Clinics retrieving 'far too many' eggs from IVF patients
Studies indicate that the optimal and safe number of oocytes needed for achieving an ongoing pregnancy is between six and 15. However, the use of egg freezing, frozen embryo replacement (FER) cycles, and aggressive stimulation regimes has increased this number in order to boost success rates in older women and in poor responders who produce fewer eggs.

Now, a retrospective observational study suggests that IVF clinics in the UK may be retrieving "far too many oocytes" and that most of them "may never be used and are probably discarded".

The findings based on the number of eggs extracted versus IVF cycles show that a total of more than 1.625 million eggs in the UK were retrieved from 147,274 women. Although an average of 11 eggs was collected per patient, 16% of cycles were associated with 16-49 oocytes retrieved (per cycle) and 58 women each had over 50 eggs collected in a single egg retrieval procedure.

"Our observations suggest that the high oocyte number per retrieval procedure needs re-evaluation," says the investigator. In particular, this needs to focus on the side effects, including ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and procedure-related complications, and on the fate of unused frozen oocytes and the costs associated with freezing them.

"Patients should be advised that it's better to collect fewer eggs leading to good quality embryos which may go to term and result in a healthy baby.