IVF success rates can give you a sense of how likely you are to have a baby through IVF treatment. But they’re not the whole picture. Find out more here.
If you’re considering IVF (in vitro fertilization), it’s natural to wonder about IVF success rates.
After all, IVF treatment is complex and often expensive.
And it can come with an emotional cost for you and your partner (if you have one) as well.
So, if you decide to go ahead with IVF, what are the chances that you’ll be holding a baby in your arms as a result of the treatment?
And what different factors influence the success rates of IVF?
Let’s explore these questions.
In this article: 📝
- What are the success rates of IVF?
- What variables influence IVF success rates?
- What is the success rate of IVF on the first try?
- Why are IVF success rates so low?
- How much does IVF increase chances of pregnancy?
- Does IVF bruising mean a higher success rate?
- The last word on IVF success rates
What are the success rates of IVF?
First, it’s important to stress that any data on IVF success rates—from a national body such as the CDC, for example—can give you an idea of how successful IVF is on the whole.
But it can’t tell you how likely you personally are to conceive via IVF.
That’s because there are so many different factors that can affect the success rate of IVF for an individual.
What variables influence IVF success rates?
These are some of the key factors that could influence your chance of having a baby through IVF treatment:
- Your age
- The reason for your reproductive struggles
- The number of past pregnancies you’ve had
- How many IVF cycles you’ve completed already
- Your chosen fertility clinic
- Whether you use your own eggs or a donor’s
- Whether the eggs are fresh or frozen
- The quantity and quality of eggs retrieved
- The quantity and quality of sperm
- How receptive the lining of your uterus (endometrium) is to implantation
- The number of embryos transferred
- The method of embryo transfer
- Whether techniques such as ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection, where a single sperm is injected right into an egg) are used
To get a clearer idea of your own chance of success with IVF, you could use an online predictor tool.
But your doctor will be able to give you more personalized advice.
Okay, with those caveats in mind, let’s dive into some data on IVF success rates.
IVF success rates by age
The most recent CDC IVF success rates can be found in their 2018 Fertility Success Rates Report, divided up into IVF success rate by age.
The reason for reporting the data in this way is that, unfortunately, the chances of conceiving and carrying a baby to term following IVF are lower for the older age groups.
Here are the statistics for women who conceived via IVF using their own eggs (rather than donor eggs) and went on to have a live birth.
(Sadly, pregnancy loss and stillbirth are still possible after IVF treatment.)
Note: The success rate is per egg retrieval, not per IVF cycle.
That is, once you’ve had one egg retrieval procedure (where multiple eggs are taken from your ovaries at once), you might need a number of separate embryo transfer procedures before you have a successful pregnancy.
Percentage of egg retrievals that resulted in live births
- Women younger than 35: 55.1%
- Women aged 35 to 37: 41.9%
- Women aged 38 to 40: 26.6%
- Women aged 41 to 42: 13.2%
- Women aged 43 and over: 4.1%
IVF success rates using donor eggs
If you’re over 40, you may be able to increase your chance of success with IVF by using eggs from a donor.
Here are the CDC’s overall success rates for donated eggs:
- Live births from fresh eggs: 57.1%
- Live births from frozen eggs: 44.2%
IVF success rates for individual fertility clinics
Another way you can use the CDC’s report is to look up the success rates of specific fertility clinics in your state.
But just because a clinic looks really successful on paper, that might not tell the whole story.
For example, a clinic with high success rates might be turning away women whom they think have a lower chance of conceiving via IVF.
Or they might be transferring a higher number of embryos in one IVF cycle.
This can increase the chance that you will carry at least one baby to term, but it also increases the likelihood of a multiple birth, which comes with extra risks.
So, it’s worth considering a few different clinics, rather than jumping straight for the one that appears best on the surface.
What is the success rate of IVF on the first try?
As we saw above, your own personal chance of success with IVF depends on a lot of different factors—whether it’s the first cycle, second cycle, or so on.
But, research does suggest that the likelihood of having a live birth through IVF increases with multiple cycles.
For example, an Australian study from 2017 found that the overall success rate for a first cycle of IVF was 32.7%.
And that rose to 54.3% by the eighth cycle.
However, the expense of IVF, as well as the impact on your physical and mental well-being due to the medications, the frequent doctor visits, and the retrievals may mean you may not be willing or able to go through more than two or three cycles.
Why are IVF success rates so low?
Actually, in many cases, IVF success rates aren’t that low.
For example, the CDC’s data shows that nearly half of women under 35 who went through IVF gave birth successfully.
And the same was true for over half of women (regardless of age) who used fresh donated eggs for IVF.
But it is the case that success rates become lower for women over the age of 40 who want to conceive using their own eggs.
That’s because, as you get older, your ovarian reserve (the number of eggs in your ovaries) and the health/quality of your eggs declines.
This may leave the embryo prone to genetic abnormalities, which may affect its growth, development, and implantation rate.
How much does IVF increase chances of pregnancy?
Once again, this really depends on your individual situation and the reasons behind your reproductive struggles.
Sometimes doctors may recommend IVF as an alternative to surgery if your fallopian tubes are partially blocked, as this can reduce the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
Does IVF bruising mean a higher success rate?
No. While bruising around the IVF injection site is common, it doesn’t happen to everyone.
And it doesn’t mean that you have a higher chance of conceiving.
Not sure what IVF bruising looks like?
Well, it can look different for different body types and skin tones.
Here are some images to give you an idea of what to expect:
The last word on IVF success rates
Data on IVF success rates can give you a very general idea of how likely IVF would be to work for you, particularly in relation to age and whether or not you use donor eggs. But this isn’t the whole picture.
Your chances of success with IVF depend on a huge variety of different factors, including the cause of your reproductive struggles, your overall health, and the particular clinic you use.
So, if you’re considering IVF, talking to your doctor is a good first step.
They’ll be able to evaluate your chances of success more accurately, bearing in mind your medical history and personal situation.
And if your fertility journey is getting you down, know that you’re not alone. Sharing your story with other women on Peanut who are on the same journey might help.
💡 More from The 411:
Fertility Treatments: 7 Options if You’re Struggling to Conceive
Do Fertility Supplements Work?
What is a Reproductive Endocrinologist?
What to Understand About Egg Freezing
AMH Levels: What Do They Mean?
Do Prenatal Vitamins Help You Get Pregnant?
How Much Does It Cost to Freeze Your Eggs?
40 Fertility Foods & the Science Behind Them
How Much Does IVF Cost?
Becoming and Being a Lesbian Mom