Examining live birth rates following in vitro fertilization (IVF), scientists have found that the method is extraordinarily effective and largely overcomes infertility, especially in younger women.
IVF is the technique, in which a woman's eggs and man's sperm are fertilized in a laboratory and then implanted in the mother's womb.
Before opting for IVF, most patients ask for the chances of the therapy resulting in a baby.
And now, the study by researchers at Boston IVF and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has found the answer to this question.
The study, which is the largest of IVF patients to date, followed more than 6,000 women through six IVF cycles between 2000 and 2005.
The findings revealed that the chances of a successful live birth after IVF therapy range between 65 and 86 percent in younger women and between 23 and 42 percent in women aged 40 and older.
"This shows that, overall, IVF is extraordinarily effective and largely overcomes infertility, especially in younger women," explained lead author Beth Malizia, MD, a clinical fellow at Boston IVF and in the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at BIDMC.
The study was aimed at providing doctors and their patients with accurate, evidence-based estimates of the likelihood that a pregnancy resulting from IVF would result in a live birth.
The researchers used a longitudinal analysis method and calculated the cumulative live birth rate of their population.
Longitudinal analysis method makes use of repeated observations of the study group over time and provides a more accurate estimate of a woman's history over multiple IVF cycles.
"Our results showed that among 6,164 patients who underwent 14,248 cycles of IVF, the overall cumulative live birth rate after six cycles was 72 percent with the optimistic analysis and 51 percent with the conservative analysis," noted Malizia,
And, she highlighted that of the 3,126 live births, the majority were "singletons" while 27 percent were twin births and 2 percent were triplet births. There were no multiple births beyond triplets.
"IVF treatment has come of age. Although we continue to address the challenge of age-dependent decline in fertility, with these successful results, we have shown that fertility can be restored to the majority of young women who want to have a baby," noted the study's senior author Alan Penzias.
The findings are described in the latest issue of The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).