IVF Success Rates: What to Expect

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a medical procedure where an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body in a laboratory. The fertilized egg, or embryo, is then transferred into the uterus with the hope that it will implant and result in a pregnancy . Since the birth of the first IVF baby in 1978, an estimated 8 million babies have been born worldwide through in vitro fertilization and other reproductive technologies. Today, more than 270,000 IVF cycles are performed annually in the United States alone, resulting in over 74,000 babies born each year.

Factors Affecting IVF Success Rates

The success of an IVF cycle depends on several factors, including:

  • Ovarian Reserve: The better your ovarian reserve (the number of high-quality fertilizable eggs left in your ovaries), the higher the chances for IVF success .
  • Age: IVF success rates correlate directly with the age of the egg in cycles without genetic testing for aneuploidy, which is genetic abnormalities that increase with age. However, with pre-implantation genetic testing of the embryos, we can expect success rates (live birth rate) of about 60-65% per genetically normal embryo .
  • Lifestyle: Healthy behaviors such as 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 can improve outcomes .

IVF Process

The IVF process typically involves several stages:

  • Egg Retrieval: The first step involves injecting hormones so you produce multiple eggs each month instead of only one. 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 .
  • Fertilization: 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 .
  • Embryo Transfer: Once the embryos are ready, they are transferred into your uterus. This procedure is quicker and easier than the retrieval of the egg. The doctor will insert a flexible tube called a catheter through your vagina and cervix and into your uterus, where the embryos will be deposited .
  • Pregnancy Test: About two weeks after the embryo transfer, your doctor will likely perform a pregnancy test .

What are the most common reasons for IVF failure?

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is an intricate process involving numerous steps and variables. While it offers hope to many couples struggling with infertility, there are instances where the process may not succeed. Here are some common reasons for IVF failure:

  1. Egg Quality: The quality of the eggs is a significant factor in IVF success. As women age, the quality of their eggs can decline, leading to a lower chance of IVF success. Problems with egg quality can lead to difficulties in egg development, fertilization, or implantation. Chromosomal abnormalities in the eggs can also lead to unsuccessful IVF cycles .
  2. Sperm Quality: Just like egg quality, the quality of sperm also plays a crucial role in IVF success. Problems with sperm, such as low sperm count, poor motility, or abnormalities in shape, can affect fertilization rates and lead to IVF failure .
  3. Embryo Quality: Even if fertilization occurs successfully, the resulting embryo must be healthy and viable to implant in the uterus. Chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo are a common reason for IVF failure. These abnormalities often increase with maternal age .
  4. Uterine Factors: The uterus must be receptive to implantation for the embryo to successfully attach and result in a pregnancy. Issues such as fibroids, polyps, or a misshapen uterus can hinder implantation, leading to IVF failure .
  5. Ovarian Response: How a woman’s body responds to fertility drugs can significantly impact IVF success. If the woman’s body does not respond well to the medication and does not produce enough eggs, the chances of IVF success may be reduced .
  6. Lifestyle Factors: Lifestyle factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and obesity can negatively impact IVF success rates .
  7. Laboratory Conditions: The conditions in the laboratory where the eggs are fertilized and the embryos are cultured can also affect IVF outcomes. These conditions include temperature, air quality, and the culture medium used for the embryos .

It is important to remember that each IVF cycle is unique and what works for one person may not work for another. If an IVF cycle fails, it is crucial to have a thorough discussion with your healthcare provider to understand the potential reasons for the failure and to plan the next steps accordingly.

Managing Expectations

IVF, despite its advancements, isn’t a guaranteed solution. Understanding and accepting that multiple cycles might be necessary for success is important. A realistic approach, combined with support from healthcare professionals and loved ones, is essential in managing the emotional aspect of the journey.

Seeking Guidance

Consulting with a reputable fertility specialist is vital in comprehending the nuances of IVF success rates. A healthcare provider can assess individual factors and provide personalized insights to guide decisions.

IVF is a powerful tool in the arsenal of assisted reproductive technologies, offering hope to many couples struggling with infertility. However, it’s important to understand that the process can be physically demanding, emotionally draining, and financially significant. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a thorough discussion with your healthcare provider about the potential benefits, risks, and costs associated with IVF to make an informed decision that is right for you and your family.


The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be considered as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is essential to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or fertility specialist to discuss your specific situation and receive personalized guidance.

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