I was honored to be attending FertilityIQ’s first Basecamp this past September in San Francisco, California. I took advantage of being on the other side of the country and brought my husband along before our basecamp started to enjoy a little wine country. I say this “basecamp” like everyone knows what I am talking about. Let me back up so you can get caught up but before I do I want to share some amazing pictures from Napa.
I was invited by fertilityIQ.com a free fertility website where you can rate and review your Reproductive Endocrinologists, or if you are just starting out in your fertility journey, you can review what other women are saying about their experiences. I was joined by five other infertility influencers for a weekend full of collaborating on how we can make our TTC (trying to conceive) community stronger. All the bloggers that attended are writing about a different experience from the weekend so be sure to click on the links below to get a full picture of what we learned where we went and who we met. I have to mention since I am posting some of our pictures from the weekend that all of us never meet in real life we only knew each other through blogging and social media. It was incredible to finally meet in person these amazing strong fellow IVF sisters all thanks to FertilityIQ.
I was very interested and excited that we had the opportunity to have a one on one with Dr. Behr, Dr. Baker, and Dr. Eisenberg at Standford Medical University. We were face to face getting real information not filtered through Facebook boards or blogs; this was the real deal.
We sat down with Dr. Barry Behr first after a very impressive tour of the Stanford Medical Facility in Palo Alto, California. Their state of the art fertility center was quite impressive. I have to say I was a little jealous that I didn’t live in the San Francisco area and started my fertility journey at this clinic. You might remember that we made a big announcement on all our social media accounts about sending in your pressing fertility questions that you wanted us to ask the doctors at Stanford Medical Facility. We would take these topics and present them to the doctors at our meeting so we could infuse the knowledge we learned back to our TTC community. Some of the questions that you sent in were on P.G.S testing, male factor, PCOS and unexplained infertility. We were able to address some of these issues and gain more insight.
It seems as though there is a new buzz word in the infertility world called “Mosaicism” or “Mosaic” embryos it’s not necessarily a new term but this word has been thrown around quite a bit lately. I was very interested in hearing what the doctors had to say about “Mosaic embryos” and what it means. Before I get to what “Mosaicism” means let’s first talk about Preimplantation Genetic Screening or P.G.S.
Pre genetic screening is taking a biopsy of a five-day-old embryo by removing a few cells from the developing embryo. Only a few years ago, P.G.S testing could only determine if an embryo was normal or abnormal. Technology and science are always advancing and changing now high-resolution next-generation sequencing has narrowed the view. Researchers have found in roughly 20% of embryos that they have both normal and abnormal cells, of course, the percentage increases with maternal age. It seems that some of these embryos do mature into healthy children resulting in roughly 40% success rates. These embryos are called “Mosaic” embryos. What I found interesting is that researchers have always known about “Mosaic” embryos but only in the last year have they been able to detect them during an active IVF cycle. My take away from Dr. Behr on this subject was that infertility testing is not an exact science and there are some things that we just don’t know.
We talked to Dr. Behr also about the advancement in our infertility science called Time Lapse Technology. The use of time-lapse technology had allowed scientists the ability to understand how embryos develop. This allows for more informed embryo selection for implantation. Researchers believe they can increase IVF success rates as high as 74% once this technology is perfected. Time-lapse technology works by photographs taken at regular intervals (20,10 or 5 minutes) this allows for a very detailed understanding of embryo development. What I find fascinating is that the research has identified that embryos with chromosomal abnormalities take more than a hundred hours to reach the blastocyst stage. There are babies conceived using this advanced technology and have been born. Not all clinics have brought this technology to their clinics but it’s becoming more widely available.
Male factor issues with sperm quality and health were also high on the radar. Dr. Esienburg, a top urologist at Stanford Medical, said that semen analysis varies and the sperm count is probably the most critical component. Stanford generally will take the best results from multiple sperm analysis to be the man’s numbers. Men should be taking a multi-vitamin for sperm health and obesity will affect sperm. Stanford also tries to do as little ICSI as necessary coming in around 40% of patients. Unexplained infertility came up multiple times in our conversation which I was happy to hear since that has been our diagnosis for the past three years. The bottom line from the doctors was much more “unexplained” cases of infertility are being diagnosed because doctors are becoming more humble by admitting they don’t know all the answers.
The weekend was full of so much learning and knowledge and of course some fun that I have just scratched the surface with this one blog post. I will be updating you on the other meetings we had and what I learned from each of them. Until then check out what the other infertility bloggers have to say about their experience below.
Chelsea-Trials Bring Joy
Caroline-In Due Time
Elisha-Waiting for Baby Bird
Jake and Deb-FertilityIQ