Trends in IVF Success Rates by Age: Own Eggs,Donor Eggs or Surrogate

Understanding IVF Success Rates

Many people have the wrong idea about IVF success rates by age, and unfortunately, that can lead to false expectations. Success rates, like many other statistics, can be manipulated and therefore must be evaluated carefully.

First, consider where the information about the success rates is coming from. IVF success rates get reported by a number of sources. These sources may be different, depending on your geographic location.

Generally speaking, IVF success rates by age in the United States comes from the clinics themselves or from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine both contribute to the CDC data.

Which success rates matter? To most patients, all of the rates matter, but in reality, you should consider IVF live birth rates only. The reason is that pregnancy rates include pregnancies that end prematurely or that don’t result in a live birth.

While pregnancy is definitely a sign of success – especially if a patient has been struggling to conceive – the ultimate sign of a successful fertility treatment is a vibrant, healthy baby. So success should mean more than just pregnancy.

At the same time, in older women, the IVF success rates can vary dramatically, and that’s why it’s so important to focus only on live births. For example, a clinic may have a very high pregnancy rate among older women, but a low live birth rate. Or, the rates may be quite high – 40% or even 50% – but only after four or five rounds. That makes a very big difference, especially in the overall cost of treatment!

So, no matter what the clinic’s success rates are, ask the IVF clinic about their rates and what criteria they are using. Make sure you are very clear about how they got to the rate, and how many rounds on average it takes their patients to have a live birth.

Trends in IVF Success Rates by Age

There is no magic age at which IVF suddenly stops working. Age is a factor – but it is still one factor of many. Some women, no matter how young they are, remain unable to get pregnant even with IVF. And the reverse is also true. Some older women become pregnant even without IVF or with just one round.

That said, statistically speaking it is far less likely for a woman over the age of 42 to become pregnant via IVF than a woman under 35 years old. Statistics are not exact, though. We can only use them to identify trends or to come up with educated guesses. But they’re not 100% reliable.

Here’s what experts and fertility clinics do know: After the age of 35, live birth rates steadily decline. They do not plateau or remain flat. As women age, the likelihood of becoming pregnant – naturally or assisted – declines.

Statistically, the biggest decline in live births happens between the ages of 40 and 42+. In other words, a woman who has just turned 40 has a much higher chance of conceiving and delivering a baby than a woman who has just turned 42. Of course, these numbers and trends concern women using their own eggs. With donor eggs, consider the age of the woman at the time the eggs were harvested and use that age.

Between the ages of 37 and 40, the live birth rate drops nearly 10%, which is also statistically significant.

Another statistical trend related to age concerns egg quality. Egg quality declines over the age of 35. Because of this, the cost of IVF increases if a patient uses her own eggs.

Fresh Nondonor Eggs or Embryos Live Births by Age and Number of Previous Live Births

About 73% of IVF cycles performed in 2015 using fresh nondonor eggs or embryos were among women who had no previous live births, although they may have had a previous pregnancy loss.

According to the newest CDC ART Success Rates Data, fresh nondonor eggs or embryos live births in 2015 is decreased with age, regardless of number of previous live births. In almost all age groups, the IVF one or more previous live births was higher than no previous live births.

Previous Live Births\AgeUnder 3535-3738-4041-4243-44>44
No previous live births32%25%16%8%3%1%
1 previous live births37%28%18%8%4%1%
2 or more previous live births34%29%17%10%3%

Fresh Nondonor Eggs or Embryos Live Births by Age and Miscarriage History

In 2015, a total of 66,259 IVF cycles using fresh nondonor eggs or embryos were performed among women who had not previously given birth. However, about 23% of those cycles were reported by women with one or more previous miscarriage.

Among women aged 37 or younger using fresh nondonor eggs or embryos, women IVF live births with never pregnant was higher compared with one or more previous miscarriages.Previous miscarriage women could conceived naturally or through IVF. Among women aged 38 or older, the IVF live births with one or more previous miscarriages was higher or about the same compared with never pregnant.

Miscarriage History\AgeUnder 3535-3738-4041-4243-44>44
No previous pregnancies32.6%25.5%16.2%7.9%2.9%0.9%
1 or more pre miscarriage31.8%24.0%16.5%8.1%3.0%0.9%

Day 3 and Day 5 Embryo Transfers Using Fresh Nondonor Eggs or Embryos Live Births by Age and Miscarriage History

Almost 90% of IVF fresh nondonor embryo transfers were performed on day 3 or day 5. Day 5 transfers have higher live births. In 2015, for all age groups, day 5 embryo transfers using fresh nondonor eggs or embryos live births were higher than day 3 transfers.

Embryo Transfers\AgeUnder 3535-3738-4041-4243-44>44
Day 334.9%29.6%21.7%12.0%5.0%0.5%
Day 550.3%43.6%32.4%19.6%9.1%3.2%

Gestational Carriers Transfers Using Fresh Nondonor Eggs or Embryos Live Births by Age and Miscarriage History

A gestational carrier is as gestational surrogate that a woman who agrees to carry a developing embryo created from another woman’s egg for others. In 2015, gestational carriers were used in about 1% of fresh nondonor IVF cycles. The gestational carrier live births also decreased with the patient’s age. Almost all women ages,fresh nondonor eggs or embryos with using a gestational carrier were about 8% to 12% higher than without using gestational carrier
groups, and almost 32% higher among patients older than age 44.

Gestational Carrier\AgeUnder 3535-3738-4041-4243-44>44
Yes56.1%46.8%26.9%25.0%18.2%33.3%
No46.4%38.4%27.5%15.5%6.6%1.7%

Fresh donor Eggs or Embryos Live Births by Age

The fresh nondonor eggs or embryos live births decreased as the woman age increased. In contrast, the fresh donor eggs or embryos live births remained consistently above 50% among women of almost all ages. The fertilized egg implant likelihood is related to the age of the woman who produced the egg.

In What Ways Does Age Affect IVF Success?

Younger women who undergo IVF treatment generally have high chances of success, depending on the specific fertility issues at hand. As long as she is able to carry a pregnancy to term, a woman under the age of 35 has a relatively strong likelihood of a successful IVF treatment. More than one round of IVF may be necessary, but statistics show that with at least three cycles, younger women experience success with IVF.

However, older women tend to experience IVF success on a smaller scale, and it can also be more expensive. More rounds, more medications, and more complications tend to increase cost and decrease live birth rates.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that age impacts both unassisted pregnancies and assisted pregnancies when a woman uses her own eggs. IVF treatment cannot be successful unless there are healthy, viable eggs to fertilize. Unfortunately, as women age, the number of eggs and the viability of eggs decreases.

Women already have a relatively small percentage of chance of getting pregnant. For example, at 30, a healthy woman has just a 20% chance of getting pregnant any given month. By 40, her chance of getting pregnant reduces to just 5 percent, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

The primary way to level the IVF success rates by age and increase the potential for a live birth is through the use of donor eggs. Ultimately, it is not the age of the women carrying the baby that matters when it comes to IVF success. What matters most is the quality and quantity of the eggs.

With her own eggs, a patient’s likelihood of live birth via IVF continues to decline as she ages. But if she uses donor eggs, the odds of success do not decline significantly due to age.

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