IVF Success Rates

The IVF program at RMA of Michigan attributes its high IVF success rates to various factors, including the experience and dedication of our physician and laboratory teams, individualized IVF protocols, laboratory conditions and techniques, and breakthrough technologies. When it comes to IVF, the roles of the physicians and the embryologists in the laboratory are distinctly different yet equally important.

IVF Success Rates

RMA of Michigan submits all of our IVF cycle outcomes to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART). SART is the primary organization of professionals dedicated to the practice of IVF or assisted reproductive technologies (ART) in the United States. SART clinics meet the highest standards for quality, safety, and patient care. SART reports birth outcome data from its member clinics. These reports provide reliable information for patients to make informed decisions and understand the likelihood of IVF success with different treatment options. Please click the link below to see RMA of Michigan’s most recent IVF success rates.

* A comparison of clinic success rates may not be meaningful because patient medical characteristics, treatment approaches and entrance criteria for ART may vary from clinic to clinic. Visit www.sart.org for more info.

How to Interpret IVF Success Rates

An important factor in choosing an IVF center is its success rates. Patients look for centers that have high success rates. These rates can be confusing, and it is essential that you understand how to interpret them. First, you want to look for clinics performing a many IVF cycles a year. Typically 200 or more total IVF cycles per year is adequate to determine success rates by age group. When there are small numbers per age group, success rates will vary significantly based on a difference of only one or two pregnancies.


Women under 35 years of age have the best chance of success with IVF. When looking at the SART data you will see this age group almost always has the highest success rate. Women ages 35-37 also have good IVF outcomes and a relatively high success rates. The age group, 38-40, will often have lower success rates. Anyone 41 and older has a very low chance of success unless they decide to use an egg donor.

RMA of Michigan will take on the more challenging patients who have failed previously at other infertility centers. We understand that taking on the tough cases may impact our success rates negatively. Some centers may decide not to treat patients with a low probability of success. We feel it is more important to care for all patients who want to conceive a child.

Percentage of Transfers Resulting in Live Births

The most important number is the percentage of transfers resulting in live births. It tells you how many cycles with transfers resulted in a baby. This number indicates how successful the center is at IVF based on that particular patient population. Please note that success rates are listed as a fraction when the total number of cycles in a segment is less than 20. Otherwise, you get a skewed perception of the centers success rates. For example, a clinic that performed a single cycle would have either a 100% or 0% success rate.

Average Number of Embryos Transferred

The average number of embryos transferred varies from age group to age group. Several factors influence how many embryos are transferred. Age, diagnosis, and your prior history all have an impact on the number of embryos transferred. The national average in 2006 was 2.3 embryos in the age groups up to 37 years old. Multiple rates should be looked at when doing your research. Centers with higher twin and triplet rates typically indicate that they are transferring more embryos to ensure a pregnancy is achieved. Patients need to be aware that the transfer of multiple embryos increases pregnancy success but also increases the risk of multiple births. A multiple pregnancy increases the health risks to the mother and the babies. At RMA, we counsel our patients so they know the risks involved with a multiple pregnancy and encourage our patients with a good prognosis to undergo an elective single embryo transfer.

IVF Success Factors


Undoubtedly, age is the most important factor in determining your chance of achieving a successful pregnancy through IVF. As the oocyte (egg) ages, it undergoes changes that render it less and less fertile as a woman advances through her 30s and 40s. As a woman ages, her chance of conceiving through IVF decreases. Her risk of early pregnancy loss increases, too, mainly related to the increasing frequency of chromosomal abnormalities within the oocyte and, thus, the developing embryo. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is a test designed to help identify genetically problematic embryos before being transferred back to the uterus. PGD may help to reduce the risk of early pregnancy loss related to the chromosomal abnormalities (aneuploidy) frequently found in embryos produced from aging oocytes.

FSH Levels

Day 3 follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels are also critically important in evaluating your potential for a successful conception in an assisted reproductive technology program. This blood test is usually drawn on the third day of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Day 3 FSH levels have shown an incredibly accurate predictor of IVF success, independent of age. An elevated Day 3 FSH value indicates a poor prognosis for conception through IVF and a high risk of pregnancy loss should a rare conception occur. Unfortunately, if you ever exhibit a high FSH value, having a normal value at a later time does not favorably change this prognosis. Every IVF program establishes a “threshold” FSH value unique to their laboratory, above which pregnancies are rarely conceived despite great effort and repeated IVF attempts. At RMA, we have determined that an FSH value of 15 or higher predicts that IVF will be of no value in helping to achieve pregnancy. FSH values over 14.5 have produced only rare pregnancies in our program. Before initiation of any IVF cycle, Day 3 FSH values are evaluated. Many factors can artificially depress FSH values but only diminished ovarian fertility reserve can cause an elevated FSH level. Egg donation is generally recommended as the most potentially successful treatment option in the setting of high FSH levels, especially when associated with age beyond 35.

Ovarian Fertility Reserve

The clomiphene citrate challenge test can also determine the extent of your ovarian fertility reserve. This test was designed to “unmask” undiagnosed cases of diminished ovarian reserve when Day 3 FSH values are normal – the equivalent of a “stress test” for the ovaries. During the CCCT, a Day 3 FSH value is assessed. If normal, 100 mg/day of clomiphene citrate (Clomid, Serophene) is administered from days 5-9 of your menstrual cycle. An FSH level is then assessed on Day 10. Suppose either the Day 3 or Day 10 FSH value is elevated. In that case, the test is considered abnormal and predicts a poor prognosis for IVF outcomes.

The Effects of Age on Fertility

Aging is a normal, inescapable process. As we age, various components of our bodies develop limited function or cease to function altogether. Changes in our reproductive processes are some of the more subtle changes that take place. The scientific community has recognized for quite some time that a woman’s reproductive potential declines with age. However, as societal changes have resulted in many women delaying childbearing, these nearly silent changes can significantly impact a woman’s life. 

Unfortunately, there are few, if any, outward signs of decline in the reproductive potential of most women. A woman may continue to have regular cycles until she nearly reaches menopause. However, her chance of conception starts to decline at a much younger age (Figure 1), generally around 30 years old. This results in a situation where nearly 1/3 of the couples with a woman 35 or older will have problems with fertility. It has been estimated that only 10-30% of women over 40 can become pregnant on their own. In addition, a woman’s chance of miscarriage also increases with age.

IVF Success Factors

Evaluation of Ovarian Reserve

Ovarian reserve refers to the reproductive potential in a woman’s two ovaries based on the number and quality of her eggs. Age is an important determinant of ovarian reserve. As we have previously discussed, the chances of conception decrease with age. However, not all women of the same age have the same reproductive potential. Further evaluation of ovarian reserve is done by tests that measure essential components of the reproductive system.

The standard screening test measures the hormones FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone), LH (Luteinizing Hormone), and Estradiol on cycle days 2, 3, or 4. (Day one of your cycle is the first full day of full menstrual flow). The FSH level is the most important of the three tests, with the measurement of LH and Estradiol modifying how we look at the FSH level. It has been shown that there are subtle rises in the FSH level as a woman ages. Women with abnormal FSH levels can have difficulty conceiving using their own oocyte.

Another test incorporated into evaluating ovarian reserve is the Clomiphene Citrate Challenge Test (CCCT). In this test, the cycle day 3 labs are followed by 5 days of the ovulation induction agent clomiphene citrate (Clomid, Serophene). On cycle day 10, the FSH and Estradiol are re-drawn. We expect the FSH level to be in a specific range due to the feedback from the follicle (s) developing under stimulation by the clomiphene citrate. If the FSH is not in the correct range, the test is abnormal, and the live birth rate for these patients is extremely poor. This test picks up another 30% of the patients with abnormal ovarian reserve.

A simple test of ovarian reserve that can be employed is the Basal Follicle Count. Early in the cycle, the small follicles that can be seen with ultrasound are counted. Very high numbers of small follicles suggest a tendency to over-respond to hormonal stimulation. A low number of follicles can predict the increased likelihood of a poor response to therapy and decreased chance of live birth.

It is important to understand that none of these tests individually are absolute when test results are normal or equivocal. (A markedly elevated FSH level, indicating a loss of reproductive potential, is as close to certainty as we get.) However, they are part of a picture, combined with the patient’s age and response to previous treatment. This gives the physician a pretty good idea of where the patient’s ovarian function stands.

Age, FSH level and ovarian reserve are three key factors that can all impact IVF success rates.