I was talking with a women a few months ago who had recently had her fourth IVF cycle fail. Her emotions were complex: of course she was sad and frustrated and very very confused as to her next step, but she was also angry.
I wasn’t particularly upset when I found out we would have to go the IVF route—I was 36 when I got married and 38 when I went to an infertility clinic, so I kind of expected it. What I didn’t expect was that I wouldn’t succeed in getting pregnant. I didn’t expect the IVF success rates to suck so much. And no one really tells you this or maybe it’s just that they don’t focus on it.
What are My Chances of Getting Pregnant with IVF
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is miraculous on so many different levels. It has resulted in millions of babies and millions of parents. IVF is not, however, a guarantee. Whether you think the odds of success are a “miracle” or “they suck” is highly individual and likely depends on where you are on the infertility treatment ladder.
IVF success rates for a fresh IVF cycle using your own eggs
|% of cycles resulting in live births||40.1%||31.4%||21.2%||11.2%||4.5%|
These stats are from 2013, the last year data is available.
The woman I spoke with was 38 when she had her first IVF treatment; her odds of success was less than 1 in 4. She thought if she kept rolling the dice surely the odds would shift in her favor, but dice, odds, and IVF don’t necessarily work that way.
I wish IVF had never even been invented. I would still not have a baby, but at least I would have accepted my fate a long time ago, or I would have gotten pregnant as a single mom in my early 30s. I wouldn’t be sitting here trying to decide whether to try again.
The Curse of Hope?
IVF offers hope to millions, but if the hope doesn’t result in a baby, are you better off without it? There is no universal answer to that question. Everyone will have to answer this question for themselves, just as everyone has to decide how long they will continue pursuing this hope and at what point the odds simply aren’t worth it.
Samantha Brick, British journalist of Why Women Hate Me for Being Beautiful fame, has written frankly about IVF and infertility treatment in general. After 2 failed cycles and now 44, she has decided to stop fertility treatment.
Contrary to the heart-warming success stories that percolate our society, IVF does not offer the instant promise of a child. Yet it is easy for women like myself to be taken in by the illusion that fertility treatment holds the solution, and grab at it as a last-chance remedy for our dwindling egg-count. …
Yet a wiser, older me now reluctantly accepts that money and determination can’t buy everything, and that dreams don’t always come true. It’s only with hindsight I can see that I spent the years from my late 30s to my early 40s obsessing about having a baby at any cost. I look at photographs of me during this period and I can see an intense sadness in my eyes, a yearning, a hunger that tainted everything around me.
In an article before she decided to stop fertility treatment she said:
More than once, I have thought bitterly that if IVF hadn’t been invented, then at this stage of my quest — when a woman’s fertility is known to fall dramatically — I’d have closed the door on any prospect of motherhood. Undoubtedly I would have grieved for a period of time, but then I would somehow have moved on.
Instead, the IVF carrot was dangled in front of us.
If you were not successful with IVF, do you sometimes wish it had never been invented?Image credit: Deborah Cardinal