It’s estimated that 1 in 8 couples are affected by infertility in the United States. For perspective, that’s roughly 6.7 million Americans who have trouble conceiving in a given year. Thankfully there are many options out there for professional care. This includes in vitro fertilization (IVF) to treat male and female factor infertility as well as other procedures that are available at the Center for Assisted Reproduction.
Follicles play an important role in IVF treatments, though many patients are not sure what the term refers to. Fort Worth, TX fertility specialists Dr. Kathleen Doody and Dr. Kevin Doody would like to consider the basics of follicles and how their number and size affects IVF treatment.
What Are Follicles?
Follicles are small fluid sacs located in the ovaries. They are not eggs per se, and it is important to make that distinction. An egg is located inside of each follicle, and the eggs grows as the follicle grows. During ovulation, the egg is released from the follicle.
Why the Number of Follicles Matters
A higher number of follicles will not necessarily guarantee a greater chance of IVF success, but generally a good number of follicles can help improve the chances of successful pregnancy and live birth. On average, about 10-12 follicles are produced in a cycle, though this number can be higher or lower depending on your medical history and age.
It is also possible to have too many follicles develop, which is a condition known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which can negatively impact health if it is not dealt with promptly.
Why Follicle Size Matters
The size of a follicle usually determines how developed an egg is during ovulation. When follicles reach a certain size, it’s more likely for an egg to be fully matured and ideal for the IVF process. Generally speaking, a follicle size of around 15mm-22mm (micrometers) is likely to produce an ideal egg for the IVF process.
Assessing a Patient’s Follicle Growth and Development
Before initiating IVF treatment, fertility specialists will first assess the follicle growth and number of a patient. This is done through ultrasound imaging and regular monitoring of a patient during her cycle. From there, it can be determined if IVF is an ideal approach for helping the couple become pregnant.
How Fertility Specialists Improve Follicle Size and Number
Based on the initial assessment of follicles, fertility specialists can prescribe fertility drugs. These drugs help promote the development of more follicles, and also regulate the timing of a woman’s cycle. This helps achieve optimal conditions for maturation during ovulation and egg retrieval.
Tailoring an IVF Treatment to Your Needs
As you can imagine, each patient is different and has unique needs to keep in mind during fertility treatment. This is why initial consultations are so crucial. These visits with a fertility specialist can determine the ideal fertility drugs to use and in what dosage, which helps prevent OHSS and other complications. They can also pinpoint other factors that may affect the success of IVF.
If you have been struggling to become pregnant, we encourage you to visit our practice for a consultation. We can discuss all of your options for treatment in much greater detail.
Contact Our Fertility Center
For more information about IVF and how it can help you start a healthy family, be sure to contact an experienced fertility specialist. The team at the Center for Assisted Reproduction is here to help you. You can reach our office in Bedford at (817) 540-1157 and our Fort Worth office at (817) 924-1572.