What is Intralipid?

Intralipid is a medication given intravenously (through a vein). It is often used as a form of food given through the vein to people who cannot eat for a variety of reasons, e.g. unconscious patients.

More recently it has also begun to be used to improve pregnancy rates and reduce miscarriage rates.

It was designed as an intravenous feeding medication to provide calories for patients who cannot eat. It has been in human use since the 1970’s and is known to be very safe. It is a synthetic fluid made up of soya bean oil, egg yolk, phospholipids, glycerine and water.

What is Intralipid used for?

The main use of Intralipid is feeding very sick patients who cannot eat such as patients in ICU with severe burns, HIV patients, and seriously ill children. It is also given to people with deficiencies of certain essential fatty acids.

Other medical uses are;

  • local anaesthetic toxicity (poisoning) can lead to collapse. This can be totally reversed by Intralipid infusion, if the usual resuscitation methods do not work
  • it may work as an antidote for other poisonings – but this is not a widespread use

Why is it used in fertility clinics?

Intralipid has a suppressive action on certain components of the immune system, and may act by essentially safeguarding the embryo from the immune reactions inside the womb which might otherwise result in rejection of the embryo or implantation failure. Both implantation failure and miscarriages may be prevented by infusions of intralipid before and during the process of embryo implantation.

How does it work?

It is not clearly understood how Intralipid works, but it seems to change the immune system inside the womb in a helpful way. It is thought to lower natural killer cell activation and may enhance endotoxin clearance in the lining of the womb (endometrium).

How is it given?

It is given as an intravenous infusion (a drip inserted into a vein in your arm).

Who uses Intralipid?

Intralipid is currently offered to patients with; one or more previous miscarriages, blood tests suggesting immune dysfunction or one or more failed IVF cycles where implantation failure might be a cause.

What are the risks of intralipid?

Intralipid has not been studied in pregnant women, so it remains unknown whether it may have any effects on a growing fetus. So far there have been no reports of any increases in abnormalities in babies born after intralipid has been used, however until such data are available the use of intralipid must be seen as experimental.

Why might intralipid not work for me?

Intralipid will not work to create a healthy pregnancy for everyone. This is because for many people the immune system is functioning normally. In many IVF cycles that do not result in a pregnancy the reason can be a problem with the quality of the embryos, leading to an abnormal fetus developing. These genetically abnormal fetuses are a normal part of human reproduction and are a common reason why humans do not get a pregnancy every month they try and also why a lot of early pregnancies will result in an unpreventable early miscarriage. Changing the immune environment inside the womb will not increase the chance of these embryos implanting.

If you are interested in Intralipid treatment please call our clinic and discuss the treatment with one of the clinic nurses. Often a doctor’s appointment will be needed to discuss the treatment.