SART, the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, is a nonprofit organization that monitors and publishes pregnancy outcomes for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) clinics in the United States. SART was founded as a quality control mechanism to ensure that IVF clinics across the country maintain similarly high levels of patient care.
Today, 95% of IVF clinics in the US report their pregnancy outcome data to SART. Fertility practices must adhere to certain standards in order to publish their data on the SART website. Insurance companies often use membership in SART to designate an IVF practice as a “Center of Excellence.” SART also regulates how individual clinics publish their pregnancy success rates.
The public has free access to IVF clinics’ pregnancy success rates through the SART website.
How does SART report pregnancy rates?
SART recently revised its methods for calculating IVF clinic success rates. Because twin pregnancies carry so much additional risk to both moms and babies, SART wanted to emphasize that optimally successful IVF cycles result in pregnancies with just one baby at a time. They, therefore, report singleton and twin delivery rates separately.
In addition, SART now acknowledges that because many IVF cycles result in the creation of more than one embryo, one IVF cycle may provide a couple with multiple opportunities for pregnancy. In other words, if a couple undergoes a single IVF cycle resulting in the creation of 4 high-quality embryos, they can transfer just one of those embryos into the patient’s uterus and cryopreserve (freeze) the other three.
If the woman fails to become pregnant from the first embryo, she can simply transfer one of the three cryopreserved embryos rather than undergo a whole new IVF cycle. In this way, clinics with excellent embryo culture techniques save patients the emotional and financial burden of having to undergo multiple IVF cycles in order to achieve a pregnancy.
By reporting pregnancy rates per IVF cycle, SART recognizes clinics with excellent embryo culture techniques while also encouraging those clinics to minimize the number of embryos transferred at the same time.
Are there any downsides to the way SART reports pregnancy rates?
The new methods of SART pregnancy rate reporting are not perfect. Within the current system, SART does not acknowledge the possible advantage of embryo banking.
For instance, a 39-year-old woman with a diminished ovarian reserve may only generate one genetically normal embryo in a given IVF cycle. If this patient desires a larger family size, she would be wise to undergo another IVF cycle to “bank” additional embryos prior to becoming pregnant.
She could then use these banked embryos a few years down the road when she is ready to have her second child. Within the current SART guidelines, the IVF clinic assisting this patient would be given credit for one “successful” IVF cycle (leading to pregnancy).
However, the second cycle that the patient used to bank embryos would be counted as a “failure” as the patient did not immediately use those embryos for pregnancy.
The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology is a helpful resource for patients facing infertility. All IVF clinics do not afford patients the same chance of pregnancy.
It is important that patients do not feel restricted to clinics in their immediate geographical area. Because cycles can be monitored long distances, it is common for couples to receive care at clinics a great distance from their homes. Such patients “monitor” (undergo blood work and ultrasounds) at offices near their homes, but travel to Centers of Excellence for their egg retrieval/ embryo culture. In this way, SART allows patients to take charge of their care and ensure that they have the best possible opportunity to grow their families.
As you navigate SART and other resources to select a clinic for treatment of infertility:
- Be informed. Check out SART and look for clinics with high pregnancy rates in your age group.
- Does the clinic you’re considering report its pregnancy rates to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology? If not, what is the clinic trying to hide?
- Be careful. What is the clinic’s rate of twin pregnancies? Does the clinic routinely transfer more than one high-quality embryo at the same time?
- Is the clinic actively involved in research? Will you have access to the most cutting edge, effective treatments?
- Does the clinic routinely perform genetic testing of embryos to improve the chance of a healthy fetus and minimize the risk of miscarriage?
- Don’t be afraid to look at clinics outside your immediate geographical location. Obtaining optimal care from distant clinics is relatively easily accomplished through remote monitoring.
We hope that you now have a better understanding of SART, the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology as they continue to monitor and publish pregnancy outcomes for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) clinics in the United States.