Leaders in Fertility Research and Care
Timothy N. Hickman, M.D. | Laurie J. McKenzie, M.D. | Katherine K. McKnight, M.D. | James L. Nodler, M.D.
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Understanding Success Rates

You can compare Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) services by examining each clinic's statistical data. Be sure to compare similar statistics, since fertility clinics calculate success rates in different ways.

Fertility clinics use several different ways to measure success, depending on the stage of the procedure that the couple reaches. Because of the differences, these published success rates can be misunderstood and misleading when used to compare clinics or to understand your odds of conceiving. You can get a better picture of a clinic's success by examining the pregnancy rates for all stages of treatment.

The most important statistic to examine is the “live-birth” or “take-home baby” rate per cycle started. This will tell you how many women ultimately take home a baby based on the number of women who start treatment. Ask for the delivery rate per cycle start and per embryo transfer (counting twins, triplets, and other multiple-births as one delivery) to get an idea of the true success rate of the clinic. Ask whether the statistics refer to cumulative cycle data or current cycle data. Always ask for documentation and a breakdown of the data by age and diagnosis, so that you can compare the statistics to your own situation.

Another important factor to consider when looking at clinics' success rate data is how many embryos were transferred per IVF cycle. SART (Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology) and ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine) have published guidelines ("Fertility and Sterility" Vol. 86, Suppl. 4, November 2006) as to how many embryos should be transferred, based on the patient's age. Click on the following link to read the article. Houston IVF follows the guidelines set forth by SART and ASRM.

Guidelines on the Number of Embryos Transferred

Request the most recent SART reports for each fertility program that you are considering. Also, ask for reports from previous years to see how the data changed over time. Year-to-year data can reveal information on the quality, stability, and experience of the program. Ask each program to quote their most recent SART statistics for your age and diagnosis based on delivery rate per initiated cycle.