Not all infertility journeys are the same. Each journey to resolution is personal based on what family-building options work with your diagnosis and financial situation. Exploring options such as donor sperm, donor egg, and donor embryo may not have been how you thought you’d build your family, but with the right information, it could become your best option.
When conceiving naturally is not an option, In Vitro Fertilisation treatments are often the next best option. The procedure includes sperm being injected directly into your egg outside of your body. You can also have the egg from a donor as well as the sperm. How many times you try IVF depends on a number of things.
A full cycle of IVF treatment covers ovarian stimulation and egg recovery, insemination, and embryo transfer. As a young healthy couple, you have only around a 20 per cent chance of conceiving naturally in a month, but IVF boosts the odds in your favour.
Common indications for IVF include male infertility, tubal and pelvic factor disease, age factor, and hormonal problems. If you’re a couple that does not have an identifiable reason for not becoming pregnant, you can still be successful with IVF.
You are urged to seek medical advice after 1-2 years of trying to conceive, but age has been shown to be a factor that is beyond the control of predicting the success of IVF treatment. This is because the likelihood of becoming pregnant declines with age, but the average age of women seeking fertility treatment has steadily increased over the years, reflecting the trend for couples to start families later on.
With this in mind, the chances of your IVF success fall drastically in your early 40s. The percentage of IVF cycles that resulted in births decreases from around 20 per cent when you are aged 38-39, to 14 per cent at age 40-42, to just five per cent when you are over 42.
Generally, if you are under 40 and have been trying to get pregnant for up to two years, the recommendation is that you should be offered three full cycles of IVF. If you are aged between 40 and 42, and you have been trying for about six months and have not previously received IVF or shown evidence of low ovarian reserve, similar three full cycles of treatments are recommended.
The likelihood of getting pregnant decreases with each successive round, while the cost increases. However, the cumulative effect of three complete cycles of IVF increases the chances of a successful pregnancy to 45-55 per cent. Three IVF cycles are both the most cost-effective and clinically effective number for women under the age of 40.
If you are a woman who is below 40 years of age, using your own eggs, and going through a good IVF programme, you have a 70 per cent chance to have a baby within three attempts. This is assuming that you have a good ovarian reserve, you are using healthy sperm, and have a standard and receptive uterine lining. If you fall under these criteria, you have up to a 70 per cent chance to have a baby within three rounds of IVF treatment.
Being aged around 40-42 means that you have a less than 10 per cent chance to successfully conceive. As you age beyond 43, the chances of success drop significantly.
What this means is that age plays a large role in the success of IVF treatment, but there is still more to consider when it comes to how many treatments you should try. On average, there is a one in three chance that the treatment will work, and that is not as bad as it sounds if you consider that even nature is no more efficient.
Before embarking on an IVF cycle, do a complete basic infertility evaluation. This may include a semen analysis, pelvic ultrasound, an evaluation of your uterine cavity and fallopian tubes, and blood tests for ovarian reserve. It will help if you do not go into IVF treatment with an attitude of giving up as soon as it fails the first time because it narrows your odds even further, so expect to undergo IVF treatment two or three times.
If you are unable to conceive despite the relatively high chance of success, it should not be the end. In the event that you are getting repeated failures, you should consider getting a second opinion and/or probably further investigation. Talk to your doctor about the best way to get an assessment.
If you experience repeated failures with no apparent explanation for why the losses are happening, you need to be evaluated. IVF treatments may require a lot more patience and perseverance. The process of IVF may not always be successful because of things like advanced female age and poor egg quality. But it is not impossible that you may conceive on your own even after IVF fails.
So, if you do have an unsuccessful IVF cycle, it is not the end, you may just need to find the right support, map out the next steps and decide if it includes another IVF cycle. Also, do not think that conceiving naturally is no longer an option for you once you seek fertility treatments.
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