To successfully conceive through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), it's vital you know the factors that can impact your chances of success. These factors include your age, weight, lifestyle influences, and the IVF success rates of the Australian clinics you're considering. All of these factors affect the IVF success rate in Australia and elsewhere.
Snapshot of the IVF Success Rate Australia
A University of New South Wales report included figures from 2018 that show:
- There were 14,355 babies born through IVF treatment performed in Australia that year.
- That's almost one in every 20 babies.
- Of the 76,341 IVF treatment cycles performed, the overall clinical pregnancy rate was 31.2% for fresh transfer cycles, and 36.8% for frozen cycles.
- The live birth rate per cycle was 16.8% for non-frozen autologous cycles, and 28.5% for frozen cycles.
- The average live birth rate was approximately 22%.
- In comparison, fertility clinics in the United States had a live birth rate of approximately 24.1% for the same period.
- The CDC's 2018 Fertility Clinic Success Rates Report shows that 73,831 live births resulted from 306,197 IVF cycles.
Overview of IVF Procedure
IVF (also called assisted reproductive technology) describes any fertility treatment in which embryos or eggs are handled outside the body. It usually involves stimulating a woman's ovaries, so multiple eggs mature at the same time. Those eggs are then taken out of the woman's body (this IVF process is called an egg retrieval procedure) and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory. A complete egg retrieval cycle includes all the embryo transfers resulting from a single egg retrieval procedure.
The embryos created are either transferred straight back into the woman's uterus (called a fresh embryo transfer), or frozen for transfer in the future (known as a frozen embryo transfer). When eggs are taken from the woman's own body, it's called an autologous transfer. When eggs are donated from another woman, it's called a donor transfer (and the egg is referred to as a donor egg).
IVF in Australia
Since IVF started in Australia over 40 years ago, almost 270,000 babies have been born through IVF treatments. About 90 fertility clinics across Australia are accredited to provide IVF treatment with the Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee (RTAC) of the Fertility Society of Australia and New Zealand.
Australian IVF Success Rates Are on the Rise
Australian IVF success rates have increased significantly since figures were first published by the RTAC in 1992. However, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners' NewsGP says the yet-to-be-published results of a survey for Your Fertility indicate many people overestimate IVF success rates. So, a vital part of your new journey will be understanding your chances of having a successful pregnancy as a result of IVF. And to do that, you'll need to learn how IVF success rates are measured.
How IVF Success Rates Are Measured in Australia
YourIVFSuccess is the first website to enable you to compare the success rates of each Australian IVF clinic, and it describes three common ways of measuring an IVF success rate in Australia:
- Analysing the success rate for a complete egg retrieval cycle, including the total number of live births within two years of one egg collection
- Measuring the success rate for an individual IVF treatment attempt, such as a single embryo transfer or egg collection
- Calculating the number of babies born per transferred embryo
So, when comparing clinics, it's important you look at the same measurements for each. It's also worthwhile noting, a 2017 study published in the Medical Journal of Australia concluded success rates are more meaningful when based on complete treatment cycles, rather than single IVF treatments.
Clinics Use Different IVF Methods
In addition, be aware that different clinics use different IVF methods and treat different types of women trying for a baby. For example, some clinics may see many young couples who are trying for the first time. Others may specialise in treating older women who have a lower chance of success. The YourIVFSuccess website, therefore, advises against choosing a clinic based solely on its success rates.
What Affects Your Chances of Success With IVF?
Many factors go into determining your likelihood of falling pregnant with IVF. That makes it hard to answer questions like 'What are my chances of IVF success on the first try?' and 'How many IVF cycles are needed for success?'. However, the success estimator page of YourIVFSuccess will give you an estimated answer to those questions based on some of the factors that have the biggest impact. Here's how those and other factors can affect the likelihood of your success with IVF.
The likelihood of having a baby after a single IVF attempt declines from about 30% for women aged under 35, to about 10% for women aged 40-44. There is almost no chance after age 45.
- Overall, women aged 30 years or younger have higher live birth rates.
- For women aged 25 and over, success rates for frozen cycles were higher than those for fresh cycles. This is because the thawed embryos were younger than the chronological age of the woman at the time of transfer.
The Weight of Both Parents
Your body mass index (BMI) can affect your chances of successful infertility treatment. A study in the British Medical Journal, for example, found that a high or low BMI was linked with reduced probability of achieving a pregnancy in women undergoing IVF.
An article in the journal Fertility Research and Practice cites additional studies that show women who are obese are more likely to have IVF cycle cancellation and lower pregnancy and live birth rates. A study in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics showed overweight men also had a lower likelihood of fathering a baby via IVF than men of normal weight.
Studies have indicated that smoking is linked with an increased risk of not conceiving with IVF. For example, research published in Human Reproduction found the risk of not achieving a pregnancy was significantly higher in couples where either or both partners had ever smoked than for non-smokers. They were also at greater risk of not having a live birth delivery.
Other Lifestyle Factors
Factors such as stress and nutrition may also impact your chances of IVF success. However, they have not been studied as well as other factors, and more research is needed to determine how much of an influence they might have.
Can You Drink Alcohol During IVF?
The Australian Government's Department of Health advises women planning a pregnancy or those who are pregnant should avoid alcohol. Why? Because, "even small amounts of alcohol can harm a baby's development and may have lifelong effects".
A literature review published in Gynecological Endocrinology sheds some light on the risk of drinking during IVF cycles. The researchers analysed the drinking habits and pregnancy outcomes of 2,908 couples. For women drinking 12 grams of alcohol per day in the week before IVF, they found the risk of failure of IVF increased 4.14-fold. The risk was increased 2.86-fold when the alcohol was consumed for a month before IVF. Men using alcohol in the week and month before, and during, IVF attempts, was also associated with worse reproductive effects.
Furthermore, a 2017 Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Geneticsstudy found that in the first cycle, daily drinkers had a twofold increased risk of spontaneous abortion compared to non-drinkers.
Your Chances of IVF Success in Australia
Thanks to YourIVFSuccess's IVF statistics, increased transparency around the IVF success rates of each Australian fertility clinic gives you more information when making decisions about IVF treatment. But, to make the best IVF decisions for your family, you'll need to compare clinics using the same method of measuring IVF success. And you'll also need to take into consideration the other factors that could affect your IVF outcome. You may not be able to change your age or infertility diagnosis, but there are lifestyle factors you can modify to enhance your chances of success. And as always, start by talking to your doctor or fertility specialist about any fertility or medical concerns you might have.