In vitro fertilization (IVF)—the most popular form of all the assisted reproductive technologies (ART)—helps bring tens of thousands of babies into the world every year. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks the success of assisted reproductive technologies.
The statistics are divided into women using:
- their own eggs
- donor eggs
- fresh embryos in IVF
- frozen embryos
Age is a critical factor in all these statistics except when using donor eggs.
What the success stats say
Fertility clinics in the U.S. have an obligation to report outcomes, and that is public information. So you can actually go online and look up the success rates of any clinics you may be interested in, as well as other clinics in your area.
The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) has a great website with a database searchable by ZIP code. When searching statistics, be sure you're looking at the success rates for women your age, having the same type of procedure, in the same situation (for example, using fresh embryos from your own eggs).
On a national level, it takes a few years for nationwide statistics to become available. As of 2011, when using fresh embryos from their own eggs, women:
- younger than 35 years had a 46 percent change (of having a live birth)
- 35–37 years had a 38.4 percent chance
- 38–40 years had a 27.3 percent chance
- 41–42 years had a 16.5 percent chance
- 43–44 years had a 7.6 percent chance
- over 44 years had a 2.1 percent chance
When using frozen embryos from their own eggs, women:
- younger than 35 years had a 39 percent change (of having a live birth)
- 35–37 years had a 35.5 percent chance
- 38–40 years had a 29.7 percent chance
- 41–42 had a 24 percent chance
- 43–44 had a 17 percent chance
- over the age of 44 had a 14.8 percent chance
Frozen embryos and donor eggs
At first it might seem counter intuitive that older women, particularly women 38 or older, would have a better chance of a successful live birth with frozen embryos than with fresh ones. But a likely explanation is that those frozen embryos were created when the women — and, in many cases, their partners — were younger. Younger women's eggs are more viable, and younger men's sperm are less likely to contain genetic defects.
For women using donor eggs, the data isn't broken down by age — in part because the age of the recipient of donor eggs isn't considered a factor, as long as she's physically able to carry the pregnancy. Overall, women undergoing IVF with fresh embryos from donor eggs have a 54.8 percent chance of having a live birth. Women undergoing IVF with frozen embryos from donor eggs have a 35.7 percent chance of having a live birth.
Updated August 2014