What Causes Pre-Implantation Pregnancy Loss in IVF?

Why Is the Pregnancy Lost?

In vitro fertilization is a blessing for many couples who are unable to conceive a pregnancy without assistance. However, even when the embryo is established prior to implantation, often a pregnancy is lost. The unfortunate aspect of IVF is that there are no guarantees of having a baby, even if pregnancy is conceived. The emotional and physical toll on a couple can be disheartening and difficult at best.

There are really only two reasons for pre-implantation pregnancy in IVF - either there is something wrong with the embryo itself that does not allow it to implant, or there is something in the environment of the uterus that doesn't allow the embryo to implant.

What Causes the Problems with the Embryo?

When the problem is with the embryo it is commonly due to abnormal chromosome numbers, called aneuploidy. In 30 to 90 percent of embryos with chromosomal abnormalities, the problem (depending upon the age of the mother) is with the egg. The reason the egg is complicit most of the time is because it is the egg that has the job of accepting the DNA from the sperm then mixing the genes to create a new and unique person. The age of the egg determines in large part how chromosomally normal it will be. For women under the age of 30, normal ranges are about 50 percent. However, by the age of 45, the normal range for eggs drops to five percent. Fragmented DNA from the sperm has also been associated with poor embryo quality and failure to implant.

How Do Uterine Problems Affect Loss?

Uterine problems take the form of structural, hormonal or immunological difficulties.

· Structural or anatomical abnormalities within the uterus can make it mechanically impossible for implantation to occur. They act like an IUD by prohibiting the implantation of an embryo and take the form of:

a) Endometrial polyps, which are benign growths in the uterine lining that protrude into the uterine cavity.

b) Submucous fibroids, which are also benign tumors in the uterine wall that protrude into the uterine cavity.

c) Uterine adhesions inside the uterine cavity.

· Hormonal difficulties can be problematic. Since the levels of estrogen and progesterone are very carefully controlled during IVF procedures, it is unusual for hormones to be a reason for recurrent pregnancy loss within IVF. However, mutations that affect the progesterone receptors have been connected to recurrent implantation failure.

Table of Contents
1. Pre-Implantation Pregnancy Loss
2. The culprit: sperm or egg?
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