The myth about IVF

By Nina Steele 

For many people trying to conceive, IVF sometimes feels like the best chance they will ever have and one can understand why. Indeed unlike IUI for example which involves inserting sperm into a woman’s womb and hoping for the best, IVF takes the whole process further by actually implanting a woman’s fertilised egg back into her womb. On the face of it, this should make IVF very successful, unfortunately, the reality is anything but.

Indeed far from being that straight forward, the success rate of IVF will depend in great part on how old a woman is and even then, the chances are so slim in many cases that one wonders whether it is worth all the inconvenience of taking prolonged medications without mentioning the many injections prior to the procedure itself. To take two examples on both ends of the spectrum, the chances of becoming pregnant for a woman under 35 is 32.2% while those for a woman over the age of 44 is 1.9%. You would think that the chances for younger women would be far greater than 32.2% but the reality is that it isn’t.

My own experience of going through the whole process is that you feel a sense of increased confidence that you don’t always feel with other procedures and this to me is the problem. People are either not told the whole truth about the low success rate or they know exactly what the figures are but choose to ignore them and pray for a miracle. The only problem with praying for a miracle is that many people don’t know when to stop and so keep trying until they can no longer afford it.

As for us, we will never know whether or not the process would have been successful because on the day of the procedure, after months of taking medications and injecting myself, two operations to collect sperm from my husband proved unsuccessful. The doctors had known all along that he was azoospermic, however they had hoped that operating on him would provide them with the sperm they needed to fertilise my eggs and when this failed, the last leg of the procedure had to be abandoned.

All in all, far from being the panacea, IVF is a very expensive procedure that has for far too long given many people desperate for a child, a false hope. It is time for them to know the truth and hopefully make the right decision.

Female infertility


  1. Julez Fitzmond says

    When people talk about IVF, you usually only hear about the success stories. I think a lot of couples choose to keep it private if they’re going through it, and will only tell people around them if they manage to have a baby. So therefore, people might think that the chances are higher. It is important that people are given plenty of information at the beginning, because it is a very long process to go through if you have false hope.

  2. 32.2% is extraordinarily low considering the fact that a lot of people view IVF as a certain way to be able to have a child. So, I will admit that it is a bit shocking to read. I will send this link to a few people I know who are either considering IVF or who are going through it, because it is important that people know what they’re dealing with. Julez is right; it is heartbreaking if you assume that things are going to work when they don’t.

    • Julez Fitzmond says

      Yes, the stats actually mean that there is double the chance of you NOT having a child when compared with those who it actually does work for. So if you look at it from that perspective, you’d be very lucky to be one of the few. But at the same time it’s great that there is this other option that works for some couples; because in the past, everyone would have had to put up with being childless, whereas at least some have the chance to be parents now.

      • That’s an interesting (and even somewhat depressing) way of thinking about! But, depressing or not, those are the true statistics, and that means that it’s vital that people are aware of them. It’s also good for people who have managed to have children through IVF to see these figures, because then they will realise just how lucky they are to have been able to succeed!

        • Julez Fitzmond says

          Well yes, it is depressing, but it’s better to know everything that you can in advance rather than having to go through this sometimes painful and heartbreaking process for a long time before coming to the conclusion that it isn’t going to happen to you.

  3. IVF has for far too long been seen as the ultimate in trying for a baby. It is in a way the elephant in the room, in that people know that the success rate is low, yet they choose to ignore the facts. There was the well documented case recently of the woman who spent 30,000 trying for a child, along with many other stories of people having to re-mortgage their homes etc. The whole thing needs to be brought down in terms of the way it is perceived. That false perception associated with it has cost many people both emotionally and financially.

    • Dawn Kells says

      But DOES everyone know that the success rate is low? That’s the question! Yes, so maybe they get given information about the statistics once they start the process, but what about when they’re still in the “thinking about it” stage? They may still assume that it’s something that anyone at all can do and be successful at.

      • Julez Fitzmond says

        This is a fair point. I think if they managed to get as far as doing an internet search they would be able to get information about statistics, but for a lot of people the first thing they know about any information is when they visit their doctor, when they’ve just thought about in their heads without doing their own research.

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