Let’s be honest– when most people envision starting their family, they don’t picture it involving in vitro fertilization (IVF). From a financial and emotional perspective, this route can be challenging. In fact, the only thing that might be more difficult than starting IVF is making the decision to stop. That doesn’t mean giving up on building a family, though. Far from it. What it means is that you’ll take another alternate path, one with plenty of guidance from a team of trusted professionals. While the journey certainly won’t look like what you may have once imagined, the result is the same: bringing your baby home.
First, let’s take a look at IVF statistics. It’s important to understand how IVF success rates work. For example, how are IVF success rates obtained? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitor cycles using assisted reproductive technology (ART) with a system called the National Assisted Reproductive Technology Surveillance System, or NASS 2.0. Those are a lot of acronyms, but what it boils down to is that about 95% of ART cycles are reported. And due to the time and effort it takes to gather those results, statistics are typically about two to three years behind.
That’s why it’s crucial to do thorough research when considering fertility clinics. Moreover, it’s important to understand the factors that make your situation unique. Diagnosis and age all have an impact on IVF success rates, and some clinics will be better suited to meet your needs than others.
The frustrating fact is that there can be many reasons an IVF cycle is unsuccessful. A common reason is chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo; modern techniques such as preimplantation genetic testing, or PGT. help to reduce this risk by testing the embryo for general chromosomal issues. Unfortunately, however, some fertilization attempts will be unsuccessful from the start due to egg or sperm abnormalities. Without a healthy embryo to implant, a transfer will be discouraged.
Other factors, such as uterine lining, general abnormalities of the reproductive system, or even medication errors make up a smaller portion of failed IVF cycles. And, just like infertility in general, some reasons are unexplained.
Rather than “giving up,” try to reframe it as “going a different route.” Something important to consider is insurance. Currently, 15 states offer some degree of infertility insurance coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act, there are several different categories an insurance policy may fall under:
Thoroughly review the policy to determine your options. It’s also a good idea to meet with your clinic’s financial department to discuss in more detail. This can help you to decide how many cycles, if any, will have at least some coverage. Ultimately, the decision to continue is up to you and your reproductive endocrinologist. With or without insurance, only you can determine if you have the financial and emotional means to continue infertility treatment.
Considering insurance coverage at the outset makes your options much clearer in the event of a failed cycle. For example, you may have coverage for things like medication in a cycle with an egg donor or surrogate. Having this knowledge can ease some of the stress when discussing other options and may make the decision to continue a little less daunting.
Egg donation is a top option to consider, especially if known chromosomal abnormalities have prevented a successful IVF cycle. If a woman is over 42 years old or has been diagnosed with premature ovarian failure, egg donation is often the recommended route. Using a donor egg still allows you to experience pregnancy and childbirth first-hand, as well as make decisions about the prenatal environment and lifestyle factors.
Surrogacy is an excellent solution for women who are, for whatever reason, unable to carry a pregnancy. It’s also a highly successful option for unexplained infertility. IVF clinics in the US have a surrogacy success rate of about 75%. Once the gestational carrier is pregnant, the success rate for a healthy birth is as high as 95%.
If you’re considering third party reproduction with the assistance of an egg donor or gestational carrier, don’t do it alone. The best way to set yourself up for a successful IVF cycle is to work with a reputable team. At ConceiveAbilities, we believe that our longevity and staff of experienced professionals are key ingredients in creating a family.
It can be incredibly difficult to know if surrogacy or egg donation (or both) is right for you, especially if the concept is brand new. There are many factors to consider: cost, financial support, insurance, legal agreements and more. And while it may sound overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Allow our experts to guide you through the process from start to finish as we work toward a common goal – your baby.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.