IVF Patients' Frustration: The Truth Behind Misleading Success Rates


IVF patients are getting increasingly sophisticated today, and because they understand that IVF doesn't have a 100% success rate, and are perfectly okay with accepting IVF failure. They know that it may take three or four IVF cycles before they get pregnant, but what really angers and frustrates them is the lack of transparency on the part of the IVF doctor – especially when the IVF cycle fails.

For example, when they're signing up for IVF treatment, doctors quote all kinds of ridiculous success figures, such as 80% or 90%, claiming they have the latest technology and the best doctors! These inflated figures are a lie, but patients swallow these lies, because they want a baby, and patients prefer a sweet-talking doctor as compared to someone who says the bitter truth.

They don’t believe these success rates, but they're happy to accept whatever the doctor says – after all, the doctor is the expert! The problem arises when the cycle fails, and this is when patients really get angry and upset because then the clinic clams up. The senior doctor is no longer available, no one is willing to answer their questions, they don't get copies of their medical records or their documents, and they can clearly see that the clinic is hiding information from them.

Clinics do this because they want to hold on to their patients, and don’t want to lose them to another doctor. They don’t want the patient to go to some other doctor – or even get a second opinion because they are scared the patient will find out the truth – that the cycle failed because they received poor quality care! By refusing to share information, they try to ensure the patient will come back to them for their next cycle. But patients get frustrated because they can see that the doctor is lying to them. They lose confidence in medical care - not only in that clinic but in all IVF clinics. And this is why IVF clinics in India have such a terrible reputation these days - because they're not willing to treat patients with respect, and are not willing to share information openly and transparently with their patients.

In the long run, this lack of transparency is going to end up hurting IVF doctors. It already hurts IVF patients, but once patients start losing trust in doctors, things are just going to go from bad to worse.

What can you do as a patient to protect yourself? To make sure that you don't get taken for a ride, ask the clinic receptionist or the nurse whether the clinic routinely provides embryo photos to all their patients or not. Please do this before you pay your consultation fees! And if they do not do this, then this is a red flag, because this means patients are not being treated with the respect they deserve, and that global best practices are not being followed. You would be better off going to another clinic, rather than allowing the doctor to cheat you!

Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.