The relationship between age and the success of IVF

As more and more women delay childbearing into their 30s and even 40s, many women believe that they can turn to fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) to have a family, if they have difficulty getting pregnant. However, the reality is that IVF does not guarantee that a woman will be able to get pregnant and carry a child to term. In addition, success rates for IVF vary according to the age of the woman seeking fertility treatments.

The Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS) has released statistics on the pregnancy and live birth rates associated with IVF treatments in Canadian IVF centres. A total of 11, 805 IVF cycles were reported by 28 IVF centres in Canada in 2010. The overall birth rate was 27% per cycle started, 29% per egg retrieval procedure, and 31% per embryo transfer procedure. However, live birth (or take home baby) rates varied depending on the age of the woman:

Under 35 years   -  38%
35-39 years         -  26%
40 and over         -  11%

In 2011, the number of reported IVF/ICSI cycle jumped by 24% to 14, 677 treatment cycles being reported by 29 of 30 IVF centres in Canada. The overall pregnancy rate was 31% per cycle started, 33% per egg retrieval procedure, and 37% per embryo transfer. Clinical pregnancy rates per cycle were 39% for women 35 years of age, 31% for women between the ages of 35 and 39, and only 16% for women over the age of 40. The live birth rate for 2012 has yet to be reported as some of these pregnancies are still in progress.

The Centers for Disease Control in the US published IVF success rates reported by individual fertility clinics, as well as an overall summary of the reported 2010 IVF success rates based on the age of the woman at the time of the procedure. The live birth rates based on the percentage of IVF cycles for each age group are as follows:

Under 35 years     -  41.5%
35 – 37 years        -  31.9%
38 – 40 years        -  22.1%
41 – 42 years        - 12.4%
43 – 44 years        -   5.0%
Over 44 years       -   1.0%

The American Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART) reports similar live birth rates for 2011:  under 35 – 40.1%; 35 to 37 – 31.9%; 38 to 40 – 21.6%; 41 to 42 – 12.2%; over 42 –  4.2%. These statistics are based on the woman using her own eggs rather than eggs donated by a younger woman.

To see the assisted human reproduction live birth rates for Canada, click here.

To see European IVF success rates by age, click here.

To access the 2010 IVF report from the Centers for Disease Control, click here.

To access data on the IVF success rates in various fertility clinics across the US, click here.

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