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Infertility/Fertility/recurrent miscarriage/mthfr

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Hello there! I m writing to you from Florida. I have recently suffered two miscarriages. One in Oct of 2012 and one in March of this year. Both occurred at about two weeks so very early. I guess the term is chemical pregnancy when it is that early. I don't know how I know I am pregnant so early but I just know. My body is sensitive! I am 39 years old so my Dr. watches me closely and had me do the clomid challenge test to check the fsh which I think tests egg quality. Mine was 7.6. I also had a vaginal ultrasound and everything looks perfect. No fibroids or cysts. Then in March 2013 I got pregnant again and I was immediately sent for an hcg blood test. My hcg levels kept going up and down 241 to 119 over the course of three weeks and it would not leave my system completely so I ended up having to have another ultrasound that found nothing as they were worried about an ectopic pregnancy but did not find a sac or anything. I ended up taking a methotrexate shot. Finally my levels went back to zero and 6 weeks later I did a complete recurrent miscarriage blood panel test and they found that I tested positive for two copies of the mthfr CT677 gene. I also was out of range for the PAI-1 test which was 51. Everything else was normal. My Dr. put me on foltx and a daily aspirin plus I take my prenatal vitamins and she told me that as soon as I find out I am pregnant again I need to start administering lovenox injections and progesterone suppositories. Right before delivery it would change to heparin. I enjoy reading your blog and appreciate all of your knowledgable answers. I would like to know what your thoughts are about the regimen she has planned for me and if there is anything else I should be doing. I am a bit nervous to try again. We really want to have a baby!

Answer
Hello Mary from the U.S. (Florida),

The CCCT is to check for ovarian reserve (ability of the ovary to respond to stimulation) and not egg quality.  Thought you should know that.

It sounds like your Ob/Gyn doctor is well versed in the evaluation and treatment of recurrent pregnancy loss, which makes her a little better than the average Ob/Gyn doc.  One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you have the "age factor" which means that your eggs are old and debilitated and therefore have a propensity to forming abnormal embryos.  In most cases these embryos will not continue and lead to a miscarriage (especially before 8 weeks gestational age).  The age factor is the main factor that you are trying to overcome.  There is no treatment that can make eggs better.  The good news is that your ovaries are still functioning well, and you know that you can get pregnant.  Now it is just a matter of getting a perfect egg.

The increased folic acid, low dose aspirin, low dose heparin or lovenox and progesterone supplementation are all reasonable and acceptable treatments for recurrent pregnancy loss. What I would recommend is that the heparin/lovenox start immediately with the start of your period, NOT once you become pregnant.  It should already be in your system when implantation occurs to help with increased blood flow at the implantation site, and decrease the immune response to the embryo.  Starting after pregnancy would defeat the purpose.

Based on your age, I would agree with the above regimen, add CoQ10 600 mg per day (found to help with egg quality in mice.  No human studies yet but it can't hurt) and strongly recommend that you consider IVF rather than continuing to try naturally.  I know that you are able to get pregnant naturally, and it may eventually happen, but the only way to increase your chances of success (overcome the age factor) is to increase the number of eggs and embryos you have to choose from.  With IVF, you have a better chance of finding the perfect egg.  I explain it to my patients with the following analogy: imagine that you have a bucket of blue balls and a few red balls. There are mostly blue balls and only 4-5 red balls.  The red balls represent your good quality eggs and the blue balls the poor quality eggs.  These balls are all mixed up together and you lift the bucket above your head so that you can't see inside.  Now you have several options.  You can take one ball out at a time (like you would in a naturally ovulatory cycle)whereby you will eventually get a red ball, but you can see that it will take a long while; or you can take out a handful of balls out at a time (like using superovulation with fertility drugs); or you can dump out a bunch of balls at a time (like doing IVF).  You can see that the latter method is the fastest for getting to a red ball.  That is why IVF is the recommended treatment.  With a red ball (good quality egg) not only will you get pregnant, but you will have a successful pregnancy because a normal embryo will develop.

Sorry for the extremely long explanation, but I hope my answer has been clear.

Good Luck,

Dr. Edward J. Ramirez, M.D., FACOG
Executive Medical Director
The Fertility and Gynecology Center
Monterey Bay IVF Program
www.montereybayivf.com

Monterey, California, U.S.A.

for additional information check out my blog at http://womenshealthandfertility.blogspot.com check me out on twitter with me at @montereybayivf and facebook @montereybayivf.  Skype and internet comprehensive consultations now available via my website for those who want a more extensive evaluation that this site can accommodate.  

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Edward Joseph Ramirez, MD, FACOG

Expertise

I am a specialist in infertility and advanced gynecological care. I can answer questions about infertility, gynecology related ills, menopause...virtually anything that affects women's health. PLEASE tell me where you are writing from as I am always interested.

Experience

I have been practicing as an Ob/Gyn and Infertility Specialist for over 23 years. Gynecology, advanced laparoscopic surgery, basic infertility, IUI's, IVF, reproductive surgery, and ovulation induction are all areas of my expertise. I am Board Certified. I have been doing In Vitro Fertilization in my clinic for 19 years.

Organizations
American College of OB/GYN, American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Society of Reproductive Medicine, Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology, American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, Fellow of The American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists,Resolve-National Chapter, Open Path - Northern California, Board of Directors Monterey Medical Society

Publications
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wall Street Journal, Monterey Herald, SERMO, Women's Health and Fertility Blog

Education/Credentials
Medical Degree from Stanford University, Residency at Tripler Army Medical Center, Reproductive Training at Pacific Fertility Center, San Francisco

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