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How PRP is Showing Promise for Enhancing IVF Outcomes

ivf May 15, 2024

Navigating your fertility journey can be a path filled with hope, anticipation, and a quest for the most effective treatments to support conception. Among the innovative approaches gaining attention in the fertility field is the use of Plasma Rich Protein (PRP) therapy. This cutting-edge technique is still considered experimental but has shown promising results in enhancing the outcomes of embryo transfers and egg retrievals, offering new hope to those navigating the complexities of fertility treatments. The goal of PRP is to boost egg quality, make the uterine lining thicker, and make the lining more receptive for implantation.

So, what is PRP?

To better understand PRP it is important to understand the basic components of our blood. In general, our blood is composed of 4 main components:

- Plasma: This is the liquid part of your blood that is made up of mostly water, with some dissolved salts and proteins thrown in. It makes up more than half of your blood's volume and acts as a delivery system for everything else in your blood.

- Platelets: Think of these as the first responders when you get a cut. Also known as thrombocytes, they jump into action, helping your blood clot and releasing growth factors to mend wounds.

- Red Blood Cells: These guys are the oxygen carriers of the blood. Officially known as erythrocytes, they're all about picking up oxygen and swapping it for carbon dioxide, keeping your tissues well-oxygenated and happy.

- White Blood Cells: The body's immune warriors, also known as leukocytes, are on constant patrol to fend off invaders and keep you healthy.

Imagine PRP as a supercharged version of your blood, packed with platelets. These aren't just any platelets, though; they are loaded with growth factors that kickstart the body's healing process whenever there's an injury. They're like little powerhouses brimming with healing and regenerative superpowers. PRP has been used in various medical fields for the past two decades, from speeding up recovery to fighting the signs of aging.

Creating PRP

Creating PRP involves a few key steps, often using the blood of the individual receiving the therapy, though it can also be prepared from someone else's blood.

First, a blood sample is drawn just like you would undergo any standard blood collection.

Next, this sample is placed in a centrifuge, a device that spins the blood at high speeds. This process, lasting about 15 minutes, separates the blood into its different components.

Finally, a lab technician extracts the plasma, which is now concentrated with platelets and free from other blood cells, readying it for injection or infusion.

How is PRP used for fertility treatments?

PRP therapy is used at various stages of fertility treatments, to boost egg quality, egg quantity, and to enrich the thickness and receptivity of the uterine lining for embryo transfer. It's particularly beneficial for individuals with diminished ovarian reserve, those who have had poor outcomes in previous IVF cycles, or recurrent implantation failure (RIF).

PRP for Enhancing Egg Quantity...and Quality?

The quality and quantity of retrieved eggs are important factors in the success of IVF treatments. PRP therapy offers a promising approach to boost egg quantity, stimulate ovarian rejuvenation, and enhancing the response to fertility medications. The premise is that the growth factors in PRP can stimulate the ovaries, potentially leading to the production of higher-quality eggs.

The current research shows an increase in the number of eggs retrieved, however, in general it has not shown an improvement in blastocyst quality. More research is needed to determine if there is a clear improvement in blastocyst development and clinical pregnancy rates, suggesting an overall improvement in egg quality. 

There are two main methods by which PRP can be utilized to improve the quality and quantity of eggs:

  • Intraovarian PRP Injection: This technique involves the precise injection of 1-3 ml of PRP directly into the ovaries. Performed under sedation and with careful monitoring, a physician uses ultrasound guidance to navigate a needle through the vaginal wall into the ovaries, where the PRP is then introduced. Ideally, this procedure is conducted one to three months BEFORE beginning an IVF stimulation cycle. Although it can be done during egg retrieval, it's most beneficial for individuals planning to undergo another IVF cycle in the future.
  • High Volume Intrauterine PRP Infusion: In this procedure, a larger volume of PRP, about 8-10 ml, is slowly infused into the uterus using a catheter. The PRP flows through the uterus and fallopian tubes, surrounding the ovaries in plasma. After the infusion, the individual rests for about 10 minutes with the catheter still in place, allowing the PRP to exert its effects.

PRP for Enhancing Uterine Lining Thickness and Receptivity

For a successful pregnancy to occur, the uterine lining must be thick and healthy enough to support the embryo. PRP therapy comes into play by potentially enhancing the uterine environment, making it more conducive to embryo implantation. Studies suggest that injecting PRP into the uterine cavity can also improve the endometrial thickness.

PRP infusion is scheduled about 48 hours before the planned embryo transfer. This procedure involves infusing 3-5 ml of PRP into the uterus using a thin catheter, similar to an IUI or embryo transfer. After a brief rest period of 10 minutes, you can resume your daily activities.

For individuals with a history of inadequate uterine lining development, the PRP uterine wash can be part of a series of treatments. The initial PRP infusion occurs at the first check of the lining, with a possible repeat 72 hours later if the lining has not adequately developed.

The Potential and Promise of PRP for IVF

For individuals or couples undergoing fertility treatments, adding PRP therapy might offer extra hope. It's important to discuss this option with a fertility specialist familiar with the latest advancements in reproductive medicine. Together, you can decide if PRP therapy fits into your personalized fertility plan. Although PRP therapy is a newer addition to fertility treatments with promising early results, it combines regenerative and reproductive health techniques to potentially overcome fertility challenges. However, it's wise to approach PRP therapy with careful optimism, as ongoing research will clarify its effectiveness and safety in fertility treatments.

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