Friday, April 01, 2016

What does a 20% IVF Success Rate Mean?

Lots of patients want to know what their chances of getting pregnant are before starting an IVF cycle. This is obviously the first question everyone's going to ask, so that they can decide whether they should go ahead with IVF , or consider alternative options.  It's easy for us to quote a number, but we need to think a little bit about what that number actually means.

So let's suppose I tell a patient, "Your chance of getting pregnant is 20%."  We need to understand that this is a guesstimate, and it could very well be anywhere from 10% to 30%.  These are very imprecise numbers.

Also, lots of IVF clinics will inflate their figures , because they want patients to come to them for treatment, rather than go to the IVF clinic down the block. They will often end up over-promising, without ever being able to document what their actual success rates are. And even if their success rates are well documented, you need to understand that these apply to groups of patients - not to you as an individual. The fact is that every individual is different means we cannot apply these statistics precisely to your own individual case. Your chances could actually be much better than that 20%  - or much worse. Our ability to predict the outcome is very limited.

The reality is that we can only give a precise estimate ( I know this is an oxymoron, but this is the best we can do given today's technology) after the cycle is over. Your chances of getting pregnant depend upon multiple variables, such as how many eggs your grow, and how well your embryos develop in the IVF lab - information we can put our hands on only after the embryo transfer ! How your cycle evolves gives us very valuable information in real-time.

Also, the success rate for an individual patient is either 0 or 100% - there is nothing  in between.  In order to put this in the right perspective, you need to ask yourself - what are my chances of getting pregnant if I don't do IVF ? If it's 0, then obviously anything is better than 0. But how much time, money and energy you're going to invest , and what the magic number is - what that threshold should be before you're willing to sign up for an IVF cycle, is a call only you can make.

Finally, you need to remember that you should not focus on just the success rate of a single cycle - try to estimate the cumulative conception rate - the chances of success over multiple IVF cycles . This will give you a far better picture of your odds of having a baby with IVF.

Need help in getting pregnant ? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at so that I can guide you !

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