Understanding IVF Success Rates

Many people seeking fertility treatments start their research with the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), an organization that assists in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics in the United States in reporting their outcome data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Reporting to SART is voluntary for clinics.

Reporting IVF success rates to SART

SART receives and reports IVF outcomes for 90% of the fertility clinics in the country. SART stresses that it is not designed to compare clinic to clinic, as their data cannot reflect the many variables that impact the data reported. It should instead be used as a tool to understand your likelihood for success based on age and other factors.

Key rates reported are for live births from IVF per patient cycle. These include statistics sorted by the age of the woman and other treatment and patient variables, such as the number of IVF cycles, number of embryos transferred, and use of frozen or fresh eggs or embryos.

Woman on Computer Learning About IVF Success Rates | | Fertility Specialists Medical Group | San Diego | Carlsbad

Accurate, ethical success rates and the value of access to care

As a SART fertility clinic, Fertility Specialists Medical Group (FSMG) is committed to accurately and ethically reporting our IVF success rates. We believe our success rates reflect not only our excellence, but also our commitment to not “treat for the numbers” or deny certain treatment options that may impact statistics. We base individual patient treatment plans on our best recommendation as well as a patient’s individual needs and desires.

Our mission is to educate and treat our patients with honesty and respect. To do that, we actively counsel our patients regarding their individualized chances of successfully having a baby through IVF (and through other fertility treatments). We believe starting treatment with realistic expectations improves patient satisfaction and fosters strong, trusting relationships with our team.

At FSMG we pride ourselves in assisting all patients who present with infertility, even the “difficult” cases. Helping our patients – all of our patients – pursue fertility treatment to grow their families is what we do.

We are committed to providing our patients with accurate diagnoses, detailed treatment options with accurate predictions of success, and reasonable, informed opportunities for treatment, even in cases where the prognosis may be low. We believe all patients are equally deserving of the same level of expert dedication – whether or not they have high chances of success with IVF.

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Time for success

FSMG also offers other vital elements of care to our patients that are not measured in tables and graphs. These include the hours our team spends on educating our patients about all of their various treatment options. It’s the extra time our doctors put in to see patients at every treatment visit in order to maintain dialogue along the course of treatment. And it is the dedication that our entire staff has to make every patient feel like a person, not a number.

How to understand SART data

While some patients find it helpful to reference SART data, it shouldn’t be used as the only metric by which to evaluate a fertility clinic. SART has a disclaimer about this on their website:

“It is important to note that patient characteristics vary among programs; therefore, success rates should not be used to compare treatment centers.”

Evaluating the emphasis on IVF

Here at FSMG, we work with each patient to determine the best course of treatment. We do not inflate our success rates by pushing patients toward IVF who might well succeed with a less intense treatment.

Often, the difference between a fertility clinic with good metrics and one with less favorable statistics is due to the mix of patients who are being treated.

For example, by excluding individuals who have previously had failed treatments, have low anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) values, or are over 38 years old, some programs can boost their IVF success rates.

Conversely, clinics can increase IVF pregnancy rates by encouraging fertility treatments for patients who are young, have regular menstrual cycles and normal sperm factors, have had previous normal or ectopic pregnancies, and have had limited or no prior fertility treatments.

IVF success rates by number of embryos

Another factor that can influence the rate of reported pregnancies is the number of embryos transferred. A clinic that transfers a larger number of embryos may report a higher pregnancy rate than a practice that thoughtfully limits that number. But the patients and children of the fertility clinic that promotes elective single embryo transfer will experience fewer complications due to multiple pregnancies (twins or more).

Evaluating SART clinic reports by date

When evaluating SART reports, you may notice that the most recent data is labeled as “preliminary.” SART publishes their finalized national and clinic-specific IVF cycle data up to two years after each set of annual data is submitted.

While evaluating SART reports, keep in mind that the data is dated. The success rates represented in the most recent SART report may be lower or higher than current success rates.

SART offers this video guide for patients on how to understand the SART Clinic Report:

Live birth rate report

This is represented by the number of babies born divided by the number of IVF cycles started in order to realize that live birth.

Implantation and pregnancy rates

To find both the implantation and pregnancy numbers on SART reports, click the “Show Pregnancy Outcome” button at the end of each category (example: “Primary Outcome Per Egg Retrieval Cycle” category). These numbers represent how many patients received a positive pregnancy test, the number of ultrasound-verified pregnancies, as well as how many pregnancies ended in a miscarriage.

In addition to the above report items, SART provides data on other factors that reflect variables in treatments and patients in the “Treatment Characteristics” section of each category.

Choosing your fertility center: what else to consider

So how does one choose the best fertility clinic for IVF? Because of the inherent issues with comparing programs based simply on success rates, we suggest evaluating the following.

  • Consider an initial visit before committing to a fertility clinic.
  • Decide for yourself whether a practice’s team is right for you. Form your own opinion about their staff’s integrity, intelligence, responsiveness and compassion.
  • Ask the doctor about her or his philosophy regarding different aspects of treatment and care. Make sure these match your own. Medications and cycle types vary minimally from clinic to clinic, so pairing up with a doctor who feels “right” for you plays a big role in your comfort and success.
  • Cost is important, so ask for details, such as if fertility medications are included in the IVF cost, what the fees are for cryopreservation and whether financing is available. Ask if the clinic takes your insurance and whether or not you have benefits to assist in your diagnosis and treatment.
  • If you don’t have insurance coverage, ask if the clinic has any special packages to reduce the cost of a diagnostic evaluation (FSMG does).
  • Does the practice participate in fertility research and clinical trials? Doing so enhances the doctors’ ability to provide the latest treatment options and approaches.

Lastly, think hard and trust your own judgment. Your reproductive health is very important, and the final decision is yours.

FSMG latest SART success rates

We invite patients who want more information about our clinic to contact us. We can discuss our approach to treatment and how we work collaboratively to determine what course of treatment is best for you.

View FSMG SART data