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Experts say '15' may not be the perfect number for IVF success after all

06 June 2011

By Dr Rosie Gilchrist

Appeared in BioNews 610

A US fertility clinic has issued a press release warning against simplistic interpretations of a recent report on IVF success rates.

The statement from New York's Center for Human Reproduction (CHR) responds to a study published in May, which found women undergoing IVF from whom 15 eggs were retrieved had the best chance of a live birth. The study spurred the headline '15 eggs is the perfect number needed to achieve a live birth after IVF'.

Dr Norbert Gleicher, Medical Director of CHR said the headlines oversimplify the data published in Human Reproduction (and reported in Bionews 607). 'Assuming that patients receive reasonable ovarian stimulation for IVF', he said, 'the number of retrieved eggs is only a reflection of the patients' ovarian reserve'.

Ovarian reserve describes how many eggs a woman's ovaries can provide. This can vary depending on her age or health. A woman's ovarian reserve affects how easily her eggs can be retrieved after her ovaries are stimulated to produce eggs during IVF.

Patients could be misled by the suggestion that 15 eggs is always the 'perfect number' to aim for in IVF treatment, Dr Gleicher says. For example, women over 40 will usually produce fewer eggs than young women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

'Technically, ovaries cannot be stimulated towards production of a specific number of eggs', said Dr David Barad, Clinical Director of IVF at CHR. He added: 'If the number of eggs, instead of ovarian reserve, were the true determinant of live birth chances, we could simply stop retrieving eggs when we reach that specified number. This, however, would only increase risks to patients. Perfect oocyte numbers, therefore, cannot really be acted upon'.

A study by CHR published in Fertility and Sterility found levels of anti-Muellerian hormone (AMH), which represents the ovarian reserve, above 1.05ng/ml led to the 'best live birth chances at all ages'.

They say the Human Reproduction study supports their finding that the ovarian reserve offering the best chance of live birth is the same for women of all ages.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

02 July 2012 - by Dr Sarah Spain 
For the first time, researchers in the USA have calculated cumulative success rates of infertility treatments that use IVF or assisted reproductive technologies (ART), and have showed that overall success rates come close to that of natural conception....
19 March 2012 - by Dr Lamiya Mohiyiddeen and Luciano Nardo 
IVF is a complex treatment for infertility requiring costly drugs and carrying significant risk of complications. Part of the procedure aims to stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs, and conventional methods include a combination of hormones to induce follicle growth, from which eggs are collected...
15 August 2011 - by Dr Tamara Hirsch 
Rhythmic activity detected in newly fertilised mouse eggs may provide a novel and non-invasive screening method for identifying embryos most likely to survive a full-term pregnancy, according to research published in Nature Communications...

16 May 2011 - by Dr Rosie Gilchrist 
A study of over 400,000 IVF treatment cycles in the UK has found a 'strong association' between the number of eggs retrieved prior to a woman undergoing IVF and live birth rate. The findings suggest that chances of a live birth increased with the number of eggs collected up to the number of 15, after which it began to decline....
20 December 2010 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
US researchers have shown a correlation between human egg quality and blood bisphenol A (BPA) levels. In a small-scale study women with higher blood BPA levels showed...
29 November 2010 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
A small study has recently suggested that women who use donated eggs in IVF could be at a higher risk of developing pre-eclampsia, a common but potentially dangerous pregnancy complication....
06 September 2010 - by Chris Chatterton 
Researchers from Newcastle University have announced that they have a better understanding of 'why older women are more likely to produce abnormal eggs, increasing the risk of infertility...
24 May 2010 - by Victoria Kay 
A US study on mice has given hope to women with reduced fertility, including those receiving treatment for cancer. If transferable to humans, it seems activating dormant eggs could increase the chances of conception....

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