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If you're considering in vitro fertilisation (IVF) — one of the most common fertility treatments — you've likely heard a lot about success rates. You may have come across IVF success rates while researching fertility clinics, but it can be hard to keep track of all the information. Going through fertility treatments is stressful and emotional enough without deciphering complicated data!
Our team have broken down the data and put together the following blog to help. you make sense of success rates.
Like any fertility treatment, the success of IVF depends on a few factors, such as your age, the cause of infertility (if known), and medical history.
It can be reassuring to know, however, that clinics must follow the same guidelines when collecting and presenting their data. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) regulates IVF success rates in the UK, but clinics abroad aren’t required to regulate success rates in the same way. If you’re seeking IVF outside of the UK, it’s important to research success rates according to the specific country.
It’s also important to know that while fertility clinics can display their success rates to see how successful different fertility treatments are for helping patients conceive, they can’t tell you your individual chance of getting pregnant. So, the HFEA suggests that patients compare clinic success rates to the national average to help make informed decisions.
IVF success rates can be difficult to understand because clinics may define "success" differently. Some clinics may measure success based on:
pregnancy rate, or clinical pregnancy, which is when a heartbeat can be detected in the womb.
live birth rate, which refers to when a baby is born showing any signs of life, differs from birth rate.
birth rate, which is the total number of births that include both live births and stillbirths.
To make things less confusing, the HFEA recommends using pregnancy rates to indicate how successful IVF treatment is in the UK. So, what exactly are your chances of a successful pregnancy with IVF?
Earlier this year, the HFEA published their preliminary data on IVF as of 2021 (the most recently available data). The report shows that fertility success rates have increased over the last 30 years for all age groups. The average overall pregnancy rate from IVF increased from 10% in 1991 to 29% in 2021, but let’s look at the IVF success rate for each age group, and see how Apricity’s success rates compare.
Fertility naturally declines with age, so people under 35 have a higher chance of conceiving — with or without IVF.
People aged 18-34 had a 41% IVF pregnancy rate in 2021, the highest pregnancy rate per embryo transferred of all age groups.
Patients aged 35-37 have a 33% pregnancy rate per embryo transfer. This increased from 8% in 1991.
The pregnancy rate for patients aged 38-39 getting IVF treatment was 25% in 2021.
The pregnancy rate per embryo transferred for patients aged 40-42 was 16% in 2021. That’s up from only 6% in 1991.
In 2021, the pregnancy rate per transferred embryo for patients aged 43-50 was 6%, compared to 1% in 1991.
So, how do Apricity's success rates compare to the national average for that same year (2021)? 43% of patients under 38 who used their own eggs got pregnant. Meanwhile, 13% of patients over 38 became pregnant — but that number shot up to 27% the following year.
While a woman's age (or maternal age) is a crucial part in the success of IVF treatment, there are multiple factors to consider. Other factors that influence IVF success include:
Your overall health
The cause of infertility (if known)
The quality of eggs (and whether you used donor eggs)
Whether you used fresh or frozen embryos
Number of previous pregnancies
How good the fertility clinic is (including its expertise, protocol, technology, lab standards, and the experience of the embryologists)
Lifestyle factors, such as your weight, and if you smoke.
HFEA data from 2018 showed that using donor eggs greatly increased the chances of success for IVF treatment for older women. The quality of eggs decreases as you age, which can lower the chances of a successful IVF cycle. But if donor eggs are used, the birth rates remain high. This is because the egg donors are typically five years younger than IVF patients. For example, patients below the age of 35 had a 31% birth rate per embryo transferred in 2018, while patients 43 years and older had a rate below 5%.
It's good to look at success rates when choosing a fertility clinic, but it's important to keep in mind that these numbers aren't the whole story. A clinic might be turning away couples who have a lower chance of success, or they might be using more embryos per treatment cycle.
Many clinics appear to have high success rates by transferring multiple embryos at once. The HFEA actually launched a campaign to decrease the number of embryos transferred to reduce risk to both the mother and baby. As a result of this campaign, the number of twin and multiple births has decreased in recent years. The HFEA Code of Practice originally stated that a maximum of three embryos could be transferred, but in 2001, it was changed to a maximum of two embryos, with three only allowed in exceptional circumstances.
Some clinics also specialise in treating certain types of infertility, which can also impact their success rates. So, it's worth doing some research and considering other factors when making your decision. Don’t be afraid to ask a clinic or fertility advisor questions!
It's understandable to want to know your chances based on national success rates or individual clinic statistics, but it's important to remember that you’re not just a number. While statistics can help you make plans and pick a clinic, your fertility journey is unique, and the level of care and support you receive from your clinic should reflect that.
(n.d.). Fertility treatment 2021: Preliminary trends and figures. Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. https://www.hfea.gov.uk/about-us/publications/research-and-data/fertility-treatment-2021-preliminary-trends-and-figures/#section-1
Amini, P., Ramezanali, F., Parchehbaf-Kashani, M., Maroufizadeh, S., Omani-Samani, R., & Ghaheri, A. (2021). Factors associated with in vitro fertilization live birth outcome: a comparison of different classification methods. International Journal of Fertility & Sterility, 15(2), 128. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8052806/
(2020, June 30). Fertility treatment 2018: Trends and figures. Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. https://www.hfea.gov.uk/about-us/publications/research-and-data/fertility-treatment-2018-trends-and-figures/#donoreggs
(n.d.). Reducing multiple births: Giving patients the best chance of a healthy baby. Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. https://www.hfea.gov.uk/about-us/our-blog/reducing-multiple-births-giving-patients-the-best-chance-of-a-healthy-baby/#:~:text=The%20first%20HFEA%20Code%20of,three%20only%20in%20exceptional%20circumstances.
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