IVF success rate increasing in Australia

Jolyon Attwooll

22/09/2021 5:06:13 PM

Multiple births have also fallen sharply in the past 10 years, following incremental improvements across several different areas of the IVF cycle.

GP talking to female patient.
The IVF success rate has improved by 18% in the past decade across Australia and New Zealand.

More couples are conceiving through IVF treatment in Australia than ever before, a newly published report suggests.
The success rate has improved by 18% in the past decade across Australia and New Zealand, with improvements in multiple areas of assistive reproductive treatment (ART) credited for the change.
According to the report, which was carried out by researchers at UNSW, there were 88,929 IVF cycles started in 2019 in both countries (81,049 in Australia and 7880 in New Zealand), leading to 16,310 babies born through the treatment.
In women aged 35–39, the live birth rate per cycle went from 19% to 23% in the past decade, while the live birth rate for women aged 40–44 increased to 10% overall – a rise of 27%.
The figures are drawn from the Australian and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Database (ANZARD), which collates data from IVF clinics operating in both countries.
Dr Magdalena Simonis, a GP with a special interest in women’s health, said the figures are encouraging but stressed the numbers remain relatively low, even with the improvements.
‘It is very encouraging news, but they are still small numbers.’ Dr Simonis told newsGP. ‘It needs to be viewed in light of the fact that the statistics are so low.’
She also encouraged GPs to opportunistically take the chance to discuss pre-pregnancy planning with patients considering starting a family.
‘The key things are starting earlier if you can, and we do know pre-conception healthy lifestyles will promote healthier eggs and sperm and improve the quality of the embryo,’ she said.
The research, which was funded by the Fertility Society of Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), also indicates that multiple births occurring through the treatment have fallen significantly.
The percentage of twins and triplets born through IVF stood at 7.9% of the total births in 2010. In 2019, that rate had gone down to 2.9%, which is one of the lowest rates worldwide. This is partly explained by the increased amount of IVF cycles where a single embryo is transferred – from 70% in 2010 to 92% in 2019.
‘It is unprecedented to see this rise in the IVF live birth rate in Australia while simultaneously having one of the lowest multiple birth rates in the world,’ FSANZ President Professor Luk Rombauts told Nine Newspapers.
Dr Petra Wale, a senior embryologist and Vice President of FSANZ, said the improved success rates are due to a range of factors. These include improvements in laboratory techniques, better lifestyle interventions with couples trying to conceive, as well as upgraded diagnostic capabilities and surgery prior to IVF.
‘Every aspect of an IVF cycle – from ovarian stimulation protocols, the culture media that embryos are grown in, to the selection of the best embryo at optimal stage of development – have seen incremental improvements over the last decade,’ Dr Wale said.
The largest improvement occurred with frozen embryos, with the live birth rate per frozen embryo going from 20% in 2010 to 30% in 2019.
Dr Simonis, in the meantime, said ongoing dialogue is important.
‘We still need to keep this conversation open with women who are not in a relationship and would like to have a child that freezing eggs before the age of 35 is still preferred,’ she said.
‘Even though the success rate in older women has improved, we do need to advise them against waiting too long.’
It is a point that was also raised upon the report’s release by President Rombauts.
‘This tells us the laboratory and clinical advancements in ART are paying off for patients,’ Professor Rombauts said.
‘But as this report shows, IVF success rates are still higher for younger women, and to a lesser extent for younger men, so it is important that both men and women are aware of the impact that age has on fertility and that IVF cannot fully overcome infertility due to advancing age.’
Previous research has suggested around one in six Australian couples of reproductive age will experience difficulties conceiving a child.
Estimates from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) indicate that around 4.9% of all women who gave birth in Australia in 2019 received some form of assistive reproductive treatment.
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Dr Paul Jenkinson   26/09/2021 12:29:50 PM

Interesting that improving lifestyle is such an important factor in success of ART.So much we don’t know.That’s what science is about.