Less guesswork for IVF

A new website allows prospective parents to see the success rates of all 85 accredited IVF clinics across Australia, making comparisons between clinics easier and more transparent.

The YourIVFSuccess website – launched on Monday by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt and South Australian Senator Stirling Griff – provides independent and impartial information about the clinics and their treatment success.

The website has been developed by the National Perinatal Epidemiology Statistics Unit (NPESU) at UNSW Sydney and is funded by the Federal Government. It includes a new online tool called the IVF Patient Estimator that allows couples to predict their chances of successfully having a baby based on their individual characteristics.

“IVF has helped hundreds of thousands of Australians become parents,” says NPESU director Georgina Chambers. “But until now, there hasn’t been an easy way to find and compare fertility clinics or to estimate an individual’s chance of treatment success.”

The site uses four indicators to measure the success rates of clinics, including births from each egg retrieval cycle for all women and for those who are new to IVF, births per individual treatment attempt and births for each embryo that is transferred.

“These four measures provide an overall view of a clinic’s performance, while respecting clinician and patient autonomy for how IVF is practised, and most importantly, these measures minimise incentives for poor clinical practice, or incentivise clinics to only treat patients with a good chance of IVF success,” says Chambers.

Chambers describes the IVF Patient Estimator as “the most contemporary and comprehensive estimation calculator for IVF success in the world. It will help those thinking about starting, or continuing IVF, make more informed choices and to predict their chances of having a baby.”

In the past, the only way for patients to assess success rates was to go to individual clinics directly, where outcomes are presented in different ways making comparisons more difficult.

Underlying the website’s transparency to patients is the Australia and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Database (ANZARD), which the NPESU manages – a registry of all assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment cycles undertaken in Australian and New Zealand fertility clinics.

Created by UNSW’s Centre for Big Data Research in Health, the IVF prediction tool is based on information from more than 600,000 IVF cycles done between 2009 and 2017 in Australia and recorded on the ANZARD database.

ANZARD collects information on almost 80,000 IVF cycles performed by Australian fertility clinics each year. Its most recent data shows that more than 14,500 babies were born each year in Australia from IVF treatment – about one in 20 of total annual Australian births.

A couple will be able to predict their chance of IVF success by entering such characteristics as their ages, diagnoses, whether they’re new to IVF, previous IVF cycles and if they already have children.

“IVF is a difficult process both physically and emotionally and each cycle can leave patients significantly out of pocket,” says Chambers. “This independent site will be invaluable for anyone thinking about starting or continuing IVF and looking for impartial information to inform those choices.”

Chambers notes that similar sites exist in the UK and US.

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