Progesterone is required for the success of early pregnancy. In a natural cycle progesterone is made by the corpus luteum (CL). If the CL is removed during the first 5 weeks after conception, the pregnancy will miscarry. By about 9 weeks’ gestation, the luteal-placental shift takes place: the trophoblast itself makes sufficient progesterone, and the pregnancy is no longer dependent on the CL. There are 2 reasons for giving extra progesterone after an IVF.
The first is that the CLs in IVF were all disturbed by the IVF needle during egg pick-up. The CLs start as follicles containing eggs. At the retrieval, the needle is placed inside the follicle, the egg is removed; and other cells may also be removed. The follicle is mostly fluid, but it also contains tons of cells that make up the follicle and surround the egg. These are called the granulosa cells; and these are the cells that convert to CL cells after ovulation. So if the needle removes some of these cells, as is usually the case, the CL would not work as well, and less progesterone is produced.
The second is to do with IVF medication. In a natural cycle, the hormone LH is secreted by the pituitary in small doses after ovulation, as this LH helps the CL to produce progesterone. However, during an IVF cycle, most women are given Lupride, Gonapeptyl or Ovurelix to suppress a premature LH surge at ovulation. In a natural cycle or IUI, surges are fine, they cause ovulation. In IVF, we need to time the retrieval to the hour, so that a surge at the wrong time ruins everything. So we give medicines to stop LH; but this means LH is no longer available to help the CL with progesterone production as well.
What is the best route for progesterone administration during an IVF cycle in terms of efficacy and side effect profile?
The best route of administration has not been clearly established. There are pros and cons associated with each route.
Oral preparations – Oral supplementation is not recommended because although some studies have not found a difference in efficacy between oral and other routes of administration, a few studies did report lower implantation rates, lower pregnancy rates, and /or higher miscarriage rates in women receiving oral compared with IM or vaginal progesterone.
Intramuscular progesterone – The main downside of IM progesterone is local skin inflammation at the site of injection. At times, this reaction can be quite painful and can lead to induration that may persist for weeks after the injections are complete.
Vaginal preparations – Because the progesterone is first absorbed locally, intrauterine concentrations are high despite serum levels that are lower than with IM progesterone. Vaginal progesterone may be administered using compounded suppositories, tablets or 8% gel. The main side effects with vaginal preparations are vaginal irritation, discharge and dyspareunia. The principal advantage of the vaginal preparations is that they are less painful than IM injections. IM injections may be difficult for a patient to administer herself, whereas vaginal preparations can be self-administered. However, vaginal preparations must be used 2-3 times per day, whereas IM progesterone is administered once daily.
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Rotunda-The Center for Human Reproduction is Ivf Clinic in Mumbai,India,Asia.We are Infertility, Fertility & IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) ,Surrogacy Clinic for Male & Female in Mumbai,India. We provide the best affordable quality infertility,fertility treatments with advanced reproductive technologies like IVF, ART, GIFT, ZIFT, TET, ICSI, donor egg and surrogacy services.
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