The number of women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment has grown more than 50% since the world financial crisis, and yet we as patients have little understanding about our individual prospects for success. We took a look at the data from our first thousand reviewers and were surprised by what we found. We thought we'd share with you some of what we presented at the 2016 American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference.
Wealthier Women Are More Likely To Have a Baby
Women with a household income of $100,000 are two times more likely to achieve success when undergoing IVF than women from households making under $100,000 (p < .05). This phenomenon persists after accounting for variables such as age, race, level of education and geography. It also applies to most other fertility treatments, not just IVF.
Despite the galloping pace at which hopeful parents are being treated, fertility treatment costs remain lofty: patients on FertilityIQ report, on average, paying $23,050 in drug and treatment costs per cycle. According to the CDC, the average IVF cycle is 70% likely to fail, thus forcing most patients to contemplate multiple rounds of therapy. For many, that is easier said than done, as the vast majority of respondents paid for their treatment out of pocket.
It would seem to make sense then that wealthier women are more successful because they can "throw money at the problem" and do more cycles, right? That's not what our data found. This disparity in success persisted even after we accounted for cycle volume. And we believe the same may be true for egg freezers as well.
Teacher & Sales Reps Do Best, Bankers & Engineers Do Worse
Women working in specific roles and fields fare significantly better than their peers when undergoing fertility treatment generally, and IVF specifically.
Teachers are nearly two times more likely to have success than their peers when undergoing IVF (p < .01), even after accounting for the pro-income bias mentioned above. Teachers tell us they feel their work environment puts them in a unique position to succeed: colleagues are happy to talk openly about their fertility experiences, are able to offer suggestions for better doctors, and teachers can use the summer months to undergo multiple cycles of treatment.
Similarly, we noticed women who work in roles in sales, marketing or public relations are more than twice as likely to record a successful outcome with IVF compared with women working in other roles (p < .05).
On the other hand, we note that women working in traditionally male-dominated roles (namely investment banking or engineering) were nearly 60% less likely to record success with their fertility treatments generally (p = .069), and IVF specifically. Often these women comment that their work environment represents a hindrance during treatment. Patients in these fields comment that they felt the need to keep their treatment a secret from bosses and colleagues and found it harder to begin, and adhere to, cycle requirements given competing work schedules and pressures.
We've also done extensive work to characterize which fields and employers provide the most generous fertility benefit packages. This November we released our 2016 Corporate Fertility Benefits Rankings.
Education is Potentially a Factor
While it’s an axiom within healthcare that patients with higher levels of education derive better outcomes in nearly all treatment classes, this was not the case for respondents here. We saw a gentle decline in cumulative rates of success with every incremental level of educational attainment. However, much of the significance washed away when we accounted for factors like age and income.
Similarly, we've seen patterns emerge of higher rates of success in the northeastern and western U.S., versus the southern and midwestern U.S., but the disparity doesn't meet statistical significance when we take into account a broader host of variables.