How the number of eggs retrieved could be much less than the number of embryos you end up with.
If you’re having kid problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 eggs, but a blast ain't one.
My friend's friend was going through IVF and telling me about her friend who needed advice. Remember, I have been everyone's BFF (best fertility friend) for a while now.
She had 15 eggs come out of the retrieval, but only two "good" embryos. She was devastated. She wanted my thoughts on what had gone wrong.
My first thought was, "What? This is great news!" But then I remembered my first round, at the cocky age of 33, when 15 eggs came out, and I thought, "Amazing! I have a farm of frozen 33-year-old embryos. Anytime I want a kid, I could shove an embro-pop inside. So glad I’ll only have to do this silly process, for old women with broken vags, once.”
Yes, I know that your actual vagina, has nothing to do with IVF, but that’s not the point.
The reality was that at the end of my first round I only had two good embryos. And that pattern- many eggs equaling two good embryos- continues for all ten of my rounds.
I want to take you through the process of how you go from fifteen eggs to two embryos.
If 15 eggs are retrieved, typically only half are mature. That means big enough, mature enough, to get fertilized. So you’re already down to about seven. From those seven, a little more than half survive the fertilization process. Now you probably have about five. Those five have to grow for three to five days.
By day three there will be about three or four eggs that are still viable, with only two or three being good quality, but all of the knots in the genetic recipe haven’t been clearly exposed yet.
By day five, you’ll probably have three or four still viable eggs with one or two being good quality, and by waiting have a better sense of the genetically normal embryos.
That’s a very successful round.
But what’s also interesting is that when women only have 7-9 egg retrieved, they also have only 1-2 good embryos at the end.
Biology nerd alert: In nature, we have many eggs in our ovaries, but, only one becomes the alpha egg and the rest, the betas, get reabsorbed into our bodies. In IVF, the stimulation drugs try to make all of those eggs potential alphas. But time and time again, I hear from my friends that only one or two embryos are looking solid at the end of the process. I wonder if those embryos come from the one to two egg that would have naturally been the alpha(s).
There are other outcomes. You could have many eggs retrieved that produce many good embryos and get that farm of embro-pops that I always wanted. You’ll never have to stick your booty with a needle again.
Or, you could have a batch of seemingly good looking, but not genetically healthy embryos. How do you know? You get them genetically tested or just start using one at a time in and see if any stick.
What happens if you don’t have any good embryos?
Your next steps depend on why.
If you were producing a lot of eggs, and now you aren’t, your body might need a break. Get your body off the hormones and clean out your body and clear your mind. I have a lesson in the course on how, or call me for the info and we can discuss during a free consult.
An outcome that raises a huge flag, however, is when you produce eggs but no good embryos result. When I hear this, I think that the laboratory that your clinic is using is not a good fit. Specifically, the clinic and laboratory are not successful at handling and growing the embryos and you should look for a new one.
The lab and embryologist are the superhero miracle workers in IVF. The way the eggs and embryos are handled will dramatically affect the results.
So if your eggs and embryos need TLC, you need to find the right clinic for that. I discuss criteria for the best clinic depending on your needs in Lesson #1 of my online course, and always discuss this important piece of the IVF puzzle in my free consults. Overall, the older you are, or less likely you are to get good embryos, the more specific you need to be about the laboratory that your IVF clinic uses.
In sum, getting one or two good embryos is typical and a successful round for most women. Don’t get discouraged, and never compare your outcome with others.
If you are not getting the outcome that you want, contact me to discuss a new strategy.