In Vitro Fertilisation can be a very evocative and emotionally charged topic. For many couples, IVF comes after a long period of uncertainty about their fertility and the process itself can also be long, emotionally taxing and expensive. Because of this, when women and couples embark on a journey of assisted reproduction, one of the first things they want to know is their chances of success.
Success rates for IVF are often explained by the media or even medical professionals without the proper context. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), IVF results in an average of 29.4% pregnancy and 22.4% live births. We also know that repeated cycles of IVF increase the chances of having a baby, according to the Medical Journal of Australia.
Each of these facts holds true and they should strengthen the resolve of those who are trying to fall pregnant. However, there are several other factors that influence IVF success rates which should always be considered alongside these primary statistics.
Maternal Age and Egg Quality
As we age, our fertility decreases and this is especially true of women. Women who are under the age of 35 are more likely to experience success with IVF than those over the age of 35. Furthermore, IVF treatments become increasingly difficult and less successful over the age of 40.
In many cases, this is because not every egg a woman produces can become a baby. This phenomenon is increasingly common in women over 35 and the majority of eggs are unsuitable for fertilisation in many women over 40.
Unfortunately, IVF cannot reverse or correct these poor quality eggs and the treatment may be unsuitable in these cases.
When IVF Is Suitable
IVF success rates will be more likely to reflect your personal experience when you're experiencing the common infertility factors that IVF can overcome. For example:
- male factor infertility such as low sperm count or poor sperm mobility or morphology
- tubal factor infertility where blocked, damaged or scarred tubes, or even the absence of fallopian tubes, is the major cause
If you also meet the other ideal criteria, for example, you are under the age of 35 and you have a healthy number of eggs, your predicted success rate may even exceed the average expectations.
How Important Are Repeated IVF Cycles?
A genetically normal embryo gives a couple around a 50% chance of having a baby. However, producing a normal embryo may take several cycles and, even then, success is never guaranteed. This is why repeated cycles of IVF are often important.
While this can be disheartening for some, research in Australia and New Zealand supports the importance of repeated IVF. In one study conducted between 2009 and 2014, women aged over 40 experienced a 30% rise in live births by their seventh cycle compared to their first cycle. For women aged 35 or younger, the results were even more encouraging, with a 70 per cent success rate in some cases by the seventh cycle.
Other Considerations for Your IVF Treatment
There are many avenues you can explore to assist you with your IVF treatment and increase your chances of success. These include:
- donor sperm and donor eggs
- ICSI a sperm injection procedure that can assist couples where male fertility issues are present
- egg freezing if you wish to preserve your fertility and attempt IVF at a later stage
Seek Advice for the Best Results
We recommend seeing a specialist if you are under 35 and pregnancy is not achieved in 12 months of regular, unprotected intercourse or if you are over 35 and pregnancy is not achieved in 6 months of regular, unprotected intercourse.
Are you considering IVF treatments? Talk to Dr Alex Polyakov in East Melbourne for complete care, from conception to delivery. Organise an appointment with our IVF and fertility specialist, contact us online or call