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In Vitro Fertilization Persistence Can Pay Off: 65 Percent Of Women Have Live Birth After Six IVF Cycles

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A new study found that persistent attempts to produce a child via in vitro fertilization (IVF) is the key to success. Findings show that the more couples try, the higher their chances of success becomes.

The rate of attaining a live birth via numerous IVF attempts is not clearly identified. The prevailing concept is that couples usually undergo three to four embryo transfers before they give up.

In a new study by British researchers, the goal is to find out the rate of live births for every IVF cycle and each succeeding cycles.

To achieve that objective, the researchers studied information of 156,947 women from UK who received 257,398 IVF cycles between 2003 and 2010. The participants were followed up on June 2012. The median duration of infertility was four years and the median age of treatment onset was 35 years old.

Results

The results of the analysis show that the rate of live births during the first cycle of treatment was 29.5 percent. The rate continued to stay above the 20 percent until the fourth cycle.

When the prognosis was adjusted, the cumulative rate of live birth in all cycles shot up to the ninth cycle. By the sixth cycle, the live birth rate reached 65.3 percent.

For women aged 40 years old and below, who used their own egg cells, the rate of live birth in the first cycle was 32.3 percent. The rate increased to 68.4 percent by the sixth cycle.

The live birth rate during the first cycle of treatment for women aged between 40 to 42 years old is 12.3 percent. At the sixth cycle, the cumulative rate after adjustment of prognosis was 31.5 percent.

Lastly, women aged 42 years old and above projected a rate of less than four percent in each cycle.

Increased attempts, increased effectivity

Couples who fail to produce a live birth after three to four IVF attempts commonly stop trying. In fact, three unsuccessful tries are already considered as "repeat implantation failure."

With the results of the new study, experts now suggest that the number of IVF cycles should be increased beyond the common practice.

"These findings support the efficacy of extending the number of IVF cycles beyond three or four," the authors said.

Giving Up Won't Get Anywhere

For fertility expert and study co-author Scott Nelson from Glasgow Royal Infirmary, treatments should not be halted during the early stage of the course.

"They should keep going - they can increase the chance of having a family just by persevering," he said.

Nelson added that people should stop thinking that IVF is a single shot solution for those who want to have a family and that there exists a standard of attempts. Most couples become successful after five to six tries and this usually takes two years.

He also suggested that clinical groups should fund at least three cycles, urging people to look at the impact that the repeated treatments can have on families.

In the end, the authors acknowledged couples' emotional, financial and physical stresses involved in conceiving via IVF. The process may cause various burdens to couples, insurers and care providers.

"However, we think the potential for success with further cycles should be discussed with couples," the authors wrote.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

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