For some, trying to get pregnant can take months of precise timing and planning before eventually seeking help through assisted reproductive technology like in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF can be the right tool for many, but between the high costs and stress that often comes with the process, you may be left wondering if the IVF success rates will make the toll worth it.
The American Pregnancy Association explains that “IVF is the process of fertilization by extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish.” The combined egg and sperm (called an embryo) are then transferred to the person’s uterus, or they can be frozen for later use.
Before understanding the factors influencing IVF success rates, it’s important to note that IVF isn’t only a tool for couples struggling to conceive through unprotected penis-in-vagina (PIV) sex. While infertility issues are a leading factor in seeking IVF, Cindy Duke, MD, PhD, FACOG, a board-certified ob-gyn fertility specialist, tells POPSUGAR that there are several reasons a person or couple may seek out IVF.
“Those who want pregnancy on demand, including LGBTQIA+ couples and single women, and people who want to screen for hereditary disorders might turn to IVF,” Dr. Duke explains.
The good news is that while there are factors that can negatively influence the success rates of IVF, there are steps that can be taken to increase your chances, too. Here’s what you need to know.
How Age Affects IVF Success Rates
“Because pregnancy is a 40-week mission which asks a lot of a [person’s] body, knowing the impact of age on a person’s fertility is important,” Dr. Duke shares. She explains that not only is the act of being pregnant harder as we age, but getting pregnant (through PIV sex or IVF) is a numbers game at that point, too.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, people with ovaries are born with a fixed number of eggs, and the number of healthy, viable eggs decreases as people get older, which impacts pregnancy (including pregnancy due to IVF) success rates.
IVF Success Rates by Age
Dr. Duke says that people “between 24 to 34 years old have the highest likelihood of successful IVF treatment,” since that’s the age range “considered to be most fertile.”
According to 2019 data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), IVF success rates decline significantly with age — and Dr. Duke agrees. These are the IVF success rates by age for patients using their own eggs for a singleton (one child), according to SART.
- Under 35 – the rate of live births per egg retrieval is 51 percent.
- Aged 35 to 37 – the rate of live births per egg retrieval is 38.3 percent.
- Aged 38 to 40 – the rate of live births per egg retrieval is 25.1 percent.
- Aged 41 to 42 – the rate of live births per egg retrieval is 12.7 percent.
- Over 42 – the rate of live births per egg retrieval is 4.1 percent.
Other Factors That Affect IVF Success Rates
While maternal age is one of the more substantial factors influencing IVF success rates, it’s not the only factor. Dr. Duke says that the quality of the sperm and history of pregnancy can also point to potential issues with IVF success.
“Those who have had a successful pregnancy in the past have a higher chance of a positive pregnancy with IVF,” she explains. “However, those with a medical history of multiple miscarriages and fertility-related issues could make IVF more difficult to be successful.”
Dr. Duke also notes that the success of IVF also depends on the health of the sperm. “Increasing sperm quality before the start of the IVF cycle is very important,” she says.
SART has developed a tool that can help offer some insight into personal factors that may influence IVF’s success. The free-to-use tool considers age, height, and weight, the number of past pregnancies, whether you’re using donor eggs or your own, and any known causes of infertility.
How to Increase IVF Success Rate
Although it’s impossible to turn back time and target IVF attempts during your “most fertile” age window, there are a few ways you can help increase your IVF success rate.
“It is imperative that you evaluate your current lifestyle and try to change any unhealthy habits that you identify,” Dr. Duke explains. She suggests that optimizing your diet, getting regular exercise and sleep, limiting alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking are all steps you can take.
Taking care of your mental health is equally essential for IVF success rates. “Infertility can be very stressful for couples, but it should be noted that reducing stress levels can provide better conditions for pregnancy,” she shares.
Dr. Duke emphasizes that while infertility is a condition, “learning to manage stress early on in the journey is a necessary and important step.”
Source: Pop Sugar