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Understanding Success Rates

When choosing a fertility center, it’s important to research the many different options available to you. Finding a center relatively close to your home; a center that values patient care; and a center that has reproductive endocrinologists with extensive experience, are all very important components of the decision-making process. But the most important factor to research often comes down to the center’s infertility success rates. By learning a few simple points, you’ll be able to determine what infertility success rates really mean, without needing an advanced degree in statistics.

Reporting Infertility Success Rates

In 1992, Congress passed the Fertility Clinic Success Rate and Certificate Act—endorsed by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART)—which requires clinics to collect and make public the results of assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments including in vitro fertilization (IVF), frozen embryo transfer (FET), and donor egg treatment. On SART’s website, you can view infertility success rates for individual fertility centers and also view the national data summary, which depicts the national average, based upon data from every fertility center in the country.

Learn the Lingo

Before viewing infertility success rate data, it’s helpful to learn the terminology associated with reporting assisted reproductive technology.

Initiated cycle: An initiated cycle refers to the start of medications with the intent to proceed with in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment.

Cancellation: Unfortunately, some cycles will have to be cancelled before an egg retrieval can occur. This is usually due to a poor response to medication. It’s in the best interest of the patient to cancel the cycle rather than continue to egg retrieval if a positive outcome is unlikely. Age can also be a factor that affects how well a woman’s body responds to the medicinal stimulation.

Retrieval: An egg retrieval is the actual attempt to obtain eggs from the ovarian follicles. In order to get to the stage of embryo transfer (in which a physician places a fertilized embryo into the woman’s uterus), a successful retrieval must occur.

Transfer: An embryo transfer is the placement of one or more embryos back into the uterus. Transfer can only occur after fertilization between the retrieved eggs and sperm has taken place in the lab and the embryo is given 5 days to develop, ideally into a blastocyst.

Clinical pregnancy: A clinical pregnancy refers to the identification of a pregnancy sac in the uterus—not just a positive pregnancy test.

Miscarriage: Unfortunately, miscarriages are common for both women going through fertility treatment and women who conceive without assistance. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 4 pregnancies result in a miscarriage, sometimes even before the woman realizes she is pregnant. Given the occurrence of miscarriages, it’s important to look at a fertility center’s ongoing pregnancy/live birth delivery rate.

Ongoing pregnancy/live birth rate: The ongoing pregnancy/live birth rate represents the number of patients who have delivered a baby or are still pregnant. This number will always be lower than the clinical pregnancy rate due to the possibility of miscarriage. The ongoing pregnancy/live birth delivery rate is the most important number to Shady Grove Fertility, as we define success in the same way you do—taking home a baby.

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