July 31, 2020

Does Human Growth Hormone Enhance Egg Quality During IVF?

Does Human Growth Hormone Enhance Egg Quality During IVF?

Ovarian aging occurs at different times in different women. Prior to perimenopause, usually by their late 30’s or early 40’s, most women enter a transition associated with diminished ovarian reserve (DOR). Diminished ovarian reserve means that the number and quality of your eggs is lower than what is expected of your age. This means that most (but not necessarily all) of your good eggs have gone. There are effective IVF protocols designed to assist women in achieving a successful pregnancy with their own eggs despite their diagnosis of DOR. In relation to this, some patients ask about the use of Human Growth Hormone (HGH), and does human growth hormone enhance egg quality during IVF. Let’s explore that.

Can Human Growth Hormone (HGH) increase your chances of success with IVF?

Since ancient times, people have championed novel treatments to stem the aging tide. Growth hormone (GH) has been promoted as an adjuvant to combating natural aging, and also as a way for women with severe DOR to obtain more eggs.

In the July 2020 issue of Fertility and Sterility, a recent review and meta-analysis was published on the efficacy of GH co-treatment for patients not responding well to IVF. This review conclusively demonstrated that live-birth rates are not increased due to using growth hormone. In fact, it speaks volumes that GH for women undergoing IVF is not available for this indication in the United States. Women with diminished ovarian reserve may, in desperation, be vulnerable to a vocal few advocating such expensive and ineffective treatments. Unfortunately, the bottom line is that there is no treatment that can stop the process of diminished ovarian reserve. The good news, though, is that women with this diagnosis do have options.

Can you still get pregnant with diminished ovarian reserve?

Ovarian reserve changes over time, but that doesn’t mean your dream of motherhood has to change. Being diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve can be discouraging, but it is still possible to get pregnant with your own eggs or donor eggs. This is something we can discuss together and find the right solution that works for you. While using your own eggs may seem like the ideal path to take, there does come a time when the chance of a successful pregnancy becomes so low that going further with one’s own eggs risks financial and emotional strain. An IVF cycle with donor eggs may the best option for women with DOR, especially if the eggs that remain are of inferior quality. It is important to remember that love, not genes, makes a family. Donor eggs can provide an effective means to help you achieve your dream of parenthood.

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Joseph A. Hill, III, M.D.

Joseph A. Hill, III, M.D. Board-Certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility