An online IVF calculator can now give women a 99% accurate indication of their chances of becoming pregnant if they were to undergo IVF treatment.
Many women desperate for children and not able to conceive naturally undergo the fertility treatment in the hope of becoming pregnant but unfortunately only a small percentage of these women are ever successful.
“In the US and the UK, IVF is successful in about a third of women under 35 years old, but in only 5%-10% of women over the age of 40,” said Professor Scott Nelson, Muirhead chair of reproductive and maternal medicine at the University of Glasgow.
The problem with such statistics comes in the fact that IVF is incredibly expensive and is only available on the NHS in special cases. Some people try IVF time and time again and sadly with little success.
However, academics at Glasgow and Bristol have studied IVF statistics from five years’ data and have come up with an accurate way of predicting whether or not a woman is likely to be successful before the woman goes ahead and spends what may well be wasted money on IVF treatment.
The online calculator is already available and by answering a few simple questions women can get a 99% accurate indication of their likelihood of getting pregnant through IVF.
Professor Nelson further talks about the fact that the success of IVF is often down to a number of factors besides age which means that predicting the likelihood of success is possible:
“However, there are many other factors in addition to age which can alter your chance of success, and clinics don’t usually take these into account when counselling couples or women.”
The revolutionary calculator is based on details supplied by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) which holds data showing the outcome of all 144,000 IVF treatments carried out between 2003 and 2007.
Nelson continues: “Essentially, these findings indicate that treatment-specific factors can be used to provide infertile couples with a very accurate assessment of their chance of a successful outcome following IVF,”
“It provides critical information on the likely outcome for couples deciding whether to undergo IVF. Up until now, estimates of success have not been reliable.
“The result of this study is a tool which can be used to make incredibly accurate predictions.”
Women, or couples, using the calculator will be asked nine specific questions about things like: age; the number of years she has been attempting to get pregnant; the reason for her infertility; and information on any previous IVF treatments and the outcome.
The calculator is not only of use to couples looking into IVF either but also to “healthcare funders like the NHS to ensure appropriate use of resources”, according to Debbie Lawlor, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Bristol.
Lawlor highlights the fact that the NHS could use it as a guide to approving couples for IVF treatment on the NHS and would have the opportunity to save vital resources if a couple’s chances of success were deemed too minute.
Professor Gordon Smith, head of the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at Cambridge University, has welcomed the innovation.
“There is a real need in medicine to try to replace general statements such as ‘high risk’ and ‘good chance’ with well validated, quantitative estimates of probability, such as we have with Down’s syndrome screening,” he said.
“This model for predicting the outcome of IVF has exploited a valuable collection of routinely collected data, applies sophisticated statistical modelling and the output provides women considering IVF with an understandable and quantitative estimate of their chances of success. It is a great resource.”