A recent study published in the peer-reviewed Human Reproduction Journal shows that women who wait for up to six months before undergoing fertility treatment have similar rates of live birth than women who are treated within three months.
The study, led by Dr Glenn Schattman from the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, looked at data from 1790 women who completed their first IVF cycle between 2012 and 2018. The women in the study all had low AMH levels, a hormone that shows a woman’s remaining eggs, also known as low ovarian reserve.
This research is especially useful right now, as the Covid-19 pandemic has led to the closure of fertility clinics and other so-called ‘non-essential’ treatments
Many couples are rightfully concerned that these delays, which are so far out of their control, will reduce their chances of success. In addition to fear and worry about the pandemic, couples dealing with infertility now have additional stress on their plates. However, the news does seem to be promising.
The research demonstrates that the live birth rate was similar in women who started their IVF cycle between one and 90 days after they were assessed, and those who waited until 91-180 days after their assessment. While it is far from conclusive, it does suggest that short delays in accessing fertility treatments do not seem to affect the live birth rates.
The paper also looked at how delayed treatments impact women above the age of 40
Along with those who have an extremely low ovarian reserve and are less likely to respond favourably to hormones, here too, they found that there was no difference in live birth rates.
As Dr Schattman explains “providers and patients should be reassured that when a short-term treatment delay is deemed necessary for medical, logistic or financial reasons, treatment outcomes will not be affected.”
It’s important to note that the study only assessed older women; the average age of the subjects was 39
Perhaps as the results only apply to older women – more studies are needed.
If you are a woman over the age of 35, you probably stress about your’ rapidly diminishing’ ovarian reserves
After all, many studies show that fertility treatment success rates deplete dramatically each month as a woman ages. This study shows that perhaps you don’t need to worry quite so much about a few extra months on a waitlist, or while raising funds for your treatments.
As the report concludes
“These results are reassuring to patients who may feel anxious to begin their treatment and become frustrated when unexpected delays occur.” Of course, in light of the pandemic, it is impossible to gauge whether waitlists and delays in treatment will be longer than six months.
What do you think about the results of this study? Does it put your mind at ease? Or do you still feel like you are staring at the clock? Let us know what you think at email@example.com or on social media @ivfbabble