Success rates – give it to me straight!

April 14, 2017

by Dr. Rob Downer, Clinical Embryologist

Let’s face it, success rates are confusing and difficult to compare, so what’s the reality?

Most fertility clinics will present you with their success rates on their website or will provide them to you when requested. It can be difficult to compare the information provided between clinics, especially when they are not comparing like with like. For example, some clinics will present clinical pregnancy rates, which is a positive ultrasound scan at seven weeks pregnancy, while others will present live birth rates. On top of all that, just to confuse people a little bit more, clinics will present the success rates across differing age groups or by differing procedures such as IVF or ICSI and will only present success rates per treatment cycle.

Confused? So am I!

What do people really want to know? When it boils down to it, people want know ‘what are my chances of having a baby?’ For the first time the true answer to this question was revealed at the meeting of the European Society of Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in July this year. In a study that took 5 years to complete and involved almost 20,000 women it concluded that 3 in every 4 women who started fertility treatment gave birth to a child within 5 years, with over half of women giving birth within 2 years of starting treatment. What was really insightful about this study was that 1 in 6 women who start treatment became pregnant naturally. This is a phenomenon that we see all the time…we can’t fully explain why it happens, but sometimes just by starting some fertility tests a pregnancy happens! In addition, the hormones that we use for fertility treatment promote a period of increased natural female fertility even after treatment has ended.


While it’s important to know the success rates per cycle of treatment, this study provides a level of reassurance that while treatment might not always work first time, when you are willing to stick with your fertility treatment and entertain all possibilities, the majority of women will have their baby.

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