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Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"How succesful is in vitro fertilization?"

Question

What are the success rates on in vitro fertilization? My wife and are considering this option, but I definitely don't want to go through with it if there is a pretty significant rate of failure - especially late term failure, as I think that would be the most distressing outcome for her.

Answer

In vitro ferilization is a relatively new procedure that is still evolving. As such, the success and complication rates are ever changing. There is no accepted numbers for each.

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In addition, a significant variability in success rate exists, dependent on maternal factors. As such, it is difficult to say a success rate without knowing more regarding you and your wife's situations. I would strongly recommend that you discuss this with your OB/GYN. He or she could help give you more practical numbers that are relevant to you. In general, success is often judged in terms of the "live birth rate" -- or the percent chance that you will have a successful live birth after one cycle of in vitro fertilization. While it varies, people quote between 25 and 40% for the first cycle. Repeated cycles increase your chance, and people say that after 5 cycles you have a 75% chance of live birth. That being said, it depends significantly on maternal age, uterus conditions, smoking status etc. Keep in mind there is a complication rate to consider. There is a ~8% chance of low birth weight infant. There is a rate of twin pregnancy as well that varies. There are numerous factors and your question is not easily answered. Talk to your OB/GYN for more information.

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