Follicle RX

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You might never have heard about ovarian follicles before, nor expected them to be of such importance to you and your fertility. Although, follicles are perhaps one of the most intrinsic parts of a woman’s reproductive system, and how many follicles you have is often a direct way of determining how likely you could conceive naturally or which assisted fertility treatment such as IVF will work well for you.

Follicles and fertility are inextricably linked to each other and, as you begin your journey toward assisted fertility treatment, it can be very helpful to know just what follicles are and what part they play in the process. In this article, it is well explained what a follicle is exactly, how many eggs are in a follicle, follicle size needed for IVF, and how follicles on your ovaries can be monitored by ultrasound and hormone testing, and about what your options are should no eggs be found in the follicles during IVF.

Follicles are small sacs of fluid found over the outside layer of the ovaries, which contain immature eggs (oocytes). When the time comes, and the follicle has been grown to the right size, it ruptures and releases a matured egg ready to be fertilized. A common misconception about this is that each follicle releases multiple eggs. However, as for the question of how many eggs are in a follicle, the answer is just one.

This is the scientific process behind ovulation, which generally occurs monthly for most of the women between puberty and menopause. Several follicles will begin to develop with every cycle, but generally just one of them will release an oocyte. Those follicles that don’t release an egg disintegrate. This process is known as atresia, and can actually take place at any stage during the follicle’s development.

As preparation for IVF treatment, it is highly recommended to undergo ovarian stimulation. This consists of the administration of daily injections which will cause the ovaries, instead of producing a single ovum which is what they do naturally each month, to produce more no. of oocytes so that a larger number of embryos could be obtained. Producing a larger quantity of available eggs can, of course, will increase the chances of treatment being successful.

When the follicles reach an adequate size (normally around 18–25 mm), and then it considers that there are a suitable number of oocytes, then schedules the follicular puncture 36 hours after administering an injection of the hormone hCG. This causes the oocytes to be mature in a similar way to the way they would in a natural cycle.

On average ten to twelve follicles are produced in each cycle, but this can vary from person to person and is influenced by multiple factors such as age, medical history and your individual response over ovarian stimulation.


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