Success rate of IVF First Time: The Likelihood of It?

People new to assisted reproductive therapy, or those who are on a limited budget, want or need to know the success rate of IVF first time. However, many IVF patients come to discover that it can take several rounds of treatment before becoming pregnant. Similarly to natural, unassisted pregnancy, it doesn’t always occur after fertilization. Sometimes, a pregnancy just does not happen even when a clinic has gone to great lengths to facilitate it.

A single round of IVF for the average couple can cost upwards of $12,000 to $15,000 in the U.S. Each subsequent round can either be more or less expensive than that. If IVF is successful on the first try, a couple can literally save thousands of dollars.

So what is the success rate of IVF first time and the likelihood of it?

Success rate of IVF first time – A look at the numbers

How likely is a woman to become pregnant after the first round of in vitro fertilization?

First, note that most women do not become pregnant after the first round/cycle of IVF. That is why so many clinics and fertility specialists recommend planning for at least two or three cycles, and possibly more. The recommended number depends on the clinic’s specialty, the woman’s age, and the couple’s fertility issue.

Sometimes, a couple may be offered only one round of IVF due to the improbability of it working for them. Fertility clinics generally want to have some signs that IVF will be successful, otherwise they will not offer it. If the treatment is very likely to fail, other options will be discussed instead of IVF.

A 30 year old woman who has been trying to have a baby for 3 years, using her own eggs, with an unknown fertility issue has a 32.4% chance of a live birth, per attempt. That is the first attempt. On the second attempt if the previous one failed, the chance decreases to 25.2%, and on the third or more attempt, if the previous two failed, the chance actually goes up to 27%.

The reality is that women tend to have a higher likelihood of successful IVF after three cycles if they do not get pregnant on their first cycle. A number of factors determine IVF success rates, including single vs double embryo transfer, age, infertility diagnosis, and embryo or blastocyst transfer.

Using our IVF success rate calculator, we can determine the success rate of IVF first time for each factor.

First Cycle Success Rate With Single Egg Transfer (3 Day Embryo)

The success rate of IVF first time for women with a healthy fertility diagnosis and single egg transfers are below. Note that these rates are calculated using slow freezing (vs vitrification). The rates are only moderately different when that factor is modified. Rates are a few percentages higher using slow freezing.

When considering live birth rates, always keep in mind that many individual clinics have higher success rates than average.

AgeLive Birth Rate-Fresh EmbryosLive Birth Rate-Frozen Embryos
Under 3022.6%21.7%
30-3421.6%20.5%
35-3914.1%16.3%
40-444.9%8.5%
>=450.7%3.2%

First Cycle Success Rate With Single Egg Transfer (5-Day Embryo)

Using the same factors as above, with the exception of a 5-day embryo vs a 3 day embryo.

AgeLive Birth Rate-Fresh EmbryosLive Birth Rate-Frozen Embryos
Under 3031.5%26.9%
30-3430.2%25.4%
35-3921.3%21.2%
40-448.5%14.0%
>=451.2%5.3%

Note that after age 40, the live birth rate always increases when using frozen embryos. Also, note that a 5 day embryo (called a blastocyst) tends to have a much higher success rate of IVF than a 3 day embryo. A blastocyst has matured and developed and survived. Many 3 day embryos simply do not survive long enough for successful implantation, even if there are no chromosomal abnormalities.

First Cycle Success Rate With Double Egg Transfer (5-Day Embryo)

Using the same calculator, you can determine the success rate of IVF first time with a double egg transfer of blastocysts. Note the difference in live birth rates from the previous tables.

AgeLive Birth Rate-Fresh EmbryosLive Birth Rate-Frozen Embryos
Under 3029.0%29.1%
30-3427.8%27.4%
35-3921.9%22.0%
40-448.8%14.7%
>=451.3%5.5%

Double egg transfer does not have as much of an impact on overall live birth rates as is generally expected. In other words, transferring two embryos in the hopes of increasing the potential for live birth does not always go as planned. Statistically, there is little notable difference. There may be a pregnancy rate difference.

Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) Data

When researching success rates, always consider the source. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART.org) data reports much higher “new patient” numbers than those above.

According to SART, new patients under the age of 35 have a 44.4% live birth rate for singletons (one baby). 12.0% live birth rate for twins, and 0.3% live birth rate for triplets or more. New patients older than 42 have a 4.2% live birth rate for singletons, 0.3% live birth rate for twins, and a 0% live birth rate for triplets or more.

78.2% of babies born to new patients under 35 are full-term. Similarly,  83.6% of babies born to new patients older than 42 are full-term. New patients under 35 have a slightly higher chance for early term babies than new patients over 42.

While these numbers are very reliable, they are also very generic and cannot tell the whole story of the potential for success. As the SART writes on their website, “Clinics may have differences in patient selection and treatment approaches which may artificially inflate or lower pregnancy rates relative to another clinic.” This means that while averages can provide some directional data, they are not necessarily relevant to certain clinics. Some clinics may specialize in a specific age group or infertility diagnosis.

Factors That Make the Most Difference in First Cycle Success Rate

Age of Embryo at Transfer

Fertility clinics and specialists help patients decide to transfer a 3-day embryo or a 5-day embryo (blastocyst). The age of the embryo at transfer does make a difference, statistically. One reason for the difference has to do with abnormalities that cause young embryos to expire quickly. Many embryos with irregular chromosomes will not survive past 3 days, so waiting until the embryos are 5 days old is one way of ensuring only viable embryos are transferred.

Age of Woman at Time of Egg Retrieval

The age of the female partner at the time of egg retrieval creates the most noticeable difference in success rates first time. This data suggests that maternal age truly is the most important factor when estimating likelihood of success.

All other things considered, the success rate difference between a woman under 30 and a woman over 45 can be 30% or more. Success rates drop most significantly after age 40. Many fertility clinics suggest that women over 40 use donor eggs or opt for PGS in order to increase the chances of success. As a woman ages, both the quality and the quantity of her eggs decline. Both are necessary for successful IVF.

Embryo Freezing Method and Age

Depending on the age of embryo, the embryo freezing method can make a noticeable difference in success rate of IVF first time. For example, 30-34 year old women (at the time of egg retrieval) with a healthy fertility diagnosis and 5-day embryos have a 25.4% live birth rate using slow freezing. Using vitrification, the live birth rate jumps to 29.9%. Under the age of 30, the rate jump is even more noticeable.

However, after age 34, the difference stops being as notable. There is only a 3% difference in women aged 35 to 39, a 2.5% difference in women aged 40 to 44, and 1.1% difference in women over the age of 45.

Factors That Do Not Make a Notable Difference

Infertility Diagnosis

According to the success rate calculator, the specific infertility diagnosis does not seem to make a notable difference first time. The options are: healthy, tubal disease only, endometriosis only, another issue, more than one issue, and unexplained.

In every age group, infertility diagnosis differences range from 1 to 3%. Whether someone has just one infertility diagnosis, multiple diagnoses, or an unexplained condition, the rates are generally the same across the age groups.

Single or Double Egg Transfer

As stated earlier, the calculator determines very little difference in live birth rates first time between a single and double egg transfer. In many cases, the difference is less than 1%.

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