Saturday, October 18, 2008

Why so many eggs?

So, I've had a lot of questions from non-IVFers who wonder why us IVF girls are so intent on getting as many eggs as we can. I mean, it is not at all comfortable, it can cause a dangerous life-threatening condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) and really, you only need one, right? Well, we can start by saying that each IVF costs a lot of money and you really want a good chance and the more embryos you have, the better your chances of being able to do multiple cycles with only one stimulation/retrieval cycle. However, the quest for as many eggs as possible gains more importance as women get older.

I've had it explained like this. Imagine a fishtank filled with colored golf balls. In your teens and 20's that fishtank is almost entirely filled with green golfballs, with just a few red ones in it. If you take a ladle and drop it into the tank, you will come up with almost entirely green golf balls, and these are good eggs, likely to create healthy embryos and term pregnancies. As you get older- into the late 20's and early 30's, there are more and more red balls so that maybe it is 50/50. If you drop a ladle in, now you get a few green and a few red, your chances are still good to get a healthy baby and pregnancy. Now imagine mid 30's, there are maybe more than 50/50 to almost 75/25 in the late 30's, your chances of getting green golf balls is getting slimmer and slimmer. As a result, you really want to get a bigger ladle, right? so that maybe a bigger ladle will increase your chances of getting at least a few green golf balls and having a healthy pregnancy.

These numbers are not the same for all women. For some of us, as we learn from all this IVF testing, our eggs go bad sooner (some I've seen at 32-34). Others have many good healthy eggs at 38. You really don't know this until you do A LOT of testing of FSH levels, AMH, antral follicle counts, etc. And, even with all that testing, doctors still consider age itself a factor. So, you see, it is not strange or greedy to want to get more eggs, it is simply a numbers game, and we all want to win.

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