Did you know?
Improving the quality of gametes and embryos
When we talk about ‘oocyte quality’ or ‘sperm cell quality’, we are referring to the normal external characteristics of the cells under a microscope and the normal genetic or chromosomal composition of sex cells. If there is a flaw in the oocyte, there is a good chance that it will not develop further into a (good) embryo and/or will not lead to a successful pregnancy.
As every woman is born with her full oocyte count, age is a determining factor in the number of available follicles and their genetic quality. The chances of a genetic abnormalities in oocytes increase with age, in other words. We know that at age 30, about 1 in 3 of a woman’s oocytes presents abnormalities. At the age of 45, this increases to 4 in 5. A woman’s oocyte count in the ovaries also decreases significantly, often from the age of 35.
As men continue to produce sperm throughout their fertile life, age is less of a determining factor for male fertility. That said, genetic sperm quality also decreases over time, albeit to a lesser extent compared with oocyte quality in women.
Unfortunately, we are unable to influence the intrinsic or genetic quality of oocytes and sperm. However, you yourself can try to adopt or maintain a healthy lifestyle to promote this. Smoking and alcohol consumption, for example, are detrimental to our sex cells.
Eat a varied diet so your body gets all the nutrients it needs. Match your calorie intake to your actual consumption. Sufficient exercise is tremendously important in this context.
We, meanwhile, will suggest an alternative medication protocol to stimulate the ovaries (and follicle maturation) during any subsequent treatment. By closely monitoring you, we try to improve the quality of the mature oocyte. If another protocol does not improve embryo quality, there is the possibility of an assisted natural cycle, i.e., without (much) stimulation.
Brussels IVF distinguishes itself with its Next-Level IVF care pathway by looking beyond the routine treatments. As a university, we continuously conduct research on various aspects of reproductive medicine. This includes basic research into embryonic development as well as clinical studies into medication protocols, and aspects that can make treatment more pleasant for patients. Several studies are also ongoing with the aim of improving oocyte and embryo quality. If an ongoing study could potentially be relevant for your treatment, your doctor will discuss this with you. You will then receive guidance from a specialist study counsellor during your pathway.
Scientific research is part and parcel of Brussels IVF’s DNA.
It is also partly due to this scientific drive that our centre has played a pioneering role – often in conjunction with the Medical Genetics Centre (CMG) at UZ Brussel – in the development and improvement of reproductive technologies since its inception in 1983.
Brussels IVF is also a member of a network of research and treatment institutions and/or promotes and facilitates international cooperation. Our centre is a co-founder and long-standing active member of ESHRE, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.
These days, the sky is (almost) the limit in fertility treatments. In addition to ‘conventional’ IVF and ICSI, add-ons are offered all the time. These additional interventions or medications may increase the chances of pregnancy. But often the beneficial effects of the add-on are not proven at all. In exceptional cases, they may also come with risks.
If you have already done an internet search, you will be aware that there is a lot of information available online. But often it is much more difficult to verify whether the information on the internet is correct as well as scientifically proven. Moreover, a generalised approach is complicated because a fertility treatment is a very individualised process.
If you have any questions, please always discuss them with your treating doctor. They can give you scientifically based advice and check whether a particular add-on does is actually relevant for your specific situation.
More info here.
Would you like to make an appointment for a consultation?
For this, it is best to contact us by phone (+32 2 477 66 99). A member of our Contact Centre will help you make an appointment with the appropriate specialist by asking you a few specific questions. Please provide all relevant medical information and results of examinations already carried out elsewhere via email@example.com. This will ensure that your doctor has the necessary data available during the consultation.
Common questions about Next-level IVF answered:
What are my prospects of success at Brussels IVF?
Prof. Dr. Herman Tournaye
What can I do myself to increase my success rate?
Dr. Caroline Roelens
Good to know