Increasing the Number of IVF Cycles May Be Beneficial

By ekem, Courtesy: RWJMS IVF Program [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it was found that even though in vitro fertilization or IVF is often limited to a three or four cycle of treatment, new research has proven the effectiveness of extending the number of treatment cycles.

In-Vitro Fertilization Cycles

Typically, in vitro fertilization is discontinued after 3 or 4 unsuccessful attempts. Dr. Debbie Lawlor of the University of Bristol in the UK and her colleagues examined the extent to which IVF cycles continued to increase the chances of a live birth. The IVF cycle is defined as the initiation of treatment with ovarian stimulation and all resulting separate fresh or frozen egg transfers.

Her study included 156,947 women in the U.K. who received 257,398 IVF ovarian stimulation cycles between 2003 and 2010. These female participants were followed until June 2012. The average age of a woman in the study was 35 years old, and the median duration of infertility for all cycles was approximately 4 years.

In all the women participating in the study, the live-birth rate for a first cycle of IVF was 29.5 percent. The rate remained above 20 percent up to and including the fourth cycle of IVF. The live birth rate across all cycles continued to grow up to the ninth cycle, with 65 percent of women achieving a live birth by the sixth cycle.

Women between the ages of 40 and 42 years of age, the live birth rate for the first IVF cycle was 12 percent, with 6 cycles achieving a cumulative prognosis-adjusted live birth rate of 31.5 percent. For women over the age of 42, all rates within any given cycle were less than 4 percent. No age differential was observed among females using donor eggs. The rates for women with untreated male partner infertility were lower when compared with those with any other cause.

Women who were younger than 40, those using donor eggs and those with male partner related infertility that was treated, achieved live birth after five or six cycles of IVF. Usually couples with these extenuating factors needed two years to conceive, which is similar to the rates in couples who were not using any type of fertility treatments after one year of trying.

The study also showed that the number of eggs retrieved after ovarian stimulation in one cycle didn’t influence the live birth success rate in later pregnancies. This is very important because couples are often told by fertility specialists that their chances of successful conception with future fertility treatments is likely to be poor, if they had no or only a small number of eggs retrieved in any given cycle.

Conclusion of the Study:

Researchers observed that for some couples, repeated IVF treatments can cause emotional stress which can be undesirable, in addition to the costs of prolonging treatment. Dr. Evan Myers, one of the lead researchers on the study states, “For clinicians, it is most important that these data be shared with couples so that they can make a truly informed decision.”


The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. See our Legal Statement for more details.

Fertility Clinics Directory

Find a Fertility Clinic

If you or a loved one is suffering from infertility and needs help conceiving then we are here to offer help in any way we can. We have over 450 Fertility Clinics listed on our Directory. Click here to search for a Fertility Clinic that is right for you.