When starting out on your IVF journey, choosing where to have treatment can be overwhelming.
There are so many clinics to choose from and very little information to suggest that one is actually any better than another.
For this reason, many people rely heavily on success rates to help them narrow down their choices. Unfortunately, the success rates listed on many websites are unregulated, so a lot of the data is often manipulated to seem more positive than it really is.
We’re here to uncover why success rates shouldn’t always be trusted and where you can go to find accurate, comparable data.
3 questions to ask yourself when looking at IVF success rates
If you’ve already started your research, you’ll know that it’s very common for IVF clinics to have their success rates front and centre on their website.
Although the numbers may seem impressive, they’re not always as clear-cut as they could be. Here are three questions to ask yourself each time you come across success rates online:
What does “success” mean?
The term “success rate” in relation to IVF treatment, is undefined and therefore open to interpretation. This means that individual clinics are free to use whichever metric gives them the best success rate to publish on their website.
For example, one clinic may calculate its success rates with the number of children who are born, while another will base its numbers on how many women fell pregnant. And one clinic may use how many embryo transfers have been done at their clinic, while another might look at how many cycles have been done instead. This makes it virtually impossible to compare clinics side by side.
How have the success rates been calculated?
In many cases, you’ll find some clinics claiming that their success rates are higher than the national averages published by the HFEA. This is likely the case because clinics will base their calculations on the small number of patients they treat each year, compared to the millions of patients that are taken into account when reporting national averages.
How are the success rates presented?
You may have noticed that many clinics clump their success rates into two wide age ranges. It’s likely that clinics do this as calculating averages across a larger age range can produce higher success rates.
Age is an extremely important factor in working out your personal success rate. So although this approach can make a clinic’s success rates seem impressive, they actually tell you very little about the chances of IVF working for you as an individual.
Where to find the facts
There is one source of truth you can turn to – the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
HFEA demand that clinics follow strict criteria when submitting their data for inclusion in their national reports. This ensures that the calculation of success rates is standardised across all clinics.
With this information, HFEA has created a handy tool that allows you to compare different clinics side by side, as well as against the national averages for IVF success rate by age.
Consider all factors before choosing a clinic
Although having access to accurate data can help you choose the right fertility clinic for you, individual success rates aren’t the be-all and end-all.
In fact, data from the past few years shows that IVF success rates have improved across the board. This suggests that advances in science and technology are playing a much bigger part in success rates than any individual clinic.
Having IVF is also a very personal, emotional and lengthy experience. It’s important you feel like you’re in the right place throughout your treatment. So make sure you take time to consider any other factors that are important to you too before choosing your IVF clinic.