data reveals success rates by age, number of cycles

IVF: data reveals success rates by age, number of cycles

IVF success rates can be measured in a number of ways, but data is not often presented according to age and number of cycles one can afford to pay for.

New data commissioned by the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) provides a clearer picture of a woman’s chance of having a baby using IVF over time.

Produced by the University of New South Wales for VARTA, the research tracked thousands of women who started IVF in Victoria in 2016 to see what happened to them by 30 June 2020. They recorded the proportion of women who had a baby after one, two or three stimulated IVF cycles, including all fresh and frozen embryo transfer attempts associated with these complete cycles.

It showed that women who started IVF under the age of 30 had a 43% chance of a baby after one stimulated cycle, a 59% after two cycles and a 66% chance after three cycles.

For a woman who started IVF at 35, there was a 40% chance of a baby after one stimulated cycle, a 54% chance after two cycles and a 61% chance after three cycles.

For a woman who started at 40, there was a 13% chance of a baby after one stimulated cycle, a 21% chance after two cycles and a 25% chance after three cycles.

Age of woman for first IVF cycle Chance of a baby after one cycle Chance of a baby after two cycles Chance of a baby after three cycles
Under 30 43% 59% 66%
30–31 48% 61% 67%
32–33 44% 60% 67%
34–35 40% 54% 61%
36–37 32% 44% 50%

Each stimulated cycle involves injecting hormones every day for about two weeks to produce more eggs than usual, a surgical egg collection procedure and a scientist attempting to fertilise eggs with sperm in the lab. This sometimes produces more than one embryo and they can be frozen and transferred later if the first embryo transfer is unsuccessful.

One basic stimulated IVF cycle costs up to $5000 in out-of-pocket costs. This figure can rise depending on private health insurance coverage, a doctor’s consultation fees and use of additional treatments and ‘add-ons’. VARTA CEO Anna MacLeod said while the goal for everyone who starts IVF is to have a baby, preferably on the first attempt, this research provides people with a realistic expectation of what is possible and how long it might take.

“Knowing that most people need more than one stimulated cycle for a reasonable chance of success and that IVF births are less common the older you get is helpful for planning,” she said.

Dr Karin Hammarberg, a senior research officer at VARTA and Your Fertility, said, “If you want to have a child in future, learn more about your fertility and factors that can affect it, so you can plan ahead. There are a lot of things you can do now to improve your chance of a healthy pregnancy and baby in future,” she said.

Dr Hammarberg said it was important to note that the data produces averages only, and while age is a key factor in a woman’s chance of success with IVF, other factors contribute as well. Also, if a woman in her late 30s or 40s uses eggs donated by a younger woman, she has the same chance as a woman the age of the donor.

It is also possible that some women in this study fell pregnant naturally and had a baby. The data release is part of Fertility Week, a week-long campaign that features Australians talking about the challenges they’ve faced in their quest to have a baby, including women who have chosen to have a baby on their own, same sex couples and people with a range of health conditions.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Suzi Media

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