No one necessarily dreams of building their family through in vitro fertilization (IVF) but there are several reasons why IVF might be the right option for you. You may be aware of a known medical issue such as endometriosis that has blocked your fallopian tubes, you may be in a same sex male couple relationship and plan on building your family through donor eggs and a surrogate, or you may have a known genetic disorder and have spoken to your doctor about IVF and Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Monogenic Diseases (PGT-M, formerly known as PGD) to help increase the chances of your baby being born disease free. Whatever has brought you to pursing IVF, you are no doubt wondering what your chances are for success. You may have heard about an IVF Calculator that can predict outcomes, but does it actually work?
What is an IVF Calculator?
If you search online, you will find different tools, apps, predictors and websites that offer an IVF Calculator where you can fill out details such as:
- Your age
- Your weight
- How long you’ve been trying to conceive
- If you’re using your own eggs
- If you or your partner has a known diagnosis
- What medication and/or protocol your doctor is recommending (hormone injectables, ICSI, etc.)
- If you’ve ever been pregnant before (how many times and if it was through treatment or not)The IVF Calculator takes all of the information you’ve entered and, depending on which IVF Calculator you’re using, it will either calculate your probability of having a live birth after a certain number of cycles or will give you your chance of having a successful IVF cycle in general.
It’s also important to mention that every IVF Calculator is different. Some ask you if you’ve had previous treatment while others do not. This is something to consider because depending on which IVF Calculator you use, you may get a different answer on how successful your upcoming IVF cycle will be.
How Accurate is an IVF Calculator?
While an IVF Calculator can take the information you’ve entered and perhaps give you an idea of your odds as well as manage some of your expectations, it shouldn’t be considered a complete and definite answer on the future of your IVF cycle. There are many other factors that these IVF Calculators don’t consider and over the course of your care, your IVF protocol or condition may change.
Going Beyond the IVF Calculator and Improving Outcomes
One thing you can use the IVF Calculator for is to show the results to your doctor and get his or her input. You should feel comfortable speaking to them and getting their thoughts on what they feel your chances of success might be, how many cycles they feel you might need to achieve a live birth, and if there is anything they would recommend to increase the possibility of success in your IVF cycle. While online resources and tools, like an IVF Calculator, can help as conversation starters, no one knows our medical history better than ourselves and the doctors we are being treated by. It’s helpful to have these conversations with your reproductive endocrinologist so that you can determine your best options, such as whether or not doing a frozen embryo transfer over fresh makes the most sense, or whether investing in adding Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidy (PGT-A, formerly known as PGS) to your IVF cycle will help improve the chances of IVF success by selecting chromosomally normal embryos, or if you should proceed with a single embryo transfer (eSET), or if a test like Endometrial Receptivity Analysis (ERA) would be recommended to help avoid implantation failure by establishing the best day for embryo transfer. These are decisive actions you can take to help improve your IVF outcome, especially if you don’t like the number the IVF Calculator provided as your likelihood of success..
At the end of the day, it’s very difficult to know what the future holds, even with all of the data and science available. However, if you work with your doctor to arm yourself with all of the reproductive tools, tests and advantages available to you, you can definitely help tip the odds in your favor!