Failed IVF doesn’t always mean no baby, research suggests

Some couples go on to conceive naturally after unsuccessful IVF treatments, according to new study

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Couples who’ve tried IVF and haven’t fallen pregnant could still conceive naturally – even if they’ve been told they’re infertile – a new study suggests.

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Dr Penelope Troude from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) shared results from a France-based study of 2,100 couples, with Reuters Health.

Of the 2,100 couples, who started IVF treatment in the early 2000s, around 1,300 had a baby as a result of the treatment. Around 10 years later, the couples were asked if they’d gone on to fall pregnant naturally. Of those who’d had successful IVF treatments, 17% had another baby naturally. Of the couples with unsuccessful IVF treatments, 24% had gone on to have what doctors have reportedly dubbed a “spontaneous” pregnancy.

Dr Penelope said, “It must be borne in mind that infertility did not mean no chance to conceive but low or very low chance to conceive”.

In a letter to Reuters, Dr Johannes Evers, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Masstricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, suggested couples’ behaviour could be a driving force behind the figures. “Successful couples already had their child(ren), so they will have used contraception.” Dr Johannes also noted the effect of age, with 45% of the women under 35 going on to conceive naturally after failed IVF.

Dr Penelope said the findings could be a good sign for couples with unexplained infertility trying to have a baby (as opposed to those who have a clear reason for not initially getting pregnant). However, Dr Penelope made it clear more research was needed due to the long follow up time, in addition to a lack of participation during the follow up. Dr Penelope said, “Pregnant couples will have been more likely to answer than disappointed childless couples.”

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