Recent advances in assisted reproductive technology (ART) — like in-vitro fertilization (IVF) paired with preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) — provide intended parents at-risk for having a child with a genetic disease the option of screening embryos. By determining which embryos are affected by the heritable disease, couples have the ability to greatly decrease the chance that the child will be affected by the disease.
Most fertility clinics advertise the ability to perform IVF with PGT, but how do you know how to choose one clinic from another? SART data might be able to help. One important factor to consider is the IVF success rate for the practice to maximize your chances of having a healthy baby with minimum number of cycles, which is easily determined once you can understand and analyze the data.
SART Data: National IVF Success Rate Record
The Society of Assisted Reproductive Medicine (SART) monitors the IVF success rate of clinics across the nation — the results of which are released in an annual National Summary Report. According to SART Past President Dr. Kevin Doody, M.D., this report helps prospective parents make these important decisions. “The idea is to monitor the effectiveness and safety of assisted reproductive technology while making the data available to patients,” he says.
SART data provides patients with a comprehensive view of national and clinical IVF success rates of infertility treatment cycles — defined by when a woman begins the egg retrieval process for IVF. “The percentages show the likelihood that any given cycle to start IVF will ultimately result in the delivery of a child — not just a pregnancy,” Doody says.
However, depending on if a patient uses their own eggs or a donor’s eggs, the outcomes are listed differently. For patients electing to use their own eggs, the endpoint and success of a cycle is classified as primary or subsequent, and grouped according to the woman’s age.
Understanding SART Data
The primary outcome is the percentage of births resulting from the first embryo transfer (fresh or frozen). If the first transfer isn’t successful, a woman can choose to try again. Sometimes, several transfers of frozen embryos from the same cycle might be required to achieve pregnancy — any children born from these additional transfers are included in the percentages listed under the subsequent outcome.
The final cumulative outcome shows the probability of delivering a child from any one egg retrieval cycle — meaning this percentage takes into account all embryo transfers from that cycle (both primary and subsequent).
These values are highly dependent upon age. In 2015, according to the National Summary Report, the probability of a live birth for a given cycle using the patient’s own eggs was 53.9 percent for women under 35 and 3.6 percent for women over 42.
These cumulative outcomes should be carefully considered when using the data to determine which treatment options will be successful for you, says Doody. “The biggest expense and risk during the procedure is the stimulation and egg retrieval itself,” he continues.
Narrow Your Options: Tools To Personalize Your Results
Age isn’t the only factor that affects treatment outcomes. Infertility diagnosis, stimulation type and additional testing, like genetic screening of embryos, can also play a role in the IVF success rate, says Doody. Which is why you shouldn’t use the overall success rates to directly compare clinics, he adds. “Patients should look at the success rate of the clinic based on the type of cycle that’s done.”
To narrow your results, Doody recommends using the filter tool, which allows you to query data based on your individual preferences.
For instance, if you have a family history of a hereditary disease or cancer, you may consider pairing PGT with IVF to minimize your chance of passing on the genetic variant to your child. The filter tool allows you to see outcomes for other individuals who used PGT, which gives you a clearer perspective when making an informed decision about what’s best for you and your family.
The filter tool isn’t the only option for personalizing results. The SART patient predictor is a new feature that calculates a patient’s chance of having a child for any given cycle based on national data collected since 2006, along with several key features, like age, height, weight, prior pregnancies, full term births and infertility diagnosis.
“I definitely recommend the patient predictor as the best way to use the data,” says Doody. However, he also recommends discussing your options and reviewing the results of the patient predictor with a fertility specialist or genetic counselor. “If patients want to use this report and these tools, they really should talk to their doctor because it’s so complicated,” he says.
With a better understanding of how SART reports IVF success rates and the correct tools to parse through the data, you can make informed decisions about your pregnancy and your family’s future.
Dawn Michelle Lipscomb, PhD, is a biophysicist, podcast host, and science writer. While finishing a dual B.S. in Physics and Biology at UT San Antonio, she published research on planetary biosignatures for space exploration at NASA-JPL and designed THz bioeffects experiments for human tissues at the Air Force Research Laboratory. In 2017, she completed her Biophysics doctorate at UC Berkeley by developing a new method for imaging proteins that regulate gene expression using cryo-electron microscopy. Today, she co-hosts a live video podcast series on regenerative medicine and writes articles about groundbreaking research in aging and genetics.