New study results found that one in six (17 percent) of patients experiencing unsuccessful cycles of IVF went on to have a baby without help, within five years.
'IVF is not something that couples take on lightly,' said lead researcher Dr David McLernon. 'It can be a physically and emotionally demanding process even if treatment is successful. When it is unsuccessful, understandably couples can be left distraught ... This study gives couples a clearer idea of their chances of conceiving naturally, even after IVF has been unsuccessful.'
Conception rates were recorded by Dr McLernon and his team at an IVF unit in Aberdeen. The study included 2,133 women who had received treatments between 1998 and 2011 who were followed-up between one and 15 years later.
1,060 of these women achieved a live birth following successful IVF or ICSI and 15 percent went on to have another live birth, independent of treatment within five years. The remaining 1,073 whose treatment resulted in no pregnancy or pregnancy loss went on to have a live birth (17 percent).
According to their report, among unsuccessfully treated women, the chance of post-IVF live birth was reduced in those with tubal factor infertility. The researchers also acknowledge that data was unavailable on the women's use of contraception or active attempts to get pregnant which could influence treatment-independent live birth rates.
However, the study, funded by the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office and published in Human Reproduction is the largest of its kind. A small number of other studies have investigated treatment-independent conception following IVF, but the majority were based on surveys with poor response rates and limited sample sizes.
'This study looked at data from more than 2,000 women which we think makes it one of the most robust studies of its type,' said McLernon. 'Hopefully with this information patients will be able to make an informed choice about their next moves after treatment.'