The online calculator, created by researchers from the University of Aberdeen, considers a couple’s specific characteristics to predict their chances of having a baby over up to six IVF (in vitro fertilisation) or ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) cycles.
According to David McLernon, who led the team, the online tool will “help to shape couples’ expectations, allowing them to plan their treatments more efficiently and to prepare emotionally and financially.”
Writing in the BMJ on Wednesday 16 November, McLernon also explained the calculator will help clinicians explain to couples their personalised chances of having a baby over an entire package of IVF treatment.
The calculator can be used both before and after first IVF treatment, and over multiple cycles.
It is based on data from 113,873 couples who started IVF or ICSI treatment between 1999 and 2008, which was provided by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
IVF is one of several fertility treatments available to people struggling to conceive. During IVF, an egg is removed from the woman’s ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory. The fertilised egg (embryo), is then placed into the woman’s womb to grow.
ICSI is a type of IVF that only requires one sperm per egg.
This is the first tool to provide cumulative estimates over multiple complete IVF cycles, which the researchers state is important because the first attempt does not always work and the increase in frozen embryo use means women have further attempts in that one complete cycle.
The researchers caution that some potentially important characteristics of patients, such as BMI, smoking, alcohol intake and basal follicle stimulating hormone levels, were not available when developing the tool.
Furthermore, the model should not be used to make decisions around whether or not couples should have IVF treatment, because to be used for that purpose it would need to incorporate more data than is currently available.
“These are the first models to predict individualised chances of live birth over a course of complete IVF cycles,” the researchers conclude.
“The results are relevant not only for individual couples and their clinicians, but also for funders and policy makers in determining access to state or insurance funded IVF.”
Click here to access the calculator.