IVF Success Tips: How many eggs or embryos do you need to find one that is normal?
IVF is a numbers game. The more embryos you have, the higher your chance of getting pregnant. There is no guarantee with IVF, and it’s not 100% success rate, which is why there are so many failures and why percentages vary from person to person based on age, medical history, and protocol. The reality is the chance of getting a healthy, normal embryo decreases with each passing year. So the older we get, the harder it is to not only produce healthy embryos, but good quality embryos as well. But we do not have to take those statistics as dogma. We have a little bit more control than you think, and that’s exactly what I’m going to talk about in this episode of FertilityTV. We’re going to discuss tips to improve your outcomes with IVF, and what are the likelihood of having a normal embryo with the amount of eggs that you produce on any given cycle? So keep watching to learn more.
Before we jump into it, I do want to give a quick shout-out to the sponsor of this week’s video, the FertileMind App. You’ve heard me mention them before, and I’m a big fan and you should be too. So if you haven’t tried it out, I want to encourage you and invite you to do so using the link in the description below. But that’s not it. Only for my viewers, that’s right for my viewers, if you use the code THEFERTILITYEXPERT, all one word and all capitals, then you get a free 30-day trial. That’s not for everybody, but just for all of you watching. So check it out.
My name is Dr. Marc Sklar, also known as The Fertility Expert, and I’ve been working with couples for over 19 years right here in San Diego at my clinics, and online through my coaching programs, to help support you on your fertility journey. And IVF is a very common subject that we discussed. Actually, 50% of the couples we help are trying to get pregnant through either insemination or IVF, which is why today’s topic is so important for all of you. When we start talking about IVF, there’s so much information that we can discuss, especially if you’re not familiar with the terminology and this is a new experience for you, and you’re just getting into the fertility world. So I want you all to sit back and try to listen and understand some of the information that I’m giving you today, because it’s going to be valuable, but it’s also going to be a lot of information. So I just want you to take it easy and digest it all.
The first thing that we need to discuss is a day three transfer versus a day five transfer. Many, many years ago, day three transfers were very common. Today, we don’t see them as much, but we are starting to see a resurgence of them, and we’re seeing that more in couples or women who produce less quantity of eggs, and if there’s a question about the quality of the eggs. So this typically happens with older women. We don’t want to let that embryo grow too long, and so we tend to want to put that embryo back in earlier and let nature take over at that point, because most embryos are better off inside the uterus than in the lab.
Now, day five transfers are very common, and the majority of transfers that happen today are day five transfers. But we are seeing transfers that might even happen on day six or day seven. Now, this begs a different question, which is fresh versus frozen. So I’m just talking about numbers here, because day five versus day three or six or seven, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re going to be transferring that embryo. Now, sometimes they are. Your doctor’s going to make that decision with you, hopefully with you, to transfer a fresh embryo, meaning they’re not frozen, and that can happen on day three, five, six, or seven. But the majority of transfers that are done today versus years ago are frozen embryos, because the technology has improved, and so with frozen embryos, we can make sure that you are ready, that you are healthy, that your uterus is ready, and this also gives you an opportunity to test your embryos. If you’re doing a fresh transfer, not frozen, then you have less of an ability to actually do genetic testing, and so that’s where frozen embryo transfers really started to thrive.
So, the majority of you are doing frozen embryos, but fresh is not a bad thing. Again, like I said previously, it just depends on your history and the amount of embryos they have to work with and the quality. Now it begs a different question, which is about genetic testing. Now, I don’t have time in this video to dive into that, but that does help to dictate whether it’s going to be a fresh transfer or a frozen transfer, and it starts to tell you what options and percentages you have. Now, I know that many of you watching say, “Well, everybody should do genetic testing.” I’m not such a firm believer on that, but I do have other videos that do talk about that, which you can check out on FertilityTV. But I just wanted to mention that there is still a choice between doing genetic testing or not doing genetic testing and the success of your IBF cycle.
Now we have to start to get into the details. Okay, so you’re going to go in for an antral follicle count, for them to see how many follicles are there potentially to grow and mature, and that’s before you start your medication, your stimulation medication, and then you’re going to go periodically in for scans to see how those follicles are growing. And typically, that happens about five days after you’ve started your stimulation medication. When you go in, they’re going to give you a number, you have X amount of follicles, and we’re going to use 10, because it’s an easy number to talk about in this example. So let’s just say you have 10 follicles. That does not mean that you’re going to get 10 eggs. The first question there becomes are those follicles large enough, or is it too large? Sometimes you have a lead follicle that grows too big, and sometimes you have follicles that don’t mature enough and they’re still too small or immature.
Then when they retrieve those follicles, which we talked about last week in last week’s video, they’re going to try to get an egg from each follicle. That doesn’t always happen, and/or that follicle may be immature. So then there’s always a drop-off between a follicle count and eggs that were retrieved. And then the next piece from eggs is how many are fertilized to start to grow and mature? And there’s typically also a drop-off there. And then you’ve got to watch those grow, again to either day three, five, six, or seven, and there’s typically also a drop-off there. Now, there’s a lot of reasons for the drop-offs. Some of it is egg quality, some of it’s sperm quality, some of it is protocol that you were given at every one of those phases, but the percentages can vary.
And so I always tell the couples that I’m coaching and working with that it’s normal to see somewhere between a 10 to 15% drop-off. That drop-off can be higher the older you are, but I still like to see it less than 25%. So then you know that if you’ve got 10 follicles growing, you’re not going to end up with that amount of embryos to transfer later. There’s always going to be a drop-off at any one of those stages, or all of those stages. And so those are things for us to consider as well when we’re making this decision, because we have to also understand how many follicles or eggs or embryos do we really want to work with to give us chances for one successful embryo transfer and healthy baby, or if you want multiple children, how many do you need?
I just alluded to it as well, and I talked about it last week, but the medications you’re given, the dosages of those medications and the overall protocol will absolutely influence the amount of follicles you can get, the amount of eggs that mature, and the quality of those embryos. That is absolutely guaranteed, but IVF is a bit of an experiment. We just don’t know. So there’s a lot of ifs when we do IVF. There’s an if in terms of the amount of eggs that you can get, the amount of embryos you can get, the quality of those embryos and the success of the cycle, but also the protocol itself will influence that. So all of these variables have an impact on your success of that cycle. In the end, the total number of embryos that you have to work with, whether fresh or frozen, is pretty much going to dictate the likelihood of a success, because the more embryos that you have, the higher likelihood of a success in that given cycle or future cycles.
The other variable that really needs to be considered is going to be how many children do you want, and in what timeframe? These are all going to influence how many IVF retrieval cycles you do, how many eggs you’re comfortable with, how many embryos you’re comfortable with, so that you know how to move forward, when to do transfers, or when to keep going and banking more embryos. Two other variables are going to influence all of this as well. Your age and your medical history. Because the older you are, the more embryos you need to work with to have a success, and your medical history is also potentially a complicating factor. So you have to take all of this into consideration, and that’s a lot of what I do when I work with those couples that I work with in the coaching process, is to really discuss those questions, allow you to contemplate some of those questions so that you can come up with the right answer for what is best for you.
These are all very important topics, and I know that I gave you a lot of information. So if it was a little too much, you can just rewatch it. But now let’s get into some of the tips that I think are going to be beneficial for you. So, number one is preparation. You’ve heard me talk about this many times, I still can’t talk about this topic without talking about preparation, because you would never show up for a marathon without preparing. And so this is no different. You’ve got to prepare, and that takes time. Preparation doesn’t happen in a few weeks, it typically happens in a few months. And so if you want to influence that, you need to give yourself some time to prepare to have a successful IVF cycle. I say typically a minimum of three months. That’s not always possible for everyone, but for those of you that it is, I want you to start preparing now so that you can be successful when you decide to move forward with it.
Number two, as part of that preparation phase, is get the right support. In this case I mean get the right coaching that you need. We all need coaches. You all need coaches to help you get through the things you just don’t know, right? That you just don’t understand. And you want to work with someone who has experience and knowledge and understanding of the process to guide you the best way that they can. We all need that guidance, and more specifically, you need the guidance that is specific for your needs, not for everybody else. It should be based on your age, your medical history, your hormones. It should be based on you and your partner, so that you get the right coaching, the right guidance and the right support, so that you’re using those three months of preparation the right way.
And last but not least, start with the basics. Start with the foundational things that I talk about all the time. Make sure your diet is on point. Now is the time to clean that up. Make sure that you are exercising regularly. Not too much, not too little. Make sure that you are managing your stress. Remember, I gave you a free 30 day trial to the FertileMind App to help you in that department. Make sure that you’re getting enough sleep, because that’s when your body rests, recovers and rejuvenates and everything starts to balance. And make sure you are getting the foundational support that you need based on your specific needs when it comes to supplements or anything else. These things take time to work, which means you need to start those things now.
Now, if you want more information on all those different details that I just talked about, I have videos on each one of those things right here at FertilityTV. So I want to invite you to check those out if you haven’t already, because they’re going to help you go in the right direction and use these three-plus months of preparation in the right way. But if you’ve been trying for too long, if you feel like you need a little bit more guidance, and if you feel like, “Hey, you know what? I’ve changed my diet, I’ve done some of these things, and it’s still not working,” then I want to invite you to work with me and my team in my Hope Fertility Coaching Program. This is where we are your personal coaches, evaluating your health, your case, you as an individual to give you the plan that is right for you so that you can use this preparation phase in the right way, so that you can have a successful IVF cycle, or even hopefully get pregnant naturally.
If you want to join me in that program, you do need to apply, but all you have to do is use the link in the description below to apply. Now, I hope you liked this video. If you did, give me a thumbs up, but more importantly, I want to hear from all of you. What did you like about this video? What did you find useful? What did you find new? What questions do you have? Post them below in the comment section and let me know. Additionally, if you’re not already a subscriber to my YouTube channel, then you need to be, so hit that bell to subscribe and get notified when I put out a new video for all of you. And until the next video, stay fertile.