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What to know about IVF success rates as you age from a fertility doctor

TODAY logo TODAY 7/20/2022 Kait Hanson

People turning toward in vitro fertilization, commonly referred to as IVF, to grow their family, might be wondering what the success rates are for the process.

Dr. Natalie Crawford, fertility doctor and co-founder of Fora Fertility in Austin, Texas, shared that in order to understand success rates, it's important to understand the process of IVF.

"During this process we stimulate multiple eggs to grow in the body with hormone shots," she said, adding this part takes around two weeks and includes frequent visits for ultrasound monitoring and blood work. "Once the eggs reach the mature size, a procedure is performed under anesthesia in which the eggs are extracted from the body in a needle aspiration procedure."

The eggs are then combined with sperm in the lab to allow for fertilization.

"The eggs that are fertilized become embryos and these embryos then grow in culture in the lab for the next 5-6 days to reach the normal implantation stage of the embryo, called a blastocyst," Crawford said. "At the blastocyst stage, embryos can be transferred into the body, frozen or biopsied for genetic testing."

Crawford told TODAY Parents that people turn to IVF for many different reasons.

"Some include age related infertility, carrying a genetic disease, need for egg donation or a gestational carrier, severe male factor infertility, tubal factor infertility, ovulatory disorders, and fertility preservation or saving embryos for the future," she said.

Average success rates of IVF

Crawford told TODAY that IVF success rates directly correlate with age of the egg in cycles without genetic testing for aneuploidy.

"Aneuploidy is genetic abnormalities that increase in prevalence with aging — and is the top reason for the increase in miscarriages and the decrease in pregnancy rates as maternal age rises," she said. "However, with pre-implantation genetic testing of the embryos for aneuploidy, we expect success rates (live birth rate) or about 60-65% per genetically normal embryo."

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Factors that determine IVF success rates

Crawford told TODAY that maternal age is the number one factor that impacts success rates for IVF.

"The younger the egg, the better quality and the higher probability of normal genetics," she explained.

Another factor is ovarian reserve.

"Each person runs out of eggs at a different rate — this is the quantity of eggs — how many can we get in a single month with IVF, the more eggs, the higher the odds of success," Crawford explained.

Crawford added that smoking decreases success rates with IVF.

How to increase success rate of IVF

Crawford shared that the best thing a person can do to increase the success with IVF is to be honest about their family goals with their doctor and ask about expectations in order to make proper decisions in treatment.

"Healthy behaviors — not smoking cigarettes or marijuana, limiting alcohol, increasing fruits and vegetables, limiting processed foods, getting at least seven hours of sleep each night and stress reduction techniques — are things that can improve outcomes," she said.

IVF success rates by age

Data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology on success rates for IVF stated that for women under 35, the percentage of live births using the patient's own eggs for a singleton (one child) is 51%.

For women ages 35-37, the IVF success rate is 38.3% for live births using the patient’s own eggs for a singleton (one child) birth.

At ages 38-40, the percentage drops to 25.1%, and for 41-42, it is 12.7%.

For women older than 42, the IVF success rate is 4.1% for a singleton birth using the patient's eggs, according to SART.

“Ultimately, the thing that impacts outcomes the most is maternal age, so getting started sooner is ultimately better if IVF is needed," Crawford said.

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