Skip to content

Infertility & Reproduction Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Infertility Treatment Hopes: Testing a Key?

About 15% of Embryo Transfers Are Successful in U.S.
By
WebMD Health News

Sept. 14, 2005 -- Fewer than two in 10 embryos transferred during infertility treatments result in live births. But researchers say this success rate could be improved with better pretransfer testing that helps identify viable embryos.

Assisted reproduction most often involves the fertilization of eggs that have been surgically removed from a woman's ovaries. The fertilized egg, or embryo, is then transferred back into the patient in hopes of achieving a pregnancy.

Since 1995, reproductive clinics in the U.S. have been reporting their infertility treatment results to the CDC and the nation's top assisted-reproduction organizations.

A review of the data from 1995 until 2001 revealed that just 15% of embryo transfers in 2001 led to births.

That is an improvement over 1995, when just 10% of embryo transfers resulted in live births. But researcher Pasquale Patrizio, MD, says the pace of progress is too slow.

"With the techniques we have available right now to help us identify better embryos for transfer, we could definitely improve on that 15%," Patrizio tells WebMD.

Measuring Success

The success rate for most infertility clinics these days is about 35%, meaning that about one in three assisted-reproduction procedures result in a baby. For every 100 couples treated, an average of 300 embryos will be transferred and 35 children will be born.

While this figure sounds low, a leading expert in infertility treatment points out that most egg fertilizations do not lead to live births, whether fertilization occurs naturally or with medical assistance.

"Humans are very inefficient when it comes to reproduction," American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) President Robert Schenken, MD, says in a news release.

"It can take millions of sperm cells, thousands of eggs, and dozens of embryos to produce one baby. We need more research to help us better understand the human reproductive process."

Fewer Embryos Transferred

Patrizio notes that doctors who treat infertile couples are under increasing pressure to transfer fewer embryos in an effort to reduce multiple births.

The average number of embryos transferred during a single in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure declined from four in 1985 to three in 2001.

Today on WebMD

Four pregnant women standing in a row
How much do you know about conception?
Couple with surrogate mother
Which one is right for you?
 
couple lying in grass holding hands
Why Dad's health matters.
couple viewing positive pregnancy test
6 ways to improve your chances.
 
Which Treatment Is Right For You
Slideshow
Conception Myths
Article
 
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy
Video
Conception
Slideshow
 
Charting Your Fertility Cycle
Article
Fertility Specialist
Article
 
Understanding Fertility Symptoms
Article
invitro fertilization
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections