23 Jul Are IVF Success Rates Misleading?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is used as an effective treatment for infertility, which results from many causes. In vitro fertilization is not useful for women who have an anatomic problem with the uterus. IVF is often used for couples with blocked fallopian tubes, pelvic adhesions, and those of advanced age. In addition, IVF can help men with low sperm count, problems with sperm motility, and men who have had a vasectomy. Many couples with unexplained infertility can conceive using IVF.
Starting with Louise Brown, born in 1978 in England via IVF, over 5 million babies have been born using in vitro fertilization. With the IVF process, multiple eggs are developed using stimulation. These eggs are fertilized in the laboratory using the male partner’s sperm. After embryos develop, they are transferred to the female’s uterus to implant and grow.
Pregnancy Rate vs. Live Birth Rate
One of the first mistakes many couples make when viewing IVF success rates is assuming that pregnancy rates mean live births. Success rates for IVF are measured two ways: pregnancy and delivery. Not all women who achieve pregnancy using IVF go on to deliver a baby. IVF success rates can often be misleading for prospective parents. Success in pregnancy does not equate a successful live birth. Live birth is more indicative of IVF success than a pregnancy rate.
In 2012, 31% of IVF cycles for women aged 35-39 years old resulted in pregnancy, but only 25% of the women delivered a baby. The other three-fourths of women who underwent one or more IVF cycles in 2012 did not have a baby. The “per woman” results have shown that a large percentage of women have IVF, but the majority of these people do not have a baby.
American Pregnancy Association Success Rates
The success rate for IVF depends on many factors, according to the American Pregnancy Association. These include cause of infertility, maternal age, reproductive history, and lifestyle factors. Based on current statistics in the United States, the live birth rate for each IVF cycle is:
- 41-43% for women age 35 years old and younger
- 33-36% for women ages 35 to 37 years old
- 23-27% for women ages 38 to 40 years old
- 13-18% for women age 40 years old and older
2012 National Assistive Reproductive Technology Report
According to the CDC National ART report, 157,662 ART cycles were performed in the U.S. in 2012, which resulted in 65,160 babies. Of women who used their own eggs and fresh embryos, the percentages of IVF cycles resulting in live births were:
- 5% for women 35 and younger
- 3% age 35-37
- 2% age 38-40
- 7% age 41-42
- 5% age 43-44
- 8% age 44 and older
With donor eggs, the percentages increased, with all aged groups using fresh embryos combined having 56.4% success, and those using frozen embryos 37%.
Success Rate by Category
- Donor cycle: The statistics depend on whether IVF involved donor eggs and/or sperm or the recipient couple’s gametes (eggs and sperm). Donor eggs are used for women with diminished ovarian reserve, premature ovarian failure, age-related decline in fertility, and failure on multiple IVF cycles.
- Age: Women in the 35 years of age and younger group have higher success rates with IVF when using their own eggs. Women age 41 years of age and older have little success with IVF when their own eggs are used.