Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a slight decrease in the number of IVF attempts performed in Austria for the first time in the 21-year existence of the IVF Fund. Nevertheless, the rate of successful pregnancies through IVF treatment has increased. A total of 2,931 couples were happy to achieve a pregnancy through in-vitro fertilization. The Kinderwunschzentrum an der Wien, as the largest partner of the IVF Fund, itself performed over 1,400 treatments and is pleased with the successful rate.
As shown in the recently published IVF Fund Annual Report, the number of IVF Fund attempts performed decreased by 4.7% due to the Corona pandemic: 10,515 treatments were performed on 6,692 couples in 2020. This creates a small dip in the steadily increasing numbers of IVF Fund attempts performed through 2019. This was most noticeable in the lockdown months of March and April.
According to fertility expert and head of the Kinderwunschzentrum an der Wien Univ. Prof. Dr. Andreas Obruca, the decline can be attributed to the Corona-related closure of the centers: "Like most other centers, we had to briefly pause IVF treatments during the initial lockdown due to safety regulations at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shortly thereafter, we saw an uptick again: Many couples were already waiting and then started their Fertility Journey with us right away in the summer of 2020."
Pregnancy rates up, twin rates down
The fact that reproductive medicine is developing successfully is clearly reflected in the figures for IVF Fund pregnancy rates: although the number of treatments performed has fallen, growth was recorded with a pregnancy rate per transfer of 34.6%. Univ. Prof. Dr. Obruca commented: "The Austrian IVF Fund provides financial support for couples wishing to have children and is a successful model. We are pleased with the increase in the pregnancy rate and the 2,931 pregnancies achieved."
Another positive result of the IVF annual report is the reduction in the twin rate. Increasingly targeted "single-embryo transfers" reduced the number of twin pregnancies by 0.4 percentage points compared to 2019.
Lower Austrian couples also trust Vienna's Fertility Centers
Most IVF treatments are performed in the federal capital: Just under a quarter of all in-vitro fertilizations in Austria are performed in Vienna. Couples from the provinces also turn to Vienna's fertility centers for their Fertility Journey. In 2020, for example, more than half of Lower Austrian patients had their IVF treatment performed in Vienna.
Prof. Obruca's recommendation: Do not postpone fertility treatment despite Corona pandemic
During the pandemic, many uncertainties have arisen for couples in connection with the topic of pregnancy and fertility, which may have delayed treatments or initial clarification steps. Fertility expert Obruca knows the situation of childless couples who have sought the help of a fertility center too late and therefore recommends: "I would like to encourage all fertility couples, especially those women and men who have already been vaccinated, to seek advice as soon as possible. Because in infertility treatment, the earlier the journey starts, the better it is to reach the destination - the dream of having your own child."