How does my doctor figure out if my egg freezing or IVF cycle will be successful?

Doctors perform a series of tests and ask a number of questions as you prepare for and undergo the stimulation phase of egg/embryo freezing or IVF. These tests and questions help determine whether you’re a good candidate for the procedure, whether you’re able to proceed or have any risks, and what your outcomes may be. To make the process a bit more transparent, we’ve included some of these questions below (note that they’re neither comprehensive nor prescriptive). Keep in mind that every doctor will have their own protocols, and we recommend asking them about their process:

Pre-treatment tests:

  • What’s your age?
  • Do you have any infectious diseases that preclude you from undergoing treatment?
  • Do your hormone levels look good, or do any indicate issues / likely low outcomes?
  • Do certain levels need to be adjusted prior to or during your follicle stimulation?
  • Does everything look good on your ovarian ultrasound (e.g., no enlarged cysts)?
  • Do you have a conditions that could affect your fertility, or a family history of fertility issues that should be taken into account?
  • Could you have any problems with anesthesia for the retrieval (e.g., if you have a coagulation disorder)?

First appointment:

  • Are all of your follicles dormant (i.e., no enlarged follicles/cysts) and ready for stimulation?
  • Do your hormone levels still look good?

Subsequent appointments:

  • Are you responding to the follicle-stimulating hormones, i.e., are your follicles getting bigger?
  • Are your follicles growing at a normal rate, ideally at similar rates?
  • How many follicles are maturing?
  • Are there any signs of hyperstimulation?

Retrieval:

  • Did your follicles contain eggs / could the eggs be retrieved from their follicles?
  • Are the collected eggs mature (i.e., do they have a “first polar body”, which indicates that they’ve successfully completed “meiotic division”)?

[Note that for IVF, similar questions and tests continue through endometrial preparation, embryo development, and embryo transfer]

We hope this series of questions gives you a sense for the kinds of questions doctors ask before, during, and after follicle stimulation treatment. This post also connects to our previous post on why an egg freezing or IVF cycle can sometimes be unsuccessful or less successful than we hope.

 

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