FACT SHEET: In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Infertility affects 6.1 million American women and their partners, about 10% of the reproductive age population.

Infertility is a disease of the reproductive system that affects the male or female with almost equal frequency.

Fewer than 5% of infertile couples in treatment actually use IVF. IVF is usually the treatment of choice for a woman with blocked, severely damaged, or absent fallopian tubes. IVF is also used to circumvent infertility caused by endometriosis or a male factor. Many programs also use IVF to treat couples with unexplained infertility of long duration who have failed with other infertility treatments.

IVF is a method of assisted reproduction in which the man's sperm and the woman's egg (oocyte) are combined in a laboratory dish, where fertilization occurs. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the uterus to develop naturally. Usually, two to four embryos are transferred with each cycle.

According to the latest statistics, the success rate of IVF is 22.8% live births per egg retrieval. This success rate is similar to the 20% chance that a healthy, reproductively normal couple has of achieving a pregnancy that results in a live born baby in any given month.

Women under 35, without male factor, who try IVF, have on average a 25% chance of conceiving and having a baby. Some clinics achieve even better results.

Success with IVF increases with the number of cycles attempted up to four cycles.

Of the 78% of pregnancies as a result of IVF that result in a live birth, about 50% are singletons, 24% are twins and 5% are triplets or more.

Children resulting from IVF have the same incidence of birth defects as children who are conceived naturally.

IVF was successfully used for the first time in the United States in 1981. Since then, more than 45,000 babies have been born in the U.S. as a result of this technique.

One cycle of IVF costs an average of $7,800 (1993 data).

IVF has reduced the number of tubal surgeries by 50%.

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