Success Rates at the ART Institute of Washington
“What are my chances of success?” This is the most common question asked by most patients pursuing infertility treatment. The answer, as you may guess, is not straightforward and of course varies from case to case. Generally speaking, the chances of success are determined by the age of the female partner and the quality of embryos transferred to the uterus.
But before venturing into the specifics, it is imperative that we define “success.” Organizations such as SART and the CDC which track and rank IVF clinic success rates, consider delivery rate or “take-home-baby rate” as the only real measure of success. The ART Institute of Washington defines success as the delivery of a healthy baby following treatments that pose the least amount of risk to the mother, the father, and the child. We also think that implantation rate, the chance of each embryo to implant in the uterus following transfer, is a better measure of success and the quality of an IVF program than delivery rate (calculated without consideration of the number of embryos transferred). Therefore we, in collaboration with our research staff, have recently developed an alternative to the standard national record-keeping systems used by SART and the CDC. You can visit this ranking system at www.IVFreports.org.
Back to the question of success rates. Success rates vary for different patients for many reasons. The age of the female partner is the most important factor, when women are using their own eggs. Success decreases as women age, and the age effect becomes most pronounced after age 41. This is attributable partly to lower pregnancy rates and partly to higher miscarriage rates with advancing age, both of which may be primarily explained by an increase in abnormalities in eggs that age within the ovary. Egg abnormalities usually concern the number of chromosomes but could also include other cellular structures. Almost all chromosomally abnormal eggs result in embryos that will stop developing before a pregnancy is established. Miscarriage can occur in all age groups and appears to be slightly more frequent after IVF. However, there is no evidence that the risk of birth defects or chromosome abnormalities (such as Down’s syndrome) is any different with ART than with natural conception. The ART Institute of Washington offers Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) for those couples at risk of transmitting a genetic disease.