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Number of eggs retrieved and IVF success rates according to female age

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When attempting in vitro fertilization, the level of response of the ovaries varies greatly when women take the injectable FSH drugs for ovarian stimulation . This leads to a range of eggs being retrieved at the egg retrieval procedure.

Before we stimulate the woman with the FSH containing drugs, antral follicle counts are the best predictor of the response the ovaries will give, and the number of eggs that will be retrieved.

To some extent, the more eggs we have to work with, the greater the chance that IVF will be successful. There are several issues involved with this:

  1. More eggs will give us more fertilized eggs - which results in more likelihood of having 2 good quality embryos for the embryo transfer procedure. This is an embryo selection issue.

    Embryo quality and grading

  2. Women that respond well to the stimulation drugs sometimes also have better egg quality - and therefore would be more likely to have some high quality embryos.
Egg quantity and quality issues related to ovarian reserve and egg supply

IVF success rates by number of eggs and age
This graph shows our live birth rates by the number of eggs retrieved & female age

The data in the graph above shows that:

  • Women under 35 have the highest success rates in all of the "egg number" groups
  • Women under 38 in our IVF program have acceptable live birth rates even with only 3 - 6 eggs, do better with more than 6 eggs, and do best with more than 10 eggs.
  • Women 38-40 and 41-42 years old have low live birth rates with low egg numbers. Success rates are much better when relatively high egg numbers are obtained.
  • All age groups have very low success rates with less than 3 eggs retrieved

This is another example of decreasing egg quality with increasing female age. As women age, we need more eggs to be able to make IVF work - because of the lower quality of the eggs.

This is why IVF centers stimulate women in order to get sufficient eggs

  • We are not trying to get more eggs so that we can transfer more embryos
  • We are trying to get "enough eggs". So when the expected drop-off occurs as some embryos arrest their development (a normal process) - we will still have one or 2 "good" ones for transfer back to Mom.
Babies who had our help
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