At Overlake Reproductive Health in Bellevue, Washington we pursue an in vitro fertilization (IVF) protocol that allows us to achieve high success rates for our patients. Here’s how we do it.
First, we try to get to the bottom of “unexplained infertility” and fix the problem if it can be fixed. If there is a less invasive way, we will try that first. But when IVF is needed, we are a frozen cycle clinic, meaning we no longer do fresh IVF cycles. After 30 years in fertility, we know our patients have a higher chance of success with frozen cycles.
Frozen cycles allow time to do preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A) on each embryo, so we know which embryos are chromosomally normal before implantation. This gives us the ability to implant just one embryo at a time and allows a break between the ovaries being asked to produce multiple mature egg follicles and the uterus creating the perfect fluffy nest of endometrium for one healthy embryo to mature.
Freezing eggs, sperm, and embryos with vitrification
Vitrification is the process of freezing so rapidly that the water molecules do not have time to form ice crystals and instead instantaneously solidify into a glass-like structure. We are highly skilled at this process to where it is over 99 percent effective. A sperm and an egg can be fertilized, then the embryo can be grown to day 5-7, biopsied and frozen, implanted in a uterus, and grow into a healthy baby. If additional embryos are healthy, they’re ready when our patient is ready for baby two or three.
Preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidies
On day 5-7 after fertilization in our lab, the blastocyst or embryo consists of about 127 cells. One cluster of cells will become the fetus, the other the placenta. Our highly skilled embryologists use a tiny tool to biopsy a few cells from what will become the placenta (the trophectoderm) and sends those cells off to a genetic lab for PGT-A testing. Then we freeze each embryo while we wait for the results.
Frozen cycles also allow for PGT-M, Preimplantation genetic testing for monogenic/single gene defects for people who are at high risk of passing debilitating diseases like Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Huntington disease, or cystic fibrosis. Eliminating these diseases can save unmeasurable emotional distress as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in chronic medical care. PGT-M and PGT-A can be performed together.
The proof is in our numbers. In the last complete reporting year, our implantation rate reached 86.4 percent in patients under the age of 35. That means 86.4 percent of the transfers we performed in 2018 resulted in a pregnancy. Now, not every early pregnancy (implantation) results in a live birth, just as not every retrieval will result in a viable embryo to transfer. Biology is just not that simple.
Our 72.7 percent live birth rate in patients under 35 makes us the number one fertility clinic in Washington State and number five in the United States according to IVF Authority. Mirroring our technology with compassion and skill is why patients choose OHR for help with creating their family.
This article has been paid for by Overlake Reproductive Health.