A computer-based analysis of age, changing levels of hormones, BMI, and endometrial thickness may improve the chances of getting pregnant using IVF.
For most women considering in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, predicting the likelihood of IVF success has relied on traditional age-based guidelines. But a new computer-based analysis of several factors, including age and shifting levels of specific reproductive hormones, may be more precise when it comes to predicting a woman's chances for becoming pregnant, according to new research published July 19, 2010, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study, conducted by researchers from Stanford University, looked at 634 IVF treatments to test their model, relying on data from at least one failed IVF attempt. In addition to age, factors such as hormone levels, endometrial thickness, and body mass index were taken into account (after one IVF attempt, these factors are known). In 60 percent of patients, computer analysis found a significant difference in predicted odds for having a baby. For instance, one 38-year-old woman's likelihood of success from a second round of in-vitro fertilization was predicted to be 44 percent, topping age-related estimates of 22 percent to 28 percent, explains Mylene Yao, author of a study, in an interview with Bloomberg Business Week.
According to Yao, age alone would be a better predictor of the success of fertility treatment in fewer than one in 1,000 cases.
Researchers hope their computer model will one day be available to fertility patients as a way to make more informed choices about what can be very costly IVF treatments. (Current estimates show that one cycle of IVF in the United States costs between $10,000 to $15,000.) And for women who might feel discouraged by a failed IVF cycle, having a more precise reading of their odds may be the boost they need to keep trying. "When people have the information about their own specific chances, they are going to feel more confident about pursuing the treatment," Yao says (via ABC News).