In-vitro fertilization (IVF) or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) treatment is a method of conception in case normal fertilization is difficult or impossible. However, IVF has its own drawbacks as it is difficult to predict whether the fertilization is successful or not. Now scientists from the University of Aberdeen in UK have designed an online calculator that predicts a couple’s chances of conceiving after a single cycle of IVF or ICSI.
In-vitro fertilization is a process in which an egg is fertilized by a sperm outside the body in a laboratory and then this embryo is transferred to the uterus for implantation and growth. IVF is being increasingly sought by couples both in the UK and rest of the world. Estimates show that one in eight couples in US seeks fertility treatments.
An IFV cycle starts during the first few days of a menstrual cycle and is considered a “baseline”. If all parameters are met, it is considered as the starting point of an IVF cycle. Sometimes the parameters can be induced artificially by medication.
In contrast intracytoplasmic sperm injection is one of the few types of IVF that is more successful if the man is infertile as the sperm is injected directly into the egg as compared to commonly practiced IVF technique involving several sperm cells placed in a petri dish containing the egg.
The research was led by Dr David McLernon, PhD, MPhil, lecturer in the University of Aberdeen who used data from the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority register to design the fertility-gauging calculator.
The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority of UK states that 52,288 women had a total of 67,708 cycles of IVF between 1999 to 2008, maintaining a 5% annual growth in the number of IVF cycle. Success rates of IVF are low as only 32.2% of women under the age of 35 undergo IVF treatment and the number continues to decline with increase in age while only 1.9% of women aged 45+ are able to conceive.
Still the success rates have risen over the years from 25.9% in 2013 to 26.5% in 2015. If you are not entitled for treatment by the National Health Service (NHS) and decide to have a procedure at a private clinic, it will cost about 5,000£ or more per one cycle of treatment.
The researchers created the online calculator by including data from 1999 to 2008 of 113,873 women who underwent complete IVF or ICSI cycle using their own eggs with sperm from their partners. 33,154 (29.1%) of these women had a successful treatment in the first IVF cycle that resulted in a live birth while 48,925 (43%) of women had a successful treatment after six complete cycles.
Their data analysis showed that as the chances of conception decrease after the age of 30, the best chance a woman had of having a baby after the first cycle was by increasing the number of eggs collected, embryo cryopreservation and stage of embryo at transfer.
The calculator was programmed to estimate success of IVF according to the predictions of how probable it is after multiple IVF cycles. For example, a 30-year-old woman had a 46% chance of having a baby during her first complete IVF cycle which increased to 79% chance over three complete cycles. In addition, if the woman had five eggs collected during her first complete cycle, followed by single stage embryo transfer, her chances of a successful embryo development drop to 29% and 59%, respectively.
These predictions were incorporated into the online calculator as the first attempt is not always successful and the availability of frozen embryos mean that women can undergo several attempts in one complete cycle.
Dr David McLernon says, “[The calculator will help] clinicians communicating to couples their personalized chances of a live birth over an entire package of IVF treatment.”
He adds that, “This [online] tool will help to shape couples’ expectations, allowing them to plan their treatments more efficiently and to prepare emotionally and financially.”
The scientists say that the tool is not only relevant for couples but also for investors and policymakers to determine insurance costs of IVF. They however warn that couples should not currently be completely dependent on this tool in determining IVF treatment as further development is necessary.
Does IVF Ensure Pregnancy In Infertile Couples?
In-vitro fertilization is a revolutionary tool to help infertile couples conceive a child with the aid of medical technology. Many patients think that IVF success rates are above 80% when it is not so. However, the National Infertility Association reports that the success rate of a young and fertile couple conceiving a baby is 15-20% in a month while women with the highest chances of undergoing IVF have a maximum of 40% chance of success to conceive a baby while the majority of women have a success rate of 20-35% per cycle.
However, in case a couple is uncertain of the success of IVF, there are also other ways to predict whether the IVF treatment will be successful or not by calculating stress related factors in women.
In case of stress, the body releases the hormone cortisol and long-term cortisol obtained from the hair of women undergoing IVF treatment significantly predicted a 26.7% success rate of pregnancy after negating other factors.
The study pointed out that long-term cortisol release from the body influences reproductive outcomes and reducing levels of stress before undergoing IVF could improve treatment outcomes.
The National Infertility Association also points out that IVF success is affected by many factors including age, body mass index, sperm count of male, ovarian reserve tests and reproductive history.
With these factors in mind, entering your health and reproductive data in an online tool, like the newly developed calculator, can provide doctors with a better understanding of the outcome that they can individually communicate with their patients and discuss their odds of having a baby with IVF.