Is there a best time of year for YOU to have YOUR IVF treatment?
There is no statistically valid better time in terms of pregnancy rates, or miscarriage rates from IVF based on the season. With many more IVF cycles being performed each year it means the busier period is getting busier, but the quieter times are still staying quiet. So, is there a reason why certain times of the year are busier? Let’s explore
What does the increase in the number of IVF treatments mean for you?
It means that on average it will take you longer from discussing treatment to getting your embryo implanted.
The total number of IVF treatment has increased substantially in the last number of years for example in the USA there were 241,570 cycles in 2017 an increase of 2.5% from 2016. In the UK in 2017 there were 69,822 cycles this was an increase of 3.1%. So, as you can see this is a big and busy industry.
The average wait in the UK for a NHS based cycle is about 5.5 months from referral to the start of treatment and the treatment process can take around 12 weeks if all consultations and tests are included.
Private treatment in the USA in the last 6 years the average wait from initial contact to start of treatment has gone from 2.2 weeks to 5.1 weeks means that the private treatment also has an increased waiting time before being able to commence IVF treatment.
This means that it is becoming harder for you to choose when to start YOUR IVF treatment – this is especially true during the busier months.
Is IVF treatment seasonal?
The simple answer to this is, YES! IVF has a strong seasonal element to it.
We analysed the trends across the USA & UK in terms of when IVF treatments were started. As you can clearly see from the graph above IVF has a strong seasonality to it, it has 2 peaks, 1 in April and another in October. With the lowest number of cycles being performed in December and July.
What causes these seasonal IVF trends?
Many people choose to have their treatment at a time when it least likely to have major impacts upon their lives some of the main reasons are as follows:
- Not wanting to be on IVF treatments (especially down-regulation and stimulation) during the Christmas period.
- Not wanting to find out IVF treatment has been unsuccessful close to Christmas
- The summer holidays are a time where many people travel
- Summer can be a very busy time at work and people can struggle to get the required time off.
- There is a sharp uptake after the new year as people are thinking about family more after the festive period.
- Not wanting to be heavily pregnant in the hot summer months.
These are some of the reasons why IVF is seasonal. Also, the cost of IVF can be very high, and Christmas and summer are normally the months’ people have the highest outgoings with travelling and gift-giving.
What is the best time to have my IVF treatment?
Ultimately this is a personal choice and determined by factors which are most important to you. But for specific reasons, these are the best choices.
- If you don’t want to find out the result of IVF around Christmas, then have your treatment between January and the middle of September.
- If you want to avoid the impacts of medications over the festive period, then start your treatment between January and the first week of October.
- If you don’t want to be in the last trimester of pregnancy over the hot summer months, then start your treatment between last week of January and the first week of September.
- If you want the shortest wait from your initial contact then contact IVF clinics in January, June – August and November – December – This will ensure that you have the shortest wait in most clinics.
- If you need to avoid busy times at work these are usually financial year-end, summer and October – Early December then choose Jan – Feb, early May or September to the beginning of October.
- Remember where you travel can have an impact upon your fertility treatment if you choose to go to the Caribbean, or other areas where the risk of contracting Zika virus then you should get tested or leave it 6 months before starting your IVF treatment – this is due to the risks to the foetus if you do have a successful cycle.
Is there any evidence to suggest what is the best time of year to increase my success rate for IVF?
If you do a google search for this you will find a raft of articles, small studies, literature analysis about when is best to have IVF. For example, in 2004 there was a study which demonstrated that there could be an increase in implantation rates during the months with the most sunlight (May -September). This was thought to be due to the changes in the receptivity of the endometrial lining due to hormonal differences in women by time of year. In 2016 there was a study which demonstrated that there was a strong correlation between IVF success rates and the weather 1-month preceding IVF which you can find here. The problem is most of these studies are small in scale and all recommend much more research to be done before a definitive answer can be given.
However, the latest research indicates that there is no correlation between IVF success rates, miscarriage rates and the time at which you choose to have your cycle. But more research does need to be done to corroborate this.
Final thoughts on whether there is a best time to have IVF
Overall, it’s a personal choice, for us we just wanted to have the treatment and didn’t worry too much about when it happened. However, for some, it’s vital to plan their IVF treatment around big life events, which is important to them and whether they want IVF treatment quickly. Let us know in the comments if there was a specific reason why you choose a specific month for your IVF. From our research and understanding why most people time their IVF, we would suggest January, May and July are the best months to start your IVF.
If you have gotten this far and you are thinking about IVF, we think that these articles are likely to be of interest to you.
Preparing for your first IVF treatment – 16 Tips and tricks to help you prepare for your first cycle of IVF treatment
An overview and timeline of the IVF process – A quick guide to the IVF process and a generalised IVF timeline
Cost of IVF – Explores the cost of Private IVF and gives you an average cost per cycle and looks at the costs per live birth
How will IVF drugs impact YOU? – A look at the key drugs and medications involved in IVF treatment and what side effects you should expect.
How to cope with infertility – Tips to help you survive infertility and TTC for a long time.