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A Journal on Obstetrics and Gynecology

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Minerva Ginecologica 2003 October;55(5):399-406

language: English

Ovarian reserve, female age and the chance for successful pregnancy

Toner J. P.


Both quantitative and qualitative factors regarding egg production are strong influences on IVF outcome. Markers of ovarian reserve such as basal FSH, clomiphene citrate challenge test (CCCT), and antral follicle counts are good predictors of the quantity of eggs which can be induced to grow. However, the quality of those eggs seems better predicted by the age of the women. In women past age 40, current success rates are low overall, even in those who good ovarian reserve who make many eggs; at this age, quantity does not make up for quality. By contrast, young women with limited ovarian reserve can have good success rates despite their limited cohort of eggs, because the eggs themselves are of high potential; here quality matters more than quantity. The ramifications of these observations include the following: diminished ovarian reserve should not be used as an exclusionary criterion in young women, because overall they still have satisfactory pregnancy rates, though their risk of cancellation is increased. In women past age 40, normal ovarian reserve testing is not reassuring because even reduced egg quality is likely to limit the opportunity for successful pregnancy no matter how many eggs are available.

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