Anyone who has struggled with fertility issues has probably heard of in vitro fertilization (IVF) but, unless you’ve really delved into the IVF process lately, you may be surprised by some of the new facts and statistics. Whether you’re considering looking into it or you know someone who is, here are ten things you need to know about in vitro fertilization.
1. Success rates are pretty good if you are 37 or younger. Like all things fertility related, age matters. The younger you and your eggs are, the better your odds are for giving birth. Women under 35 have almost a 50% chance of success with an average of 1.8 embryo transfers. By age 41+ this goes down to a 16% success rate after an average of 2.7 transfers.
2. Infertility is more common than you think. According to the CDC, 11.9% of women receive come kind of infertility service in their lifetime and 1 in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant and staying pregnant.
3. Your fertility is only part of the picture. Women often feel inadequate when they have trouble conceiving (which doesn’t make it any easier), but infertility is equally likely to be an issue with the man, the woman, or a combo of the two.
4. IVF is less common than you think. Given its success rates, it’s surprising how few couples actually go through with in vitro fertilization. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), only 3% of cases require IVF; most can be treated with drugs or surgery.
5. The IVF process takes commitment. On average, one cycle of in vitro fertilization takes between 10 and 14 weeks but everyone is different and you may need to go through more than one cycle or run into other obstacles. You’ll also need to give yourself daily injections prior to the egg retrieval.
6. IVF is not cheap. The Affordable Care Act doesn’t classify infertility treatments as Essential Health Benefits (EHBs) and only 15 states currently require insurance carriers to cover them. The average out-of-pocket cost for one cycle of IVF is a whopping $12,400.
7. Acupuncture may help. The research on this is mixed but some studies have shown that acupuncture in conjunction with IVF can improve success rates.
8. Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. A 2013 study found that 7-8 hours a night is the sweet spot for IVF success. Too much or too little sleep both lowered fertility by about 10%. Another of the many, many reasons it’s important to get your rest!
9. You can choose whether to have a boy or a girl. Forget about waiting for the ultrasound to find out, you can choose your baby’s gender before the embryo is implanted with Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) or Pre-implantation Genetic Screening (PGS). You’ll have to pay up to a thousand dollars per embryo though.
10. Squishy embryos. This is still in the works, but a group of scientists from Stanford recently published research showing that it’s possible to tell which mouse embryos will be viable based on how squishy they are (think feeling fruit for ripeness). Human testing is coming soon.