Rarely are articles about fertility published in mathematical journals, but researchers from the Universitat Politecnica de Valencia are not interested in the fine lines between math and medical science. By using a mathematical tool, doctors can evaluate embryos that do not necessarily meet current rating guidelines for implantation but may be successful at producing a viable pregnancy.

The new fertility model takes three factors into consideration – number of cells, fragmentation and symmetry. Fragmentation and symmetry are combined and called degree. Once the number of cells and degree are determined, doctors can use a mathematical model that includes the woman’s age to determine her personalized chance of pregnancy called the embryo quality index (EQI).

Fertility doctors look for grade one embryos for transfer, but grade one embryos don’t always develop. This model allows doctors to predict a success rate even if less than perfect embryos are used. Researchers suggest the mathematical model could be used to reduce multiple pregnancies while protecting success rates.

Ideally, the best embryos from the available selection would be chosen for implantation, but there is always room for error when it comes to evaluation of the embryos.

Embryologists are responsible for the grading of each embryo. While the mathematical model is sound and finite in terms of results, the results are determined based on human perception, so there is bound to be a margin of error when EQI results are calculated.

Source: A. Debón, I. Molina, S. Cabrera, A. Pellicer. Mathematical methodology to obtain and compare different embryo scores. Mathematical and Computer Modelling, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.mcm.2012.11.027