Contrary to professional guidelines, 33% of IVF clinics report their “success rate” — that is the proportion of clients who achieve successful pregnancies. Intuitively, that seems like an obvious measure, so why is it a problem?
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine views the “success rate” metric as a partial measure that could be greatly misleading. Further, the numbers some clinics were reporting were as much as a decade out of date.
Why is “success rate” such a problem?
“The dirty little secret of some IVF clinics is that they transfer way too many embryos,” said Eve Feinberg, MD, vice president of the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.(1)
In the case of an Illinois clinic, 50% of successful patients end up with twins rather than a single child. That’s because of the number of embryos used. And, no, the clinic doesn’t advertise the twin rate, although that’s something a new parent would probably want to know.
Instead, the metrics important to the new parent in choosing an IVF facility are:
- Live birth rates per cycle,
- Live births per egg retrieval, and
- Live borths per embryo transfer for each age group.
Just like anything else, the smart consumer needs to know what questions to ask. So do statisticians and regulators.