Women who experience a miscarriage during their first round of IVF are more likely to have a baby with further treatment than those who did not become pregnant, a study shows.
Experts said the findings could offer hope to couples considering whether to continue treatment after the devastating loss of an unborn child.
Around 1.5 per cent of babies born in Britain each year are conceived through IVF. More than 52,000 women had the treatment in 2014.
Although 27 per cent of IVF pregnancies result in a live birth, 22 per cent end in miscarriage.
But the latest study, by Aberdeen University, found the odds of having a live birth were 39 per cent higher in women who miscarried in their first round of IVF than those who did not conceive at all.
Study author Natalie Cameron said: ‘Miscarriage can be a devastating experience for any couple, but especially for those who have already struggled with infertility.
‘This, coupled with the emotional and financial burden of multiple cycles of treatment, can make many couples give up. We hope our findings will provide reassurance to these couples as they consider their options for continuing treatment.’
Researchers examined the records of more than 112,000 women who started IVF over a ten-year period from 1999.
The records, which are held by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, showed 112,549 women had IVF, of which 62.3 per cent did not get pregnant, 8.3 per cent conceived but miscarried and 29.5 per cent had a live birth.
The researchers found that after a second round of treatment, 31.7 per cent of women who miscarried in the first round had a live baby, compared to 22.8 per cent of women who had not got pregnant in the first round.
When couples had three rounds of treatment, 40.9 per cent of women who had originally had a miscarriage had a baby, compared to 30.1 per cent of those who had not conceived first time.
Women who had a live baby through their first round of IVF were much more likely than other women to have another through subsequent rounds, with nearly half having a second baby within two more cycles.
Dr David McLernon, another author of the study, which is published today in the journal Human Reproduction, said it was possible miscarriage helped prepare the body for future pregnancies.
He said: ‘Miscarriage shows couples they can get pregnant, that an embryo will implant in the womb. If you keep trying you are more likely to succeed.’ He said the findings showed three cycles appeared to be the ‘optimum’ number to maximise the chances of having a baby.
Health rationing watchdog NICE recommends couples under 40 who have been trying for a baby for two years are offered three cycles of IVF. But some areas offer only one cycle and others are threatening to cut funding altogether.
Susan Seenan, of the charity Fertility Network UK, said: ‘This study may offer some reassurance to couples that there is still a chance of success – but only if they are able to access a further IVF cycle.’