We were pleased to have our poster presentation accepted into this year's meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The title -- Differential Relationship Between the Total Number of Oocytes Retrieved and the Implantation Rate in IVF and ICSI Patients -- may sound dry, but our results were positive news for patients who need IVF to have a baby.
The Houston Infertility Clinic staff, in conjunction with the Department of OB/Gyn at the University of Sydney in Australia, examined 351 IVF cycles. In each case, patients were using their own eggs and non-frozen embryos. We looked at:
the number of eggs retrieved
number of embryos transferred
results of clinical pregnancy tests
Next we compared those cycles that included ICSI and those that used "conventional" IVF for insemination. These two groups were then split up into three sub-groups, based on the number of eggs that were retrieved (either 1-10 eggs, 11-20 eggs, or 21-40 eggs.)
It might seem a simple question of statistical odds that the more eggs you produce, the better your chances, but...
Here's the good news: We concluded that, at least in our hands, patients using ICSI who were in the 11-20 egg group had the highest implantation rate. Patients using "conventional" IVF w/o ICSI had higher implantation rates when they were in the subgroup producing the most eggs (21-40 eggs).
It's important to note that quality of eggs -- rather than quantity -- is the more important measure. Patients shouldn't be discouraged if their bodies aren't producing a high number of eggs. As our study indicates, the use of ICSI seems to make a noticeable difference in outcome.
On a related note -- in some cases, women's ovaries will produce far fewer eggs than everyone hoped for in an IVF cycle. Different clinics have different policies; many are, frankly, guided by heavy concern about success rate statistics.
Our policy is that if a patient wants to move forward and retrieve the one follicle that her ovary brought forth, we will respect her wishes and do our best to render highest quality care toward the best possible outcome.
We want every patient to have a fighting chance at getting pregnant.