Q. I’ve tried IVF (in vitro fertilization) several times with no success so far. How does a doctor know when to advise a couple to stop?
A. That really depends on the quality and quantity of the embryos you’ve produced. If egg and embryo quantity and quality appear acceptable, then it's usually okay to continue for four to six cycles. Generally speaking, there’s a “law of diminishing returns” that takes effect after the first cycle. That is, with each unsuccessful cycle the chance of success with the next one diminishes slightly. With the higher success rates seen in many IVF centers today, most women who have a good prognosis for success will become pregnant within the first few cycles. However, the old adage, “If at first you don't succeed, try, try again,” does apply to IVF and other fertility treatments. In other words, the more you try something, the greater the chance of success. You’ll need to evaluate your specific medical (and financial) situation with your clinic to decide how to proceed.