Fertility treatment and success rates.
Do you know what yours are?
Are you aware that different fertility treatment protocols have different pregnancy rates? Do you know, if during a conversation with your clinical care team, whether the rates that were discussed were concerning pregnancy rates or take home baby rates?
Have you even ever heard that term before? Take home baby rates?
If you know exactly what I’m talking about, read on, I hope you learn more.
If you are not sure that you understand what I’m talking about, be assured, my point in asking these questions is not to make you feel uncomfortable or stupid.
We make a lot of assumptions that everyone knows all these things, when of course, if you are new to fertility treatment, you don’t.
Fertility Treatment Basics
All fertility treatment protocols have a success rate and a failure rate. Not every treatment cycle works, no matter how young you are or how young you feel. No matter how healthy you are and no matter how many tests come back showing that everything is perfectly fine. Mother Nature’s success rate is about 25% and that is if you are about twenty years old. Success rates with fertility treatment vary greatly, depending on the fertility program that you are working with, your diagnosis, (including unexplained or idiopathic) and your particular response to different medications and protocols.
It also depends on how your fertility care providers are discussing your chances of becoming pregnant. Here are some questions to ask to make sure that you are speaking the same language and more importantly that you are getting the answers to the questions that you are asking.
Questions to Ask Your Fertility Doctor
- What are the success rates for this fertility treatment protocol at this fertility program for my age group?
- What is the take home baby rate (births that have occurred due to this protocol) for this treatment?
- What is the cancellation rate for this fertility treatment protocol at this program for someone with my diagnosis and in my age group?
Understanding IUI & IVF Success Rates
Success rates are categorized by fertility treatment protocols and age groups. SART and the CDC collect data from all participating fertility programs concerning the pregnancy rates and publish that data every two years. All fertility programs that participate with this reporting therefore, has independent verification of their success rates. This gives you a reasonable assurance that your fertility program providers are being honest about their success rates. Success rates for all participating fertility programs can be checked on the SART and CDC websites.
The categories that the CDC and SART use are very specific, in terms of types of treatment, age and number of cycles. They have broadened those categories in recent years to better reflect that types of fertility treatment protocols that are currently in use.
It is interesting to note that in the last year, this is what is now popping up on the SART website before a prospective patient enters the site to check on success rates, “Accurate and complete reporting of ART success rates is complicated. This report is best understood in consult with your physician.
The data presented in this report should not be used for comparing clinics. Clinics may have differences in patient selection, treatment approaches, and cycle reporting practices which may inflate or lower pregnancy rates relative to another clinic. Please discuss this with your doctor.”
Pay special attention to the live birth category. That category is among the newer additions to the report.
What do you really need to know about fertility treatment success rates?
As stated by SART, not every fertility treatment program requires the same criteria for their patients. Please make sure that you are comparing apples to apples in this situation. While comparing pregnancy rates is extremely tempting, it is necessary to know the following when doing so:
- Does the program that you are considering have an upper limit on FSH (follicle stimulating hormone)? If so, what is it?
- Is there a lower limit for an AMH (Anti Mullerian Hormone)? If so, what is it?
- How many IUI’s will the program allow a patient to try?
- How many IVF cycles are allowed?
- What reasons will the fertility program you are looking at cancel an IVF cycle?
- At what age will the fertility program decline to treat a patient?
- At what age will the fertility program only allow a treatment cycle using donor eggs?
Bottom line is that if a fertility program accepts patients that present more challenging cases, the success rates may reflect just that so don’t pick a fertility practice based on pregnancy rates alone.
Read more next week on Medical Monday about the other aspects to consider when choosing a fertility program.
You want to feel confident that you are in the right place when you need help getting pregnant– that you know who you are working with, and that you trust who you are working with.
You deserve that.