Understanding IVF Success Rates: 8 Ways to Boost Your Chances of Conceiving
When it comes to the world of in vitro fertilization (IVF), data is crucial for women and families looking for the best chances to conceive. There are two reports that families looking for data on IVF success rates should focus on.
The first, the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) latest report, Fertility Clinic Success Rates Report, which just released its 2017 data. It offered data on 448 fertility clinics on Assisted Reproductive Treatments (ART) cycles that were started and carried out in 2017, as well as the outcomes of the cycles.
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According to the CDC, approximately 1.7% of all infants born in the United States every year are conceived using ART, and its use has doubled in the past decade.
The report found that in 2017, there were 284,385* ART cycles performed at the 448 reporting clinics in the United States. These resulted in:
- 68,908 live births (deliveries of one or more living infants)
- 78,052 live born infants
- Of the 284,385 ART cycles performed, 87,535 were egg or embryo banking cycles intended to be frozen for future ART cycles, and not expected to result in a pregnancy or birth. This means that without these cycles, 196,850 were intended for pregnancy.
The second report is by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Treatments (SART), an affiliate of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and the primary organization of professionals dedicated to IVF in the United States. It also releases an Annual Summary Report of SART-member clinics, which amounts to 90% of ART clinics in the United States.
So this report has less-extensive data, but requires more accurate reporting from SART-affiliated clinics. SART is well-known for its more in-depth look at specific categories for live births, and focuses on singleton births (the birth of one child per IVF cycle) rather than twins, triplets or higher. This is due to a focus on singleton births, which are safer for both mother and baby.
They also focus on age ranges of women undergoing IVF, and offer percentages for women in categories under 35 years-old; 35-37 years old; 38-40 years old; 41-42 years-old; and older than 42 years-old.
Overall, live births for singletons:
- Under 35 years-old: 33.6%
- 35-37 years-old: 26%
- 38-40 years-old: 16.9%
- 41-42 years-old: 8.5%
- Older than 42 years-old: 2.8%
Overall, live births for non-singletons:
- Under 35 years-old: 38.6%
- 35-37 years-old: 29.5%
- 38-40 years-old: 19.0%
- 41-42 years-old: 9.4%
- Older than 42 years-old: 3.0%
Their report for 2017 can be found here.
How to Increase Your Chances of IVF Success
If you are looking to increase your chances of conceiving during IVF, here are 8 tips from 5 different fertility doctors.
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1. Maintain a healthy weight.
"Maintaining a healthy weight is extremely important in fertility and IVF," says Linnea Goodman, MD, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UNC School of Medicine. "We know that being obese (BMI >35) and underweight (BMI <19) increases time of conception by 2 and 4 times respectively, and negatively effects IVF success rates. Being overweight also makes monitoring the ovaries during IVF more difficult and increases the chance of complications during egg retrievals."
This is best implemented with changes in diet and activity with professional help.
"Working with dietitian, and in some programs enrolling in a cardio metabolic weight loss program can help achieve these goals," says Zaraq Khan, MD, reproductive endocrinologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.
2. Optimize sperm health.
"Use of multivitamins and maintaining optimal body weight, as well using boxers over briefs, could improve sperm quality," says Dr. Khan. "Under appropriate care, men can also be started on medications that can help boost sperm numbers and quality that can have a beneficial impact on IVF outcome. In certain cases, sperm aspirated directly from the testicle over ejaculate could also be beneficial. Involving a male infertility specialist for any form of abnormalities in semen analyses is key."
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3. Partner with an excellent doctor and embryology laboratory.
"Choosing an excellent reproductive endocrinologist is twofold: in addition to experience and commitment to evidence-based medicine, look for someone with whom you feel comfortable and connected. Your doctor will accompany you on this very emotional journey and it is important for you to feel supported and heard," says Elizabeth Fino, MD, fertility specialist at NYU Langone Fertility Center. "Asking for recommendations from friends and family who know you best can help guide you to a knowledgeable physician with whom you feel comfortable, but also be sure to do your research."
In a world of online reviews, it can be difficult to determine credibility.
"Be careful of online reviews—they are often completed by select patients who had an extreme experience for one reason or another and may not be universally applicable. FertilityIQ offers a unique model which hones in on specific aspects of the experience after vetting patient reviews.
To find an excellent embryology laboratory, look for a long history of exceptional outcomes. One source is the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology which details the clinic's volume and live birth rate."
4. Reduce your stress.
"Basal stress levels can influence natural and assisted conception rates," says Dr. Khan. "Reducing stress troubles during an IVF stimulation cycle can be one of the hardest things to achieve for couples. Several reports suggest improvement of pregnancy outcomes with the use of acupuncture and other stress relieving techniques, like enrolling in mind-body programs, stress reduction, and resilience training workshops."
5. Quit smoking
"Smoking can drastically decrease chance of success while doing IVF because it effects egg and sperm quality," says Dr. Khan.
But you don't have to do it on your own.
"Quitting smoking is not an easy task and often requires a great deal of personal as well as professional support. Try to involve your friends and family to help encourage you in the process. For smoking cessation, structured programs and/or pharmacological assistance have proven to be most successful," says Dr. Fino.
6. Look into taking supplements
"DHEA and CoQ10 are supplements that have shown some promise in association with an increase in egg quantity and quality," says Dr. Fino. "Talk to your doctor to see if he or she recommends them for you."
Multivitamins may also be helpful, adds Dr. Khan.
7. Ensure you have adequate levels of vitamin D
"Over 40% of individuals are deficient in Vitamin D, and there is emerging data on its association with infertility and worse IVF outcomes," says Tarun Jain, MD, medical director of Northwestern Medicine Fertility and Reproductive Medicine Oakbrook Terrace. "Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D level, and consider taking a vitamin D supplement."
8. Focus on persistence and patience.
"Many patients require more than one cycle of IVF to achieve an embryo for transfer and outcomes may vary significantly from cycle to cycle," says Shannon DeVore, MD, at NYU Langone Fertility Center. "If your first cycle wasn't successful, your doctor may be able to adjust the medications to optimize a subsequent one. Other times, it just means keeping at it. Try not to be discouraged by sub-optimal outcomes and setbacks—you are doing everything right. The single biggest thing to remember is that most (or all) of this is out of your control. Nobody likes lack of control, but sometimes letting go can help you endure the journey. Take care of yourself and don't blame yourself when things don't go well. You are not alone, it often takes a village to build a family."