How Effective is In Vitro Fertilization for Couples?

In a report published in 2017 by the U.S. Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), the number of babies born in the United States between 1987 and 2015 through the use of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) or other assisted reproductive technologies like the use of an egg donor, sperm donor or adopted embryo. In this article, we will discuss why IVF treatment is done, the possible risks of IVF, and the effectiveness of this treatment.

What is In-Vitro Fertilization IVF?

A statistical report by Penn Fertility Care revealed that there is a 21.3% chance of having a full-term, normal birth weight and singleton live birth per In-Vitro Fertilization or IVF treatment using fresh embryos from nondonor eggs for women younger than 35. IVF treatment is one of the well-known methods of assisted reproductive technology (ART) when the ovulatory process of a woman is monitored and stimulated before mature eggs are extracted from her ovaries and sperm, allowing to fertilize them in a laboratory. 

Moreover, the fertilized eggs go through embryo culture for 2-6 days and one or more is transferred into the woman’s uterus, positively leading to a successful pregnancy. This is the most common fertility treatment used when a woman’s fallopian tubes are severely damaged or absent, or there is unexplained or male-factor infertility. 

When to consider IVF?

Couples who are struggling with infertility or genetic issues may try this type of treatment as they might be able to try less-invasive treatment options prior to IVF such as fertility drugs to increase egg production or IUI. Women over age 40 are the ones who are sometimes being offered IVF as their primary treatment. It can also be performed if you and your partner have certain health conditions like the following:

  • Fallopian tube damage or blockage
  • Endometriosis
  • Ovulation disorders
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Previous tubal sterilization or removal
  • Impaired sperm production or function
  • Unexplained fertility
  • Genetic disorder
  • Fertility preservation for cancer or other health issues

Possible Risks of IVF Treatment

Are there any possible risks when couples take IVF treatment? Mayo Clinic also revealed that there are possible risks when you undergo this treatment. Below are some of them:

  • Multiple births – If more than one embryo is transferred to your uterus, IVF treatment can increase the risk of multiple births. Multiple births can lead to a higher risk of early labor and low birth weight than pregnancy with a single birth does.
  • Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome – This condition usually happens due to the use of injectable fertility drugs like human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) to stimulate ovulation. It makes your ovaries swollen and painful which leads to symptoms such as mild abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. 
  • Miscarriage – There is about a 15% to 25% rate of miscarriage for women who are using IVF treatments for conceiving.
  • Ectopic pregnancy – Studies have shown that about 2% to 5% of women who use IVF treatment will have experienced an ectopic pregnancy, a condition when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, commonly in a fallopian tube.

Effectiveness of IVF

Based on a report published by CDC, there are 186,157 ART cycles in which an embryo was transferred and 60,778 of them resulted in live births. Also, CDC noted an 81.6% success rate or live birth of a child or multiple children, while 16.3% of these procedures resulted in pregnancy loss.

Still, success rates for IVF treatment depend on numerous factors which include maternal age, embryo status, infertility, lifestyle factors, and reproductive history. For example, embryo transfer is a crucial method because not all embryos survive the development process. Also, when a woman has a smoking habit, it can lower her chance of having a successful IVF by 50%. 

Here are other factors that may affect the effectiveness of IVF:

  • Severe endometriosis
  • Obesity
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Recreational drugs
  • Excessive caffeine
  • Certain medications


Today, we learned that IVF treatment is one of the popular assisted reproductive technologies (ART) which can help couples to have successful pregnancies, especially couples who have health issues such as fallopian tube damage, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, genetic disorder, and many others. However, IVF has potential risks as well like multiple births, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, etc. Consult with a certified and professional fertility doctor to know more if you are fit in having IVF treatment.

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