Around one in six women conceive naturally following failed IVF treatment, a new study by researchers at the University of Aberdeen has found.
The team say the findings could offer hope to women who have undergone emotionally draining and physically invasive fertility treatment. by giving them a clearer picture of conceiving after treatment.
The research, believed to be one of the biggest of its kind, involved data from 2,133 women who received IVF treatment between 1998 and 2011 at an IVF unit in Aberdeen.
Of the total number of women, 1,060 achieved a live birth following successful IVF (or Intracytoplasmic sperm injection - ICSI), of whom 15 per cent went on to have another live birth, independent of treatment within five years.
However, of the remaining 1,073 whose IVF treatment resulted in no pregnancy or pregnancy loss, 17 per cent went on to have a live birth.
The women’s records were followed for between one and 15 years.
Dr David McLernon, lead researcher, said the results would give people a better understanding of outcomes after unsuccessful IVF.
“IVF treatment is not something that couples take on lightly, and it can be a physically and emotionally demanding process even if treatment is successful.
“When it is unsuccessful, understandably couples can be left distraught.
“This study will give couples a clearer idea of their chances of conceiving naturally, even after IVF has been unsuccessful. Hopefully with this information they will be able to make an informed choice about their next moves after treatment.
“There have been a number of limited studies looking at this area previously, but most of them have been based on surveys with poor response rates and a small sample size.
“This study looked at data from more than 2,000 women which we think makes it one of the most robust studies of its type.”
The study was funded by the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office and published in Human Reproduction,
In Scotland all eligible couples may be offered up to three cycles of NHS IVF treatment. This is the same across all health boards.
It is believed that around one in seven couples experience difficulty having children.