When you’re deciding which fertility clinic to start your IVF journey with, success rates can be one factor to consider. However, when comparing IVF success rates it can be confusing. Here are 3 tips to help you understand and interpret IVF success rates.
1. Understand the terminology
When you start looking into success rates of different clinics, you’ll come across these terminologies, which will help you compare different fertility clinics:
- Live births - this relates to the number of live births, miscarriages, terminations and deaths of the baby for obstetric reasons are not included and may not reflect the clinic’s performance. For a couple who don’t have any fertility assistance, the live birth rate is approximately 22% and it is important not to become disheartened when you see a low live birth rate.
- Clinical pregnancy - this is when the ultrasound shows a fetal heart at 6 weeks into the pregnancy. A pregnancy at 6 weeks with a fetal heartbeat has a 95% chance of a live birth.
Collating live birth data takes longer, sometimes up to two years. Therefore the live birth data can be outdated and representative of the fertility clinics practice two years ago. As clinical pregnancy can be collated at week 6 of the pregnancy and has a 95% chance of live birth, clinical pregnancy data is more accurate of how the clinic is performing today.
2. Understanding other factors that influence IVF success rates
When comparing IVF success rates, it’s important to remember that it’s a summary of success rates of many different patients using many different types of IVF treatment and it doesn’t take into consideration a lot of other factors with infertility. Some factors that influence IVF success rates are:
- Age of the women: After the age of 30 fertility decreases as the quality and number of the eggs decreases. Over the age of 40, IVF treatments become more difficult and less successful.
- Your personal circumstances: Your personal experience and infertility factors reflect IVF success rates. e.g. the quality of the sperm, uterine problems, genetic issues, endometriosis. Genetic testing of the embryos (PGT) is associated with a higher live birth rate and can skew a clinic’s reported results and show a better outcome.
- The use of donor sperm or donor eggs is associated with higher pregnancy rates and can skew the results and show a better outcome. Typically women who use donor sperm have normal fertility, so, therefore, have higher success. Not all clinics use donor sperm and therefore may have a lower success rate for the same age of the women.
- Cancelling cycles: some clinics will cancel egg collection if a low number of eggs develop as the number of eggs collected predicts success rates. Clinics which cancel egg collections with low numbers of eggs are likely to have a higher success rate.
3. Questions to ask a fertility clinic
As a clinic’s reported success rate isn’t reflective of your circumstances or a predictor of your circumstances, here are some questions to ask your IVF doctor:
- Considering my circumstances and medical history, what is the chance of having a baby?
- Should we/I consider other options which might enhance our natural fertility?
- Should we/I consider the use of add-ons to improve the chance of a healthy pregnancy? If so which ones?
- Is there a minimum amount of eggs that need to be produced for egg collection? Some clinics will cancel egg collection if a certain number of eggs has been produced (normally 3). However, some women have a low ovarian reserve and it may be best to proceed with egg collection.
- Does the clinic offer ovulation induction options? IVF is not always needed, and ovulation induction could an alternative option. Sometimes IVF clinics offer IVF to women instead of ovulation induction they do not have expertise in inducing ovulation. Ovulation induction is particularly useful if the woman has infrequent periods (greater than 35 days between periods).
If you’ve got a question for Care Fertility, submit an enquiry and we’ll get back to you.