What Affects the Results of In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?

Posted on June 27, 2017 by NYRW

For a number of fertility issues, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) has proven a very successful type of treatment. Understanding the factors that contribute to the results IVF produces is important in determining expectations from this therapy.

Expected IVF Outcomes

IVF is one type of assisted reproductive technology. It joins a female egg and male sperm in a lab dish. The term in-vitro means “outside the body”. IVF includes five steps:

  • Stimulation to foster egg production
  • Retrieval of eggs
  • Insemination and fertilization
  • Embryo culturing
  • Transfer of embryo

Fertility clinics customize treatment plans according to each patient’s needs. According to Medline Plus, while statistics vary among facilities, the overall chances of delivering a live baby after undergoing IVF are as follows:

  • Women younger than 35: 41 to 43 percent
  • Women 35 to 37: 33 to 36 percent
  • Women 38 to 40: 23 to 27 percent
  • Women 41 and older: 13 to 18 percent

Factors That Determine In-Vitro Fertilization Success

Unfortunately, not all pregnancies end in live births. The Mayo Clinic notes that a number of factors can affect the chances of delivering a healthy child after undergoing IVF. The most important include:

  • Mother’s age.  The younger the patient, the greater the likelihood of a healthy delivery after using the woman’s own eggs for IVF.  Physicians often counsel women who are at least 41 to consider the use of donor eggs to boost the probability of success.
  • Status of embryo.  Higher pregnancy rates are linked to transferring more-developed embryos rather than those that are less developed.
  • Patient’s reproductive history.  A woman who has already given birth is more likely to become pregnant through IVF than one who has never delivered a baby.  Rates of success tend to be lower for patients who have already undergone IVF therapy more than once and who failed to become pregnant.
  • Infertility cause.  Many factors can result in infertility.  Endometriosis, pelvic scarring, male factor infertility, and blocked fallopian tubes are common causes.  Sometimes infertility remains unexplained.  Patients with severe endometriosis have less of a chance of becoming pregnant via IVF than those with unexplained infertility.  Possessing a normal egg supply raises the chances of a pregnancy with IVF.
  • Lifestyle issues.  During IVF, physicians typically retrieve fewer eggs from women who are smokers than from those who are non-smokers.  As a matter of fact, smoking can cut the IVF success rate in half.  Being obese also lowers the probability of becoming pregnant and delivering a baby.  Other harmful factors include using alcohol, an excessive amount of caffeine, recreational drugs, or specific medications.
Potential IVF patients should be sure to discuss with a fertility specialist all possible factors that could affect the success of IVF treatment. After a careful consideration of all the patient’s circumstances, the physician will suggest an individualized fertility treatment protocol.



American Society for Reproductive Medicine
College of American Pathologists
Fertile Hope
Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology
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