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Is IVF a waste of time?

IVF is expensive — and there is no guarantee that a pregnancy will result. A new test may be able to tell prospective parents if it’s a good idea to proceed, or whether it would be a waste of time and money.

Woman disappointed about negative pregnancy test

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a major treatment for infertility when other methods a woman or couple have used have not been met with success. It is costly, uncomfortable and time-consuming — and if a pregnancy doesn’t result, it can be devastating.

“In vitro” refers to something that takes place outside of the body — in this case, the fertilization of an egg by sperm. If you are at the point where you are considering IVF as an option, you might be interested to know that there is actually a test to help determine your chances of success.

IVF basics

Dr. Mylene Yao, co-founder and CEO of Univfy, was on hand to discuss IVF, as well as her company’s new test that can help a woman and her care provider know if the procedure is likely to be successful — very handy knowledge considering the sum of money required.

“Although originally developed to overcome tubal factors, today IVF is used to treat a wide variety of infertility diagnoses,” Dr. Yao explained. Other reasons women and couples turn to IVF are low sperm counts, issues with ovulation or ovarian dysfunction.

A typical IVF procedure is pretty involved. It starts by turning off the woman’s naturally cycling hormones so ovulation will not take place. Over a course of 10 to 12 days, she then receives injections to prompt her body to produce more eggs than usual, which is monitored by blood tests and ultrasounds. During an outpatient procedure, the eggs are retrieved, and in a laboratory, these eggs are combined with her partner’s sperm.

After a few days of development, one or two embryos are selected to be implanted in the hopeful mother’s uterus. “This procedure is done via a catheter inserted through the vagina and cervix in a very quick outpatient procedure somewhat similar to a Pap smear,” Dr. Yao told us. “A pregnancy test is done to determine success in approximately two weeks.”

No guarantees

Unfortunately, even with the best physicians on your side, there are no guarantees that IVF will result in a successful pregnancy. That’s where a screening test like Univfy comes in. When patients are directed to look at the CDC’s data on IVF and its pregnancy success statistics, they may be discouraged. “We know that aging is not the only factor and many other facets make up the patient’s complete fertility story,” said Dr. Yao. “Many patients do not fit neatly into these averages and age buckets, and they may actually have better or worse probabilities of becoming pregnant from IVF than their age predicts.”

About Univfy

Univfy’s prediction tests (there are two offered) are based on prediction models built from in-depth data derived from thousands of IVF cycles from three different university-affiliated outpatient IVF clinics in three countries. “Both prediction tests use information from the patient’s medical history plus data from two other lab tests — a day 3 FSH level and the total motile sperm count from the male partner’s semen analysis (if sperm from the male partner will be used),” she explained.

The difference between the tests? The Univfy PreIVF provides a personalized probability of IVF success during the first cycle, while the Univfy PredictIVF is used to predict the probability of success in later IVF cycles based on the patient’s health data and data from at least one prior IVF cycle.

Knowledge is power

Having the information before shelling out thousands of dollars for an invasive and emotionally-wrought procedure such as IVF is virtually priceless. It can save couples from going through with it if their chances of a successful pregnancy are low, and can encourage those who may have thought that IVF was beyond hope.

To find out more about Univfy, visit their website at

More on IVF and infertility

Parents compete for a free IVF
The secret language of infertility
TTC: I quit!

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