In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an expensive endeavour for hopeful parents. Now, a new study suggests expectant moms shouldn’t be dissuaded if they miscarry during their first try at IVF – they’re more likely to have a baby with more treatment.
British scientists out of the University of Aberdeen say that women who miscarry after their first full round of IVF are more likely to have a baby with another round of treatment compared to their peers who don’t conceive at all.
“Miscarriage can be a devastating experience for any couple but especially for those who have already struggled with infertility. This, coupled with the emotional and financial burden of multiple cycles of treatment can make many couples lose confidence and give up,” the study’s lead author, Natalie Cameron, said in a university statement.
“We hope our findings will provide reassurance to these couples as they consider their options for continuing treatment,” Cameron said.
Cameron’s findings stem from studying the health data of more than 112,000 women who started IVF between 1999 and 2008.
In that timeframe, about 8.3 per cent – or 9,321 – women had at least one miscarriage, 29.1 per cent – 33,152 – women had at least one baby, and 62.3 per cent – or 70,076 – had no pregnancies.
The study found:
- If women miscarried with their first try, the chance of having a baby via two more rounds of IVF was 40.9 per cent
- If women couldn’t conceive on their first try, their chances sat at 30.1 per cent
- Women who delivered babies following their first cycle of IVF had a 49 per cent chance of having more babies via IVF
The findings don’t come as a surprise to Canadian fertility experts, though.
“It totally makes sense and confirms something we already know. The good news is your body can do it, it just might’ve been the wrong embryo. If someone doesn’t get pregnant at all, we don’t always know what’s wrong,” Dr. Tom Hannam, a fertility specialist at Hannam Fertility Centre, told Global News.
“The challenge for couples facing this is it’s always about odds. They have to make firm decisions for opportunities,” Hannam explained.
A single cycle of IVF costs about $15,000, he said.
“It shouldn’t be understood as it’s a good thing to have a miscarriage, but it means implantation is possible. And the fact that they had implantation is a good prognostic marker,” Dr. Yaakov Bentov, a reproductive endocrinologist and research director at Anova Fertility, told Global News.
Doctors take eggs from the ovaries and mix them with sperm in a laboratory dish. They rely on medication to control ovulation, play with hormone levels, and even use ultrasounds to retrieve the eggs.
After that, they test the fertilized eggs to handpick the healthiest options. In a single cycle, up to 15 eggs or so are taken, and couples end up with about three healthy blastocysts to work with.
Ninety per cent of a woman’s eggs in her ovaries are depleted by age 30. After age 40, 97 per cent of her eggs are gone and the remaining eggs may not be as healthy, leaving women at risk of miscarriage or genetic abnormalities in their babies.
There’s a 25 per cent chance of conceiving each month if a couple is under 35 and having sex two to three times a week. Within about 12 months of trying, 85 per cent of couples will go on to conceive.
After 12 months, if it hasn’t happened, the chances of pregnancy start to decrease. By about 18 to 20 months, success rates go from 20 per cent to five per cent.
Cameron’s full findings were published in the journal Human Reproduction.