Harvesting Eggs Early May Improve Pregnancy Odds

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In a recent research report, it’s been discovered some women could have an improved chance of conceiving through IVF, if her eggs were harvested at an earlier stage. Past studies have shown that the rate of success for IVF declines from about 24 percent for women aged 38-39, while it’s just a bit more than 1 percent for females aged 44 and older.

IVF: What is it?

It seems like everyone knows what in-vitro fertilization is. However, not that long ago, IVF was not as well-known and the resulting infants were referred to as “test tube babies.” It’s not anything like artificial insemination; IVF combines eggs with sperm outside the body in a lab. Once an embryo is formed, it is then placed into a woman’s uterus. IVF is complicated and expensive, approximately 5% of infertile couples will actually do it.

IVF is never the first step in treatment for infertile couples. Most often the procedure is reserved for those who have tried other methods such as fertility drugs or surgery and in cases where artificial insemination hasn’t worked.

New Study Information

A new study found the function of cells that support egg development in the ovaries of a woman will decline after the age of 43. In women of advanced age, eggs in the ovaries are exposed to hormones that are usually released after ovulation. This premature start severely reduces the chances of pregnancy, researchers stated. Changing the timing of fertility treatments might possibly lead to better success rates for women undergoing in-vitro fertilization.

However, the research team discovered that older women, whose eggs were harvested earlier in the fertility treatment process, had a better chance at quality embryos. Eggs that were retrieved prior to going through the after-ovulation hormones were better quality and resulted in a higher pregnancy rate than those that were collected at a later stage of maturity.

The results of the new study were published in the August 12, 2015 edition of the Journal of Endocrinology.

Long Term Benefits of the Study

Lead author of the study, Dr. Yanguang Wu, an associate scientist and embryologist at the Center for Reproductive Medicine in NY states, “We used to think that aging eggs were responsible for poor IVF success rates in older women, but here we show that it is more due to aging of the egg’s environment.”
He went on to say more,” The chances of reversing damage to an egg are practically zero, and so these findings are exciting because it’s much more hopeful to therapeutically target the egg’s supportive environment.”

Further studies are needed to confirm these findings and it is the hope of Dr. Wu that it will result in improving the success rates for pregnancy in older women.


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