Understanding IVF Success Rates: 5 Reasons Why it Matters
There is a range of factors couples should weigh when choosing their IVF clinic, one of the most important of which is the clinic’s success rates. IVF success rates have been a current source of controversy because a recent published study, The Status of Public Reporting of Clinical Outcomes in Assisted Reproductive Technology, found that many clinics have not been 100% transparent with their statistics, giving dishonest clinics undeserved benefit when couples use success rates as their guiding clinic selection criteria. The study’s authors concluded:
CDC and SART should ensure that all ART clinics publicly report the outcomes of all initiated cycles including embryo-banking cycles. ART surveillance and quality of care may be improved by prospectively tracking the total reproductive potential of each initiated cycle.
One of the most obvious data left out of IVF clinic reporting between the years 2005 and 2010 were the amount of IVF cycles that never resulted in an embryo transfer. Instead, clinics only reported data on cycles that resulted in an embryo transfer, which led the final statistics to appear more successful than they may have otherwise. It is imperative that clinics specializing in assisted reproductive technology be as forthright and honest as possible with the data they report to the CDC and SART (Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology).
These statistics are reported for your benefit and here’s why they matter:
- Evaluate how many IVC cycles a clinic is performing each year. They say that practice makes perfect and that is most certainly true when it comes to more innovative scientific and medical procedures. The more embryo transfers a clinic is doing, the more they are learning and the better their skills will be. Ideally, you want to place your focus on IVF clinics that are doing about 120 cycles or more per year. This is a sign that these procedures are routine and the clinic’s doctors are experts at the process.
- Make comparisons between the procedures you are going to use. You have the choice of using fresh or frozen embryos. Once you know which type of embryo you will be using, you want to evaluate clinic success rates using the same type. If you will be using fresh embryos, spend more time evaluating statistics that reflect successful transfers and live births using fresh embryos. The same is true if you will be using frozen embryos, donor eggs, etc.
- Look at the success rates for women in your same age group. As we have mentioned before, age matters. It matters when you are trying to conceive naturally and it matters when you are using IVF procedures. You will want to focus on clinics that have the highest success rates for women in your same age bracket. Note that older women using donor eggs will have higher transfer and live birth rates than those who use their own eggs. This is because older women who opt to use donor eggs usually share the same IVF success rate as a woman in the donor’s age bracket. For example, if you are 45 but you opt to use an egg from a 25 year-old donor, your success rate is closer to a 29-year old woman who is using IVF procedures with her own egg.
- Take note of how many embryos were transferred. Not surprisingly, the more embryos that are transferred, the higher the chances of implantation and a live birth. That being said, many women want to minimize their chances of twins, triplets, etc. The number of embryos you can have transferred will depend on your diagnosis, age and doctor recommendations. You want to compare success rates while considering how many embryos you plan to have implanted for your procedure.
- Evaluate the live birth rates/IVF cycle ratios. Just as multiple embryos yield higher implantation and live birth rates, multiple IVF cycles will increase a woman’s chances of success. You will want to look at the average number of cycles it took for IVF to be successful. Your financial and emotional investment may require that you narrow the field to clinics with the highest success rates with the lowest number of cycles
Take time to research and understand what IVF success rates mean so you can make the best choice possible for you and your family.
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RRC has over 200 years of combined experience. As a leading reproductive health, infertility, and in-vitro fertilization (or IVF) center based in Kansas City, we're proud to have the highest level of expertise available to our patients.