How many eggs are enough for in-vitro fertilization?

How many eggs are enough for in-vitro fertilization?

Those who are not able to conceive despite continuous efforts can become parents through in-vitro fertilization (IVF), an artificial reproductive technique with a great success rate. While IVF has been around for over 40 years and has helped millions of couples materialize their parenthood dream, several confusions prevail when it comes to procedural knowledge about this highly nuanced fertility treatment. For instance, most people who have already signed up for the IVF treatment might not be aware of how many eggs are enough for in In-Vitro Fertilization. In this guide, we would try to find the answer to that question.


Egg retrieval for IVF: Quick facts

  • When a woman is born, her ovaries already have all the eggs she will have in her lifetime.
  • A woman can have as many as one million eggs in her ovaries at the time of her birth.
  • A large number of these eggs die before a woman hit puberty.
  • A woman produces one egg per month. Within 12-24 hours of the release, the egg cell will die.
  • In an IVF cycle, ovarian stimulation medications such as follicle-stimulating hormone are used to encourage the ovaries to mature more eggs all at once.


 What is the optimal number of eggs for IVF?


It is an established fact that women who produce too many eggs may have poorer-quality eggs. It is also well known that women who have too few eggs might not have enough high-quality eggs. Poor quality eggs lead to a lower live-birth rate.

What then is the ideal number of eggs a woman should produce for successful IVF pregnancy?

Typically, 8 to 14 mature eggs are retrieved from a woman’s ovaries for IVF. However, researchers have reached the conclusion that 15 is the magical number women should produce for a higher probability of successful pregnancy and live birth. A consensus on this number has been reached after analyzing thousands of IVF samples from 1991 to 2008 by researchers in the US and the UK.

This is the optimal number of eggs to retrieve from the woman’s ovaries without exposing her to an increased risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is a condition that may develop when a woman’s ovaries are stimulated to produce a larger number of eggs for IVF. This may result in leaked fluid into the belly and chest, causing severe pain in the abdomen, bloating, weight gain, etc. Typically, 10% of women undergoing IVF treatment can develop this condition.

Another research also shows that there is a direct correlation between the number of eggs at retrieval and the pregnancy rate in women aged 40 and more. In women aged less than 35, there is no improvement in pregnancy rates beyond 10 eggs.

Studies have also established that women who had 20 or more eggs harvested were probably overstimulated. Overstimulation may increase the body’s levels of estrogen dramatically, lowering the chances of egg implant, pregnancy, and birth.

Nonetheless, on average, only about two-thirds of the retrieved eggs have the appropriate maturity.