From today a new calculator is available online which claims to tell people considering IVF treatment how likely it is to be a success.
The new online tool, created by academics at Glasgow and Bristol, uses data held by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), on more than 144,000 IVF cycles and their outcomes. The calculator considers the woman’s age, how many years she has been trying to get pregnant, what doctors say is the cause of the infertility, what previous IVF attempts have been made and what the outcomes were.
The makers claim that by analysing this specific information, the calculator can give accurate predictions of the likelihood of IVF treatment working.
Well, that’s not surprising. Any good, experienced fertility consultant will be able to tell you that using the same information. The issue with this calculator is that it doesn’t take into account that everyone’s circumstances and reason for needing IVF is different.
There are many other factors other than just a person’s age and medical history that can affect the outcome of an IVF cycle. These include the success rate of the clinic you’re thinking of going to for treating women of your specific age and the competency of the consultants.
What concerns me is that people may use this calculator to decide whether or not to pursue IVF, without even asking an expert’s opinion.
The fact is that any good fertility clinic will tell you whether your treatment is likely to succeed, once they have a thorough picture of the fertility issues you face, no matter how high or low that outcome is. Because no clinic wants to see treatment fail, what would be the point of putting people through it if we knew in reality it wouldn’t work? This is one of the reasons you should always research potential clinics thoroughly. No clinic should ever make false promises of pregnancy just to secure you as a patient.
But then would you really place your hope of having a family in what is essentially an online Q&A?