Repeated IVF attempts- does it make sense?
As any couple who has gone though IVF or any fertility doctor can attest, IVF can be stressful both physically and mentally. For many the thought of doing another treatment cycle is less than appealing. This is true even for folks who were successful with assisted reproduction. Regardless many folks will try repeated attempts at IVF in order to have a child. For years we have assumed that the chances for a successful IVF cycle are very low in couples who have failure repeated cycles in the past, but is that really true? And if so, does it justify repeated cycles.
Researchers in the UK looked at prolonged IVF treatments
The investigators in Bristol, England looked at over a quarter of a million IVF cycles in Britain to look for trends in patients who did repeated IVF cycles, and what they found was quite interesting. As expected, women doing their first IVF treatment had the highest chances for pregnancy (33%). The next 3 cycles had lower but still reasonable pregnancy rates. Pregnancies were far less common after that but the cumulative pregnancy rate continued to go up through the 6th cycle where it reached 68%.
So, when is the right to time to stop IVF?
This large scale study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that couples who continue to attempt IVF can still get pregnant. Are the pregnancy rates good? Not really, but they definately are not zero and likely higher than no treatment at all. On top on that, most couples have neither the means nor the patience to continue treatments. However, for those with the commitment and resources, and a realistic understanding of their prognosis, repeated attempts at IVF are not futile.