Most women undergoing fertility treatment will give birth within five years

Danish study showed 71% were successful within timeframe but chances of success were strongly linked to age, said researchers

Nearly three-quarters of women undergoing fertility treatment will give birth within five years of starting the process, research has revealed.

The study followed almost 20,000 Danish women undergoing fertility treatments including IVF and intrauterine insemination (IUI). The results revealed that more than half of the women had a baby within two years of starting treatment. Within three years, 65% of the women had given birth, with the figure rising to 71% within five years.

But, the researchers warn, the chances of success were strongly linked to age. While 80% of women under the age of 35 had a baby within five years, for those aged between 35 and 40,just over 60% gave birth. For women aged over 40, only 26% had a baby within five years.

What’s more, while 57% of the whole cohort had a baby as a result of fertility treatments within five years, 14% conceived their child naturally.

Stuart Lavery, consultant gynaecologist and director of IVF Hammersmith at Hammersmith hospital, says that suggests couples should not necessarily give up on natural conception, even if they start fertility treatments.

“A lot of people coming through for IVF will be coming through with unexplained subfertility – some of them will just need a bit more time,” he said.

Presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Helsinki, the research drew on Denmark’s registry records that include data on live births linked to fertility treatments. The results, researchers say, will allow doctors to offer couples a more reliable indication of their chances of having a baby.

“Being in fertility treatment can be like a maze for couples so it is important that they have good information on the long-term outcome when starting treatment,” said Sara Malchau, lead author of the research from Copenhagen university hospital.

Adam Balen, the chair of the British Fertility Society and professor of reproductive medicine and surgery at Leeds teaching hospitals, also believes the research will prove valuable. “We need to be able to counsel our patients that [a successful pregnancy] is not necessarily going happen straight away and this is giving an idea as to what a couple’s chances may be over a period of five years,” he said. “In addition, we are aware that in Denmark there is much better funding for fertility treatment than we have in the UK. They have the benefit of a very comprehensive state-funded service and that is something we need to be pushing for in the UK.”

But, says Malchau, the study also highlights the importance of women’s age on the success of fertility treatments. “The message is don’t wait too long,” she said.


Nicola Davis

The GuardianTramp

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