The first IVF baby was welcomed into the world on 25th July, 1978. Since Louise Joy Brown was born, more and more couples, who would have been otherwise unlucky, have been able to experience the joy of parenthood year on year. Today, 1% of babies born worldwide are conceived through Assisted Reproductive Technologies.
Although there are various types of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) and more innovative procedures developed every day, In Vitro Fertilisation or IVF has proven to be the most effective ART procedure. An impressive 99% of ART procedures are IVF or ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) procedures. But this does not guarantee that it will be an effective method in your case – when it comes to infertility treatments, it is important to keep in mind that each patient is unique and that innumerable factors need to be considered when each time you try a method.
Common factors that determine the failure and success of IVF
Age: The age of the woman is the single biggest factor affecting the success of an IVF procedure. With a success rate of 60-65%, IVF is most successful for Indian women between the ages of 24 and 35. This is expected, as this is age range when women are at their peak of fertility. As age increases, the success rate drops. This is because the quality and/or quantity of a woman’s eggs reduce as she grows older. The decision made by today’s urban women to delay childbirth to well into her 30s thus plays a big role.
The type of fertility problems: IVF works wonders for most couples facing a range of common fertility related problems. For instance, in women, problems such as endometriosis, blocked fallopian tubes, PCOS, and in men, low sperm count, motility, and morphology can generally be easily tackled with IVF. Certain other problems such as fibroids, uterine abnormalities, and ovarian dysfunction are more difficult to be overcome by simple IVF and require other surgeries or donor programmes. For male factor infertility, ICSI is the best option.
Previous pregnancy: A woman has a greater chance of conceiving through IVF/ICSI if she has been pregnant before and carried her baby to term. On the other hand, a woman who has had recurrent miscarriages could have problems conceiving with the help of IVF. In such cases, advanced ART techniques like PGS, PGD, and ERA could help.
Lifestyle: If one of the partners smokes excessively, the chances of conceiving are greatly reduced. Couples who are trying to conceive or are already pregnant are highly advised to change their habits.
Another lifestyle factors affecting IVF success rate is weight – overweight or underweight women have fewer chances of conceiving than people who have a normal BMI.
The fertility clinic: Perhaps one of the biggest external factors that determine the success of IVF treatment is the clinic chosen by the couple for their treatment. Numerous factors that affects the success of IVF cycle have a direct connection to the fertility clinic and its expertise, protocol and technology – from the lab’s success rates to laboratory standards, air quality, and the experience of the embryologists all play an important role.
Myths related to the success and failure of IVF treatment
One of the most common myths is that the IVF treatment success rate is higher when more embryos are transferred. On the contrary, the human uterus is meant to carry only one embryo and thereby one child. It is common practice among fertility experts to transfer two or more embryos after IVF resulting in the birth of twins or triplets, however, multiple pregnancies are not recommended and can cause complications for both the mother and the babies. These days, many fertility experts vouch for elective single embryo transfer.
Some clinics claim very high success rates such as 90% or above, whereas the global IVF success rate stands at 35%. There are different parameters that are taken into consideration in calculating the success rates, such as implantation rate, pregnancy rate, and live birth rate. Moreover, IVF success rate will be different from IUI and ICSI success rates. Also the 1st IVF cycle success rate will be lesser than the 2nd cycle and so forth. So, it’s important for you to do thorough research to truly understand success rates and do not hesitate to freely talk to your clinic about this.
IVF has proven to be the most effective fertility treatment for decades. It is in no way a promise, but for many couples, it has played an invaluable part in their lives forever, and we wish it does the same for you.