With all this talk of fertility, infertility, fear of infertility, anger about fear of infertility…it’s nice to have something positive to say on the subject. A new test under development at Stanford University can apparently predict a woman’s chances of successful pregnancy with IVF, and do it pretty accurately, too. In the current model, women are counseled about likelihood of IVF outcome according to age-based success rates. But these are not such an accurate predictor on an individual basis. The new test is far more accurate: 1000 times as accurate, in fact.
Once the test is available clinically, it could make a huge difference for women with fertility issues. If women were able to tell before going through the procedure whether or not it was likely to be successful, this knowledge could inform their choices, and they could decide whether or not to go through with the procedure or pursue another option (ie, donor eggs, surrogacy, adoption, deciding to lean into the pleasures of life without kids).
Of course, there’s always the question of whether the margin of error is acceptable, and people who are given low odds might decide to do the procedure anyway. But for those who’d rather spare themselves the rollercoaster ride if the chances are slim to none, this could mean a huge savings of time, money and emotional exhaustion.
The test works by analyzing information from previous IVF attempts, identifying 52 different factors important to pregnancy success, and synthesizing this data using a computer model. The process is called phenotyping. This more specific info is not only more accurate than the age-based models, but is often very different:“The researchers determined that the model’s predictions were significantly different than the age-based predictions in 60 percent of patients. Interestingly, out of this group, more than half were assigned greater odds of having a baby than what age-related data indicated.” So 30% of women undergoing IVF actually have more chance of getting pregnant than they think they do.
The test is just being broadly announced, but doctors hope it will be available in fertility clinics at some point in the near future.
Photo: Cesar Astudillo/Flickr