Conceiving After Failed IVF

A new study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, found that one in six women who had failed in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment were able to conceive on their own.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Aberdeen.  They studied data from 2,133 women who underwent IVF treatment between 1998 and 2011 at a fertility clinic in Aberdeen. Of the study participants, 1,073 either did not become pregnant from the treatment or experienced a miscarriage.  Seventeen percent (approximately one in six) of the women who had unsuccessful IVF treatment were able to conceive naturally within five years.  In addition, of the women who were successful with IVF, fifteen percent went on to have another baby naturally within five years.

Couples with shorter duration of infertility, younger female age, and couples who did not need intracytoplasmic sperm injection,  had a higher chance of conceiving naturally after failed or successful IVF.  Of the women who had failed IVF treatments, their chance of conceiving naturally was reduced if they had tubal factor infertility.  Also, women who had three or more failed IVF treatments were less likely to conceive naturally.

Of note, the study was conducted in a single fertility center, so the data may not be applicable to the general population.  And, data on the women’s use of contraception and active attempts to conceive were not available, which would influence the results.

Lead researcher, Dr. David McLernon, stated, “IVF treatment is not something that couples take on lightly, and it can be a physically and emotionally demanding process even if treatment is successful. When it is unsuccessful, understandably couples can be left distraught.  This study will give couples a clearer idea of their chances of conceiving naturally even after IVF has been unsuccessful.”

Dr. McLernon also stated, “This study looked at data from more than 2,000 women which we think makes it one of the most robust studies of its type.”

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