How Many Times Do You Need To Try IVF Before It Works

Dr. Richa Agarwal    27-01-2016 Consult

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of the most powerful tools for couples struggling with infertility. It often takes several cycles of IVF for couples to get pregnant. However, the majority of patients are successful after several cycles, making the treatment a great option for many couples with infertility. It's important to be aware of what to expect before deciding to undergo in vitro fertilization so that you are more prepared for the process and the challenges that it may entail. Below, we'll explore some of the factors that influence success, as well as what to expect in terms of the number of cycles. 

What is In vitro fertilization (IVF)?

In IVF, eggs are fertilized with sperm outside of the woman's body, and the resulting embryos are transferred to the uterus. During the first part of the procedure, the woman's ovaries are stimulated with medication to mature more eggs than usual without ovulating. Once ready, the eggs are collected using a minimally invasive procedure and fertilized with the partner's sperm. The embryos mature for several days before transfer to the uterus. Extra embryos can be frozen for future use. Within 9-11 days of embryo transfer, pregnancy can be confirmed. 

An unsuccessful cycle can be devastating, especially if the couple is unaware that most couples require several treatment cycles to be successful.

When it comes to infertility, IVF may be an option if you or your partner have been diagnosed with:

  1. Endometriosis
  2. Low Sperm Counts
  3. Problems with the uterus or fallopian tubes
  4. Problems with ovulation
  5. Antibody problems that harm sperm or eggs
  6. The inability of sperm to penetrate or survive in the cervical mucus
  7. An unexplained fertility problem

Who is a Candidate? 

For most couples, in vitro fertilization is not the first choice of treatment. Depending on the cause and nature of your infertility, your doctor may recommend methods such as medication or artificial insemination in order to increase your chances of getting pregnant. Only if these methods fail should in vitro fertilization be considered. In vitro fertilization may be considered sooner for patients who are over 40, as well as those who have conditions that make pregnancy without IVF unlikely.

Factors Affecting Success

Numerous factors influence a couple's fertility - there is a great deal of individual variation in terms of the cause of infertility, as well as the factors that surround it. Many factors affect your chances of success with IVF. Some of the most important factors include: 

  1. Age - After 37, female fertility drops significantly each year, in part because of a decline in the health of the eggs. IVF tends to be more successful in younger women. However, many women over 37 have successfully gotten pregnant using in vitro fertilization. 
  2. Type of fertility problem(s) - Some fertility problems are associated with a better chance of success than others. One thing to keep in mind is that the chances of success can be lower for couples who have more than one fertility problem. 
  3. Use of donor gametes - In some cases, couples may decide to use donor sperm or donor eggs. In general, donor gametes are chosen because they will give the particular couple a higher chance of a live birth than there would be otherwise.
  4. Use of additional procedures - In some cases, additional procedures such as the injection of sperm directly into the eggs may be used to increase the chances of success in light of a specific fertility problem.
  5. Number of past IVF cycles - If you have gone through IVF cycles in the past, the success you had with those cycles can be a decent indicator of what to expect with future cycles. 

Average Success Rate : On average, about one-third (33%) of patients experience a live birth after their first IVF cycle. For women who go through three cycles, the success rate rises to around 70% of patients.

Plan on More than One Cycle 

It's recommended that couples going through IVF come in with the awareness that it may be necessary to undergo several cycles before pregnancy occurs. Although a significant number of people do experience a pregnancy after the first in vitro fertilization cycle, the fact is that the majority goes through several cycles before being successful. Because of this, it's best to go through IVF when you have prepared financially and emotionally for that possibility. For couples going through several IVF cycles, embryo freezing can be an excellent choice. Often, more embryos are created than can be used in a single cycle. In such an instance, it's possible to freeze the embryos for future use. This means that the process of maturing and collecting eggs will not be necessary.

Establish a Stopping Point 

It's recommended that couples plan for at least 3 cycles, since that is the point where the majority of couples experience success with the process. However, deciding when to stop is a highly personal decision that should be made after careful consideration, and after consulting with your physician.

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