What is IVF?
In vitro fertilisation is a form of assisted reproductive technology. It’s “a complex series of procedures used to help with fertility or prevent genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child”.
How does IVF work?
The exact IVF process can vary from person to person, but it generally starts with medication. This will ensure that the woman is able to produce healthy eggs that are ready to be fertilised.
Once the eggs are mature and ready, they are removed from the woman and a doctor will mix it with sperm to fertilise it. The fertilised egg becomes an embryo which can then be implanted back into a woman’s uterus. Once the embryo takes hold and continues growing, the woman becomes officially pregnant!
What are the other kinds of fertility treatments?
In vitro fertilisation is just one kind of assisted reproductive technology or fertility treatment. Another is intrauterine insemination (IUI) or more commonly known as artificial insemination. IUI means injecting sperm directly into a woman’s uterus so that it can meet the egg without having to go through any barriers that decrease the chances of fertilisation.
Another increasingly common method is the freezing of eggs and semen. This is called cryopreservation, and it allows people to save their younger and healthier eggs and sperm for the time when they’re ready to have kids.
How much does IVF cost in Australia?
IVF can be a godsend to couples struggling to conceive, but it definitely comes at quite a steep price. While there is the possibility of Medicare rebate, not all procedures related to IVF are covered and the upfront cost itself is pretty pricey.
Treatments will depend on the specific needs of the couple, and this means that costs can vary greatly. For IVF Australia, cycle payments can range from $AUD2,575 to $AUD10,608. There are subsidised IVF services offered by a few public clinics, but even then, these can still set a couple back nearly $AUD3,000.
There are various payment options available for IVF treatments. Perth clinic Concept Fertility, for example, has a bulk billing program which can greatly lessen costs. They also have partnerships with private companies that will allow couples to dip into their superannuation funds for IVF.
What are the different fertility treatment costs?
Artificial insemination costs in Australia can be quite hefty. Monash IVF approximates a cost of $AUD1,102 per cycle, while Westmead Fertility Centre in the University of Sydney prices it at around $AUD1,332.
Freezing eggs can cost from $AUD5,800 to $AUD8,000. And the expenses don’t end there: you need to pay for storage! This can set you back around $AUD500 per year, varying between IVF clinics. Actually using them entails a thawing fee on top of the other treatments needed.
For those seeking sperm donors, costs will vary between clinics. Brisbane-based Queensland Fertility Group prices an ampoule at $AUD560 for Australian donor sperm, and $AUD1,290 for imported donor sperm.
The emotional and physical costs of IVF
IVF treatments will definitely take a financial toll on couples, but it doesn’t end there. IVF treatments can also take an emotional and physical toll: The process can be very stressful, especially for the woman who will be bearing the child.
Some physical side effects like headaches, bloating, and mood swings are also expected. And one of the possible severe effects of IVF is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome or OHSS, where a woman ends up producing too many eggs.
What is the success rate of IVF?
Answering this can be a bit tricky since different clinics measure and define success in different ways. Some will report their success rates through successful pregnancies, which means that once an embryo takes hold in a woman’s womb, it is considered successful. Others will only include live births in their success rate, meaning the woman has to actually give birth to a healthy baby for the treatment to be considered a success.
That said, generally, IVF statistics in Australia are among the highest in the world. In 2018, IVF had the highest number of live births ever. Unfortunately, this figure still isn’t very high: only 18 per cent of cycles result in a live birth. Professor Michael Chapman, the president of the Fertility Society of Australia, says that one in every 25 babies born in Australia were conceived via IVF.
Should I get IVF?
IVF is a costly process; but if it’s your only option to start a family, then it’s worth every cent! But before you jump into the deep-end, it’s important you consult specialists that can help you determine the best fertility treatment for you.
If you’re having trouble finding a trustworthy specialist; the Queensland Fertility Group (affiliated with IVF Australia and Melbourne IVF) has clinics all around Australia – from Kogarah to Gosford to Greenwich!