A report entitled The Assisted Reproductive Technology in Australia and New Zealand (2013) by UNSW’s National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit (NPESU) shows that IVF cycles that use fresh or thawed embryos are equally successful. The report highlights certain essential statistics and aspects regarding the success and growth of IVF.

According to their findings, the number of IVF cycles that used fresh embryos had remained stable at about 23 percent. However, in the last five years, there had been a 25 percent increase in babies produced via frozen embryo transfers. Overall, IVF treatments using frozen embryos have increased from 39 percent in 2009 to 45 percent in 2013.

Advances In Embryo Transfer Techniques  

IVF (in-vitro fertilization) is a process where eggs and sperms are combined, manually, in a laboratory dish. After fertilization, the embryo is transferred to the uterus.

UNSW Professor Michael Chapman, Vice President of the Fertility Society of Australia (FSA), which funds the annual report and national IVF register highlighted various methods of storing embryos and the increase in their successful use.

“Rapid freezing techniques, called vitrification, and optimization of the timing of embryo transfer have made a significant difference to the success of frozen embryo birth rates. Other techniques – culturing embryos for five to six days to produce a blastocyst before transfer to the uterus, and the use of pre-implantation genetic screening – have also increased over the past five years”.

IVF: What Statistics Have To Say

The report demonstrates a small increase in IVF treatment cycles in 2013. Out of a total of 71,516 cycles, 66,143 were performed in Australia and 5,373 were performed in New Zealand. As of 2012, this represents an increase of 1.9 percent and 3.8 percent in Australia and New Zealand respectively.

IVF Treatment

Between the years 2013 and 2014, a total of 12,637 births were attributed to IVF in Australia and 1,302 babies were born via IVF in New Zealand clinics. However, the rate of multiple deliveries has decreased by a third over the past five years, from 8.2% in 2009 to 5.6% in 2013 – the lowest rate ever recorded in the world.

“Multiple births are, no doubt, the greatest health risk to mothers and babies from IVF, and multiple embryo transfer obviously increases this risk”, Professor Chapman explained.

Associate Professor Mark Bowman, President of the FSA, proudly stated that despite having the lowest rates IVF multiple births, Australia and New Zealand have the highest success rates than any other region in the world, on a consistent basis as well.

How Is Age A Factor

Another aspect the report mentions is the role of a woman’s age in the success of IVF treatment. For women between the ages of 30 and 34, who are using their own eggs, the birth rate per embryo transfer was 32.8 percent in fresh cycles, and 27.5 percent when frozen or thawed eggs were used. For women aged 44 and above, the success rates for fresh and frozen/thawed cycles were 2.3 percent and 6.5 percent respectively – a hugely significant difference.

The report concludes that the best chances of success for an IVF treatment are in the first cycle (20.6 percent). The percentage success rate falls by 1 to 2 percent for each proceeding cycle.