How many times can you do IVF?

For couples undergoing in-vitro fertilization, the whole process can take a heavy emotional, physical and financial toll on both partners. Thus, it is very important that they approach IVF under the best circumstances: that they be educated, financially prepared, in good health, and with the appropriate mindset.

Couples must realize that multiple attempts are the norm when it comes to assisted reproductive technologies. Philippines birth rates after IVF reflect similar success as the rest of the world: a full term, healthy singleton birth at the end of one IVF cycle is a lucky and rare occurrence. If the couple can only afford one treatment cycle, then in-vitro fertilization might not be an appropriate course of action. Historically, there is only about a one in three chance that a live birth will result from IVF. Failure carries a tremendous letdown, and both partners need to accept the fact that it is a gamble despite the best circumstances.

Statistics show that after three completed attempts, a woman under 40 years is likely to have over 70% chance of having a baby using her own eggs and having chosen a good IVF program provided the following criteria:

  • Adequate ovarian reserve in response to gonadotropin stimulation
  • A fertile male partner or healthy sperm from a healthy donor
  • A receptive and healthy uterus capable of producing and sustaining a uterine line to support pregnancy.

Women between 39 and 40 years of age who meet these same criteria are half as likely as their younger counterparts.

With the advent of comparative genomic hybridization (CGH), a process that selects more competent embryos for transfer, the birth rate for a single completed IVF cycle is increased by 60%, and after three completed IVF cycles, the birth rate increases even further, to 85%.

With these numbers in mind, it is rarely advisable that women and couples faced with infertility attempt more than three IVF cycles using the same approach each time. However, the time to stop doing IVF should not always be based on the number of prior failed attempts alone.

In women for whom the reason for previous failed attempts at IVF has been discovered, it is justifiable to continue trying, using an approach that is clearly defined and addresses the reason for prior failures. Of course, the lack of sufficient emotional, physical, and financial resources may preclude going any further.

When conventional IVF (with or without egg donation and/or CGH embryo selection) fails to result in pregnancy carried to term and a live birth, other options should be considered. These include ovum donation, IVF surrogacy, or adoption.

Couples who choose to undergo IVF should embrace the process with guarded optimism, but they must also be emotionally prepared to deal with the looming possibility of failure. More importantly, IVF patients should realize from the outset that the inability to become pregnant is not a reflection on them as individuals.