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Alex Reid’s fiancée, Nikki Manashe’s fertility journey (an update)

In the fertility journey of the fiancée of Alex Reid, Nikki Manashe, there has been a snag that has slightly disrupted the journey: Nikki recently underwent surgery to remove a cyst in her womb while she is in the midst of her latest cycle of IVF treatments. This surgery brings up topics such as the concepts of natural killer cells, otherwise known as NK cells, and an ectopic pregnancy.

January 1, 2021
Alisha Chunara

In addition, this obstacle was further magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic conditions. However, this surgery has also brought up subjects that should be considered and thoroughly investigated by women who may want to go the IVF route. So, let's dive into the situation regarding Nikki’s surgery, and the other complications that Nikki has faced while conducting cycles of the IVF procedure.  

Nikki Manashe’s surgery

Alex recently announced on Instagram that Nikki had to have a large cyst that was found in her womb removed after experiencing excruciating pain and constant bleeding, but that Nikki is recovering well following the surgery. The surgery involved doctors removing 60 milliliters of fluid. 

Since 2013, Nikki and Alex have been together and trying to have a baby. They have gone through three cycles of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, and are currently in their fourth cycle, a cycle being conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The past three IVF cycles all resulted in miscarriages. Additionally, it has been observed that Nikki has been unable to carry a pregnancy past the 12-week mark. Alex has noted that because of the COVID-19 conditions, Nikki had to have the operation alone. 

Alex has referred to Nikki as “...a trooper,” and that he thinks that Nikki is amazing for bearing through all the pain and suffering. In addition, he added that he finds that it is rare to find a life partner in your best friend, which he has. In addition, Alex has been documenting the IVF journey over the years, and Alex has also given up caffeine, alcohol, and even hot baths in order to maintain the health of his sperm.

In addition to this recent complication in the IVF journey of Nikki and Alex, they have also faced other complications in their fertility journey. A major factor that has caused their struggles has been attributed by Nikki and Alex to an ectopic pregnancy that both had struggled through earlier in their relationship. Nikki believes that this pregnancy is one of the reasons why she is struggling to conceive a healthy embryo, along with a high proportion of natural killer cells, which can attack any embryo that is implanted into an embryo.

In order to thoroughly comprehend Nikki’s condition in the stage that she is in her fertility journey, it would be beneficial to understand the concepts of an ectopic pregnancy and natural killer cells.

An Instagram post by Alex Reid with a picture of his fiancée in a car next to it
Alex Reid’s Instagram post that details Nikki’s recent surgery during her latest round of IVF treatments. Image courtesy of Instagram.

What exactly is an ectopic pregnancy?

In a normal situation, a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus, but in an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg implants and grows outside the main cavity of the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy almost always occurs in a fallopian tube, which carries eggs from the ovaries to the uterus, and this type of ectopic pregnancy is also referred to as a tubal pregnancy. However, an ectopic pregnancy can also occur in other areas of the body, such as the abdominal cavity, one of the ovaries, or in the lower part of the uterus, or in the cervix, which connects to the vagina.

Generally, an ectopic pregnancy does not produce a normal embryo, as the fertilized egg cannot survive in any other organ other than the lining of the uterus, and the growing tissue surrounding the fertilized egg that is located in any other organ other than the lining of the uterus can cause life-threatening bleeding if left undetected, undiagnosed, and untreated.

Causes of an ectopic pregnancy

A tubal pregnancy, which is the most common type of ectopic pregnancy, occurs when a fertilized egg gets stuck in the fallopian tube when it is on its way to the uterus. This can happen if the fallopian tube is damaged by inflammation or if the fallopian tube is misshapen. In addition, abnormal development of the fertilized egg or hormonal imbalances may also play a role.

Here are some select things that can make you more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy:

  • Previous ectopic pregnancy: If you have had one before, then chances are that you are more likely to have another.
  • Inflammation or infection: If you have sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, then these diseases can cause inflammation in the fallopian tubes and other nearby organs, thereby increasing your risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Fertility treatments: There has been some studies conducted that suggest that women who go through cycles of IVF treatments or similar treatments are more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy. In addition, Infertility itself may also raise the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Tubal surgery: If you undergo surgery to correct a closed or damaged fallopian tube, then having that surgery can increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Smoking: If you smoke cigarettes just before you get pregnant, then you can increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.

There is no way to prevent an ectopic pregnancy, but if you limit your number of sexual partners and use protection during sexual intercourse to prevent STDs and thereby reduce the risk of developing a pelvic inflammatory disease, and if you do not smoke, especially before you try to get pregnant, you will reduce your risk of going through an ectopic pregnancy.

Finally, here is a brief understanding of natural killer cells.

Two images of different types of uteruses concerning two types of pregnancies
A diagram that illustrates what a normal pregnancy looks like, versus an ectopic pregnancy. Image courtesy of Mayo Clinic.

What are natural killer cells, exactly?

There is a theory that determines that women can experience failure with IVF because these women can be exhibiting overactive immune systems that employ natural killer cells (NK cells) to attack an embryo or foetus while it is developing in the womb. These NK cells live in the uterus and their function is to attack any foreign elements that carry illness and disease. However, when an embryo is inserted into the uterus, malfunctioning NK cells can perceive the embryo to be a threat and kill it off.

Microscopic image of a violet cell against a green backdrop
The function of natural killer cells is to be vigilant defenders throughout the uterus, but an artificially implanted embryo can seem like a dangerous, violating element to NK cells. Image courtesy of Conceive Baby

Vigilance needs to be exercised strongly, and one needs to be completely educated, when it comes to going through the IVF procedure, as any overlooked element can cost you in the long run.

Image courtesy of Free Press Journal.

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