Researching and comparing IVF success rates between fertility clinics in Malaysia can be exhausting, confusing and a time-consuming process. There are so many types of success rates, and so many jargons. We hope to help you understand what the success rates mean, and which ones are relevant to you:
Clinical Pregnancy Rates
When it comes to IVF success rates, the most common parameters used are clinical pregnancy rates, per embryo transfer. To understand this parameter, let us break it down into several parts.
A clinical pregnancy is a pregnancy that is confirmed by both high levels of hCG (the pregnancy hormone measure via a blood test approximately 2 weeks after your embryo transfer) and an ultrasound confirmation of a gestational sac or heartbeat (usually done around week 6 or 7 of pregnancy). A pregnancy confirmed via "2 lines" or a "+" on a urine pregnancy test kit (the ones that you can find at retail pharmacies) does not count as a clinical pregnancy.
Embryo transfer is the last step of the IVF process where the embryo (combination of sperm and egg) is placed back into a woman’s womb for the implantation process to take place.
Hence clinical pregnancy rates per embryo transfer refers to the percentage of the total number of clinical pregnancies over the total number of embryo transfers. For example, if there are 4 couples in a clinic. All 4 of them proceeded to perform an embryo transfer, but only 3 were successfully pregnant. Hence the clinical pregnancy rate of the clinic is 3 / 4 x 100% = 75%.
Clinical Pregnancy Rates (by Categories)
Some fertility clinics may also break down the clinical pregnancy rates further. This is in fact a good thing as we get to see how the clinic performs based on the demographics of the couples who start IVF there. However, it may complicate our understanding as everyday people with no medical background.
Here, we help you make sense of the important demographics that you should take note when the clinical pregnancy rates are broken down, and why they are important:
a) Maternal Age
Maternal age refers to the age of the woman who is undergoing IVF. Maternal age is one of the biggest factors that impact the IVF success rates, because it affects the ovarian reserve and potentially egg quality.
When comparing clinical pregnancy rates, we often observe that the rates decrease with increasing maternal age. This means that in general, the success rates are higher for women who start IVF at a younger age.
Hence when comparing IVF success rates, it is important to ensure that we are looking at the right maternal age category. Maternal age can be broken down to many groups depending on which fertility clinic we are looking at. However, there are 3 main age groups that fertility clinics usually classify based on maternal age:
- IVF success rates under 35 years old
- IVF success rates between 35 - 39 years old
- IVF success rates over 40 years old
The main reasons that they are categorized into the 3 groups above is that we generally see a drop in fertility rate amongst women from the age of 35 years old onwards. This decline drops even more as women hit the age of 40 years old.
Hence, the old saying of our parents and relatives "Get pregnant earlier" is not unfounded. This applies to both trying to conceive via the natural sexual intercourse method or even via assisted reproductive technology (ART) such as IVF.
What this means to you, is that when comparing success rates, do ensure that you match the maternal age category to your own, to ensure accurate representation.
b) Fresh / Frozen Embryo Transfer
There are two main embryo transfer methods: fresh and frozen. For frozen embryo transfers, the embryos are usually stored via vitrified freezing methods and thawed at a later date, before being transferred to the woman. Whereas for fresh transfers, the implantation is usually done several days after the egg retrieval process.
When comparing success rates demonstrated by fertility clinics, we usually observe the frozen embryo transfer method yielding higher IVF success rates.
However, the fertility doctor would usually go through you and your partner’s the medical history or you and your partner, before recommending either one. Certain couples may benefit from fresh transfer, while others may benefit from a frozen transfer.
Hence, do take note in the difference of success rates of both transfer methods, and discuss with you fertility doctor when deciding.
c) PGT-A / PGS
Preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidies (PGT-A), or previously known as preimplantation genetic screening (PGS), is a test done to examine the number of chromosomes in an embryo before proceeding to the transfer. Studies have shown that embryos that are euploid (have the normal number of chromosomes) usually result in higher implantation rates, resulting in better success rates.
Most couples, especially when the woman is over 35 years or above, may benefit from the use of PGT-A during their IVF cycle, due to the higher clinical pregnancy rates observed.
However, there are additional incurred costs of performing PGT-A during your IVF cycle. Thus, it would be good to discuss with your fertility doctor on the benefits of running these tests, based on you and your partner's condition.
Factors that influence IVF success rates
The following factors will play a role in determining the success of IVF
- Your age
- Type of fertility issue
- Your previous pregnancy
- Quality of egg and embryo
- Sperm quality
- Donor eggs
- Uterine receptivity
- Lifestyle factors
How can I increase my IVF success rate?
There are certain things that you can do to increase your chances of getting pregnant with IVF:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Choose a doctor that you are comfortable with and a credible clinic.
- Reduce stress.
- Quit smoking and alcohol.
- Take supplements that encourage egg quality (check with your doctor first).
- Take the medication prescribed by your fertility doctor daily and on time.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Be patient and persistent.
IVF Success Rates in Malaysia
So in conclusion, what does this all mean? The take home message would be:
- First and foremost, when comparing IVF success rates, we would recommend that you ensure that the rates are well defined. For example, you would want to look for the term clinical pregnancy rate per embryo transfer, instead of just success rates. This should be the first indicator on whether the rates are reliable.
- Secondly, IVF success rates are a good indicator of how well a fertility clinic is doing, but it is not an absolute indicator of whether one clinic is better than the other. Instead, it should be used to determine how reliable a fertility clinic is.
- Thirdly, it would be good to take note of the rates based on your age. For example, if you are 36 years old, you should observe the rates between the 35 - 39 category, instead of < 35. This provides you with a better representation of the success rates.
- Last but not least, it would be important to know if the fertility clinics are getting a lot of patients for IVF over the course of a year. This ensures that the rates are accurate and not skewed. Our fertility advisors can help you on this.
Get in touch with us if you need more information on the success rates of our partner fertility clinics.
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