A simple ultrasound of the ovaries performed early in the menstrual cycle is used by select IVF clinics as a powerful tool to assess the likely success of IVF. The test counts and measures the tiny follicles - called antral follicles - budding on the surface of the ovaries very early in the menstrual cycle using ultrasound technology.
Although an antral follicle count is known to be a very useful predictive indicator of how successful IVF will be many women are still not offered the test and remain uninformed of their follicle counts. This is unfortunate as it is an inexpensive test. Some fertility clinics require a minimum number of antral follicles to be present before commencing a cycle of IVF ( often 6-8 total follicles on both ovaries) because follicle numbers are such a powerful prognostic indicator.
Researchers have studied the connection between antral follicle counts and fertility and conclude that there is a powerful connection. Dr. Janet Kwee of Vrije Universiteit Medical Centre in Amsterdam, The Netherlands counted the antral follicles of 110 women aged between 18-39 who were having difficulty conceiving and discovered that their follicle counts were directly correlated with the number eggs the patient produced during IVF. Dr. Kwee stated that;
"The follicle count is just as good a test for ovarian response as expensive and time consuming endocrine tests..."
"the only test able to reliably predict low and high responders."
As with other ovarian reserve tests, getting accurate diagnostic information *before* your IVF gives you the opportunity to select a specialist who is both very familiar and successful with treating women who have poor ovarian reserve. Pursuing IVF without adequate ovarian reserve testing can increase the chances of a cycle being cancelled or failing because the ovaries are over-suppressed or under-stimulated.
When poor ovarian reserve is accurately diagnosed at the outset of an IVF cycle a skilled physician can choose a different IVF protocol that uses minimal ovarian suppression and different medications to help your ovaries to perform at their best. Getting diagnosed properly can help your IVF to be more successful the first time.
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Ovarian volume and antral follicle count form the prediction of low and hyper responders with in vitro fertilization. Janet J Kwee, Mariet ME Elting, Roel R Schats, Joseph J McDonnell, Nils CB Lambalk. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology