Follicles are small sacs filled with fluid that are found inside a woman’s ovaries. When it comes to fertility treatment, the number of follicles present within a patient’s ovaries tells doctors much about the state of their fertility.
This is because follicles contain immature eggs. These immature eggs develop and grow in size until the follicle they are held in is of optimum size, whereupon they are released. This is ovulation, the process that every woman is aware of – only this time on very microscopic terms.
Yet follicles and their size and status are a vital part of fertility treatment, and monitoring them can be something an IVF patient becomes very familiar with. This is because most clinics will provide patients with a fertility evaluation during their initial consultation.
This involves ultrasounds and other tests to assess the health of your ovarian reserve and often looks at the size and number of your follicles (thus allowing doctors to estimate your chances of getting pregnant). This is called an Antra follicle count.
Why Are Follicles Important In IVF?
During IVF, you will be put on a course of drugs to make your ovaries work overtime and make lots of eggs. This is done by stimulating your follicles with a group of hormones called FSH to encourage egg growth and getting them to grow and mature your eggs. Subsequently you will be monitored through the process by your clinic via ultrasounds to determine the number of follicles that have grown as intended and see if dosages need to change in order to achieve the best results.
When your follicles are the right size you’ll be given a hormone trigger to stimulate your follicles to release the mature eggs that have been prepared in your follicles. At the London Women’s Clinic, we time your egg collection procedure so that you we can comfortably move you into our theatre for the egg collection process as soon as your follicles have released all their eggs. After the retrieval, what once were follicles are now eggs and new prospects for a successful pregnancy.
What Do My Follicles Say About My Chances For A Baby?
There are two main factors to consider when it comes to female virility:
- Egg Quality
- Follicle Count
This is quite simply the age old balance of quantity and quality. On the one hand, if your eggs are of a peerless quality, then they will more likely lead to healthy pregnancies that bind to the uterine lining and stick in the womb. If you have lots of follicles then you have the potential to release more eggs (sometimes there are no eggs in the follicles), increasing the chance that one of those eggs will be healthy enough to result in a successful pregnancy.
Egg quality is determined by your lifestyle and also your age. Yet fertility is enormously varied from individual to individual – so you never really know what yours is like until you get a fertility M.O.T at a quality clinic. (If you’re interested in finding out more about your fertility and chances for conceiving children, arrange to come and see us now for a fertility MOT by using the form, below)
Quality or Quantity?
Like everything, quality comes before quantity – so even if you don’t have as many follicles and don’t release as many eggs, it takes one healthy egg to create IVF success.
For some, there is a fear that Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) can occur during their IVF treatment cycles due to their intake of fertility drugs. OHSS is the process in which your ovaries produce too many follicles and mature eggs. At the London Women’s Clinic, our clinicians will determine whether you are at risk of OHSS and adapt your fertility medication accordingly to drastically minimize the risks of overstimulation – it’s something we’ve actively been preventing for 25 years.
If you’re curious about your fertility or want to find out where you are in terms of your overall chances to conceive, book a consultation with us now. It’s as easy as using the below form or calling us on 0203 819 3282.