The Chances for IVF Pregnancy Success

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Infertility is a complicated issue that impacts up to 15% of couples who are trying to conceive. Depending on your unique situation, various infertility factors may be treated through in-vitro fertilization (IVF). The high cost of (IVF), along with its emotional and physical toll, may leave you wondering whether IVF is worth a try.

The good news is that IVF is generally successful, especially for women under age 35 or those who use donor eggs. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when deciding if IVF is right for you.

Although we'll focus on the female characteristics of infertility in this article, 44% of infertility cases are caused by male factors and 33% involve a combination of both partners.

IVF Success Rates by Age

You can find IVF success rates on the websites for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART). National rates, along with statistics for individual clinics, are available on these sites. Success rates are generally reported according to the woman's age. With age, IVF success rates tend to decline unless donor eggs are used.

National data was collected by the CDC for 2014 representing IVF success rates using non-donor eggs, per egg retrieval (not per cycle). In other words, these are the odds of a live birth after one egg retrieval using either freshly retrieved eggs/embryos during the cycle ​or after a frozen embryo transfer cycle.

Live Births per Egg Retrieval:

  • For women younger than 35, the percentage of live births per egg retrieval is 54.4%.
  • For women ages 35 to 37, the percentage of live births per egg retrieval is 42%.
  • For women ages 38 to 40, the percentage of live births per egg retrieval is 26.6%.
  • For women ages 41 to 42, the percentage of live births per egg retrieval is 13.3%.
  • For women ages 43 and up, the percentage of live births per egg retrieval is 3.9%.

Unfortunately, IVF success declines significantly after age 40. For this reason, most women ages 40 and up use donor eggs. IVF success rates using donor eggs are not as dependent on the woman's age.

Fresh vs. Frozen Embryos

When using donor eggs, the percentage of live births per cycle is:

One Cycle vs. Multiple Cycles

As stated, the statistics above are for one egg retrieval. Odds of success increase with multiple cycles of IVF. Rather than betting on just one chance, expect to undergo several IVF trials to reach your desired result.

Researchers have found that the live birth rate for the first cycle of IVF is 29.5%. Through the fourth attempt, success rates remained above 20%. By cycle number six, 65.3% of women achieved a live birth. Although previous recommendations suggested completing three or four cycles, it appears that doing up to six cycles could offer the best chances of success.

However, the high cost of IVF, plus the psychological distress experienced by couples, makes multiple IVF cycles difficult. Few couples are able or willing to go through more than two or three cycles. Considering adoption or other alternatives to parenting can be a positive next step if IVF is not yielding results.

Factors Impacting IVF Success Rates

IVF success depends on a number of factors, some of which you have little control over, and some of which can be improved through healthy lifestyle changes.

There are many personalized factors that determine your odds of IVF success. National statistics can give you a general idea, but your doctor should be able to better predict your individual chances.

SART has created a patient predictor tool that can offer slightly more personalized odds. It's free and easy to use. The tool assumes you have never attempted IVF. The following factors are considered when calculating your odds:

  • Age
  • Height and weight
  • Number of previous full-term births
  • Total number of pregnancies (including pregnancy losses)
  • Whether you plan to use your own eggs or donor eggs
  • Your cause for infertility (if known)

Univfy has developed a similar tool, which isn't free but takes into account more data than the SART predictor. Univfy's tool can be used if you have previously undergone IVF. Input personal fertility data, including diagnosis, age, weight, and previous success (or not) with fertility treatments to get your current odds.

Individual Clinic Success Rates

The success rates for clinics around the country are available on the CDC's website. Success rates on individual clinics are important but should be taken with a grain of salt. A clinic with excellent rates may be turning away couples who have a lower chance of success. Or, they may be transferring a higher number of embryos per treatment cycle, which can be risky.

Sometimes a very small client base can show misleadingly high success rates. Compare live birth rates rather than just pregnancy rates. Pregnancy success is always higher than the live birth rate since it does not account for miscarriage and stillbirth.

A Word from Verywell

Infertility is a deeply personal issue. Relationship dynamics, family support, religious beliefs, financial status, lifestyle, and mental health all play a roll in the decision to undergo IVF. While statistical odds can be factored into your plans, you are not a statistic. Outcomes can be unpredictable. Ultimately, your choices should be motivated from within.

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Article Sources
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  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2014 Assisted reproductive technology fertility clinic success rates report. Updated October 13th, 2016.

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