The quality of your eggs plays a critical role in the path to parenthood. Unlike sperm, which primarily serves as a vehicle to transport male DNA, eggs not only provide DNA but also numerous other vital cellular components that ultimately contribute to the formation of the embryo.
Traditionally, there hasn't been a standardized or globally accepted method for evaluating egg quality. Embryologists observe eggs under the microscope after they are retrieved, but the differences in how eggs look (their morphology) have not been proven to correlate well with the egg’s developmental outcomes.
This means that in order to provide you with information on what to expect after an egg retrieval, your fertility doctor would typically rely on population health statistics. In this method, calculations derived from scientific studies predict your general likelihood of having a baby based primarily on your age and the number of mature eggs you retrieved.
While statistics can provide helpful direction, this method overlooks the unique variations in egg quality that can exist within age groups and even within the same cycle of one patient. Every patient will have individual medical histories that can contribute to their egg quality.
As we’ve seen personalized medicine become increasingly important in other medical treatments, it has made its way into the fertility space as well. Future Fertility’s technology has leveraged the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision to solve the challenge of assessing the quality of an individual egg. This type of AI, known as Deep Learning, has been trained and tested on a vast dataset of over 100,000 egg images and their associated outcomes. This training enables the AI model to recognize hidden or complex patterns that our human eyes can't see.
When the AI assesses a new egg image, it draws upon its learnings to assign a quality score to the egg, indicating the likelihood of it developing into a healthy embryo (known as a blastocyst, when it reaches Days 5-7 of development). The higher the score, the better the chances of your egg successfully fertilizing and developing into a blastocyst. These scores are presented in a detailed report alongside images of each of your eggs. Reports are further specified according to your fertility treatment - MAGENTA reports are tailored to IVF-ICSI patients, while VIOLET reports, which also provide a personalized live birth prediction, are tailored to egg freezing patients.
Personalized egg quality insights go beyond the general statistical estimates to give you a clearer understanding of your own chance of success. For egg freezing patients, VIOLET predictions can help guide decisions about whether or not to undergo additional freezing cycles, or help you evaluate timelines for delayed parenthood, should your egg quality be lower than expected. And for IVF-ICSI patients, MAGENTA scores enable you and your fertility care team to better plan for future treatment cycles by understanding how your egg quality is contributing to your success (or lack of it). This knowledge helps you focus your resources on the factors most likely to lead to parenthood.
Let’s consider a few scenarios where these personalized insights can be helpful.
Age-based estimates may not be correct.
Typically, patients over 35 years of age may be assumed to have lower egg quality, based on population health statistics and the inevitable increase in genetic (chromosomal) abnormalities within oocytes as we age. Similarly, but the reverse, patients under 35 may be assumed to have higher egg quality solely based on their age. But this won’t be the case for every individual. Many factors can impact egg quality (medical history, lifestyles, genetics, etc.), and these vary from person to person. Personalized egg assessments can either confirm these age-based assumptions or provide new information by revealing scores that are more unique to your own health circumstances.
Regardless of your age, learning early in your treatment process that your eggs are lower quality gives you and your fertility doctor the opportunity to discuss how best to optimize your treatment approaches or even consider different paths to parenthood.
Health conditions affecting fertility bring additional considerations to your general egg quality estimates.
Patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), for example, are often able to retrieve more eggs than the average patient. Now, if you’re only using the general age-based estimate calculations, a high number of eggs may indicate a higher chance of success. However, studies have shown that the changes in hormone levels experienced by PCOS patients may have a negative impact on their reproductive outcomes. By understanding the individual quality score of each egg, patients can make more informed decisions about their fertility journey and have clearer expectations that are not misled by a high egg retrieval count.
Cases of “Unexplained Infertility” can benefit from better understanding the egg’s impact on unsuccessful cycles.
It can be incredibly frustrating when your care team is unable to provide an explanation for your fertility challenges. If your IVF treatment is not producing high-quality, viable embryos, then the next step is to better understand if the lack of success can be attributed to the egg or the sperm.
Traditional semen analysis can evaluate the concentration, motility, and morphology of sperm to understand if the sperm is a key factor that led to an unsuccessful cycle. However, as there has been no validated scoring system in the past for eggs, care teams have only assumed the egg’s impact through the process of elimination (dependent on the outcomes of the sperm analysis). Yet, it is also important to note that a poor semen analysis may not be the only contributing factor in unsatisfactory embryo development.
Now, with MAGENTA reports, patients and their care teams can receive objective quality scores for each egg, helping to pinpoint the cause(s) for cycle failure and chart a path forward to optimize the next cycle or consider other options.
Where can I access these personalized egg quality reports?
The adoption of this technology is growing quickly across the globe and is already available in more than 15 countries. However, the use of AI is still relatively new in reproductive medicine, and not all clinics in those countries are using it yet. Unlocking Personalized Egg Quality Insights with AI Technology also means gaining access to advanced clinics equipped with this revolutionary technology. Use MyFertility's Clinic Finder to easily discover the clinics equipped with this cutting-edge tool and embark on your path to parenthood.
by Jullin Fjeldstad, Head of Clinical Embryology & Scientific Operations @ Future Fertility