While the success rates of in vitro fertilization (IVF) continue to improve as technology advances, variations from one woman to another can affect the efficacy of the procedures. Anything from body mass index to the underlying causes of the infertility can influence whether a prospective patient is a good candidate for IVF. Here are a few of the variables that will determine how strong of an IVF candidate you are.
Image via Flickr by Charlotte Astrid
Being at either extreme of the weight spectrum will likely lower your pregnancy success rates with IVF. Women who are underweight or overweight both have trouble conceiving even with IVF. Conversely, women with body mass indices (BMIs) in the healthy range have a significantly higher success rate with the procedure. For women, a healthy BMI ranges from 18.5 to 24.9. Below 18.5 means you’re underweight, and above 24.9 means you’re overweight.
Fortunately, fertility clinics with high success rates will work with patients to address these issues before beginning the IVF process. In most cases, weight can be quickly corrected to fall within the healthy BMI range.
As women age, the success rates of IVF drop considerably. The UK government tracked the number of live births that resulted from IVF treatment for women of various ages. The age group with the highest success rate, unsurprisingly, was women under 35. The rate drops consistently once women hit age 35 and beyond:
- 32.2 percent for women under 35
- 27.7 percent for women ages 35 to 37
- 20.8 percent for women ages 38 and 39
- 13.6 percent for women ages 40 and 42
- 5 percent for women ages 43 and 44
- 1.9 percent for women ages 45 and over
One possible cause of infertility is some dysfunction of the ovaries that prevents them from producing healthy eggs or producing eggs at all. Hormonal imbalances, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and other issues can all affect the ovaries’ ability to function properly. Without an egg to fertilize, IVF can’t happen, which makes women with abnormal ovarian conditions unlikely candidates.
However, this doesn’t mean that women who don’t produce suitable eggs themselves can’t still take advantage of IVF. For one, fertility doctors can give women whose ovaries are under-producing medications to stimulate production. Also, as long as the woman or couple is
willing to use a donor’s eggs, IVF can still be successful if the woman’s reproductive organs are otherwise healthy.
Prior Unsuccessful Fertility Treatments
Although IVF can produce wonderful results, doctors still consider it a last resort for infertile couples who have tried less involved treatments unsuccessfully. For a woman or couple to be ideal candidates, they should have tried to conceive naturally for at least a year. Several other remedies may help an infertile couple before IVF is necessary, including timed intercourse, intrauterine insemination (IUI), inducing ovulation, and donor sperm. If these treatments fail and sufficient time has passed, then it may be time to give IVF a closer look.
For IVF to have the highest chance at success, you and your doctors should evaluate your candidacy against these standards. If you fit the bill, then you can look forward to good possibilities.