BONUS 208: Inside the IVF Lab

May 24, 2019

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Today’s bonus episode guest is Dr. Carol Curchoe, a clinical embryologist working in fertility medicine at San Diego Fertility Center and the founder of ART Compass.

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Dr. Curchoe and Heather discuss what goes on behind the scenes in an IVF lab:

INTRODUCTION

  • I’d like to start by hearing a little bit about you. Tell us about your academic background and training.
  • Why did you choose to specialize in reproductive biology?
  • Take us through your career since your fellowship, including how you ended up at San Diego Fertility Center.

INSIDE AN IVF LAB

  • What happens when you first receive a patient’s eggs after retrieval?
  • How do you fertilize the eggs?
    • What are the success rates of each method?
    • For each method, what are the reasons why an egg might not fertilize?
  • What happens the day after fertilization? How do you know when an egg is fertilized?
  • Please explain Day 3 embryo grading systems.
  • Please explain Day 5 embryo grading systems.
  • Tell us about transferring Day 3 vs. Day 5 embryos.
  • Can you explain embryo genome activation on Day 3?
  • Some embryos that look amazing on Day 5 don’t produce healthy pregnancies, and some bad looking embryos do. Can you explain that?
  • How much stock should we put into embryo grades?
  • Other than embryo grades, what affects pregnancy rates?
  • Some embryos are cultured until Day 6 or 7. Why, and how likely are those embryos to result in healthy pregnancies?
  • How are embryos biopsied for preimplantation genetic testing?
  • How are embryos frozen and stored for later use?
  • How are embryos thawed, and what happens exactly on the day of an embryo transfer (fresh and frozen)?
  • What is assisted hatching, and when is it recommended?
  • There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about quality control at IVF labs. How do you ensure that the temperature of the incubators and cryostorage is correct, so that culturing and frozen embryos stay safe?
  • What are some new and emerging techniques in the IVF lab?
  • Is there anything else you’d like to add?

WRAPPING UP

  • What words of hope would you offer to someone who’s considering IVF?

References:

Thanks for listening!

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