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Dr. Randall A. Loy Discusses IVF and the Chances of Having a Baby

IVF: What Are the Chances of Having A Baby? 

Prior to the birth of Louise Brown, the first IVF baby, in 1978, there were few effective treatments for infertility. During the past thirty years, due to various improvements in ovarian stimulation regimens and innovations of the technique (e.g., intracytoplasmic sperm injection or “ICSI” and preimplantation genetic screening or “PGS”), results have progressively improved and IVF has become the “gold standard” technique for the treatment of infertile couples. Even so, it usually takes more than one IVF cycle to be successful. Even among the most successful clinics in the U.S.:

Approximately 50 percent of women under 35 will not get pregnant on their first IVF cycle.

Nearly 60 percent of women ages 35 to 37 will not become pregnant during their first IVF cycle.

Almost half of patients using donor eggs need more than one cycle of IVF to conceive.

Before most couples commit to the process of in vitro fertilization, they have several questions:

1. What are our chances of having a baby?

2. How much will it cost?

3. How long will it take?

With IVF being applied for all indications of infertility, from tubal occlusion and endometriosis to male factor and unexplained causes, the probability of achieving a pregnancy varies widely. Other modifiers of IVF success include age, underlying medical conditions as well as lifestyle factors such as body mass index (BMI), tobacco, alcohol and other drug usage. Certain models have been developed to help calculate IVF success but perhaps one of the best for patients living in the United States comes from the Society for Assisted Reproductive technology (SART). 

Various studies have demonstrated that when a couple commits to a course of treatment (multiple cycles) rather than to just one attempt they markedly increase their chance of success. Attain® IVF is an example of a group of bundled IVF cycle plans, called Multi-Cycle Programs that include multiple IVF cycles for a one-time, discounted fixed fee. Multi-Cycle Programs are designed to reduce stress about IVF costs and may provide a couple greater peace of mind that they have the best possible chance of success.

In short, the answers to the above three questions are as follows:

1. Variable. Consult your physician and the SART predictor

2. Variable, depending upon clinic and services rendered.

3. Between 1 and 3 months depending upon if IVF involves a “fresh transfer” or a “freeze all” embryos approach.

Twenty-three years ago, my wife and I underwent three assisted reproductive technology cycles with the first two unsuccessful. Ultimately, we had three children from these techniques (and a surprise fourth by natural means!). It was a frustrating and challenging chapter in our lives. Indeed, IVF can truly be a proverbial “emotional roller-coaster;” however, if a couple persists, most will, by one means or another, make the transition from infertility specialist to obstetrician!

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