Success Rates for Infertility Treatment

Success Rates for Infertility Treatment

If you are looking at Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART), the very first question you are likely to ask the clinic is, what is your success rate? While this is a relevant question and often the basis for prospective parents to choose a center for treatment, there is often no clarity on what success rate actually means.

In the US the Fertility Clinic Success Rate and Certificate Act (FCSRCA), 1992, requires clinics performing ART annually to provide data for all procedures performed to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC is required to use this data to report and publish clinic-specific success rates. In the UK, the HFEA presents success rates for every licensed clinic. Unfortunately in India, there is no regulation on the data that is reported. There is no common body to monitor what is reported and therefore what is published is not standardized information.

Do Not Take Success Rates at Face Value

Given that there is no regulatory body that monitors the success rates of clinics in India, it is even more important to understand those that are published and compare them with the rates disclosed abroad. Success rates are affected by, but not limited to, the age of the patient, the right diagnosis of infertility condition, length of infertility, treatment opted for, quality of egg, donor or non-donor oocyte, and embryo. Success rates can also be affected by factors such as the experience of the ART clinic in handling similar clinical cases and treatment provided.
There are other reasons success rates need to be looked at with caution. Some clinics may look at treatment for the most challenging cases, with significantly low chances of success. Others may specialize in a specific type of treatment. Success rates could differ and can be misleading, as explained below.

  • If a clinic does just one ART cycle in a given category, the success rate in that category could be either 0  percent or 100 percent!
  • To boost success rates, clinics could  reject patients with a low probability of success or use donor eggs (boosting  success rates among older women)
  • Clinics that take in women who have  already been unsuccessful in previous ART cycles are more likely to have lower  success rates
  • The number of embryos transferred varies from clinic to clinic. The transfer of a large number of embryos increases the chances of multiple-fetal pregnancies (which in turn heighten the  risk of premature births and related health problems).

What all this means is that there is no even scale of judgement that allows patients to rightly decide that the success rate of one ART clinic is better than another. As a general thumb rule, globally, success rates are between 30 and 40 percent for one-time embryo transfer. If clinics are claiming a higher percentage, it is worth looking at it critically.

For the most part, an experienced fertility centre would not just mention its blanket success rate. Based on the prior experience of dealing with different types of cases, and based on thorough investigation and accurate diagnosis, the centre will be able to direct you to the best suited ART treatment as per your clinical condition, which will ensure the best chance for a positive outcome.

Going forward, especially in India, measures must be taken to encourage transparency, accountability and responsibility with regard to ART. These are essential for the protection of patients. An independent regulatory body that can audit the clinical data like the CDC, rather than a membership association would be able to ensure that there is no conflict of interest when information regarding success rates is disclosed by treatment centres.

This is a brief overview of success rates of ART. If you have any further queries, please reach us at info@milann.co.in or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, click here. We would be happy to be of assistance.

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