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Success rate of IVF treatment

13 October 2009

Since the birth of Louise Brown in 1978, there has been a steady improvement in success rates of IVF treatment. The pregnancy rates vary between IVF clinics, and from time to time within the same clinic. The success of individual IVF clinics may be found in league tables published by HFEA. The overall live birth rate per treatment cycle is about 20%. There are many factors that may affect success rates.

The overall live birth rates for IVF in the United Kingdom have improved from last year from 20.4%. to 21.6%. Overall 23.6% of IVF births resulted in either twins or triplets (HFEA 2006). The success rates are remarkable if compared with the chances of spontaneous conception, which for many couples is very low and for some is zero.
Approximate chances of success of IVF treatment in women aged 38 years or younger in relation to the main steps of the IVF treatment are as follows:

Ovarian stimulation


Collection of the eggs


Fertilization of the eggs


Normal embryo cleavage (division)


Implantation rate per embryo


For most unsuccessful IVF treatments, the cycles appear to have gone well, sufficient number of eggs, good fertilization and easy transfer of good quality embryos. The question always arises as to why it did not work, and whether further investigations are needed prior to a subsequent IVF cycle. Usually there is no apparent reason for the failure. However it is useful to consider the following:
• If ovarian response was poor – assess ovarian reserve, and increase the dose of FSH for the next cycle.
• If sperm quality was poor or there was a poor fertilization rate – ICSI is recommended.
• If endometrial development was suboptimal (too thin or too thick) – investigate the cause and correct before the next cycle.
• If embryo transfer was difficult – the cervix can be stretched under a general anaesthestic early in the next treatment cycle. Alternatively transmyometrial embryo transfer or ZIFT may be employed.
• If there is significant hydrosalpinx – remove or clip the tubes before next cycle.
• If the couple has suffered recurrent failures at IVF (defined as three or more failed IVF cycles) – a full investigation is recommended, particularly assessment of the immune system and uterine blood supply.

IVF cost. Although a baby is priceless, you must be aware of the cost involved and you need to decide whether you can afford it. The cost of IVF treatment varies between different clinics and ranges from £3000 to £5000 per treatment cycle in the United Kingdom.
It is important to know what is included in the cost of the treatment. Most clinics will not include the costs of the drugs, blood tests and the costs of certain procedures such as ICSI, embryo freezing, and assisted hatching, PGD, blastocyst transfer and immune therapy. These can add up to quite a bit.
You need not only consider the money you will be spending in pursuing the treatment but also the time and energy you will need to invest as well, including loss of earnings, traveling and accomodation.
In the UK, the national institute of clinical excellence (NICE) guidelines suggest that couples should be offered up to three cycles of IVF treatment on the NHS if the woman is aged 23-39 and the couple need IVF treatment for their infertility problem. Local health authorities will apply their own eligibility criteria.
Unfortunately, most insurance companies will not cover the cost of IVF treatments. Some cover investigations. We recommend that you check with your insurance company prior to start treatment