40% vs. 83%: how my fertilization rates increased.
If you’re going through IVF, chances that you’ve thought about your egg fertilization rates are pretty high. Right?
Look, I’m a stats nerd. I always have been and I always will be. Oddly enough Statistics was one of my favorite graduate school classes. Everything from buying our house to running was a stats game for me. When we started really trying to have a baby I went all in with stats, I researched the best methods, the odds for our age, the results of IUI and IVF. That last one likely explains why we chose the IVF Doctor we did. My doctor in Pasadena has an 80% success rate while the IVF doctors in my hometown have a success rate around 50% (for my age).
Another statistic I started becoming interested in as we dove deeper and deeper into the IVF world was fertilization rates. I loved to pour over statistics to see fertilization rates for women over 35 going through IVF with ICSI. As we geared up for our first IVF cycle in the summer of 2014 I had big dreams of getting seven embryos to the point of genetic testing after my cycles were done. However, those first two cycles occurred while I was working full time at a corporate machine.
After my first three IVF cycles (one was cancelled late in the game due to poor response) while working full time, our fertilization rate landed around 40%. Skipping forward to my last two IVF cycles; I lost twins via FET in February and shortly after quit my corporate job to freelance. We took a few months to heal and regroup before diving back into more needles, trips and retrievals. My goals for those cycles were much more tempered, I was hoping for at least four embryos to be sent to genetic testing.
Cycle four of IVF yielded five mature eggs, all of which fertilized.
Let me repeat that.
EVERY. SINGLE. EGG. Fertilized.
My fifth IVF cycle, just this past month, produced seven eggs, five of which were mature and fertilized. When I compared my fertilization rates between my first two cycles and my last two cycles I was amazed when the numbers popped up. An 83% success rate for fertilization with my last two cycles, only 40% for the first two.
What that screamed to me was that quitting my job to focus on freelancing, IVF and organizing our gestational carrier was the right choice, for me. I’m not saying every woman going through infertility should quit her job. But I won’t lie, even as I began IVF in 2014 the thought crossed my mind. I read of several women quitting their jobs to focus on IVF. At first, I thought it was ridiculous and a wimpy route to take. Now though… the stats don’t lie.
In fact, I wasn’t the only one who quit my job in our household. My husband, an attorney, quit a law firm to set out on his own in January. For us, not for every couple, a change in jobs equaled a huge increase in our IVF success.
Again, I’m not saying quitting a job is your magical key to having fertility success. Not at all.
I’m trying to show that reducing stress (whether you think you have it or not, trust me, you have it) really does seem to affect infertility. Being the stats nerd I am, I realize that my one case study (of myself) resulting in increased fertilization after reducing stress doesn’t scientifically prove anything. All I’m saying is that it is indeed something to take into consideration.
Whatever that major stress trigger is for you, for my husband and I it was clearly working for corporate America — it’s just not our style, try and eliminate or reduce it greatly. Once my husband and I both switched jobs there was an obvious shift in our house. It was a more relaxed, more laid back and a much happier atmosphere. And then the bonus was that the fertilization rates for our babies went up. We’d say it was worth the change, without a doubt.