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β-hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is a glycoprotein that is initially secreted by trophoblast cells in the embryo shortly after it implants in the uterus. The rapid increase in serum levels of hCG following conception means it is an excellent early indicator of pregnancy. It’s also a parameter which is widely used for monitoring that a pregnancy is progressing correctly.
On a physiological level, hCG triggers the corpus luteum and thus facilitates progesterone and oestrogen synthesis. Progesterone stimulates the maturing of blood and capillary vessels that help the foetus to develop correctly.
hCG levels can be measured in blood or in urine.
Urine tests have a detection limit of 20 to 100 mUI/ml depending on the brand. If the measurement is to be taken in urine, a sample of the first urine of the day is recommended. This is particularly true during the early days of pregnancy because, if the urine is too diluted, the test can return incorrect negative results.
hCG levels in blood can be used to detect levels as low as 5 mUI/ml and the concentration levels of the hormone can therefore be calculated.
hCG levels in multiple pregnancies are 30-50 % higher than in pregnancies where there is only one foetus. However, a multiple pregnancy should be confirmed by means of an ultrasound.
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One of the most frequently asked questions among couples is how to calculate the most fertile days of the cycle and when ovulation will take place in order to make this coincide with sexual intercourse. Calculating it is simple in the case of regular, 28-day cycles. […]
Ovarian stimulation is key in results obtained as a results of assisted reproduction techniques. Daily clinical practice shows us that ovarian response can vary substantially from one woman to another. With this in mind, we can diagnose a patient as a poor responder when three eggs or less are obtained.
This situation affects more and more women every day. They require specialised healthcare and personalised protocols and, in response to this need, Instituto Bernabeu has a Poor Ovarian Response Unit that deals with multidisciplinary diagnosis and treatment.
For patients under this category, obtaining one or more eggs can mean the difference between failure and pregnancy and this makes any steps taken to increase the number of available eggs absolutely essential. […]
Miscarriage rates in the general population with no fertility problems range around 15-20%. In other words, one out of every five couples who achieve pregnancy suffers a spontaneous miscarriage, and 5% of these couples suffer it more than once. Even when pregnancy is achieved with the help of assisted reproduction techniques, miscarriage rates do not vary. For this reason, it is important when couples come to our clinic seeking reproductive counselling to perform comprehensive testing and design an adequate protocol for their case to secure the best result, which is a healthy baby at home, minimising the chances of miscarriage. In order to do that, one should know that miscarriages and pregnancy losses are caused by different reasons (uterine problems, immunological problems, and so on), and yet in half the cases there are chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo that prevent pregnancies to progress, hence causing miscarriages. Normal embryos have two copies of each chromosome, one inherited from the father and the other from the mother, and the chromosomal anomalies they may suffer involve a change in the number of copies, producing an imbalance in their genetic load which might block embryo development. […]
In the year 2000, human sequencing was achieved following 10 years of scientific work and now, thanks to next generation DNA sequencing, we are able to get to know a human genome in the space of just one week. It is still not possible, however, to access 100% of the genetic information contained within an embryo, the true origin of human life. But scientific progress is unstoppable and with this new technique a new range of promising options for genetics, for fertility and for life have opened up.
According to researchers, the possibilities which DNA sequencing offers are revolutionary and huge. Despite being at a very initial stage in which only the tip of the next generation sequencing iceberg has been uncovered, the number of uses is so varied that determining how to manage everything this technique implies will, in fact, be the future’s biggest challenge.
For the time being, thanks to human sequencing, nowadays “there is greater power of analysis and this facilitates many things and very significant possibilities”, explains the scientist and molecular biology and genetics investigator at Instituto Bernabeu, José Antonio Ortiz. The new technique, which can only be carried out in leading international clinics such as IB, “has revolutionised genetics. Genetic studies are now much quicker.’ […]
Couples who are seeking pregnancy and have not managed to succeed for some time must surely have asked themselves this question.
These days, reproductive problems are more common than we may think. Consulting for them should not cause any fear, embarrassment or stress. Furthermore, in many cases the first consultation will help to correct minor abnormalities and facilitate pregnancy in a short period of time and in the simplest way conceivable.
Whatever the case, the advisory guidelines below are offered to help the process of deciding when to schedule an appointment with a specialist in Reproductive Medicine:
Age: The relationship of fertility with age has been made abundantly clear. As a consequence, the older the age, the shorter we should wait to schedule a fertility appointment. For example, from age 37, seeking pregnancy for just a few months would be enough to perform an initial assessment. In general, women who are younger than 30 may wait about a year for pregnancy to occur spontaneously.
Research in the field of assisted reproduction provides us with more and more answers to situations which previously had none. It gives us solutions, options and new ways of overcoming the many difficulties which arise in reproduction. What’s more, progress in science also helps diagnosis and treatment to be increasingly specific, personalised and individual. In fact, we might even say that the aim is to reach a point where one of a kind treatments are designed for one of a kind patients. […]
Assisted Human Reproduction is undoubtedly an area with ethical and moral implications. There are common issues that arise with the generation of new embryos when a couple undergoes ART and with transfers of previously frozen embryos. Some of the most frequent issues are: embryo manipulation and genetic diagnosis; the use of donor gametes and the possible coexistence of their legal children with the biological ones in the future; the option of discarding embryos by parents for no other purpose when they don’t wish to donate them to other couples with reproductive problems or for research purposes; the age of women accessing ART, along with a long list of legal, ethical and moral issues pertinent to each assisted reproduction centre. […]
We have built a new much more reliable, rapid technique (in 3 days the result is obtained) and as we do it directly in our laboratories the price is reduced to 50€. Only requires a blood test that can be performed in our clinics or send the sample by courier.
The determination of AMH levels in the woman’s blood helps us to assess the ovarian reserve and, together with the completion of an ultrasound to count antral follicles, provides information about their reproductive future and if there is or not a need to rush in getting pregnant.
It is also useful for individualizing the treatment for your fertility problem and helps predict the success of it.
The anembryonic pregnancy or “blighted ovum” is a specific type of miscarriage in which the fertilized egg implants in the uterus but the embryo does not develop. It is a relatively common problem: 10-15% of clinically detected pregnancies are lost spontaneously and one third of them are blighted ovum.
After fertilization, that is, after the union of sperm and egg, begin a series of cell divisions that lead to the formation of the gestational sac surrounded by a “shell” or cover called trophoblast (which is the one that will lead to future placenta); inside the gestational sac the embryo will develop. In the case of anembryonic pregnancy the gestational sac is formed with the trophoblastic cover but the embryo is not displayed because it has stopped developing at a very early stage, before reaching a millimeter in size, so it cannot be detected with an ultrasound. […]