Egg Quality and Other Success Factors in Fertility Treatment
So you are planning on an IVF cycle. What can you expect? IVF is the most successful infertility therapy available. It is high tech and complex but at the heart of it involves uniting an egg and the sperm and ensuring that a normal-appearing embryo arrives in the uterine cavity. Ultimately the success depends on the quality of the egg and sperm and the receptivity of the uterine cavity.
The most important IVF success factor by far is the egg quality and this is most influenced by the age of the woman providing the egg and her "ovarian reserve." The ovarian reserve is a concept which reflects the remaining number of eggs. While we cannot put a specific number on the number of eggs remaining, we can identify women who have significantly above average numbers of eggs and those that have significantly less than average.
In general the egg quality, i.e., the likelihood that the egg has the necessary 23 chromosomes to produce a healthy baby, follows quantity and most importantly decreases with maternal age. The ovarian reserve helps us estimate the chance of success and guides us in terms of the choice of drugs and dose to stimulate the ovaries to produce more than one egg.
Prior to beginning an IVF cycle, you will have completed an evaluation to make sure that the uterine cavity is normal, to determine via the semen analysis the best way to fertilize the eggs, and to exclude any preexisting condition which may reduce the chance of IVF success or complicate a subsequent pregnancy.
NOTE: In Dr. Ory's next IVF FLORIDA blog post, egg retrieval and the embryo transfer process will be explored.