Published by Vanessa Green
July 02 2023
Published byVanessa Green
July 02 2023
When you’re going through an experience as emotional as fertility treatment, numbers can be comforting. Having something concrete to apply to a situation that seems out of your control can help make the situation a little easier to handle.
This is why so many individuals and couples going through fertility treatment focus intently on the success rates of fertility clinics. After all, if the goal is to conceive, your clinic’s track record of helping people get pregnant is clearly of the utmost importance.
But success rate stats without context won’t tell you the whole story. While this metric has real value, the number can sometimes be misleading, and, most importantly, it won’t always tell you what your probability of conceiving is.
So here’s what you need to know about success rates before you start fertility treatment.
The many factors that influence success rates
There are a number of different things that can influence the success rate of fertility treatment. The most critical factor is the woman’s age (when using her own eggs). Success rates drop as women age, especially after their mid-30s.
Your medical history and the fertility issues you and your partner are facing also play a significant part in your chances of successfully conceiving. The protocols, methods, tools and processes a clinic follows influence a clinic’s success rate as well.
The Society for Reproductive Technology (SART) continually evaluates the success rates of clinics around the country. They work with clinics to make sense of their data and report their results to the CDC, which releases an Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Success Rates Report every few years.
Because of all of these influencing factors, SART has a disclaimer on the website that explicitly states: “[Because] patient characteristics vary among programs…success rates may vary greatly between individuals” and “success rates should not be used to compare treatment centers.”
Playing with the success rate numbers
Although these numbers are not meant to be used as a definitive guide for those undergoing fertility treatment, success rates are hugely important for clinics looking to attract new patients. As a result, some clinics try to keep their numbers high by only accepting certain patients, who they know are likely to conceive, to go through their program. This helps keep their success rate artificially high.
Some clinics can also push patients straight to IVF before considering other fertility treatment options, such as artificial insemination or IUI. In some cases, these less invasive and less costly treatments may have been enough for a couple or individual to conceive. However, success rates for these treatments aren’t reported by clinics and don’t impact their success rates.
In the past, some clinics also failed to report cancelled egg retrievals when the stimulation process wasn’t successful. Not reporting these cancelled cycles would keep a clinic’s success rates high, even though it doesn’t provide an accurate picture.