Fertility news from Europe: Key takeaways from ESHRE 2023

As part of our mission to provide support for fertility and family-forming care, Carrot is committed to keeping up with the latest fertility treatment and care trends worldwide. That’s why the Carrot team attended and exhibited at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) 39th annual conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, this summer. ESHRE promotes universal improvements in fertility research and clinical practice, while also providing guidance that enhances safety and quality assurance in clinical and laboratory procedures. Here are some of our biggest takeaways from the sessions we attended at ESHRE.

European data shows a decrease in multiple embryo transfers

The European IVF Monitoring (EIM) Consortium presented 2020 data from roughly 880,000 IVF cycles from 38 European countries. They found that single embryo transfers (SET) have increased across Europe. SET is the single most predictive indicator of singleton IVF pregnancies, which are linked to safer deliveries, healthier babies, and lower healthcare costs. Carrot has achieved a U.S. industry-leading SET rate and we’re happy to see that this continues to be best practice in Europe as well.

In future years, we may also hear about outcomes from other medical treatments for fertility, as well, including but not limited to intrauterine insemination, ovarian stimulation, and fertility cryopreservation (i.e., egg freezing). A European monitoring body for Medically Assisted Reproduction (EuMAR) has been established and is working with the EIM to build on reporting through national-level registries in order to develop a pan-European registry of data on the use and outcomes of all MAR treatments, not just IVF. We will be curious to learn more about outcomes across Europe from these treatments in addition to those from IVF.

New ESHRE guidelines and practice recommendations

Important guidelines and discussions were presented regarding two critical aspects of reproductive medicine:

Recurrent implantation failure (RIF) guidelines: A conference session featured a comprehensive overview of RIF, a challenging issue in reproductive medicine. This guideline overview shared the latest research on evidence-based interventions recommended to address this diagnosis, such as microbiome profiling, NK cells, IVIG, and assisted hatching. While more research is needed before these interventions become best practices, these guidelines represent a significant advancement in improving the management and outcomes for people experiencing RIF, potentially providing new hope for successful pregnancies.

“Add-ons” recommendations: Add-ons can be new innovations or adjuvant (applied after initial treatment) therapies that are introduced either within the ART laboratory or within reproductive medicine practice. The ESHRE recommendations provided specific suggestions to help practitioners make informed decisions about the use of add-ons during fertility treatments. The speakers strongly emphasized the importance of refraining from offering and charging patients for add-ons as part of their best practice treatments and laboratory innovations. The ESHRE guidelines teams were particularly flagging those they believed lacked sufficiently robust scientific evidence and should remain experimental until more studies confirm their value, safety, and efficacy. At Carrot, we agree that IVF add-ons should only be considered when there is sufficient evidence they can improve outcomes.

These insights demonstrated a theme we noticed through the ESHRE conference, which stressed ongoing efforts to improve reproductive medicine practices and to ensure that patients receive the most effective and evidence-based treatments available.

Trends in artificial intelligence (AI)

AI may currently seem like a buzzword, but we attended many sessions on how artificial intelligence may improve clinical and laboratory outcomes. This included ways to predict how many cycles a patient might need to get pregnant, how to optimize hormone stimulation protocols, how to improve efficiency during ultrasound monitoring, how to accurately identify viable sperm, and how to better improve the entire patient journey. While a lot of these practices are still in the research phase, we will continue to monitor these advances as they become validated and may eventually be viewed as best practice.

A global effort committed to fertility education

The Fertility Awareness Project has been conducted by Fertility Europe since July 2021 and introduced Fertility Facts at ESHRE this year. FActs! is an educational game in the form of a digital questionnaire available on the web. The goal is to increase fertility awareness and advocate for reproductive health education. In addition to the FActs! game, the British Fertility Society and their fertility education initiative were also exhibiting and promoting reproductive health awareness.

At Carrot, our members are at the core of everything we do. As a global solution, we strive to understand differences in global practice, as well as the regulatory and cultural nuances that impact care in order to provide the best support to our members regardless of where they live in the world. We always work to incorporate insights such as these into action as we continue to collaborate with and learn from leading global experts in order to support our Carrot members.

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