Breaking News: The Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology just released their new Clinic Summary Report (i.e. IVF success stats). Wait! Before you automatically tune me out because I’m talking about statistics, let me tell you why this is a big darn deal if you are infertile and considering in vitro fertilization (IVF). These new stats are a thing of beauty and this blog will cut through the gobbledygook and help you focus on the data that is most important.
New vs. Old IVF Success Statistics
The new format and site look great and are easy to use, but the real improvement is in the stats themselves. SART (and the Centers for Disease Control) have kept IVF success statistics for years. The type of data they maintained and the format in which they were displayed remained the same, but dramatic changes have been made to IVF in the last decade. The old stats not only had not kept pace, in some ways they actively worked against the advances by penalizing clinics implementing best practices.
Enter the new IVF success statistics. The new stats take into account the improvements to embryo freezing (cryopreservation) and genetic testing, and the emphasis on single embryo transfer. They also have a nifty filtering feature that allows you to see the stats for very specific treatments/techniques you are considering such as single embryo transfers and minimal stimulation cycles.
What I especially appreciate in the new SART IVF success statistics is their emphasis on what should be most important to everyone–the delivery of a healthy child.
How Not to Use The IVF Success Statistics
While I love the new format and the new data being collected, and I believe this statistics will be a big asset to the infertility patient community and will help drive best practices in infertility treatment, these stats have their limits. I know that many of you will want to use these IVF success statistic reports to compare clinics, but you need to be cautious.
A fertility clinic’s IVF success stats are only one consideration when choosing a clinic, and these numbers can be influence by many factors, some of which don’t necessarily reflect their success. For example, Clinic A accepts all patients, while Clinic B does not accept women over 40 who want to try IVF with their own eggs rather than donor eggs and does not accept patients who have had 2 previous failed IVF cycles. It is entirely possible that Clinic B IVF success stats will look better on paper than Clinic A.
Top 4 IVF Success Stats to Consider
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you first open up the clinic’s data report—all those numbers! Before you decide on a clinic you should definitely look at all the stats, especially for your age group, but at the beginning focus on the following four statistics.
- Cumulative Singleton Live Birth Rate per Egg Retrieval. By far the most important statistic to consider is the one that shows you what are your chances of having a single healthy baby from one egg retrieval cycle. The good news is that this stat is up front and center in the new SART format. Look under “Cumulative Outcome Per Intended Egg Retrieval” and the singleton live birth rate is highlighted. Don’t overly focus on the exact percentage down to the decimal point since these are averages that can be influenced by a number of factors including how many people the clinic treats.This information is the most important because you want a clinic that has a good record for singleton births, which are the most likely to be full term and healthy.
- How Many IVF Cycles Did it Take to Get Pregnant. You can find this number under the Live Birth per Patient Tab—scroll to the bottom of that section.
- Percent of Single Embryo Transfer by Age. This stats gives you a feel for how focused the clinic is on reducing the risk of multiples (and increasing the odds of a healthy baby) and the quality of the embryology laboratory. Clinics that can maintain a high live birth rate with a high percentage of single embryo transfers are likely to have a very good embryology lab. You can use the filter function to find this stats or the easier way is to:
- Click on the Primary Outcome per Intended Retrieval at the top of the page.
- Scroll to the bottom of that section.
- Click on Show Cycle Characteristics, and the percentage of eSET (elective single embryo transfers) by age is at the bottom.
- Percent triplets and more. In this day and age, you want a clinic with a very low rate of triplets or more. Keep in mind that the majority of patients who conceive higher order multiples choose to selectively reduce the pregnancy, and these pregnancies are not included in the statistic for triplets or more. Another way to get a feel for the rate of higher order multiples is to look at the mean number of embryos transferred—fewer embryos transferred results in lower rates of triplets and more. To see the average number of embryos transferred, look under both the Primary Outcome and Subsequent Outcome (frozen) tabs at the top and click to expand “Show Cycle Characteristics”. The mean number of embryos transferred is included.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for the statistics being tracked by the new SART Clinic Summary Reports . There are ways to filter to see the stats for patients undergoing their first IVF cycle and for cycles using PGD/PGS or using frozen egg. You can even see the success stats for minimal stimulation or no stimulation (natural cycle).
For a great walk through and explanation of the new stats, listen to this Creating a Family with Dr. Brad Van Voorhis, Professor and Director of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the University of Iowa College of Medicine and President of Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology; and Dr. Art Castelbaum, Reproductive Endocrinologist and Medical Director of RMA of Philadelphia and Central Pennsylvania.
Other Creating a Family resources you will enjoy:
- How Many IVF Cycles Should You Try Before Giving Up?
- Tips for Getting Pregnant with IVF
- Does IVF Increase Risk for Ovarian Cancer
- Best Diet for IVF and Increasing Fertility
Image credit:rebecca tolley-stokes