What Are The IVF Success Rates in Australia?

Infertility affects about one couple in six. It is estimated that there are over 70 000 treatment cycles performed in Australia and New Zealand every year.

Research published in the MJA in July from the National  Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit ( UNSW) provides Australians considering IVF access to evidence that provides a more meaningful idea of the chances of having a baby, whether it is the first or subsequent round of IVF.

The data used was sourced from the Australian and New Zealand Assisted Reproductive Technology Database, which contains information on all IVF cycles performed in Australia and  New  Zealand from 2009 to 2014. Two measures were reported, the live birth rate for each consecutive IVF cycle and the cumulative live-birth rate for each consecutive IVF cycle ( this took into account all previous cycles performed and the age of the woman when she started the treatment)

Overall, for those starting IVF, 33% have a baby as a result of their first cycle, increasing to 54-77% by the eight cycle, there was some difference in results according to the woman's age when she commenced the IVF treatment. . The latest research providing this data reported the probability of IVF success from the patient's perspective after repeated cycles rather than as is usually reported for each cycle. Women who started IVF before they turned 35 had the highest success rates, women aged 40-44 had an 11% chance of a live birth in their first cycle and a cumulative live-birth rate of between 21-34% after six cycles.

Approximately 30% of women drop out of treatment after an unsuccessful IVF cycle because of the physical and emotional demands of treatment, poor chance of success with continued treatment and the cost, which is around $2000 -$4000 per cycle in Australia.

The study has gaps:  the take-home baby rate did not look at technique used,  different protocols are used by the various clinics and the clinics report their results in different ways making comparison impossible.

The clinics do not make their results available to the public or referring doctors. The data used does contain the overall  performance rates, which vary considerably between clinics, but the Fertility Society of Australia do not  release the per-clinic statistics. The study is population-based and did not look at the individual cycle success rates within clinics. For example, if a clinic uses frozen embryo the results are better, if they don't hyperstimulate the ovary the take-home rates are better and there is some current debate over the success rates for intracytoplasmic sperm injection being less than previously found.

The data provides populations estimates and every couple is different, the research does not take account of individual factors that affect IVF success, these include how long the couple had trouble conceiving, the level of body fat and ovarian reserve and the techniques used by their Clinic.

Although this research has many limitations, the publication is a step forwards for Australian couples who are considering IVF towards having more open, available data on the chance of taking home a baby. Hopefully, it will also increase pressure to provide more evidence to compare outcomes of the various techniques and clinics for Australian couples. ( Volume 207, Issue 3-24 July 2017)  Assisted reproductive technology in Australia and New Zealand: cumulative live birth rates as measures of success

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