September 24, 2022

How long should women persevere with IVF?

In Israel women with up to two children can receive unlimited free, government-funded IVF treatment. This means that it is an ideal place to test the effectiveness of IVF in increasing fertility. Unfortunately, according to the Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, this policy has failed. Instead, it has just hooked some women on endless painful and humiliating IVF treatment.

In Israel women with up to two children can receive unlimited free, government-funded IVF treatment. This means that it is an ideal place to test the effectiveness of IVF in increasing fertility.

Unfortunately, according to a literature survey in the Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, IVF has not increased fertility significantly in Israel. Instead, it has just hooked some women on endless painful and humiliating IVF treatment. Some women, the authors say,  are spending seven years in IVF clinics, meaning that they go through 35 and 42 cycles. Yet the likelihood of a child is almost zero. In fact, worldwide, “the rate of success after seven failed attempts is zero, or almost zero”. There is a familiar pattern:

“the three first cycles of IVF have the best chance, with success rates rapidly plummeting to none after each new unsuccessful cycle. The cumulative rate between the third and the fourth cycle of IVF improves by just 4.4%, between the fourth and the fifth cycle by 2.7%, and so on; between the seventh and the eighth cycle the odds for a live delivery drops to 0.8%. Between the eighth and fourteenth cycles, the odds of having a baby with IVF is 0.1% (per cycle); over the age of 40 it is zero.”

The authors call for “an evidence-based policy on assistive reproductive technologies”, as Israel’s policy of unlimited funding seems profligate and effectively useless. In fact, it may even enmesh women in the misery of a “perseverance trap”. The authors caustically observe that some IVF practitioners “seem to be suggesting that women should continue having endless IVF for the sake of a miraculous event”. ~ Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, April

Michael Cook
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Israel
IVF