We will, baby: Understanding IVF success rates

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Opting for IVF to have a baby? Here’s what you need to know about the factors determining the outcome

Since 1978 when the first test tube baby was born, the field of infertility management and IVF has advanced by leaps and bounds. Procedures are now simpler, affordable, more convenient and safer.

However, the success rates/live birth rates remain in the region of 40 to 50% per cycle for a conventional IVF cycle, according to gynaecologist and IVF Expert Dr Shivani Sachdev Gour, Director at New Delhi-based surrogacy clinic SCI Healthcare.

“The birth of a healthy baby still remains elusive for some who need multiple attempts at IVF bringing with it a lot of financial, emotional, and psychological strain,” says Dr Gour.

If you are opting for an IVF treatment, it would be good to know the factors behind the IVF success rate.

  • Age of the genetic parents: The age of the biological parents has the biggest role in the success of an IVF cycle. Dr Gour says that beyond 35 or 37 years of age a woman’s fertility declines and the incidence of genetic abnormalities like Down’s syndrome rises significantly.“There is no potent medication yet to counter the effect of ageing on the gametes like the egg/oocyte. Some medications like micronized DHEA are sometimes effective in women with lower ovarian reserve and are worth exploring but it is important to take these only under medical supervision,” she says. For men too, age matters as it affects the sperm’s DNA integrity, but to a lesser extent.
  • The protocols of IVF: IVF protocols and monitoring during the IVF cycle also contribute greatly to its success. Monitoring is very necessary to make mid-course adjustments to the treatment protocol and avoid potential complications.Dr Gour informs, “Individually-tailored Controlled Ovarian Stimulation (ICOS) is the new buzz word in IVF where an individual protocol is designed for each patient keeping in mind their specific conditions.”
  • Previous pregnancy: If you have had one or more previous successful pregnancies with the same partner, then your current IVF process is better poised to yield the right results. Recurrent miscarriages lower your chances.
  • Egg quality and age of donor: Factors such as egg quality and age of donor are important. Using donor eggs from younger women may increase the chances of pregnancy for women over 40.
IVF success rate

Incorporate lifestyle changes to boost IVF success rate

  • Lifestyle changes: Quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight are important factors that improve the chances of IVF success. Smoking is hazardous as smokers require higher dosages of fertility drugs to stimulate their ovaries and have lower implantation rates than non-smokers. Being overweight or underweight also increases the risk of infertility.
  • The recipient Endometrium: The recipient Endometrium or the womb lining is another significant factor. This should be investigated thoroughly before proceeding with the IVF and mock or dummy embryo transfer.“’Scratching’ of the womb prior to the IVF and monitoring progesterone levels is a valuable part of a successful IVF,” says Dr Gour. Choosing the right IVF clinic is very important as the laboratory and culture conditions for the embryos need to be perfect and have skilled professionals operating.

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Written by

Harshikaa Udasi

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