In vitro fertilization is a taxing process: medications, injections, surgeries, cramping, and an emotional roller coaster of stress, hope and anxiety.
But a new study suggests that the level of a particular hormone at the beginning of the IVF cycle might help predict the success of harvesting eggs. The results could point to a new step in the process that would increase the woman's chance of pregnancy.
Researchers at Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital found that, at the beginning of the IVF cycle, a woman who has high levels of antimullerian hormone (AMH) produces more eggs and has a better chance of becoming pregnant.
The findings indicate that doctors could test for the woman's AMH level and then adjust the amount of follicle stimulation hormone the woman receives in the week or so before eggs are extracted for fertilization in order to improve the chances of success. (AMH levels in the blood indicate how many ovarian follicles a woman has at that moment.)
In a press release, lead researcher Andrew Blazar, said,
“The main thrust of the paper is that you can do this test even after you have begun the preparations for initiating an IVF cycle, so it allows you to modify your treatment, at least in theory, so that your probability of success would be improved. Though not proven, this approach seems like a logical way to use this new information."
He and Geralyn Lambert-Messerlian co-authored the paper, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
In the study, they measured AMH levels in 190 IVF patents at the beginning and end of their follicle stimulation hormone treatment and later counted the number of eggs harvested and confirmed successful pregnancies.
Women with low AMH levels in the first test yielded six eggs on average, while women who had more than three times as much produced 20 eggs on average.
Additionally, the AMH levels correlated with pregnancy success: 25% of women with low levels of AMH were pregnant five to six weeks after the IVF procedure while 60% of women with more than three times the amount of AMH became pregnant.
However, the authors caution that other studies have not found a link between AMH levels and successfully delivered pregnancies.
Photo: By Ekem/Wikimedia Commons