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Poor egg quality

Mr Amit Shah, Mr Anil Gudi &Prof Roy Homburg

The quality of the egg is crucial in determining the quality of the embryo (the fertilized egg) that, in turn, is vital in determining the chances of pregnancy. The only real proof of good egg quality is an ensuing pregnancy.

There is a close association between egg quality and female age The older the female partner, the greater the probability that the egg quality is poor. The female reproductive system appears to have the ability to use the best quality eggs for ovulation earlier in the reproductive life span. As the ovary is incapable of making new eggs, the eggs remaining in the ovary are of poorer quality and less likely to produce a pregnancy. This is thought mainly to be due to a much greater degree of chromosomal abnormalities in older age (aneuploidy).

For women undergoing infertility treatment by in-vitro fertilization (IVF), in general, the number of eggs obtained following stimulation of the ovaries is also a rough indication of egg quality. Although there are exceptions, the lower the number of eggs obtained, the lower the quality of the eggs and the chances of pregnancy. Again, female age is the most important factor in this equation. It is a well established fact that when eggs from a young woman are used to obtain an embryo for transfer to an older woman, as in the process of egg donation, pregnancy rates are very high.

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