Despite the massive disruptions the pandemic created starting in March of 2020, the number of in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles increased in Minnesota that year. Statistics from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) also show the state’s IVF clinics performed a record number of cycles in 2021.
While the pandemic forced IVF clinics to close for several weeks during the initial stages, fertility experts say working and staying at home appears to have ushered in a new era motivating more people to pursue IVF. The number of aspiring parents with infertility challenges who pursued reproduction using the assistance of third party egg and sperm donors and gestational surrogates also increased markedly. The StarTribune reports that this new “Zoom lifestyle” led many with infertility issues to believe it was time to build their families.
The numbers illustrate IVF’s growth
Minnesota’s five IVF clinics reported over 7,500 cycles in 2021, the most ever. That resulted in 1,445 children using IVF, accounting for 2% of all births that year. That happened while the state’s total number of births declined by 7%. While the number of IVF cycles increased by 36% in 2021 compared to 2016, the number of births surged by an eye-opening 44%.
But state fertility clinicians say they’re not surprised with the growth. They say IVF-aided births don’t follow overall trends. Women turning to assisted reproductive technology (ART) are usually older and have shorter windows of opportunity. Improving insurance coverage for IVF-related treatments and medications may also partially explain the increase.
Single-embryo transfers are also trending upward
Improvements in ART are also encouraging more women under 35 and those using the services of a gestational carrier to opt for single-embryo transfers rather than using two or more fertilized eggs, which was much more typical for most of the past two decades. Most Minnesota clinics report significant increases in single-embryo transfers compared to five years ago.
Clinics have improved the process by using genetic testing to help select and fertilize high-quality embryos, resulting in an improved success rate. Single embryos are also preferable to many as they avoid the risk of multiple births and the more frequent and often more serious complications of twin pregnancies. Finally, access to IVF isn’t considered an obstacle in Minnesota, as five established and experienced fertility clinics operate in and around the Twin Cities.