The cumulative benefit of multiple cycle IVF programmes

Being clearer about IVF success rates is actually key to improving them, argues Professor Scott Nelson in this blog. Here, he explains how a patient’s chances of having a baby improve after undergoing a multiple cycle IVF programme, By understanding how this works, prospective parents can better manage their expectations, control their finances and improve their IVF experience. Learn more about the cumulative benefit of multiple cycle IVF programmes and how we can help you on that journey.

One hundred women

To help you visualise how multiple cycle IVF programmes improve IVF success rates, imagine 100 women in a room who want to have a baby through IVF. Let’s start with a group who have a very good prognosis. They are all aged 35, they have been trying to conceive for two years, have a regular cycle and no issues with tubes or sperm. Their chances of success are pretty good, but even still, using UK wide data only approximately 40 women in the room will get pregnant on their first round of IVF (statistics taken from the University of Aberdeen calculator).

If the remaining 60 women choose to have another round, roughly a third of them will be successful this time. Then, if the 40 who are left try again, around 12 will be pregnant. By the end, after three rounds of IVF, you have 72 women out of 100 who have achieved their dream of having a baby, rather than just 40 after one.

figure showing the cumulative benefit of multiple cycle ivf programmes

This cumulative benefit a multiple cycle IVF programme is also significant for patients facing greater fertility challenges. Let’s now consider a room with 100 women aged 38, who have been trying for three years, with regular cycles but problems with their tubes. Their chances of becoming pregnant are much lower, and after one round of IVF, just 26 would be successful. However, after a further two rounds, 61 of the women in that room would have had a baby.

The importance of understanding IVF success rates

Despite the low probability of success on the first round, most patients who start IVF treatment expect to be pregnant on the first go. Optimistically, they underestimate their odds of failure. As a result, when the majority are unsuccessful, it creates a huge negative psychological effect. The emotional trauma can be enough to put many off coming back for a second or third round. We even see this in places where multiple cycles of fertility treatment is state-funded. By missing out on the cumulative benefit of multiple rounds of IVF, the patient misses out on their chances of having a baby.

Fertility clinics have a responsibility to make sure people better understand IVF success rates and manage their expectations. In other areas of medicine, such as cancer treatment, doctors will prescribe multiple rounds of treatment in advance because they know it will have a higher chance of success. If the patient understands the benefit, and the cost (physical, psychological and financial), they feel informed and better prepared for their treatment and can then continue with multiple cycles even if arduous. Setting your expectation that you may require multiple IVF cycles is a critical part of the mental framework that will help you deal with the roller coaster of emotions you will experience with IVF.

How we can help you plan for your multiple cycle IVF programme

Unlike with other medical treatment, patients embarking on IVF do so at great cost with a much lower probability of success. Not many of us would consider spending such a large amount of money on something without a better guarantee of it working.

In order to de-risk that scenario, our Multi-Cycle Programme allows patients to access multiple rounds of treatment at a much cheaper price point. Costs vary from clinic to clinic depending on their success rates, but patients typically save a lot of money when buying a four-round multi-cycle package in advance, versus paying for each round one after the other.

Furthermore, being able to plan financially how you will fund multiple rounds can help relieve some of the stress and anxiety of IVF treatment. We know that IVF treatment is very challenging emotionally, and if we can reduce that pressure, then that is likely to improve your chances of success. Patients often share with us that having everything covered helped them to relax, which has resulted in them achieving their dream of starting a family.

Read Natalie’s story of how the multi-cycle programme helped her achieve her goal of becoming a mum

Natalie and Darren used a multiple cycle IVF programme to help create their family

Finally, the other advantage of our Multi-Cycle Programme is that you can access this programme even if you identify yourself as having a poor prognosis. Perhaps you’re an older women, you’ve been unsuccessful before, or you have a low ovarian reserve. You can still opt-in to the multicycle process and it does not depend on any medical review.

What about the 28 women who are left in the room?

If we revisit our 100 35 year old women in the room who all want to have a baby, you may remember there were 28 left at the end who were unsuccessful. How can you protect yourself if you are the 1 in 5 who doesn’t have a baby after three rounds of IVF?

Access Fertility offers a refund programme whereby you receive a 100% refund if sadly you do not achieve your dream of having a baby. To us, success means a live birth – if you have a miscarriage, a stillbirth or a medically recommended termination, you would be eligible for a refund. For some of our patients, that refund has meant they can go on to consider other routes to starting a family, such as adoption. Alternatively, others have used the money to fund another IVF cycle, to top up their finances, or pursue a different dream, such as a trip abroad.

Learn more about the Multi-Cycle Programme, IVF refund and Donor-Egg IVF refund programmes which Access Fertility offers to support you with your IVF treatment. If you are unsure of the best option for you and would like some support, book your free consultation with our fertility nurse, Kelly or request a call from our patient advisors.

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