One of the biggest issues in selecting fertility treatment or choosing a fertility clinic is: “How likely is it that this will work?”
The question seems simple enough, but there are some grey zones that are worth being aware of when you try to interpret any IVF success rates results that you see on websites, in magazines or in advertising from fertility clinics. Many different factors are involved.
About Published IVF Success Rates
What most couples want to know is what their chances are that they will get a baby to take home if they start an IVF cycle. This is NOT the pregnancy rate that you will see published on most IVF websites. The IVF success rates that you will see listed most often refer to clinical pregnancies per embryo transfer procedure performed. Why is this the one you see used? Simply because it looks so much better!
When you examine IVF success rates, look closely at the details of the information:
- Is it only women under the age of 35 that are included?
- Is it only couples who completed (rather than those that started) an IVF cycle?
- Is it any pregnancy (meaning a positive pregnancy test), a clinical pregnancy, or the live birth rate?
- Is it a cumulative rate – meaning the chance of pregnancy after one fresh IVF cycle, PLUS all the frozen embryo transfers that are done with embryos created in that first cycle?
- Do the IVF success rates include the use of donated eggs?
Pregnancy Without IVF Treatment
The other factor you need to be aware of to put your chance of success with treatment into perspective is the chance that you will get pregnant WITHOUT treatment. For normal fertile couples, this is surprisingly low ~20% per period cycle. Therefore, around 80% of couples don’t have success from one cycle. Depending on your age, the reason for your infertility, and the time you have already been trying, it could be much lower than this for you, although it is hard to ever say that the chance is zero.
While it is reassuring to know you have access to state-of-the-art fertility care and science, it is equally important to understand how your age and any relevant medical conditions you and your partner have will impact your chance of a successful pregnancy. Our approach is to personally assess each patient’s particular situation and develop a unique treatment plan.
Will Your Treatment Be Successful?
Your IVF Specialist will explain your chances of success, taking into consideration your type of infertility, your age and type of treatment. Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) procedures have progressed rapidly since their development and so have the associated success rates. However, generalised success rates can be misleading due to the individuality of each patient’s situation. There are many hurdles to cross during treatment and it is wise to keep in mind that they all have to be successfully crossed to get to what we are all striving for – a baby to take home.
The following factors can help determine your success with IVF treatment:
Fertility History. Having previously been pregnant (either on or off treatment) increases the chance that you will be successful again.
Your Response To Treatment. Some women do not develop follicles in response to the medications, and others do, for reasons that aren’t entirely understood.
Semen Quality. The closer to normal the semen results the better the success rates are. Motility of sperm (how well they move) is very important in predicting success.
Fallopian Tubes. Women with 2 normal fallopian tubes have higher success rates than women with only one functional tube. Women who have both tubes absent or blocked have very low success rates.
Your Age. As you can see from the graph below the age of the woman is a very strong predictor of whether you will be successful. However, there have been babies born after successful vasectomy or tubal ligation operations! Your IVF Specialist or IVF Nurse can help to give you an idea of the chance of success you have without treatment.
You might also like to look at an on-line fertility calculator such as the one found here.
Smoking. Whether it is one or both of you, cigarette and or marijuana smoking decreases your chance of success. You can’t do anything about how old you are or how your ovaries behave, but you can do something about this one. We are happy to refer you to a counsellor for help with quitting.
Weight. Women who are over or underweight have a lower chance of pregnancy both with treatment and without. If this applies to you then you might like to consider taking a few months to address your weight first. We can refer you to someone who can help, or you might like to try an established program like Weight Watchers.
Lots Of Luck And Persistence. At the end of the day, some couples get pregnant and some don’t and we don’t really know why that happens in an individual situation. So there certainly is an element of luck involved. As the old saying goes “pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again”. Persistence, like most other things in life, is the key to success.
The best advice you can receive for the likely success rate for YOU personally, will be from a Fertility Nurse Specialist. Please call our information line on 1300 FERTILITY (337 8450) or schedule a free consultation.