the woman can give the decisive impetus for the long-awaited offspring. The body is gently prepared for pregnancy. Ovarian stimulation is aimed at inducing the maturation of multiple that contain the maturing oocytes. This requires a targeted and perfectly timed approach. It is actually comparable to a group of children taking part in a 100-meter-sprint. If they are well- trained and prepared, they will exactly know what to do and will therefore start running at the same time. Without the necessary training, however, they would probably perform in an uncoordinated and chaotic way, and the desired success would fail to materialize.

At the IVF Centers Prof. Zech we mainly use the so-called Long-Protocol for ovarian stimulation. The aim is to obtain the highest possible number of oocytes during follicular puncture for the subsequent fertilization with the partner’s sperm. Read more…


When the immune system is „up to no good“

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…then these patients suffer from so-called autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The disorder leads to a chronic inflammation of the thyroid, thus impairing the reproductive health of these patients. Patients undergoing treatment at the
IVF Centers Prof. Zech are routinely tested for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and, if necessary, receive appropriate treatment.

The disorder was named after the Japanese physician Hakaru Hashimoto, who was the first to describe it in 1912. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a condition resulting from chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland (chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis). The “misguided” immune system mistakenly produces antibodies that attack healthy thyroid tissue and cause damage to it. The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system and produces hormones that play an essential role in human metabolism.
Read more…


When pregnancy either fails to occur or ends tragically…

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…the underlying causes will be investigated. Couples who failed to conceive after several IVF attempts or who experienced recurrent pregnancy loss or repeated miscarriages are under particular strain. Worldwide, IVF specialists work feverishly on analyzing the reasons for miscarriages and embryo implantation failure in order to be able to provide successful therapy.

Many conditions during pregnancy are interpreted as disorders in the vascular supply and are considered to be a mild form of a so-called thromboembolic condition, i.e. a condition in which a blood clot forms inside a vessel (about 30% of the cases are concerned).
It is therefore important to recognize what impacts congenital or acquired coagulation disorders may have on human procreation and treat them accordingly. Read more…


Having a career and children – you can do both


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Today, women are more highly educated and skilled than in the past. The proportion of women who graduated from high-school has greatly increased and there are more women on the executive floors than 10 years ago. However, there is a downside to this professional commitment: These days, women are postponing motherhood and family planning to a later age – and may suffer the consequences, because it might already be too late by then…

Birth Rate: Declining

There are fewer births in Switzerland, Germany, Italy and many other European countries. The state makes its best efforts to reverse the trend – however, child allowance, expansion of daycare centers for children, paternity leave, child care subsidy, and any other supporting action by the public authorities seem to be totally ineffective.
The declining birth rates have become (once again) a source of media attention, producing sobering headlines with monotonous regularity: “Germany – bottom of the league when it comes to birth rates in Europa“, “Not keen on KIDS“, “Having children is as unattractive as it has ever been“. Various studies attempt to provide explanations for this “trend” and blame it on the lack of child-friendliness, the concerns of women to depend again on outdated role models and, last but not least, on the most challenging problem of all: finding a way to balance career and family. Read more…