Thursday, January 12, 2012

Medications and MTHFR

IVF Cycle #3 Drugs


Awwww the familiar and comforting sight of injectables! 
As you can see... my medications have arrived! This means we are very close. Within weeks actually (hopefully). 
Crazy to think it has been almost exactly 3 months since I have had to give myself a shot (since IVF #2 ended)! Seemed like some fuzzy memory that happened ages ago to someone else... And yet... opening the box... it all came flooding back. The shots, the medicine "mixing", the schedule, the worrying about where I would be when it was time to give myself a shot, the appointments, the "wand", the blood draws and waiting for the phone to ring. These are just the exterior/safe flashbacks, the emotional flashbacks I am saving for another post. Regardless, ready to start all of the above all over again. For the most part. 
I do feel a bit out of touch with this cycle already since I am on a brand new protocol (not that I have actually seen my protocol on paper yet) with all new drugs! I have never taken Follistim or Luverius before and what the heck do I even do with this pen? Hehe. I have previously been a Gonal F and Menopur girl, so these are all new to me.
From what I understand... I will be on a Long Lupron Protocol. 
My drugs of choice(?) this cycle include but are not limited to: 
Lupron
Follistim
Luveris
Novarel
Progesterone in Oil (PIO) 
Vivelle Patches
Doxycycline (oral)
Dexamethasone (oral)
Medrol (oral)
Norethindrone/Aygestin (oral)
Baby Aspirin
Those are in addition to my normal daily drug cocktail of: 
Metformin (2000mg)
MetanX
Prenatal 
Inositol (vitamin supplement)
CoQ10 (vitamin supplement)
L-Arginine (vitamin supplement)
Wow. Listing that all out makes me feel like a junkie.  :) 
I started my first oral pill for the upcoming cycle on Monday. Norethindrone (Aygestin) twice a day for 9 days. 
I start my Lupron injections this coming Monday (1/16). 10 units a night. 
My next appointment and suppression check is on 1/23 and from there I am in the dark. I suppose I will get a calendar at that point? Not really sure, since we are dealing with a new office and unfamiliar protocol, what comes next. The paperwork I have ends with “If tests show adequate suppression, you will be ready to start the stimulation phase”. Like immediately? So starting stims that night? or the next night? Who knows. I am trying to not over-obsess about the absence of a detailed and beautiful calendar (of the next month of my life). I, of course, already have a made-up retrieval date, transfer date, beta date and due date in my head. How this is possible for a cycle I have no concept of at this point... I have no clue. It’s a sickness. Thus the life of a control freak infertile.   
Also wanted to delve further into the MTHFR mutation I had mentioned in my last post. Looks like there are a bunch of us out there with it. I did find some more information. Seems like there are many different ways of managing this diagnosis based on your particular doctor... treatment is also based on your specific variation of the mutation. There are 5 different variations of the mutation. I think it is important for you to know your specific mutation and implications for your particular version (I have #2 listed below - Compound Heterozygous) I found a well written MTHFR Tutorial on a fellow bloggers site and will paste the info here. 

MTHFR Gene Mutation
What is it?
The gene MTHFR (Methylenetetrahydofolate Reductase) encodes the protein MTHFR. Its job is to convert one form of folate (5,10-Methylenetetrahydofolate) to another form of folate (5-Methyltetrahydrofolate). 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate is used to convert Homocysteine (a “bad” amino acid) to Methionine (a “good” amino acid). Therefore, if MTHFR is not doing its job as well, homocysteine will not be converted to Methionine and will be elevated in plasma. Elevated Homocysteine has been associated with a variety of multi-factorial diseases.
Essentially what this means is that the genes that instruct MTHFR to convert homocysteine to Methionine are mutated and may not be capable of doing this important function. MTHFR is an enzyme that converts Homocysteine to an essential amino acid (Methionine). When the genes are mutated you may be lacking this enzyme. Your Homocysteine levels can possibly climb making the blood clot. Some doctors don’t check for the MTHFR mutations and rely only on homocysteine levels. This isn’t as reliable as testing for the mutations, because Homocysteine levels fluctuate (if you catch your level on a normal day, you may go undiagnosed).
What Type Do I Have?
With MTHFR, there are two different genes identified for this mutation, and it’s possible to be “heterozygous,” “compound heterozygous,” or “homozygous.” The MTHFR gene mutation has varying degrees of possible implications. The order of potential severity from most to least is:
1. C677T & C677T (Two C Copies – C677T Homozygous)
2. C677T & A1298C (One Copy of Each The C & A – Compound Heterozygous)
3. C677T (One C Copy – C677T Heterozygous)
4. A1298C & A1298C (Two A Copies – A1298C Homozygous)
5. A1298C (One A Copy – A1298C Heterozygous)
The MTHFR mutation is fairly common in the general population. Approximately 44% of the population is heterozygous and another approximate 12% are homozygous for the MTHFR mutation. Compound heterozygous and homozygous MTHFR have the highest incidences of being linked to implantation failure, late term miscarriages, specific birth defects and overall vascular health. Whichever type of MTHFR you have, it should not be discounted, particularly if there is a personal or family history of any such incidences.
What Are the Implications?
Any and all of the mutations can affect homocysteine levels, but there is much dispute as to whether elevated homocysteine levels are actually needed in order for MTHFR to cause medical complications. Many other MTHFR patients have normal homocysteine levels; yet have had implantation problems, m/c(s), and/or stillbirth(s) due to clotting problems. So it is important to find out your Homocysteine levels (although again, normal doesn’t necessarily mean all is well). This is a serious field and MTHFR is a serious condition, so consulting an expert is wise.
Research shows that high homocysteine levels and/or those with the mutation show a higher propensity for thrombosis (blood clots), arteriosclerosis (hardening of arteries), Alzheimer’s, stroke, heart attack, Fibromyalgia, migraines (especially with “Aura” migraines), osteoporotic fractures, bone marrow disorders and for those of child bearing years, it has found to be connected to higher incidences of down’s syndrome, spina bifida, other neural tube defects, trisomy, miscarriage, stillbirth, implantation failure, placental abruption, preeclampsia, higher incidences of autism, amongst others. Additionally, if you test positive you may want to have your parents, siblings, and any children you may already have tested, as well. There are a few positives to this disorder. Because folate is necessary for cellular division, there is support that shows having this disorder can actually help keep certain types of cancer cells from multiplying as rapidly, so there are some benefits from having this mutation.
Treatment?
Many doctors prescribe Folgard (or MetanX), which is a prescription vitamin supplement containing high levels of folic acid, B12 and B6. These vitamins are what the body essentially needs to convert Homocysteine to Methionine. To put this into perspective, the average multivitamin contains 400 mcgs , most prenatals have 800mcgs of Folic Acid (200% of the normal daily value). Those that are compound heterozygous and those that are homozygous for the mutation are recommended taking 5 mgs. of Folic Acid/B vitamins (12 times the average multi-vitamin and 6 times more than prenatals). It is also recommended to begin taking a low dose (LD) aspirin (81 mgs) once a day, every day, for the rest of your life.
For those undergoing fertility treatments, often times the treatment includes Lovenox (low molecular weight heparin) or Heparin (both are anti-coagulants) during the cycle. If you have a history of implantation failure or early miscarriage, it is becoming more acceptable to use the protocol established by the well-respected Reproductive Immunologist Dr. Beers by beginning Lovenox (40mg/once a day) on cycle day 6 and continuing throughout the cycle. If pregnancy is confirmed, this dosage is likely increased (Typically up to 40mg/twice a day, but potentially higher doses are prescribed dependent upon blood work results since homocysteine levels tend to increase with pregnancy) and usage continues throughout your pregnancy. Approximately two to four weeks prior to birth, the patient is converted to Heparin and continues to take an anti-coagulant for another 6 weeks postpartum (typically switched back to Lovenox). During that time, you will typically be directed to take additional Calcium and Vitamin D, as anti-coagulants can cause bone loss (Heparin more so than Lovenox). Some doctors will recommend a bone scan after use is discontinued to ensure there are no bone density issues. While being treated with an anti-coagulant, you will typically be asked to discontinue taking the 81 mg. baby aspirin since the anti-coagulants will replace the need for the thinning property of the LD aspirin. The FDA has placed Lovenox in the pregnancy category B. Lovenox is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby. It is not known whether Lovenox passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use Lovenox without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. However, many doctors believe it is fine to breastfeed for the 6 weeks postpartum while still receiving Lovenox.


Hope that helps! Sorry for the wall o' text this post became! 

11 comments:

  1. I hope so too amiracle4us. :)

    Best of luck to you on this cycle as well!

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  2. You can do it!!! I don't know if their going to do injectables or not yet. I'll find out on the 10th. I'm a little umm freaking out thought because I'm spotting which is the day before AF curse. Way early and if that happens then I'll be on my period for our apt on the 10th and won't be able to do IUI till March, I'm not ok with this!

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    1. I hate it when the timing doesn't work out quite like you want it to. Hope AF is staying away for a bit longer for you.

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  3. I too am hoping the third time is the charm! Good luck getting started! And thanks for all the great info on MTHFR.

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  4. Thinking of you as you prepare for the 3rd and final cycle :) We'll be starting up IVF #1 soon so I'll be eager to read how you're doing.

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  5. Best wishes with this cycle!! We're be starting lupron on the 27th for IVF #2. Keep us posted!!

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  6. Good luck beginning your cycle tomorrow! Yes, when you go in for your suppression check on the 23rd, you will start the stims that night if everything looks good. They'll give you a calendar then. I too, wanted to know all the info up front, but the just take it one step at a time telling you all you need to know only on the appointment right beforehand. I kept asking questions and they would always assure me they'd give me all the info when the time came.

    I'm so excited you get to start IVF #3. I think this is your time!

    Thank you so much for the info on MTHFR. This did not concern my RE, but now that I see it can be serious and cause implantation failure, I am definitely putting that on my list to ask which type am I and make sure I do not require supplements.

    And yep, I'm still around and definitely enjoying all this CA sunshine! :)

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  7. Holy crap. That is a lot of meds! Meds that hopefully make a baby blondie! ;)

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  8. Whenever I see pics of all those meds my jaw just drops. Good luck on this cycle! Hoping and praying this is it for you!

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  9. I have the 4th variety of MTHFR listed and my RE said they do nothing with that variant. It makes me nervous, but I don't suppose I have much recourse... good luck starting your new cycle!

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