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Houston Fertility Center

15 Is Magic Number?

By Sonja Kristiansen, MD on May 16, 2011

Last February, I wrote that there's no magic to getting pregnant. That post was specific to "miraculous" fertility supplements. Well, now the news is full of "magic" again. This time, it's a Magic Number.

It's 15.

What kind of magic does the number 15 do for infertile couples?

A study that looked at 17 years worth of data concluded that 15 eggs retrieved in one IVF cycle renders the best chance of a live birth. Retrieving more eggs than that was linked to higher incidence of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.

The study authors failed to clarify that they were looking at conventional IVF cycles, not at cycles using very minimal or no ovulation stimulation medication. They did, however, tease out and present their findings related to the different ages within the study subjects. Specifically, the number 15 (eggs) did not make the live birth chances for women over 40 much better than otherwise. But as this article in the Globe and Mail suggests, a chance of live birth boosted by 4 percent might be inspiring to fertility patients older than 40.

I would remind patients that this is statistics, although well done. I worry about patients hearing these sorts of numbers and feeling stressed because theirs haven't "hit". As with so many aspects to treating infertility, your mileage may vary. We do everything possible to make each cycle safe *and* effective, and always, the outcome -- a healthy baby -- is our focus.

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