Female fertility is a complicated matter with many hormonal and external factors affecting the condition of ovaries and everything inside them. Follicles are formed even before the first menstrual cycle begins ‒ they’re already there even before a girl is born.
With every ovulation, a follicle releases an egg ‒ a crucial cell in every woman’s body.
What are follicles, and how do they affect female fertility?
Within a woman’s ovaries are ovarian follicles, which are tiny sacs packed with fluid. Women enter puberty with thousands of them, and they emit hormones that affect different phases of the menstrual cycle. Each has the capacity to produce an egg that can be fertilized. Follicles, their size, and their condition play a critical role in determining fertility and necessary therapy.
A pelvic ultrasound examination of the womb and ovaries, together with a hormonal blood test, is required for the assessment of follicles. The pelvic ultrasound scan will evaluate the size and quantity of follicles that are present in the ovaries. A fertility specialist will evaluate your fertility based on the results and, consequently, your capacity to conceive.
How many eggs are in follicles?
One follicle carrying one egg develops during a typical menstrual period. The follicle will expand until ovulation starts when the follicle bursts and releases the egg. Typically, this happens two weeks following the start of the menstrual cycle.
The woman’s age, general health, and confident lifestyle choices directly impact how efficiently this chain of events operates. Nevertheless, having more follicles doesn’t always mean that fertilization will be successful. The eggs’ quality is more crucial there, and many women with a smaller amount of follicles can nevertheless conceive successfully with IVF because of the quality of their eggs.
Age, along with other aspects of a woman’s health and lifestyle, has an impact on the amount and quality of her eggs. Both the quantity and quality of a woman’s ovarian follicles decrease as she gets older. However, a woman’s fertility begins to diminish around the age of 35 drastically, and by the early to mid-forties, her chances of conceiving successfully are small because the quality of eggs decreases.
The intricacies of follicle function
Every follicle releases an egg at some point. It’s another thing if the egg is developed enough or of sufficient quality to allow for fertilization.
Egg quality and follicle count are the two critical aspects of female fertility to take into account.
A fertility expert can determine the level of fertility by counting the number of follicles in the ovaries. These eggs continue to grow and develop until the follicle in which they are housed reaches its ideal size, at which point they are discharged. With more follicles, you can release more eggs, which raises the likelihood of a successful pregnancy.
Both age and lifestyle choices affect egg quality. Most women in their 40s won’t be able to become pregnant naturally because as women age, the quality of their eggs declines.
What happens to follicles during an IVF cycle?
You will be given a course of medications during IVF to encourage the production of more eggs from your ovaries. A step in the fertility therapy procedure involves keeping track of the ovarian follicles. Throughout the stimulation phase, you will have a number of pelvic ultrasound scans to determine when egg harvest is appropriate and to ensure the drug dosage is correct. This involves keeping an eye on the quantity and size of follicles in each of your ovaries.
Your follicles are considered prepared for egg harvest when they are around 2 cm in diameter. A hormone injection will be administered to you to encourage the release of mature eggs that have been stored in follicles.
To retrieve your eggs at the optimum moment, fertility professionals will plan the Egg retrieva lto take place two days following your estrogen injection. After being collected, the mature eggs will be sent to the lab, where they will be fertilized with sperm cells to grow embryos.
If the ovaries are highly responsive to stimulation and generate an excessive amount of follicles, eggs, or oestradiol, there is a chance that Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome can manifest. Don’t worry too much about it, though — ultrasound scans will be used to keep a close eye on your follicles during the stimulation treatment. There are several alternatives you and your fertility doctor will need to look into if there’s an indication you’re in danger of developing severe OHSS.
What is PCOS?
Ovarian function is impacted by the disorder known as a polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It often indicates that the ovaries may have cysts, or the body may have excessive amounts of hormones that block the ovary from producing an egg.
PCOS symptoms might include irregular or absent periods, trouble conceiving, fast weight gain, excessive hair growth, and acne. Despite the fact that PCOS cannot be cured, it can be managed through weight loss or hormonal therapy. There are various ways to assist you in conceiving if you’re trying for a child, and women with PCOS can carry to term successfully.
You can decrease your chances of PCOS or other follicle-related conditions by leading a healthy lifestyle and doing regular check-ups. Monitoring your estrogen levels is also essential for your health, but if you have no indications for this specific test, there’s unlikely a need for one.