One Important Change to help Improve IVF Success and Reduce Miscarriage Rates
I often see patients who have done the same process over multiple times, with no change in their results. Sometimes it is recurrent failed IVF cycles, IUI cycles, and sometimes recurrent miscarriages. They often feel at loss because they are advised to continue doing the same thing, but they have little hope that the outcome will be different.
In our latest series of blog posts I have continued to talk about drastic changes in success rates by addressing hidden contributing factors for fertility and recurrent miscarriage, with a lot of this focused on the gut and reproductive microbiomes, however, an equally vital factor to IVF success, a successful pregnancy, and reduced miscarriage rate is sperm DNA fragmentation levels. This is not as simple as it sounds, many patients go for this test and are told ´everything is normal.´ There are around 5 different methods that can be done to help determine DNA fragmentation rates, and the problem is that none of these methods are entirely accurate.
Firstly, DNA fragmentation rates refer to single or double strand breaks in the DNA structure, I describe them to patients as ´´hairline fractures´ in the DNA. Elevated DNA fragmentation rates are critical to treat because it is well established that elevated fragmentation rates can contribute to elevated miscarriage risk and may decrease likelihood or pregnancy as well as increase the risk of certain health conditions in the offspring.
In fact, one small study had found that DNA fragmentation rates were the most accurate predictor to see if a fertility couple would succeed in IVF or whether they would fail, compared to all other testing that was done for both partners. So how do we approach this important factor and help to push the odds in our favour when it comes to improving the DNA integrity for sperm cells)?
A meta analysis and systematic review published in Korea had addressed this issue and suggested that the best methods to help treat DNA fragmentation rates is with antioxidants, lifestyle and dietary changes. We will often screen for low-grade infections in patients as well as this can often contribute to poor sperm parameters. It is important to take this important aspect of fertility in to account, especially because it may be modifiable in many cases. This is beyond fertility treatments, and supporting to pass on healthy and high integrity DNA to the offspring which has been associated with reduced likelihood of certain health issues.
If you have the luxury to do so, it may be worthwhile speaking with your fertility physician to discuss if this testing can be done, not all clinics have access to a lab that can do such testing. If not, we often will treat patients with a history of failed IVFs or recurrent miscarriages and assume this is a contributing factor, especially because the treatment protocol generally has a high safety profile, with side effects limited to digestive upset in large scientific reviews evaluating these protocols.
This article is in no way a replacement for medical advice or medical care, it is advised that anyone concerned about their Health should speak with their Naturopathic Doctor. Please discuss with your healtcare provider and only make changes to your medications regimen if recommended by your doctor and under their guidance.