Reproductive Rounds

Understanding clinic-reported IVF success rates


The field of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) continues to evolve from its first successful birth in 1978 in England, and then in 1981 in the United States. Over the last 6 years, the total number of cycles in the U.S. has increased by 44% to nearly 370,000.

The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, an affiliate of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, maintains standards and provides resources and education to both professionals and patients. SART membership consists of more than 350 clinics throughout the United States, representing 80% of ART clinics. Over 95% of ART cycles in 2021 in the United States were performed in SART-member clinics.

Dr. Trolice is director of The IVF Center in Winter Park, Fla., and   professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Central Florida, Orlando. Fertility CARE

Dr. Mark P. Trolice

SART is an invaluable resource for both patients and physicians. Their website includes a “Predict My Success” calculator that allows patients and physicians to enter individualized data to calculate the chance of having a baby over one or more complete cycles of IVF. To help us understand the pregnancy outcome data from ART – cycles per clinic along with national results – I posed the questions below to Amy Sparks, PhD, HCLD, director of the IVF and Andrology Laboratories and the Center for Advanced Reproductive Care at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City. Dr. Sparks is past president of SART and former chairperson of the SART Registry committee when the current Clinic Summary Report format was initially released.

Question: The Fertility Clinic Success Rate and Certification Act (FCSRCA) of 1992 mandated that all ART clinics report success rate data to the federal government, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a standardized manner. As ART is the only field in medicine to be required to annually report their patient outcomes, that is, all initiated cycles and live births, why do you believe this law was enacted and is limited to reproductive medicine?

Answer: The FCSRCA of 1992 was enacted in response to the lack of open and reliable pregnancy success rate information for patients seeking infertility care using assisted reproductive technologies. Success rates of 25%-50% were being advertised by independent clinics when, nationally, fewer than 15% of ART procedures led to live births. The Federal Trade Commission said such claims were deceptive and filed charges against five clinics, saying they misrepresented their success in helping women become pregnant. The government won one case by court order and the other four cases were settled out of court.

Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Iowa; Director, In Vitro Fertilization and Reproductive Testing Laboratories; past president of SART and former chairperson the SART Registry committee University of Iowa

Dr. Amy Sparks

This field of medicine was in the spotlight as the majority of patients lacked insurance coverage for their ART cycles, and there was a strong desire to protect consumers paying out of pocket for relatively low success. Recognizing that the FTC’s mission is to ensure truth in advertising and not regulate medical care, Congress passed the FCSRCA, mandating that all centers providing ART services report all initiated cycles and their outcomes. The CDC was appointed as the agency responsible for collecting cycle data and reporting outcomes. Centers not reporting their cycles are listed as nonreporting centers.

This act also established standards for accreditation of embryology laboratories including personnel and traditional clinical laboratory management requirements. These standards serve as the foundation for embryology laboratory accrediting agencies.


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