Of the various techniques that help people with fertility problems have a baby, the most popular is in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF treatment is the process of removing an egg from a woman’s ovaries and fertilizing it with male sperm in a laboratory setting.
The fertilized egg is now called an embryo. The embryo is then transferred back into the woman’s uterus to grow and develop. The IVF process can be completed using your eggs and your partner’s sperm, or eggs and sperm from donors. (1)
Who can have IVF?
In England and Wales, who should have access to IVF is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) fertility guidelines.
According to these recommendations, women under the age of 43 who have been attempting to conceive through regular, unprotected sex for two years should consider IVF. Or those who have undergone at least 6 of 12 cycles of artificial insemination using a technique called (IUI).
Local integrated care boards (ICBs), who have the final say on who may receive IVF in the UK, may have more stringent requirements than those suggested by NICE. If you are not eligible for NHS treatment or you decide to pay for IVF, you may be treated at a private clinic. (2)
What are the chances of success in IVF?
The age of the woman receiving treatment and the underlying cause of infertility have an impact on the success rate of IVF. The most significant determinant in women using their own eggs is their age. Women’s success rates fall as they become older, particularly around the mid-30s. An increased risk of miscarriage with advancing age, particularly after the age of 40, and a decreased probability of becoming pregnant via ART both contribute to this drop.
Success rates vary depending on how many embryos are implanted. However, transferring many embryos at once may only raise the probability of multiple pregnancies and the associated risks, not the chances of a live birth. The number of embryos that are transferred has a different impact depending on the woman’s age. (3)
Percentage of IVF treatments resulting in live births in 2019 in England and Wales:
- 32% for women under 35
- 25% for women aged 35-37
- 19% for women aged 38-39
- 11% for women aged 40 to 42
- 5% for women aged 43 to 44
- 4% for women over 44
These numbers are based on the number of embryos transferred for women utilizing their own eggs and their partner’s sperm.
Patients can require numerous rounds of therapy to become pregnant. Over numerous cycles, success rates stay largely stable, but individual success rates can differ greatly.
It’s crucial to remember that patient characteristics vary throughout programs, therefore success rates shouldn’t be utilized to evaluate different treatment facilities.
What are the risks of IVF?
IVF can also be costly, intrusive, and time-consuming. IVF can produce numerous fetuses if more than one embryo is placed in the uterus (multiple pregnancies).
Your doctor can explain IVF’s operation, potential hazards, and suitability for you as an infertility treatment option. IVF can be physically and emotionally taxing and does not always result in pregnancy. Counseling should be made available to help through the procedure.
- During treatment, medicines may have unwanted side effects like headaches and hot flashes.
- Twin or triplet pregnancies can be harmful to both the mother and the children.
- When the embryo is placed in the fallopian tubes rather than the uterus, an ectopic pregnancy is dangerous.
- Ovarian overreaction to medications used during IVF is known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).
Halliday, J. (2007). Outcomes of IVF conceptions: are they different?. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 21(1), 67-81.