Misleading IVF Data

The ethics of in vitro fertilization (IVF) involve much more than implanting too many embryos. A recent birth of octuplets resulting from an IVF procedure brought to home the necessity of investigating track record claims and stated success rates for doctors treating infertility. There is more to the numbers than meets the eye.

An investigation of the clinic responsible for the IVF procedure that resulted in octuplets proved the clinic actually had success rates below the nation's average and had excluded women over the age of 35 from their program. In an effort to increase the chances of conception, the investigators allege that the doctor in question implanted six embryos. This number is greater than double the recommended number of embryos to use for a single IVF implantation procedure.

Fudging Numbers

There are other fertility clinics fudging their numbers and claiming above average success rates by limiting their practice to easier cases or younger patients. That's why the experts are now telling fertility patients not to get too hung up on the numbers when choosing a clinic or physician. The statistics can be very misleading.

Fertility Centers of Illinois' Dr. John Rapisarda explains that the doctors and clinics have varied criteria for accepting patients into IVF programs. The greater the number of restrictions on who can and cannot be accepted, the higher the pregnancy rates are liable to be, since those with a decreased chance for conception are eliminated from their programs. Dr. Rapisarda states, "This may then limit access to services for some couples who are less likely to get pregnant, making it difficult to directly compare statistics between programs."

Challenging Patients

The Fertility Centers of Illinois are known for their success in treating the most challenging patients and for finding solutions to really difficult fertility issues. Based on professional experience, FCI has asked patients to look into the following issues when seeking a physician and fertility clinic:

1) Higher order multiples—If a given clinic is reporting a higher than average number of higher order multiple births, this suggests the clinic is implanting too many embryos to drive up their success rates.

2) Cryo-embryo transfer success rates—Success rates for embryos that have been in storage should be no lower than 10-15% as compared to the rates for transfers of fresh embryos. A higher success rate reflects well on the embryology lab.

Donor Eggs

3) Egg donor success rates—Stay away from a clinic that isn't having a great success rate with donor eggs. Donor eggs should help the chances that IVF will succeed, and not lower them.

4) Practice size—Contrary to what you might have supposed a larger practice is better than a smaller one, since it offers you the benefit of greater experience. Physicians in a large practice are confronted with the gamut of difficult fertility issues and hone their skills over and over again.

5) Services on Offer—Ascertain that the program offers the most cutting-edge techniques, for instance Third Party Reproduction and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD).

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