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Pregnancy Bliss | Reproductive Health Hub

Sex selection and number of embryos in IVF

Comment: Please i will like to get more information on the IVF, multiple babies and sex determination of the babies. Because i have been advice that with IVF i can determine the number of babies and the sex i want. M. (UK)

Answer: Assisted conception in the form of IVF is a robustly regulated area of medical practise in the UK. The relevant authority is The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).  This is mainly for the benefit of prospective parents and the children that may result from the undertaking. On the specific issue of sex selection, this is strictly prohibited in the UK except under certain strict circumstances. The specific wording of the relevant regulation states: “With respect to any embryo testing programme involving biopsy the centre must ensure that any information derived from tests on an embryo, or any material removed from it or from the gametes that produced it, is not used to select embryos of a particular sex for social reasons.


With regard to the number of embryos that can be transferred back into the womb, since the year 2001, the HFEA has a regulation in place that restricts this to two. It means therefore no IVF centre in the UK can transfer more than two embryos into the womb of a woman at any one time. This is specifically meant to minimise the risk of higher order multiple pregnancy with all the consequent potential risks associated with these. You may well be aware that the higher the number of babies in the womb, the higher the risk of such risks as miscarriage and severe prematurity (and complications associated with this). Rules governing IVF vary from country to country and you may find different rules in other countries. However, it is important to bear in mind that the rules stipulated above are, ultimately, for the best interest of the mother and the child(ren) she intends to have. You can access the HFEA website here for more information.



UTI and vaginitis in pregnancy

Question:  I'm 34 weeks pregnant and my urine culture shows insignificant growth. what does this mean and will this be a risk to the baby or will the baby be effected in any way if antibiotics are being taken? i am having vaginitis also, and i have taken treatment for that two times during pregnancy. Is it related to the inflammation of the vagina or vaginitis is due to presence of urinary tract infection? M.S. (Maldives)


Answer: If the urine culture shows ‘insignificant’ growth that does categorically mean there is NO urinary tract infection (UTI). That also means there is no risk to the baby. As for the vaginitis, it is possible that the inflammation is being worsened by the use of antibiotics. In most cases,inflammation of the vaginal walls during pregnancy is due to thrush. Taking antibiotics when there is thrush will almost always make the condition worse. My view from the information I have here is that you should not use any further medication for this unless there is objective evidence of a specific problem. Urinary tract infection has been effectively ruled out. If there is vaginal soreness or discharge, you should have a swab taken and microscopic examination of this and/or a culture of the sample will be able to show whether there is a specific infection. As I said earlier, in pregnancy, if there is any positive result from this, chances are it will be thrush. My best wishes.


Vitamin B12 deficiency and fertility

Comment: I'm 37 years old and was diagnosed as vitamin B12 deficient.my problem is that my whole body is swelling,can this be the deficiency symptoms or its something else 2.am also trying to conceive without success am I going to conceive or without complications or it is now the end of the road? A.M. (UK)


Answer: It is doubtful that the deficiency of Vitamin B12 is responsible for the body swelling you mention. This is not a feature of B12 deficiency. If you have whole body swelling that is persistent, that can be a feature of a kidney problem. I would certainly advice that you seek the  attention of your doctor without delay. As for the difficulties conceiving, it is true that uncorrected vitamin B12 deficiency can be associated with sub-fertility. However, this issue resolves swiftly once the deficiency has been corrected. I would assume that following the diagnosis, correct measures probably in the form of Vitamin B12 injections have been put in place. I cannot ofcourse be sure whether your reported difficulties had something to do with the Vitamin B12 deficiency but, now that this has been identified and since it is easy to correct, it should cease to be a concern. It is, however, important that you are seen by a specialist to see whether, indeed, there is a problem and if so, what that might be. You will need to be seen together with your partner. Bear in mind that this may turn out to be an unexplained delay and no actual problem is found. Best wishes.



Anencephaly, PID and antibiotics

Question:   I went to the ER awhile back and i was having pain in the lower abdomen and i missed my period. at the time i was only 16 years old. they did a exam and took blood and urine, when the results came back they said they ran 3 pregnancy test one was positive, one was negative and one was slightly positive so they did another exam and the lady said to my mother, well she feels like she is pregnant but we are going to say not pregnant and treat her for PID. They told my mom they where doing so many pregnancy test because the medicine they where giving me was not suppose to be giving to pregnant women it could cause severe birth defects so she said ok and they gave me a needle and 2 pills.

I think i had to take antibiotics at home to but im not sure i cant remember. So a month went by and i still got no period and i was still having some pain so i went to the doctors again they did another pregnancy test, this time it was positive so they said, well you are pregnant and i was so happy. I forgot about the PID treatment. i went for a sonogram they said that i was 12 weeks already everything was progressing fine they said. so time went on i was very sick through the whole pregnancy. Then when i was 8 months along the baby stopped moving i went to the labor and delivery and they said my baby had died and that i was going to have to give birth to him. I went though 4 days of labor crying every second i don’t even think i felt the contractions cause i was in so much pain from losing our son. Then when the little guy was born the said he had Anencephaly. I was in shock i didn't know what to do or think. Now that i am aware of everything i have been researching the facts and my question is: Can the treatment of PID cause Anencephaly in a fetus that is only 2 to 3 weeks along? Please let me know i am so worried that this never had to happen that my baby could still be here with us. Thank you for your time. S.P.


Answer: Yours is a harrowing story.  However, it is impossible for me or anybody else for that matter to say for sure whether there was a direct link between the antibiotics you were treated with and your baby having anencephaly. As a general rule, most antibiotics are NOT associated with birth defects but a few are. On the specific type of birth defect of anencephaly, the so-called ‘sulfa’ antibiotics (sulphonamides) have been shown in some studies to increase the risk of this condition. However, this is not the same as saying they cause the condition. I do not have information on the specific type of antibiotics you were treated with so cannot be more specific in my comment. However, purely on a balance of probability, it is unlikely that the treatment was responsible. What I am rather puzzled about in the story is the fact that you had a scan at 12 weeks (probably more scans later on) but the diagnosis was missed. That is really strange because anencephaly should be obvious at a 12 weeks scan and even more so at a later stage. I hope things work out well for you and your partner going forward.