Why do some women produce very few eggs during IVF treatment? This is a question of great concern to Bourn Hall regional lead clinician Dr Thanos Papathanasiou. He has been researching our extensive patient data to look at ways to improve treatment for ‘poor responders’ and will be presenting his findings in an oral presentation and poster at Fertility2019.
Dr Papathanasiou comments that this type of research is important, as it will help advise clinicians so they can adjust the treatment appropriately ahead of subsequent IVF cycles. It also helps them to support patients and manage their expectations.
Natural egg production
In a natural cycle just one mature egg is released every month during ovulation. For IVF treatment medication is used to stimulate egg production so more eggs are available for fertilisation. The immature eggs are stored within ovarian follicles, which provide the environment and hormones needed for the egg to mature.
It takes three months of growth and development before the egg is ready to be released. Each month a number of follicles get ready for this big moment, but only one will become dominant and release a mature egg during ovulation. A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever produce and these are released over her reproductive life, until eventually, no viable eggs remain and a woman experiences the menopause.
Stimulating egg production
IVF treatment the body is encouraged to produce more mature eggs at the same time. This is achieved with a medication that emulates the naturally occurring follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Some women have a good response to this drug and produce lots of eggs for use in IVF treatment. But unfortunately there is a small group that don’t.
This is of great concern to Dr Papathanasiou (pictured above with Sully the 500th baby born following treatment at our Norwich clinic and his parents). He has been reviewing years of our patient data to look for insights that might help Bourn Hall improve the treatment for this group of patients.
He says: “We are in a unique situation at Bourn Hall as we have 40 years of patient data to investigate and so we believe that our research can make a real difference to couples or individuals who require assisted conception in order to have a baby. “Sharing our findings with others at Fertility2019 is an important part of this journey. ”
In addition to this oral presentation “The risk of ‘de novo’ poor ovarian response during repeat IVF: Results of an externally validated prediction model based on more than 4,000 women” he will also be presenting a poster entitled “There is significant unexplained inter-cycle variation in ovarian performance during IVF treatment”.
Research at Bourn Hall aimed at improving success rates for poor responders.