Put simply: IVF offers the best chance of pregnancy, regardless of the cause of your previous infertility. It is also an excellent diagnostic test, providing valuable insight into egg, sperm, and embryo quality, as well as implantation.
Although IVF once carried the stigma of “test-tube babies” – the first of whom was Louise Brown, born in 1978 – and it was initially used only in women with blocked fallopian tubes, it is now a common procedure used for all infertility disorders.
There are 3 clear reasons why IVF offers such a high pregnancy rate:
- Fertilization is optimized by placing the sperm and eggs in close proximity
- The quality of fertility medications continues to improve
- Once fertilized, we can select the highest-quality embryo/blastocyst for transfer
IVF and Multiple Pregnancies
Possibly the most important aspect of IVF is control of potential multiple pregnancies, especially with such concerning twin pregnancy data in Canada:
- The perinatal mortality rate is much higher with twins than a single fetus.
- The more premature the birth, the more likely the children will experience complications and handicaps.
Since the mid-2000’s, the average number of embryos/blastocysts transferred (and implanted) at the MFC has been <2, and our pregnancy rate has not declined. It is now extremely rare for triplets to occur and the rate of twin pregnancies has declined significantly as a result of single blastocyst transfer.
Solving Problems through IVF
Often the problems identified through IVF can be fixed. Here are some common examples…
Problem: 14 eggs were retrieved, but all of them were poor in quality.
Solution: Egg quality can be related to the stimulation protocol or a predisposing condition (such as polycystic ovaries (PCO)). Some women, on the other hand, have poor egg quality for unexplained reasons. Trying a different stimulation protocol or combination of fertility medications, or trying a natural cycle IVF may improve the outcome. Oocyte (female egg cell) donation may be the ultimate solution for women with repetitive poor egg quality identified via IVF.
Problem: Good eggs were retrieved and good blastocysts (embryos) resulted, but a pregnancy didn’t occur.
Solution: This may be due to an implantation problem. It is important to first rule out any uterine abnormalities (such as a uterine septum). Immune testing may also be warranted, especially if a couple has had multiple failures with good-quality embryos.