Infertility affects 15 per cent of North American couples and is a tremendous strain on partners from an emotional, physical and financial perspective. Patients are looking for new treatments that will increase their chances of getting pregnant and researchers at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Centre for Fertility and Reproductive Health have a similar goal in mind – to improve patient success rates and patient satisfaction.
Supported by Mount Sinai Hospital’s internationally acclaimed Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, the Centre for Fertility and Reproductive Health is on the leading-edge of investigative research in the field of female and male fertility. Mount Sinai clinician-scientists have been at the forefront of some significant research breakthroughs including most recently, studying the relationship between vitamin D sufficiency/insufficiency as well as what genes are involved when a woman’s uterus will be most receptive to an embryo to achieve pregnancy.
In a study recently published in CMAJ Open, Dr. Kimberly Liu looked at 173 patients who were all undergoing fertility treatments at the Centre and found that 54.9 per cent of patients were considered vitamin D insufficient/deficient and 45.1 per cent were considered vitamin D sufficient. The researchers then looked at the pregnancy success rates following embryo transfer and found that patients who were considered vitamin D sufficient had significantly higher pregnancy rates (52.5 per cent) than those women who were considered vitamin D insufficient/deficient (34.7 per cent).
“We know that Canadians are prone to vitamin D insufficiency, especially during the winter months and this study shows that vitamin D supplementation could provide an easy and cost-effective means for improving pregnancy rates,” says Dr. Kimberly Liu, fertility specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Centre for Fertility and Reproductive Health. “At Mount Sinai Hospital’s Centre for Fertility and Reproductive Health, we are always looking at ways to improve a patient’s success with fertility treatments and this study gives us an opportunity for further research so we can continue to help our patients.”
In a new discovery published recently in the journal Fertility Sterility, Drs. Ellen Greenblatt, Ted Brown and Chrystal Chan have pinpointed which keys genes are involved when a woman’s uterus will be most receptive to an embryo to achieve pregnancy.
Current methods to assess uterine receptivity—or the ability of a woman’s uterus to ‘accept’ a viable embryo—involve uterine biopsy, which is invasive and unable to accurately predict pregnancy. However, a new method developed by researchers at Mount Sinai assesses the uterus non-invasively by gently suctioning fluid from the uterine cavity, called fluid aspiration. This method has allowed researchers to uncover which genes are involved in uterine receptiveness and based on these new findings, researchers hope that the new biomarkers will potentially guide the development of clinical tests that can improve the success of IVF outcomes for patients.
“The real strength of this approach is that it can be used in a cycle when a woman is trying to conceive, which, for the first time, will enable us to directly correlate candidate molecular markers with successful conception,” says Dr. Ellen Greenblatt, Medical Director, Mount Sinai Hospital’s Centre for Fertility and Reproductive Health. “It is our hope that this work will ultimately lead to improved success rates in IVF and in diagnosing underlying issues in infertility.”
The Centre for Fertility and Reproductive Health offers the most advanced infrastructure in Canada in genetics, maternal fetal medicine, surgical and medical support disciplines. Patients of the Centre are supported by Mount Sinai’s world renowned Women’s and Infants’ Health program, a Hospital-wide team specializing in the areas of genetics, maternal-fetal medicine, social work, nutrition and psychological counselling. The Centre is also known for its innovations in treating patients including being one of the first fertility clinics in Canada to offer fertility preservation options for cancer patients. To learn more about the Centre, please visit http://www.mountsinai.on.ca/care/fertility.