IVF is the most well-known form of treatment for couples who are experiencing diffculty when trying for a baby. But it is by no means the only form of assisted conception and your GP can give you more information about other options which could be less invasive, and might be enough to help you get pregnant.
What is IVF?
In vitro fertilisation is probably the best known method of assisting conception and many people mistakenly tend to round up all treatments under this
one name. In this instance, eggs are taken from the ovaries of the woman (or an egg donor) by surgery and then allowed to fertilise in a laboratory with
sperm (from the woman's partner or a donor), and then placed directly into the uterus by surgery. The initial egg collection is a short process that should not be painful and takes less than half an hour.
What are the chances of IVF being successful?
Getting pregnant from IVF is not guaranteed. It can depend on what the medical reason is for your failing to get pregnant naturally. (Though proper consultation with your doctor should mean that the best-odds treatment for your own condition will have already determined that IVF is the best option for you, if you are having it.)
The other known factor which can affect success, is the age of the woman.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (aka HFEA) regularly gather information from all the authorised fertility clinics in the UK, and from this, they produce figures on success rates.
The latest HFEA stats were gathered for the year up to March 31 2004, and say that just under a third of women under 35 years old (28.2 per cent) had successful IVF treatment.
After 35, the success rate did fall: those aged 35 to 37 had a 23.6 per cent success rate; the rate was 18.3 per cent for women aged 38 or 39; for women aged 40 to 42 years it was 10.6 per cent.
These were the rates for successful fresh IVF treatment using the woman's own eggs.
If you are thinking about having IVF or another form of assisted conception, the HFEA website has a lot of great advice to help you weigh up the pros and cons of various options, and helps you to see what you can expect from treatment.