Try, try again proves to be a failure

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For a lot of infertile couples, the decisions are difficult. Accepting your unique challenges for creating a family is the first of many challenges. Researching the methods of fertility assistance and then financing those methods. And then the ultimate question: when do we stop, change direction or give up? A new report from the journal Fertility and Sterility presents data that can help couples make a better determination of how many times to try before moving on. A couple’s chances of becoming pregnant diminish at each attempt if the method of intervention is the same.

The report focused on three fertility treatments: fertility drugs to stimulate ovulation and production of eggs, intrauterine insemination (IUI) where sperm is placed in the uterus via catheter to get hook up with the egg, and in vitro fertilization (IVF) where the egg and sperm are joined in a lab and then transplanted to the uterus later.

Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) looked at 408 couples from eight different clinics. Couples who used fertility drugs over two cycles saw 85% success. Those who had one round of IUI achieved 71% success and the group that went with IVF after one round experienced 59% success. These are all impressive numbers.

But, with subsequent rounds, the remaining couples achieved significantly less success. Of the six couples that went six or more rounds, they only had 29% success. The advantage of IUI completely disappeared after the third attempt. The advantage of IVF goes away after round two. Only 35% achieve pregnancy with IVF after having tried already twice before.

“Medications only, IUI and IVF are all effective treatment choices, but their benefits don’t continue indefinitely,” Dr. James Smith, an assistant professor of urology at UCSF, told Reuters Health. “If couples are not getting pregnant after several cycles of each, a change to a different strategy is probably best.”

Source: Reuters Health


 
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