Fertility Success Rates

Facebook Censorship? – Our IVF Success Rates Page Has Been Deleted

Update 4/19 12:40 PM – Access to our Facebook page has been restored. Facebook had nothing to do with it being temporarily removed. Be careful with Business Manager access!

I need your help.

We have maintained a Facebook page at https://facebook.com/ivfrates/ for several years. Last time I checked, we had close to 1,000 followers there. The primary purpose of that page was to announce when new IVF Success Rates were available and to bring attention to top performing IVF Centers in the United States on Facebook.

On Monday April 3rd, I noticed that the page was no longer available on Facebook. I’ve posted more about that here. No notice, no warning, just removed without a trace.

I reviewed the Facebook Page Terms to see if anything had changed which would be considered a violation. I sure don’t see anything.

Despite numerous technical support requests and bug reports, Facebook hasn’t made ANY response. I’ve waited over two weeks for an answer, explanation or resolution.

Given the timing, it seems like we are being intentionally targeted on Facebook.

The CDC has just released the preliminary 2015 IVF Success Rates which means that we are in the process of compiling the data and updating this site with the new list of top performing centers. Without our Facebook page, we lose a significant avenue to announce these new results.

This isn’t the first time we have faced censorship when educating patients about how to interpret IVF Success Rate Data, and it certainly won’t deter us in continuing what we do here.

Even if you don’t think patients should compare success rates from competing clinics, is it right for Facebook to destroy a page focused on helping those who want to learn more about this important aspect of IVF treatment?

If you have information, advice or insight as to how we can get our Facebook page back, please add a comment below or contact us directly. Thank you!

Dr. Jekyll vs. Mr. Hyde – A Perspective Into The Fertility Machine

Great blog post by a former NYC resident who writes of her experience with two different fertility clinics in New York City

The post describes how they originally chose one clinic, primarily based on success rate data only to have a frustrating, disappointing and costly experience with an uncaring, poorly run clinic. 

After some time off, they started researching alternative clinics and found their Dr. Jekyll (he's the good one :~).

As we often say on this site, there is more to consider than the success rates of a clinic. How do they treat you? How is their office run? What does that little voice in the back of your head tell you is the right decision? All prospective patients should read this post and be on the look out for these warning signs. 

Read the blog post here.

Great Patient-Focused Explanation Of SART Report Data

I just finished an excellent patient blog post entitled, How To Get SART Smart.

It is written by a, "28 year old married couple facing early Ovarian Failure and discussing our options of IVF or the possibility of Donor Eggs."

If medical professionals have any doubts about the patient's ability to understand success rate data and use this information as part of a larger treatment decision process, you should definitely give this a read. It is informative and covers many of the data manipulation techniques used by some clinics to boost their success rates.

While we cover similar information here, it was great to see such a detailed and informative article posted by a young patient.

Read the full post here.

Looking beyond Fertility Clinic Success Statistics

IVF Statistic Manipulation and How to Discover it

Fertility Clinic Success Rates can vary dramatically based on a doctor's approach.Critics of using IVF success statistics like Live Birth Rate Per Transfer as a method of evaluating the quality of a fertility clinic say that statistics can be manipulated. There is no doubt that this is being done. But is the answer really to prohibit comparison?  Isn't it more desirable to expose these manipulations and educate prospective patients on how they can be detected? Many medical professionals would say that most patients are not capable of making this kind of detailed analysis. Really, they say that.

I have seen plenty of examples where savvy patients are digging deeper into the data to make highly informed treatment decisions. The purpose of this post is to encourage that deeper investigation by shedding light on how some clinics may act to protect their success rate data. Let's educate instead of obfuscate.


Consider that there are two broad groups of fertility patients seeking treatment at IVF clinics. One group has an ideal diagnosis; the couple has been trying to get pregnant for 6 to 18 months and have no major indication that IVF will fail. This ideal patient group has the best possible chance of successful treatment. Their doctor recommends IVF and is pretty confident that the couple will have a baby on the first try.

On the other side, there is the second group of patients who do not have such a great diagnosis; maybe they had a few failed IUI cycles and are dealing with some issues like advanced maternal age or Endometriosis. In this situation, the doctor is sometimes inclined to recommend other treatment options such as egg donation or even surrogacy. Despite this advice, some patients will insist on trying IVF with their own eggs, totally aware of the very limited chance for success.

The doctor now has to make a decision. He or she can take on the challenge of a difficult case and help the couple go through IVF, which will most likely lower the clinic’s success rates. The other path is to insist on other treatment options and refuse IVF. This course of treatment will most likely be successful and not harm the clinic's success rates. Of course the patient can always seek treatment at another clinic, which is willing to perform IVF despite the odds.

The doctor's decision can be made with good intention in wanting a successful outcome for the patient or less than noble intention in only wanting to preserve the clinic’s success rate. Letting the couple go through IVF despite the great chance of an unfavorable outcome can show that the doctor is compassionate and cares more about the patient than the clinic's success rates.

However, the flip side of insisting on going straight to egg donation can be seen as more compassionate because it will save the couple time, struggle and cost associated with an IVF cycle that will most likely fail. It is really the question of how many patients a clinic has in this most challenging group, the course of action they take and the intention in taking that action. As we can never really know the true intention behind the action, the following should only be seen as potential indicators of manipulation. As always, a direct conversation with the physician you are considering is critical to making the most informed treatment decision possible. 

What are the indications of the degree to which a clinic is protecting their success rates?

Average Number of Embryos Transferred: With very good reason, one big objection some experts have with using Live Birth Per Transfer as a measurement of success is that it will encourage physicians to engage in risky practices like transferring a high number of embryos to increase the chances of a successful outcome.

Total number of IVF Cycles: One indication is the total number of IVF cycles in the high maternal age groups. If the numbers are low in the age groups 38 to 40 and 40 to 41, the clinic could be cherry picking IVF cases to preserve success rates.

Number of IVF Cycles Per Age Group:
The likelihood of success is greater the younger the age of the woman. While it is true that there are generally more younger women seeking treatment, if a clinic has a significantly disproportionate number of their total cycles in the age group for women < 35, it may mean that they are turning down prospective patients of advanced maternal age in an effort to increase their overall

Percentage of Canceled Cycles: An IVF cycle can be canceled by either the physician or the patient. There are a number of reasons a cycle could be canceled. One reason is that the physician refuses to attempt transfer of embryos after the initial egg retrieval. Since Live Birth Per Transfer is a closely monitored statistic, canceling an IVF cycle before attempting transfer will preserve this number while still keeping a high total number of cycles.

In conclusion, there are two sides to the story. Clinics that have low success rates may say they don’t manipulate their success rates, and instead, listen to their patients. Clinics that have good success rates but low numbers of patients of advanced maternal age or higher numbers of egg donor cycles may defend themselves by saying that they are not taking a couple's money for treatment that has a low chance of success, which is also a noble reason.

So, what do you think? Are there other forms of data manipulation that you have come across? Post a comment. Let's talk about it.

IVF Success Rates Frequently Asked Questions

Doctor with baby

After three years of running this site, we have fielded dozens of questions about IVF Success Rates. Here are some of the most popular ones. Have a question that isn't here? You can ask it in the comments section and we will do our best to get it answered.

Why are the most recent published success rates on SART two years old and on CDC three years old?

IVF success rates are based on live births and counted in the year the IVF cycle was started not the year of birth. For example, if a woman had a successful IVF cycle in December, SART gets the IVF success data from fertility clinics at the end of the following year, and counts that woman's baby as a successful IVF case for the previous year. Because of popular demand, SART started to publish this data on their website a few years ago. However, the SART data is not verified by any third party agency. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other Government offices take about 12 months to verify, analyze and compile the data and publish the verified fertility success rates in the first quarter of the new year in the ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) section of the CDC's website. The CDC is three years old at the time it is published.

Why do you compare the life birth rates than pregnancy or implantation rates?

As an example, in 2005 there were 97,442 IVF cycles using fresh embryos across all age groups. Of those cycles, 34% got pregnant, but only 28% carried the baby to term and gave birth. That's a big difference! This site was built for IVF patients. Most of them want to know the chance of taking home a baby.

IVF doctors like to present you success rates based on pregnancies or even implantation rate. Pregnancy rates are based on a positive pregnancy test result in the first trimester. Implantation rates don't even factor in a pregnancy test. Both Implantation Rate and Pregnancy rate are going to be higher than the Live Birth Rate, that's why doctor's quote them so much. You, as a patient, however, want a baby. So we rate the clinics compared to Life Birth Rate.

Why do SART and CDC make it difficult to compare IVF success rates?

Good question. We have a separate post about that controversial rule here.

Still have unanswered questions about IVF success rate data? Great! Post them in the questions and we will do our best to get you an answer.

Understanding SART and CDC IVF Success Rate Data

How to make sense of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Report.

The statistics provided in a fertility clinic's IVF success rate report can tell you a lot about that practice. Here are a few helpful tips on what to look for and what it may mean to you.

Total IVF Cycles Performed Per Year

Total IVF Cycles Reported

First you may want to verify that a fertility clinic is doing a good number of IVF cycles a year. You want a clinic that is proficient and experienced in the art of IVF. 120 total IVF cycles or more in one year is a good number. That means that they average more than 2 cycles a week, which gives you an indication that they routinely perform IVF procedures.

Fresh Embryos From Non-Donor Oocytes

Fresh Embryos From Non-Donor Oocytes

The group of patients counted here are couples who engaged in IVF using a fresh cycle. A fresh cycle means that their eggs were taken from the ovaries and inseminated in the embryology lab of the clinic,  put in an incubator to mature and then implanted back into the uterus. In these cycles, the embryologist or doctor picks out the best looking of the matured embryos to put back into the woman's uterus. The ones that show healthy development and look great under the microscope have the highest chance of implantation and pregnancy.

These cycles do not include the freezing and thawing that happens to the "leftover" embryos. Couples can use frozen embryos in a second try, but a lot of mishandling can happen during the freezing and thawing process and success rates are lower for the thawed embryos.

Of course, if you are evaluating a clinic for frozen transfer or will be using donor eggs, then you will want to focus on those numbers.

Success Rates By Age Group

Success Rates By Age Group

Younger than 35: Statistically, the highest chance of IVF success.
35-37: Still statistically favorable for a successful IVF outcome.
38-40: This segment shows the real talent of a fertility clinic
41 and beyond: This is an age category, where fertility doctors either tend to recommend egg donation or take on the challenges and perform IVF. Based on the number of cycles performed in this segment, you can tell the type of doctor you are evaluating. Low numbers (below 10) shows you that he/she tends to recommend egg donation to older women. High numbers (10 and more) shows you that they are confident enough to lead this age group through IVF despite the odds. 

Obviously the most relevant numbers are the one that correspond to your particular age group.

Percentage of transfers resulting in live births

Percentage of transfers resulting in live births

This is the most important number for your age group. It tells you how many cycles with transfers resulted in a baby. Sometimes there is an egg retrieval, but no transfer of the embryo(s). Sometimes an IVF cycle gets started, but cancelled for whatever reason. All of those scenarios are excluded in this number.

Every cycle that was completed has to have an embryo transfer. The percentage of transfers resulting in live births is the best way to evaluate a fertility clinic's IVF success rate. That being said, there are ways that the IVF data can be manipulated and you should consider this before you make your final decision.

Success rates are listed as a fraction when the total number of cycles in a segment is less than 20. SART and the CDC feel that with a low number of total cycles, success rates expressed as a percentage are too unreliable. For instance a clinic that performed a single cycle would have either a 100% or 0% success rate.

For a complete explanation of this please see the Latest CDC Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Report.

We have factored out any clinics with less than 20 cycles in a segment in our Comparative IVF Success Rate Report. However, we have provided success rate as a percentage on individual clinic report pages on this site regardless of the number of cycles. Please evaluate total number of cycles per segment when evaluating IVF success rates.

Average Number of Embryos Transferred

Average Number of Embryos Transferred

This can vary from age group to age group, and it strongly depends on the physician and your diagnosis. The national average is 2.3 embryos in the age groups up to 37 years old in 2006. This number should continue to decrease over time as IVF technology gets better.

The transfer of multiple embryos increases pregnancy success, but also increases the risk of multiple births. There was a study in 2005 that showed that birth rates are nearly the same with single embryo transfer instead of two-embryo transfer (Fertility & Sterility, December 2005). Also, in 2006 the ASRM revised their guidelines for the number of embryos to transfer to protect couples. The new guidelines recommend that no more than two embryos should be transferred for a woman under the age of 35 under normal circumstances. In fact, with the best diagnosis a woman age 35 or younger undergoing a fresh IVF cycle should be offered a single embryo transfer by her fertility doctor Read for yourself in this 2-page document published by ASRM: http://www.asrm.org/Media/Practice/Guidelines_on_number_of_embryos.pdf).

If your doctor recommends transferring more than what ASRM recommends for your age group, ask for a complete explanation to justify the higher number of embryos.

For complete reports provided by SART please visit http://www.sart.org.

For complete reports provided by the CDC please visit http://www.cdc.gov/ART/

Wondering why there are two different reports for IVF success rate data? Check our IVF Success Rates Frequently Asked Questions

Compare and review current IVF success rates.

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