Many clients who come to see Dr Ndukwe, our Medical Director have had failed IVF cycles. We believe that, for a certain group of clients, implantation failure due to immune issues will be the cause. Dr Ndukwe is a world renowned specialist in this field.
The most common factor for unsuccessful IVF is female age. This is due to the increase in chromosomal abnormalities in eggs and subsequently embryos as women get older.
Chromosomal abnormality is a major factor in failure of embryos to implant and also miscarriages.
A significant cause of IVF failure or miscarriage, however, relates to abnormalities in the woman’s immune system which compromise successful embryo implantation.
Research has suggested that during a normal pregnancy, a unique type of immunity occurs that stops a woman rejecting an embryo and aids the growth and development of the foetus. Without this immunity, embryos may not implant, early pregnancies may miscarry, or later complications may occur for the mother or baby.
“A successful pregnancy is a unique phenomenon because it is the only time a foreign protein (i.e. the foetus) stays in the human body and is not rejected” Dr Ndukwe
Specific Immune tests may identify couples that are at risk of these problems. Treatment that stimulates the correct immune response (immuno-modulation) to aid implantation as part of a holistic approach to your care can make the difference between success and failure in pregnancy.
Natural Killer Cells
Natural Killer cells are part of a normal immune system and help to fight off infection. In some instances, we believe that these cells can attack the early embryo or foetus leading to implantation failure or miscarriage. As part of our investigations we measure the levels of natural killer cells and natural killer cell activity as well as a few other relevant immune cells. We incorporate the results into a tailored treatment plan to focus our attention on those areas most likely to have caused problems with previous cycles/pregnancies.
When should I seek advice about reproductive immunology?
The following appear to be associated with an increased risk of immune problems and testing should be considered:-
- Good quality embryos/blastocysts but 2 or more failed cycles
- Women over the age of 35 who have had two or more miscarriages or two or more failed IVF/ICSI with good embryos
- Poor egg production from a stimulated IVF cycle (less than 6 eggs)
- One blighted ovum (missed miscarriage)
- Unexplained infertility of over 3 years
- Previous immune problems or family history, such as:
- Anti-nuclear antibody (ANA)
- anti-thyroid antibodies
- rheumatoid arthritis and/or lupus
- Crohn’s disease
- ulcerative colitis, etc
- Previous pregnancies that have resulted in small babies (foetal growth retardation)
Nutrition and Complementary therapies to support Reproductive Immunology
Many factors affect our immune system and treatments may vary. For example, some patients with specific immune conditions such as thrombophilias and endocrine disorders may require additional treatment from a specialist in that field. For many women diet, processed foods, alcohol, cigarettes, stress, exercise, anxiety – will all have an impact too.
“Our work aims for positive changes in couples’ lives, and alongside your medical treatment plan we believe in an integrated approach, using other treatments that will support the immune system through diet, stress reduction, and mind / body factors.” Zita West
Anyone diagnosed with a reproductive immunological issue may benefit from having a nutritional consultation At a nutritional consultation, we will make an assessment of your current dietary intake and will formulate a nutrition plan specific to your individual needs which may include appropriate supplements. Most women having reproductive immunology tests will have experienced the stress of unexplained infertility, IVF failure, or miscarriage. Stress, over-work, fatigue and even getting a cold can have a powerful impact on the immune system and we frequently recommend Acupuncture and Hypnotherapy which may help you physically and emotionally in achieving optimum mind-body balance to further support your medical treatment. Check out this Daily Mail article on our success with Reproductive Immunology – Mayonnaise Miracle Babies