Background: In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is the treatment of choice for unresolved infertility. It comprises a number of key steps, each of which has to be negotiated before the next is attempted, but the factors which are associated with failure at each stage have not been reported.
Methods and findings: We analyzed anonymised national data on women undergoing their first fresh autologous IVF and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) cycle in the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2007 to predict factors associated with overall lack of livebirth as well as the chance of non-progress at different stages of an IVF cycle. A total of 121,744 women were included in this analysis. Multivariable models underlined the importance of increased female age and duration of infertility, lack of previous pregnancy, and a diagnosis of tubal or male factor infertility in predicting the risk of not having a live birth in an IVF treatment. At each stage, a woman's chance of proceeding to the next stage of IVF treatment is affected by increased age and duration of infertility. The intention to use intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is associated with a decreased risk of treatment failure in women starting an IVF cycle (RR 0.93, 99% CI 0.92, 0.94) but this association is reversed at a later stage once fertilisation has been confirmed (RR=1.01, 99%CI 1.00, 1.03).
Conclusions: Female age is a key predictor of failure to have a livebirth following IVF as well as the risk of poor performance at each stage of treatment. While increased duration of infertility is also associated with worse outcomes at every stage, its impact appears to be less influential. Women embarking on ICSI treatment for male factor infertility have a lower chance of treatment failure but this does not appear to be due to increased chances of implantation of ICSI embryos.