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What you should know about IVF success rates by age

IVF success rates correlate with the age of the egg, according to a fertility doctor.
Psychologist filling medical patient information form consulting african couple, closeup
To understand IVF success rates, it's first important to understand the process of IVF.fizkes / Getty Images stock
/ Source: TODAY

Hopeful parents considering in vitro fertilization, commonly referred to as IVF, may wonder about success rates and what they can expect.

Dr. Natalie Crawford, fertility doctor and co-founder of Fora Fertility in Austin, Texas, shares that it's important to understand the process of IVF before diving into success rates.

"During this process, we stimulate multiple eggs to grow in the body with hormone shots," she says, explaining that this first step takes around two weeks and includes frequent visits for ultrasound monitoring and blood work. "Once the eggs reach the mature size, a procedure is performed under anesthesia in which the eggs are extracted from the body in a needle aspiration procedure."

Next comes fertilization, where the eggs are combined with sperm in the lab.

"The eggs that are fertilized become embryos and these embryos then grow in culture in the lab for the next 5-6 days to reach the normal implantation stage of the embryo, called a blastocyst," Crawford says. "At the blastocyst stage, embryos can be transferred into the body, frozen or biopsied for genetic testing."

Crawford tells that people turn to IVF for many different reasons.

"Some include age-related infertility, carrying a genetic disease, need for egg donation or a gestational carrier, severe male factor infertility, tubal factor infertility, ovulatory disorders and fertility preservation or saving embryos for the future," she says.

Average success rates of IVF

Crawford tells that IVF success rates directly correlate with age of the egg in cycles without genetic testing for aneuploidy.

"Aneuploidy is genetic abnormalities that increase in prevalence with aging — and is the top reason for the increase in miscarriages and the decrease in pregnancy rates as maternal age rises," she says. "However, with pre-implantation genetic testing of the embryos for aneuploidy, we expect success rates (live birth rate) or about 60-65% per genetically normal embryo."

Factors that determine IVF success rates

Crawford says that maternal age is the No. 1 factor that impacts success rates for IVF.

"The younger the egg, the better quality and the higher probability of normal genetics," she explains.

Another factor is ovarian reserve.

"Each person runs out of eggs at a different rate — this is the quantity of eggs — how many can we get in a single month with IVF, the more eggs, the higher the odds of success," Crawford explains.

Crawford adds that smoking decreases success rates with IVF.

How to increase success rate of IVF

Crawford shares that the best thing a person can do to increase the success of IVF is to be honest about their family goals with their doctor and ask about expectations in order to make proper decisions in treatment.

"Healthy behaviors — not smoking cigarettes or marijuana, limiting alcohol, increasing fruits and vegetables, limiting processed foods, getting at least seven hours of sleep each night and stress reduction techniques — are things that can improve outcomes," she says.

IVF success rates by age

Data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology on success rates for IVF states that for women under 35, the percentage of live births using the patient's own eggs for a singleton (one child) is 51%.

For women ages 35-37, the IVF success rate is 38.3% for live births using the patient’s own eggs for a singleton (one child) birth.

At ages 38-40, the percentage drops to 25.1%, and for 41-42, it is 12.7%.

For women older than 42, the IVF success rate is 4.1% for a singleton birth using the patient's eggs, according to SART.

“Ultimately, the thing that impacts outcomes the most is maternal age, so getting started sooner is ultimately better if IVF is needed," Crawford says.

Meet the expert:

Dr. Natalie Crawford is a board-certified fertility doctor and co-founder of Fora Fertility in Austin, Texas. She also hosts the podcast "As A Woman: Fertility, Hormones & Beyond."