In reading program brochures or browsing the internet, couples with infertility are often exposed to a bewildering assortment of graphs, tables and numbers, especially regarding "success rates" and individual assisted reproductive technology (ART) "statistics" The educated patient must be able to decipher meaningful data from these numbers; a clear understanding of what factors may influence any individual patient's outcome for success is essential. Many factors may affect not only the choice of a couple's fertility program, but also their specific chances of achieving the ultimate goal -- a baby.
It is important to keep in mind that each ART program uses its own guidelines for patient selection, including the initial acceptance in, or rejection from, the program. Examples include clinics that use ART to treat women who would likely become pregnant with simpler, less expensive treatment or clinics that have an early age cut-off and do not treat older women. These entry or exclusion criteria significantly affect the outcome of treatment. Program statistics are mainly useful in the context of a discussion with a reproductive endocrinologist, as any specific patient's chances of conception may be decreased or increased by individual factors, especially the medical history.