Wednesday, January 6, 2016

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Success Rates With Multiple Attempts

Couples who are infertile (defined as not becoming pregnant after a year of normal, unprotected sex) sometimes turn to in vitro fertilization (IVF) to try to have a baby, depending on what the fertility problem is. But IVF is not a sure thing. Couples contemplating IVF might reasonably ask how often does the first IVF attempt result in a live birth? And if the first attempt isn't successful, what are the success rates with each additional attempt? Couples are usually advised that if they haven't had a baby by the fourth attempt they should probably give up. But that advice is based on 20-year-old data, and success rates could have gotten much better in the past two decades.

To answer these questions, British researchers examined the outcomes of multiple IVF attempts in nearly 157,000 women in the UK who underwent IVF procedures between 2003 and 2010. In a nutshell, they found that although the first attempt was the most successful, the success rate for subsequent attempts declined more slowly than was previously thought. Specifically, the success rate was 29.5% on the first attempt, still greater than 20% on the fourth attempt, and above 15% even on the ninth attempt (only 83 women actually tried nine times.)

So the answer to the first question - How often is IVF successful the first time around? - is about 30% of the time. The success rate for each additional attempt does decline, but not to zero. More than four attempts should not be ruled out if the couple really wants to continue trying and can afford it.

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