What if there was a test you could take—at home without having to go into an infertility clinic—that could tell you your chances of IVF success? What if instead of spending up to $20k per cycle of IVF, you'd know how likely you'd get pregnant before going through IVF for only $49.50? I know it sounds a little too good to be true (and it could be—this is in no way an endorsement of the product because I haven't tried it), but after meeting with Dr. Mylene W. M. Yao, a Harvard-trained reproductive endocrinologist, it sounds like the technology might already be available.
She and her team have created what they claim to be a cost-effective IVF success predictor for those who haven't tried IVF yet (Univfy PreIVF), and for those who already have unsuccessfully (Univfy PredictIVF, a more complicated analysis for $175), and want to know whether their odds of eventual success are high enough for them to put in the added expense of another round of costly IVF.
Univfy's products—which are three years in the making—take into account multiple factors beyond just age. Dr. Yao explains, "It looks at BMI, reproductive history (whether you've had pregnancies or miscarriages in the past), ovarian function, semen function, smoking history, etc and analyzes them together against data from tens of thousands of IVF cycles to provide them with a personalized prognosis that's 1,000 times (on a likelihood scale) more accurate than age-based estimates alone."
While recent studies now say, your chances of getting pregnant after 35 aren't actually abysmal, like we've been told for years, Dr.Yao says age is still a factor in fertility. "There's no question, as each woman ages, her ovaries' functions are going to decline," says Dr. Yao, who has more than 15 years of experience in reproductive medicine and embryo and uterine biology research, has been published in reputable scientific journals, and is a former faculty member at Stanford University. "But for each woman, that decline is happening at a different rate. Someone at 38's ovaries could be functioning really well, and another 38 year old's ovaries may not be."
Univfy's prediction models actually show more than 60 percent of the women who use them have a higher probability of IVF success than their age-based estimates alone suggest. That in itself can cause some relief in women trying to get pregnant in their 30s and 40s. I'm Ms. Prepared, so I like the idea of being realistic about what your chances of getting pregnant might be, because IVF always seems to be the great unknown.
As Dr. Yao points out, "People think IVF is a roll of the dice," she says. "You just go try it, and wonder, 'Why does it work for some people and not for others?' But there is rhyme and reason to it all. We can't remove all the uncertainty—it's not like a crystal ball—but giving women more information about their chances of getting pregnant empowers them to be able to take charge of their reproductive decisions, and make ones that make the most sense for them financially as well, since IVF is such an expensive process and many clinics offer package deals."
That's right, fertility clinics do bargain bundles—just like cable companies and fast food joints. A package might be three rounds of cycles, or five. So if a program can narrow down the likelihood of getting pregnant from IVF, you can make a more informed decision on how many cycles you might need, which would save you money in the end. Now the question is: Would you want to know your chances of having IVF work before actually trying it? Or would you rather go in blindly with all of the hope in the world? Only you can decide.
TELL US: Do you think a computer program can predict IVF success? If so, would you want to know your chances of IVF success before you went for IVF treatment?
Image of woman with pregnancy test courtesy of Shutterstock.