A supportive work environment could boost IVF chances, says survey

Women working in male-dominated sectors such as investment banking and engineering are less likely to get pregnant following IVF than those in other professions, according to a US survey.

The survey of more than 1,000 women fertility patients found women working in traditionally male-dominated roles such as investment banking or engineering were nearly 60% less likely to record success with their fertility treatments generally and IVF specifically. Often these women commented that their work environment was not supportive and they felt the need to keep their treatment a secret from bosses and colleagues and found it harder to begin, and adhere to, a cycle given competing work schedules and pressures.

FertilityIQ.com which conducted the survey says the number of women undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment has grown nearly five-fold in the last two decades. It says teachers were nearly six times more likely to have success than their peers when undergoing IVF and attributed this to a supportive work environment where colleagues were happy to talk openly about their fertility experiences, able to offer suggestions for better doctors and teachers could use the summer months to undergo multiple cycles of treatment.

Women who work in roles in sales, marketing or public relations are more than twice as likely to record a successful outcome with IVF compared with women working in other roles, says the survey.

It also found women with a household income were two times more likely to achieve success when undergoing IVF than women from households making under $100,000. Fertility treatment in the US costs around $16,500 per cycle. Since the average IVF cycle is 70% likely to fail, most patients need to contemplate multiple rounds of therapy.

The study says the volume and intensity of treatment may be one important factor in determining success. Of the surveyed patients, wealthier women cycled an average of 2.4 times with their doctor, nearly 20% higher than their peers, who by income level, represent nearly 80% of US households. Many of those on lower incomes have to wait to save enough money for their next cycle which means they may be significantly older when they try again.

The survey says the same is true to some extent with egg freezing as wealthier women undergoing elective egg freezing record a higher likelihood of success than their peers. Egg freezing treatment often costs $10,000 – $15,000 per cycle.

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