Infertility is a complex issue that impacts a number of couples trying to conceive a child. Various infertility factors can be treated through in vitro fertilization (IVF). With the high costs of IVF as well its emotional and physical toll, some women may wonder whether it is really worth a try.
The good news is that IVF is generally successful, especially if a woman is under 35 or uses donor eggs. Here are some factors to keep in mind if you’re trying to decide whether IVF is right for you.
Success rates are age-related
Success rates are usually reported according to the age of a woman because IVF success rates over 40 are affected by egg quality and quantity. IVF authority says this is why fertility specialists recommend using donor eggs when a woman is 40 or older for IVF to be successful.
The younger a woman is, the more likely it is that she has a good reservoir of quality eggs which is important when undergoing IVF. IVF success rates using donor eggs are not as dependent upon a woman’s age and live birth rates vary only slightly between the ages of 30 and 47.
One cycle versus multiple cycles
Women younger than 35 usually have a good chance of becoming pregnant the first time eggs are retrieved and an embryo is transferred. However, older patients may need more than one cycle of IVF to achieve this. Odds of success appear to increase with multiple cycles of IVF.
If the first cycle was not successful, it may be necessary to adjust medications to optimize a subsequent one. Women who don’t get pregnant in the first cycle still have a good chance of success in the second, third and subsequent cycles. Couples who are unsuccessful after two or three attempts, however, often decide not to continue.
Personal factors that can affect success
Lifestyle, finances, mental health, family support, religious beliefs and relationship dynamics are all likely to play a role in your decision to undergo IVF and your chances of success. For example, lifestyle choices, such as smoking, overeating, drinking too much alcohol and exercising too much or too little, can affect the quality of your eggs and the success of IVF treatment.
An IVF calculator can help predict your chances of success. It takes into account various factors such as your age, weight, height, causes of infertility if known, previous IVF attempts, use of own eggs or donor eggs etc.
The success rates of individual clinics
Looking at the success rates of various clinics can help when trying to make a decision. An IVF comparison tool can help you search and compare IVF success rates of fertility clinics.
However, when searching you also need to be aware that a clinic with excellent rates may turn away couples who have less chance of success or may transfer a higher number of embryos per cycle which can be risky. It is better to look at live birth rates rather than just pregnancy rates when considering clinics.
Choice of reproductive endocrinologist
When choosing a reproductive endocrinologist, you need to find one with experience and a commitment to evidence-based IVF treatment. You will also need to feel comfortable with the person so you are able to communicate well during what can be a trying journey.
Protocols, the amount of ovarian stimulation, laboratory quality, number of embryos transferred and other factors can all affect success rates. Deciding whether to pursue IVF can be challenging and complex. An experienced reproductive endocrinologist can reassure you and help you to understand the process.