What Affects IVF Success Rates?
According to the CDC, more than 4 million births per year are made possible from IVF (invitro fertilization). That’s approximately 1 – 2 percent of births each year and gives promising hope to couples struggling with infertility.
Because infertility happens for a variety of reasons and not all respond to the same treatment, it’s important to understand what affects IVF success rates and how you can improve your chances.
What is IVF?
IVF is an assisted reproductive procedure that helps infertile couples conceive. During the procedure, technicians capture a woman’s mature eggs and fertilizes them with a man’s captured sperm.
Once the egg fertilizes, it is transferred to the woman’s uterus. From start to finish, the process takes approximately three weeks. This includes the preparation time (when the woman takes medication to produce more eggs), retrieval, and placement of the fertilized eggs.
The success of the procedure depends on a variety of factors.
The Most Important Factors Affect IVF Success Rates
- Age – Ideally, women have the most success between the ages of 24 and 35 years old. The older you get, the harder it is to get pregnant (even without IVF) because the number and quality of your eggs diminish. Women waiting to get pregnant well into their 30s often have a tougher time getting pregnant and the IVF success rates start to fall.
- Lifestyle choices – The healthier a woman (and man) is the more successful the IVF rates become. If either partner is overweight, smokes, or drinks heavily, it decreases the success rates. Even underweight women have a harder time conceiving because their body has to work harder to support the pregnancy. Aiming for a healthy BMI and an average lifestyle is ideal.
- The reason for the fertility issues – No two patients have the same problems. Some couples have issues on both the male and female end and others have issues with just one partner. Most common issues can be worked around, but serious issues with uterine function or low sperm count may require other surgeries and/or infertility procedures.
Other Factors that Affect IVF Success Rates
However, even the healthiest patient at the perfect age with common infertility issues still faces other factors that affect the success rate including:
- The facility’s success rate – No two fertility centers have the same success rates. Certain doctors specialize in different types of infertility. For example, some doctors specialize in patients with PCOS while others focus on low sperm count in men. Knowing your ‘issue’ and finding a doctor that specializes in it helps increase your success rate.
- Your availability – IVF treatments take a lot of time and effort on your part. The doctor and staff do what they can do, but a majority of the medication and preparation takes place at home. Not only must you take your medications (hormones), but you must follow up with your appointments regularly. Missing appointments and/or medication decreases the success rate of the procedures.
The key factor is to be realistic. Stressing yourself out or having unrealistic expectations only worsens the situation. There is no way to know for sure if the procedure will work. But following the doctor’s orders, living a healthy lifestyle, and taking care of your mind and heart while going through it is key.
Going through IVF isn’t as overwhelming as it seems when you have the right team on your side. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page and ready for the procedure and everything that is involved. If it doesn’t work the first time, there’s a chance you could try again.
Talk about everything with your doctor including the number of embryos they will transfer (this doesn’t affect your rates), the number of embryos you’ll freeze, and the realistic number of times you can go through the procedure without risking the health of you, your eggs, and your potential baby.