Each patient/couple is unique and their specific chances of success in IVF relate to their individualized circumstances. It is due to this fact above all else, that an experienced Reproductive Specialist should be able to quote percentages with specificity for a given couple after consulting with them and learning their health history. This will be a far more accurate assessment than the SART data that would be quoted for a clinic over a specific time period, which is generally categorized according to age. Each specific patient/couple has their own level of complexity, and when one factors all the different variables into the mix, a more accurate prediction can be provided.
IVF success rate is around 50%, according to CDC data. This means that approximately one-half of couples who try to achieve pregnancy through reproductive medicine procedures are successful in their first attempt. But while these figures may look daunting, there are a lot of factors at play when it comes to assisted reproductive therapies.
It’s important to remember that healthy young couples who are trying to achieve pregnancy naturally have success rates of only 20%. A failed IVF cycle does not mean the end of the road.
Factors Which Impact Success of IVF
Many fertility physicians tend to attribute “unexplained and/or repeated” IVF failure(s) almost exclusively to poor embryo quality, advocating adjusted protocols for ovarian stimulation, and/or sperm and embryo preparation as a potential remedy. The idea that after having failed IVF, all that it takes to ultimately succeed is to keep trying using the same treatment plan is not the answer. Benjamin Franklin said, “In science, if you keep doing the same thing, you should keep expecting to get the same results.” There are numerous non-embryologic factors, such as the woman’s age, poor endometrial receptivity leading to implantation failure, and sub-optimal embryo transfer technique, that are just as likely to be responsible for a failed IVF. It is important that factors which may impact the success of IVF be identified so that adjustments can be made in treatment protocols for subsequent cycles. The considerable emotional, physical, and financial burdens associated with infertility treatment in general, and with IVF in particular, demand that factors known to affect outcome be identified prior to initiating treatment again.
Many people who are unable to conceive naturally feel that IVF is a “magic pill” that will help them achieve a guaranteed pregnancy. As one of the most popular assisted reproductive technologies, IVF has advanced tremendously since the first IVF baby was born in 1978. However, It is still a complex procedure and IVF success rates depend upon human biology., We still don’t have all the answers about the complex biological process that achieves a pregnancy to guarantee 100% results every single time. As many people understand, there are no guarantees in life and the same can be said for any medical procedure, including assisted reproductive technologies.
There are many reasons why an IVF procedure may not end with a positive result. . A few (and most important among them) are as follows.
Embryo Implantation Failure
For a successful pregnancy, the transferred embryo needs to implant itself in the uterine wall. Failure to do so will result in the death of the embryo and an unsuccessful IVF. Why an embryo fails to implant successfully is sometimes hard to understand. This failure may be either attributed to problems with the embryo, the uterus or poor transfer technique.
Age of the Woman
It is a well-known fact that as a woman grows older, the quality and quantity of her eggs decreases. While the decrease in egg quantity makes it difficult to harvest enough eggs to increase the chance of having a good number of embryos to use per cycle, the decline in egg quality also makes it difficult to choose the best eggs to fertilize and grow to blastocyst embryos for the IVF cycle. While the uterine environment may be good enough to support a clinical pregnancy, the declining quality of eggs in older women may greatly diminish the number and quality of the resulting embryos, thus reducing the chances of IVF success.
One of the most common reasons for the failure of an embryo to implant is genetic or chromosomal abnormalities. And as a woman grows older, her eggs are more likely to have genetic abnormalities; in fact, the rate of chromosomal abnormalities in eggs increases significantly after the mid-30s. 95% of chromosomally abnormal embryos are caused by chromosomally abnormal eggs.
Chromosomally abnormal eggs either have an extra, missing or an irregular portion of DNA in a chromosome. Such an egg either fails to fertilize in the lab or if fertilized, fails to develop and/or implant in the wall of the uterus.
Genetic defects in the sperm can also cause abnormal embryos that may lead to IVF failure. While the sperm might seem to be healthy – are active, motile, and sufficient in numbers – they may have an underlying genetic abnormality that can only be assessed by a genetic test, called sperm DNA integrity. In fact, according to research, almost 15% of male patients with infertility issues had a normal semen analysis but when checked, had an abnormal sperm DNA integrity result.
Unlike men who regenerate sperm, women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. The number of eggs in the ovaries (ovarian reserve) is fixed at birth. After puberty, every month with a normal menstrual cycle, the woman’s ovary will release one mature egg during ovulation. In an IVF cycle, the woman is treated with FSH (follicle-stimulating hormones) that will make the ovaries produce more eggs. However, if your ovaries already have a highly reduced number of eggs (as a result of age) and/or your hormonal levels (especially FSH) are greater, your body will not respond to IVF medications. And this can affect the success of the procedure.
Lifestyle habits like smoking and drinking can negatively impact your chances of getting pregnant through IVF. Obesity or being overweight also has an impact on your chances of achieving pregnancy.
While the above-mentioned are all biological factors, human-driven factors like the quality of the clinic’s IVF labs, your IVF protocol, and the experience and skills of your fertility specialist are also factors that may affect the chances of your IVF success. It’s important to meet with the fertility physician and his staff to make sure you are comfortable with the style of treatment and efficiency of the practice, as well as your physician’s education and skill set.
Dealing with IVF Failure
IVF is a complex procedure that demands a lot of emotional investment, apart from time and money. A failed IVF procedure can thus be a traumatic experience for most couples.. It’s important to have a follow up consultation with your physician to determine what might have caused the negative result and how things will be changed for the next IVF cycle. Physicians learn a great deal from each fertility treatment and should tweak the previous protocol to increase the chances for success the next time.
Even though the statistics may not be on your side, always remember that every individual and every IVF process cycle is different. That should give you hope. There have been many instances where women have had successful IVF cycles at an advanced age and have given birth to healthy babies.
Evaluating Options to Increase Your Chance for a Successful IVF Cycle
If your first IVF cycle failed, it’s important to try and find out why. An understanding of the possible causes of failure will empower you and the fertility team to make changes to your protocol and fertility treatment to enhance your chances of success in achieving pregnancy.
- Preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) can be done on blastocyst embryos to assess the presence of genetic abnormalities that may not be allowing successful embryo implantation.
- Your physician might decide to change fertility medication protocol to increase or improve ovarian stimulation.
- In some cases, implantation failure may occur due to a problem with the uterus. The uterine cavity may have issues like polyps, scar tissue (due to a previous infection or surgery), and adhesions. A careful assessment of the uterine cavity will confirm if any such problems exist. If uterine abnormalities exist, it will greatly hamper your chances of success with IVF and in such cases, it is advisable to opt for surrogacy. In surrogacy, your fertilized embryo is implanted in the uterus of a healthy female wherein she carries the fetus to term.
- If the quality of eggs or sperm is the problem, you may think of opting for donor eggs or a sperm donor.
- Certain supplements are known to enhance fertility. These include vitamins B, C, D, and E, zinc, Omega-3s, selenium, etc. Your fertility specialist may recommend that you add these supplements to your daily diet to increase your chances of success.
You Need a Trusted Fertility Partner
With all the biological factors at play, in the end, IVF is also a human-driven procedure. All IVF programs are not equal and a lot depends upon your fertility clinic – the skills, expertise, and experience of the fertility specialists.
If you have had repeated failed IVF cycles with little or no change to the treatment protocols, maybe it is time to change your IVF clinic. At RISE Fertility, we are a concierge fertility practice that is committed to making fertility care more affordable and accessible. Our team of fertility experts has decades of experience along with years of training at some of the top institutions and hospitals. They will use their skills and expertise to help navigate your journey towards your dream of achieving pregnancy and welcoming a new member to your family. We also offer interest-free financing for those patients who qualify.
Schedule your consult with our RISE fertility experts today.
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