IVF Success Rates Offers Much Hope

The amazing success rates achieved with IVF or In Vitro Fertilisation treatment have ensured that millions of couples struggling with infertility around the world now have the families they dreamed of.

Speaking at the recent Fertility Show Africa, Medfem’s Dr Tony Rodriques provided insight into the success rates that are achieved with IVF, which provides effective treatment of several common causes of infertility, and is just one of many fertility treatments available to ensure the majority of couples with infertility can achieve the family they long for.

IVF or in vitro fertilisation treatment is a process of assisted reproduction therapy (ART). During this process – in very simplified terms – the egg and sperm are fertilised outside of the body (‘in vitro’ means ‘in glass’ or tube) to form an embryo, which is then transferred to the uterus to hopefully implant and become a pregnancy. It involves a number of procedures, completed over a period of just under three weeks.

Over the last 40 years, IVF has become the standard treatment for infertility. It was originally developed for women with blocked fallopian tubes or missing tubes and is still used to treat these conditions. Now, it is also used when infertility cannot be explained, and with a number of ovulatory or structural causes of infertility in both men and women, including cervical problems, endometriosis, failure of IUI, fibroids, male factor infertility, ovulation problems, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Over the last four decades, this safe and effective assisted reproductive therapy has helped millions of couples around the world to become parents and more than 8 million babies have been born worldwide as a result of IVF treatment.

These amazing success rates of IVF treatment were recently unpacked by Dr Antonio (Tony) Rodrigues – a reproductive medicine specialist and a founder and director of Medfem Fertility Clinic in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa speaking at the recent Fertility Show Africa 2023.

IVF Success Rates

The world’s first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born in 1978 in the United Kingdom. Thereafter, IVF became the standard treatment for infertility and it was Medfem Fertility Clinic’s Dr. Johan Van Schouwenburg who performed the first IVF treatment in South Africa with Professor Kruger at Tygerberg Hospital in 1983.

At the time, the success rates of IVF treatment were not what they are today.

Dr Tony says: “Many patients want to know what the chances are of success if they undergo IVF? I started doing IVF in 1990. That’s a long time ago, so I’ve grown with this. And those days the success rates were hardly anything – less than 10%!”

Fast-forward three decades and today the success rate for a single cycle of IVF treatment is around 20%.

That is close to the rate of natural conception in couples with no fertility challenges, which means IVF treatment can now provide success rates that are comparable – and even superior – to those of nature.

At Medfem Fertility Clinic, we are very proud of our IVF pregnancy rates that are even higher – around 50%! Our success rates are consistent with the highest reported amongst clinics worldwide.

At Medfem Fertility Clinic we also measure our success by the number of ‘livebirths’, because the ultimate goal for us is a healthy baby in your arms.

While the success rate of IVF is impressive, not every IVF treatment cycle is successful, and in many cases, couples require more than one cycle of IVF treatment to achieve a pregnancy. What is very important to realise in this regard is that your chances of success increases – not decreases – with each IVF cycle.

Some patients will fall pregnant with the first IVF cycle, others will fall pregnant with the second IVF cycle and by the third IVF cycle, the pregnancy rate increases to as high as 92.6%!

Further treatment options

With the vast majority of couples that have undergone three cycles of IVF treatment achieving their dream of a baby, only one in 10 patients is not pregnant yet, a condition called recurrent IVF failure.

Experienced by only a small group of IVF patients, these patients notably include two groups of patients: older women, and couples in which partners have poor lifestyles that affect their health negatively.

This is because most IVF failures are a result of abnormal embryos, which results in failed implantation. Only normal embryos are able to grow and implant successfully.

Successful implantation requires a number of factors and steps. The first is a high-quality 5-day-old embryo (an egg fertilised with sperm). Known as a blastocyst, it consists of an outer cell mass which creates the placenta and an inner cell mass which creates the baby. The next step is that the embryo hatches, when three important things need to take place: the first is that the embryo must come close to the lining of the uterus. The second thing the embryo needs do is to attach itself to the lining. And then, the third thing that needs to happen, is that the embryo actually has to penetrate the lining to make a space for itself and to become a pregnancy.

If any of the factors or steps described above go wrong, the implantation – and therefore the IVF cycle – will fail.

Because the number of normal eggs that have normal chromosomes is significantly reduced at an advanced maternal age (35+), age is the most important determining factor of IVF success. These patients may want to consider further options, such as using healthy, normal and screened eggs from a young donor to conceive.

Because a healthy egg and healthy sperm are required for a healthy embryo that can implant successfully, another group of patients likely to experience recurrent IVF failure are those with poor lifestyles that affect their health negatively. A nutritious diet, taking health supplements, avoiding smoking, drugs and alcohol, and managing stress and lifestyle diseases such as high levels of insulin (hyperinsulinemia) or prolactin (hyperprolactinemia), as well as thyroid disease (hypothyroidism) and endometriosis, is important to improve the success rate of subsequent IVF cycles.

At Medfem Fertility Clinic, we also do extensive testing before an IVF treatment cycle, and we also implement special protocols where a patient has previously had a failed IVF cycle, to improve the success rate of each IVF cycle.

However, even if pre-implantation genetic testing is done, and the embryo tests chromosomally normal, it doesn’t mean there is nothing wrong with it, since there are other aspects that can’t be measured, such as the genetics between the parents and micro deletions, among other things. In addition, research shows that as an egg develops in the cycle, it can become abnormal egg, depending on the environment.

So that is why, even with tested embryos, patients sometimes still have to go through more than one IVF cycle before a pregnancy is achieved.

Maximise your chances of IVF success

Since the 1980’s, Medfem Fertility Clinic’s team has assisted couples struggling with infertility to experience the joy of parenthood, helping to bring more than 18,000 babies into the world.

Our team are committed and understanding team of medical professionals, who have the experience, knowledge and desire to provide you with the best chance of a successful outcome at the end of your treatment.

If you would like to meet one of our fertility specialists, simply click here to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.

Our Fertility Specialists can also meet with You During a Virtual Consultation Via Zoom or Skype. Click here https://medfem.co.za/virtual-consultation/ to book a virtual consultation now.

We look forward to meeting you at Medfem Fertility Clinic!


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