When deciding which clinic to have your IVF treatment at, you will hear people tell you to make sure you look at the success rate of the clinic. But what exactly is a success rate, and how do you know if a clinic is telling the truth?
Let’s start by getting straight to the answer: The term “success rate” refers to the number of live births per embryo transferred.
This metric is adopted by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) n the UK, Sart in the US and Eshre in Europe as the primary measure for assessing IVF success, and it is generally considered the most informative indicator.
Decoding the success rates that you find on a clinic website:
Live Birth Rate: The live birth rate is a crucial indicator of a clinic’s success. It represents the percentage of patients who, after undergoing fertility treatments, give birth to a healthy baby. This is the most patient-centered and relevant measure of success.
Age and Diagnosis-Specific Rates: Fertility clinics may break down their success rates by age and specific diagnoses. Success rates can vary significantly depending on a patient’s age and the cause of infertility.
Fresh vs. Frozen Embryo Transfers: Fertility clinics may report success rates separately for fresh and frozen embryo transfers, as outcomes can vary.
Multiple Birth Rate: It’s important to consider the clinic’s rate of multiple births (e.g., twins, triplets) as this can affect the health of both the mother and babies. Clinics that aim for single pregnancies may be considered more successful in this regard.
Number of Embryos Transferred: Some clinics may transfer multiple embryos to increase the chances of pregnancy, which can affect success rates and multiple birth rates. Understanding the clinic’s embryo transfer policy is important. It is important to question the use of “per embryo transfer” instead of “per embryo transferred” as it can mislead potential patients when comparing success rates across clinics. Ideally, clinics should provide an explanation for this difference on their “success rates” page, ensuring transparency and clarity for those seeking fertility treatments.
Patient Population: A clinic’s patient population and the complexity of cases it handles can influence success rates. Some clinics may specialise in more challenging cases, while others may primarily treat less complex cases.
Data Reporting: Ensure that the clinic reports success rates in a transparent and standardised way. Some countries and regions have regulations governing how clinics report their success rates.
Multiple Cycles: Success rates can also be reported based on the number of treatment cycles a patient undergoes. This can provide insights into the clinic’s ability to help patients achieve pregnancy over multiple attempts.
Accreditation and Certification: Consider whether the clinic is accredited or certified by relevant organisations, which can provide a level of assurance regarding the quality of care and treatment outcomes. For example, the HFEA requires clinics to display somewhere on their website:
- Success rates within the past 3 years
- The Live birth date per cycle started
- Data should be presented by maternal age
- The website should include raw patient numbers, not just percentages.
When assessing a clinic’s success rates, it’s essential to keep in mind that individual success rates can vary based on a patient’s unique circumstances, such as age, diagnosis, and medical history. A clinic with lower success rates may still be the right choice for a specific patient based on their needs and preferences. It’s advisable to consult with a fertility specialist and consider various factors when making decisions about which clinic to choose for your fertility treatment.
To gain a further insight into the national average success rates for IVF, you can refer to the HFEA’s statistics that represent the average chance of a live birth per embryo transferred, using a woman’s own eggs and her partner’s sperm, based on different age categories:
- Under 35: 32%
- 35-37: 25%
- 38-39: 19%
- 40-42: 9%
- 43-44: 5%
- Over 44: 2%
These percentages combine both frozen and fresh transfers. If you desire more detailed information, including a breakdown of success rates for frozen and fresh transfers, as well as data on other forms of IVF and the use of donor eggs or sperm, you can consult the HFEA’s Fertility Trends report. When seeking the success rates of a specific private fertility clinic in, it really is recommended to visit the HFEA’s website.
If you are in the US, take a look at SART, the USA’s primary organisation of professionals dedicated to the practice of IVF, or assisted reproductive technology (ART). The organisation represents the majority of the ART clinics in the country. The mission of SART is to establish and maintain standards for ART so that you receive the highest possible level of care. SART clinics meet the highest standards for quality, safety and patient care.
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