Can Follicular Study Confirm Pregnancy? Exploring Its Diagnostic Scope

January 25, 2024
Can Follicular Study Confirm Pregnancy

For couples trying to conceive, the two-week wait between ovulation and pregnancy can feel like an eternity. There are some early clues that conception may have been successful, but none provide definitive proof at such an early stage. One potential early indicator that more clinics are utilising is the follicular study. But can follicular study confirm pregnancy? The most straightforward answer to this question is simply ‘No’.        

A follicular study cannot help us know if a woman is pregnant. Instead, it just provides an idea about the development of ovarian follicles. Let’s explore the diagnostic scope of follicular studies to confirm pregnancy.

What Is A Follicular Study?      

A follicular study or monitoring tracks the development of ovarian follicles up to the day of ovulation. It helps to check the rupture of the dominant follicle, which releases an egg at a size of 20mm. It also helps to confirm if the corpus luteum has formed after ovulation. The corpus luteum produces progesterone, a hormone supporting a potential pregnancy in the early stages.      

  • A follicular study is usually conducted in patients who have been trying to get pregnant but are unable to do so due to underlying PCOS, PCOD, and irregular menstrual cycle issues.        
  • It is usually recommended in women above 35 years of age, with previously mentioned medical conditions, or who are taking fertility drugs to conceive naturally.              

It is essential to clarify that a follicular study does not confirm pregnancy. Instead, it helps identify the most fertile period in a woman’s cycle. This information is essential for timing intercourse or infertility treatments but does not directly answer the question, “can follicular study confirm pregnancy?”

Diagnosis of Pregnancy      

You might be wondering if a straightforward answer to “can follicular study confirm pregnancy?” is a   no, then what are the actual methods to diagnose a pregnancy? There are several diagnostic methods to check if a woman is pregnant. First and foremost, to check the presence of pregnancy, one needs to carry out any of the following tests after missing your period. The most helpful and commonly accessed aids for diagnosing pregnancy are:      

  • Home Pregnancy Test Kits: These are the most commonly relied-on aid for pregnancy diagnosis. These kits use the principle of checking raised hCG levels in the urine for confirmation of pregnancy. 
  • UPT: The urine pregnancy test uses a similar principle, where the levels of raised hCG in urine help in indicating a positive pregnancy. These are usually performed in a lab setup.
  • USG: A transvaginal ultrasound can confirm the presence of a gestational sac, which often appears 4-5 weeks into pregnancy.

Purpose of Follicular Study            

The primary purposes of conducting a follicular study are:      

Monitoring the growth and development of ovarian follicles.      

  • Check the size and thickness of the endometrial lining to check if it is ready for implantation.     
  • To determine the approximate date of ovulation      
  • To identify the dominant follicle      

A dominant follicle of about 20 mm can only release an ovum. Any follicle with a smaller size cannot become a dominant follicle. 

Knowing the time of ovulation and if the ovulation occurs at regular intervals play a significant role in determining fertility in females.

How is a Follicular Study Performed?      

Performing a series of USG screenings at specific intervals throughout an entire menstrual cycle is a follicular study. Based on the number of days, the purpose of each scan is slightly different from one another. The primary purposes of each of these scans are:   

Baseline Ultrasound Scan:       

Performing this scan around days 2-3 of the menstrual cycle helps determine the reproductive organs’ baseline status. It specifically assesses the status of the uterus, tubes, and ovaries before the beginning of the development of follicles.

Monitoring Scans:        

This includes multiple scans done at regular intervals, from day 7 to day 8 of the cycle. Based on the patient’s condition and cycle length, there could be slight differences in the timing of the upcoming scans. It keeps an initial track of the ovarian follicles’ growth and the uterine lining’s thickness.

Follicular Tracking:        

While nearing ovulation, performing further ultrasound scans helps measure the progression in size of follicles and evaluate the number of growing follicles. It can help to determine and monitor which is the dominant follicle. Observing the dominant follicle is paramount as it releases the egg during ovulation.  

Ovulation Prediction Scan:        

While nearing ovulation, ultrasound scans can help monitor the dominant follicle’s development, size, and signs of impending ovulation, such as follicle rupture.      

Performing all the necessary scans helps us predict whether the dominant follicle has a good prognosis.

Diagnostic Scope of Follicular Study      

Although the answer to “Can follicular study confirm pregnancy?” is a big no, the follicular study is not directly linked to pregnancy, and it finds its diagnostic scope in broad areas such as:   

  • Rate of growth and development of follicles.      
  • Monitoring the maturation of eggs within the follicle.      
  • Predicting approximate time of ovulation      
  • Assessing endometrial thickness over a specific period.      
  • Evaluating infertility due to anovulation or irregular ovulation      
  • Evaluation of the response of the reproductive system, especially the ovary and its follicles, to medications and hormonal therapies.      
  • Results of the follicular study can help plot further treatment plans and protocols of assisted reproductive technology.      

How Does Follicular Study Help In Infertility Treatment?      

The following points can help you better clarify the question, can follicular study confirm pregnancy? as we explore how it helps in infertility treatment: 

  • The follicular study becomes relevant when proper follicular development occurs, but follicles fail to release the ovum at the proper time or intervals. 
  • There could also be a complete lack of ovulation apart from the irregular ovulation. In these conditions, IVF experts inject the hCG hormone, which has a similar structure to the luteinising hormones. 
  • The most ambient size of the follicle that releases a healthy ovum is 20mm. So when a follicle fails to release the ovum at this size, providing an hCG injection forces it to release it. 
  • The follicle is expected to release the ovum within 24-36 hours of the hormonal therapy.        
  • An intercourse carried out after the proper release of the ovum can help in fertilisation with the sperm if all other factors pose positive viability. 
  • Can follicular study confirm pregnancy in these cases? No. Carrying out UPT or blood pregnancy tests after a day or two of missed period date is essential to determine if a fruitful pregnancy has occurred or not.        

In such a way, each progression in the size of follicles in a follicular study can provide a relative prognosis of whether the follicle would provide a fruitful result.

When to Consult a Specialist      

A woman’s most ambient reproductive age lies between late teenage to late 20s or early 30s. But often, fertility starts to decrease in women around their early 30s. This can often create difficulty in conceiving. Even if included under peak reproductive ages, women can find it difficult to conceive due to underlying conditions like PCOD, PCOS, or other undiagnosed underlying conditions.        

At times, the changes within the endometrial thickening can also be contributory to idiopathy of your infertility. Consulting a specialist and following relevant advice as early as possible is the best decision a couple must take.      

Final Word 

If you are someone facing gynaecological issues or above the age of 35, having recurrent abortions or are unable to conceive via typical methods even after hormonal therapies, consulting a specialist becomes a necessity. We at Nandi IVF have an expert panel of professionals and labs equipped with the best field machinery and equipment to help you have the best experience and the most fruitful outcome. Feel free to book your appointment with our experts today.

Sr. IVF Specialist & Medical Director at NANDI IVF
Dr. Payal Bajaj is an experienced Obstetrician & Gynecologist with over 20 years of experience in the discipline. She is a Reproductive Endocrinologist & Infertility Specialist. She has Done MBBS From the Renowned Lady Hardinge Medical College. DGO from the prestigious VMMC & Safdarjang Hospital, DMAS From World Laparoscopy Hospital.

She has Completed Her esteemed ASPIRE -ISAR Fellowship in the field of Reproductive Medicine from AFGC, Delhi And St' Mother's Hospital Japan.She has also been trained from the University of KEIL Germany. She has won various academic awards all through her academic career.
Dr. Payal Bajaj

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