What Are the Chances for IVF Success?

Your Real IVF Success Odds + How Many Cycles You Should Try

Mother kissing sleeping baby on head, conceived with IVF
IVF is no guarentee of pregnancy, but it has helped millions have children who couldn't have them otherwise. Compassionate Eye Foundation/Three Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Given the high cost of IVF, you’re probably wondering what your chances are for IVF success. The good news is that IVF is generally successful, especially for younger women and those using donor eggs.

IVF success rates are available online at the website for the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART). You can look up the national rates, or find rates for individual clinics, at these sites.

The success rates are generally reported according to the woman's age, since as a woman gets older, the IVF success rates go down if she's using her own eggs.

According to the data collected for 2007, these are the IVF success rates nationally, when using non-donor eggs:

  • For women younger than 35, the percentage of live births per cycle is 39.6%.
  • For women ages 35 to 37, the percentage of live births per cycle is 30.5%.
  • For women ages 38 to 40, the percentage of live births per cycle is 20.9%.
  • For women ages 41 to 42, the percentage of live births per cycle is 11.5%.
  • For women ages 43, the percentage of live births per cycle is 6.2%.
  • After age 44, little more than 1% of IVF cycles with non-donor eggs lead to live birth.

As you can see, IVF success goes down significantly after age 40. For this reason, most women 40 and up use donor eggs.

Success rates when using donor eggs are not as dependent on the woman's age.

  • The percentage of live births per cycle when using donor eggs is 55.1% with fresh embryos.
  • The percentage of live births per cycle when using donor eggs is 31.9% when using frozen embryos.

It's interesting to note that IVF success rates with donor eggs are even higher than a woman younger than 35 using her own eggs.

Donor eggs offer the best chance for success.

One Cycle Statistics vs Multiple Cycle Statistics

Something else that's important to realize is the statistics above are for one IVF cycle.

Your odds for success increase if you can do more than one IVF cycle, and it's typically recommended that you plan on it.

According to at least one study, women who conceived with IVF treatment went through an average of 2.7 cycles.

They also found that the odds for success -- for women of all ages -- after three IVF cycles was between 34% and 42%.

Practically speaking, to improve your odds, you should try for at least three IVF cycles.

What about trying for more than three cycles?

This particular study found that cumulative pregnancy success odds continued to improve (slightly) for up to five cycles. After that, the odds plateaued.

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.

Will IVF Work For You?

IVF success is dependent on a number of factors, some of which you have little control over.

Some of these factors include the woman's age, the reasons for infertility, whether or not donor eggs (or sperm) will be used, and the competency of the IVF clinic or lab.

While looking at the national statistics can give you a general idea, it's not going to really tell you what your particular chances of success are.

The IVF success rates reported by SART can be separated by cause of infertility, which may give you a slightly better idea of what your chances for success are.

For example, while the national statistics report a 39.6% live birth rate for women younger than 35, if you sort the results by couples only dealing with male infertility, the live birth rate rises to 43.1%.

On the other hand, if you sort by those couples dealing with diminished ovarian reserves, the success rate for woman younger than 35 falls to 30.2%.

From the drop down menu, you can sort by a number of causes of infertility, including endometriosis, multiple factors, tubal factors, and others.

Univfy has developed a tool that can give you a better idea of whether IVF will work for you personally.

You input your personal fertility data, including diagnosis, age, weight, and previous success (or not) in fertility treatments. Their calculator will then consider your data with the research and give you a personal odds of statistics.

The calculation is not free but may be worth it. You can then decide if another (or a first) IVF cycle is the best choice for you.

IVF Success at Individual Clinics

You can look up IVF success rates on individual clinics - and you should - but it's important to take some of this information with a grain of salt.

For example, 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 is risky.

It's also possible that a very small client base can show abnormally high success rates.

Also, make sure you're comparing their live birth rates, and not just their pregnancy rates. Pregnancy success is going to be higher than the live birth rate, since it does not account for miscarriage and stillbirth.

More on fertility treatments:

Sources:

Assisted Reproductive Technology Success Rates: 2006. National Summary and Fertility Clinic Report. Center for Disease Control. Accessed on August 20, 2009. http://www.cdc.gov/ART/ART2006/508PDF/2006ART.pdf

Clinic Summary Report. Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. Accessed on August 20, 2009. https://www.sartcorsonline.com/rptCSR_PublicMultYear.aspx?ClinicPKID=0

Stewart LM1, Holman CD, Hart R, Finn J, Mai Q, Preen DB. “How effective is in vitro fertilization, and how can it be improved?” Fertil Steril. 2011 Apr;95(5):1677-83. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2011.01.130. Epub 2011 Feb 12. http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282%2811%2900164-6/fulltext#sec2.3

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