Success rates remain the same despite more women undergoing IVF

According to the latest figures for 2013 released in the United Kingdom, an increasing number of women are undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to become pregnant. However, according to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) the success rates have remained the same at 25% per cycle. These figures are similar in Canada and the United States.

The UK figures show that in 2013, 49,636 women had a total of 64,600 cycles of IVF and a further 2,379 women had a total of 4,611 cycles of donor insemination – both up from the previous year. Overall, more than two thirds of women undergoing fertility treatments were under age 37, with the average age at 35. Women over 40 were the smallest group who were treated, with women over 45 representing only 2% of those who received treatment. Most of the women in the over 45 age group used donor eggs to conceive. Interestingly, the number of IVF cycles using both donor eggs and donor sperm doubled over the last five years, while the use of frozen embryos was involved in more than 20% of all treatments.

Commenting on the latest 2013 figures, Professor Sheena Lewis, chair of the British Andrology Society and Professor of Reproductive Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast, suspects the lack of attention to the sperm quality of male partners, may partially account for success rates remaining low. She says:

“It is very disappointing that success rates have not improved, yet again. In my opinion, one of the reasons for the low success rate is an unsatisfactory diagnosis of the male partner. We should test the man’s sperm at a molecular level, looking at his sperm DNA quality to help guide couples to the best treatment for them.”

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