Rates of IVF Success Have Improved Over Last 10 Years, New Report Shows

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Key Takeaways

  • The live birth rate for IVF cycles has risen in the last decade, two new studies show.
  • Researchers found that the live birth rate per initiated IVF cycle in women using their own eggs has increased by 18% overall.
  • The greatest improvements occurred in older age groups. 

New research from Australia and New Zealand reveals that the live birth rate for IVF cycles has increased over the last 10 years for both younger and older women. In 2019, the most recent year for which data are available, there were 16,310 babies born through IVF treatment performed in Australia and New Zealand.

The data come from the Australia and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Database (ANZARD) report, which is funded by the Fertility Society of Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) and contains data from the 95 IVF clinics that operate in the two countries.

Preliminary data from the CDC suggests there were 330,773 ART cycles in 2019, resulting in nearly 78,000 live births.

A Closer Look at the Findings 

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) medical researchers found that the live birth rate per initiated IVF cycle in women using their own eggs has increased by 18% overall, with the greatest improvements seen in older age groups. 

For instance, in women ages 35 to 39, the live birth rate per cycle increased from 19% to 23%. In the 40- to 44-year-old age groups, the live birth rate was 10%, representing a 27% increase over the last 10 years.

Meaghan Bowling, MD, FACOG

IVF offers greater success rates compared to other treatment options such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH).

— Meaghan Bowling, MD, FACOG

While not all IVF cycles reach the stage of embryo transfer, those that do also show significant improvement compared to previous years. In 2010, the overall live birth rate per embryo transfer was 22%. In 2019, it was 28%. 

The researchers say the improved success rates are due to many factors, including advancements in laboratory techniques. Improvements in the overall management of couples experiencing infertility, such as lifestyle interventions, improved diagnostic capabilities, and in some cases surgery prior to IVF, have also played a part.

What Is IVF?

During in vitro fertilization (IVF), an egg is combined with sperm outside the body. IVF is one type of assisted reproductive technology (ART), which is a catchall term for treatments that manipulate the sperm or the egg to make pregnancy more likely.

“IVF is a first-line treatment for women with blocked fallopian tubes, and for couples where the male has moderate to severely low sperm counts,” says Meaghan Bowling, MD, FACOG, IVF director and director of third-party reproduction at Carolina Conceptions in Raleigh, NC.

In addition, IVF is often used in people with unexplained infertility, severe polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that is resistant to medications like clomiphene citrate or letrozole, and endometriosis. “Women of advancing age, and women with low egg count may benefit from going directly to IVF and skipping less successful options such as IUI,” adds Dr. Bowling.

The Emotional Impact of IVF

The new data from Australia and New Zealand will be welcomed by people going through IVF, which can be a long, emotional journey. 

“Between spending countless hours at the fertility clinic, ultrasounds, bloodwork, and various invasive procedures, it can feel like trying to get pregnant becomes your entire life,” says fertility therapist Ariel Taylor, BSW, RSW. 

Ariel Taylor, BSW, RSW

IVF has the potential to create a perfect storm of mental health challenges with very little specialized support to help.

— Ariel Taylor, BSW, RSW

Taylor explains that fertility treatments are still not fully understood and are often stigmatized. “If someone required third-party reproduction like sperm or egg donation or a surrogate, there is even further stigma," she says. "This can all cause challenges in handling the emotional fatigue that goes hand-in-hand with IVF.”

Many of Taylor's clients who are going through IVF report feeling anxious, depressed, worried, or scared. "They may feel like they are running out of time, like they are not meant to have a baby, or that it will never happen for them," she says.

And the worries can be multiple: the high cost of IVF treatments not covered by insurance, the reactions from friends and family, and the struggle to keep going after experiencing recurrent losses. Then there are the ups and downs of hormones, injections, and treatments.

"When you throw in a global pandemic which closed clinics, delayed treatments, and refused to allow partners into embryo transfers and ultrasounds, IVF has the potential to create a perfect storm of mental health challenges with very little specialized support to help," says Taylor.

The bottom line is that IVF is hard—much harder than most people realize, and you can’t truly understand it unless you’ve been through it. As Taylor says, there is never any shame in asking for help and getting the support you deserve—you don't have to go through it alone. A support system of family, close friends, and coworkers can help hold you up on the bad days and celebrate with you on the good days. 

What This Means For You

IVF success rates have increased over the last 10 years, especially in older women, which can be reassuring for people who plan to start their families via IVF. IVF can be challenging both mentally and physically, so it's important to take steps to protect your mental health.

A good therapist can help you protect your mental health while you go through IVF by helping you manage stress and learn coping strategies around treatments, and set boundaries around who to include on your IVF journey.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Newman JE, Paul RC, Chambers GM. Assisted Reproductive Technology in Australia and New Zealand.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ART Success Rates.

  3. University of New South Wales Sydney. IVF success rates have improved in the last decade, especially in older women: report.

By Claire Gillespie
Claire Gillespie is a freelance writer specializing in mental health. She’s written for The Washington Post, Vice, Health, Women’s Health, SELF, The Huffington Post, and many more. Claire is passionate about raising awareness for mental health issues and helping people experiencing them not feel so alone.