In my last two posts, I talked about the egg collection and what they actually do. What I didn’t talk about was how many eggs they got. Before you go into the procedure, they have a pretty good idea of how many follicles are going to be big enough to drain the fluid from. And the expectation is that in that fluid is going to be an egg. But, of course, there’s no guarantee that every follicle will contain an egg, or that every egg will be of good enough quality to freeze.
I know that my clinic focuses on minimal stimulation – they say it’s safer for the patient, and cheaper as you use fewer drugs, and that the end result is the same. Their theory is that you can massively stimulate the ovaries and end up with loads of eggs, but only the first four or five will be any good; or you can minimally stimulate them and end up with just the first four or five good ones. This makes sense to me from a biological perspective – and I suppose it means you eliminate the weaklings at an early stage rather than thinking you have loads of eggs to play with but getting a high drop out rate at the defrosting/fertilisation/implantation stages.
But even though it makes sense, it is quite hard not to be disillusioned when you read about women getting ten eggs from each cycle – or more. A friend who had the treatment abroad ended up with 40 eggs from one cycle. And it’s very difficult to move your thinking away from believing that more is better. Because as so many nurses and doctors have told me, it’s about quality rather than quantity and you only need one good one.
On my last cycle, I had four decent sized follicles, each of which contained an egg and, while one of the eggs had a vacuole – or a bubble – in it, which can mean it’s less likely to be successfully fertilised, they froze all four eggs. This time around, they took out five eggs, but only three were deemed good enough quality to freeze. I don’t know what was wrong with the other two. I don’t know if another clinic might have frozen them so they could tell me that they’d frozen five, and then when they came to be fertilised, they’d have just failed then.
That’s the problem with all this. You just don’t know. You take it all on trust. Normally, with an operation, you see results of some description – you feel better, you look better, there’s some change. Here, there’s nothing to see – and it’s possible there never will be. I just have to believe them when they tell me that there are seven eggs, all of which have been taken out of me, sitting in a deep freeze somewhere. And that’s quite a big thing to get your head around.