We’re answering your top questions about IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) with Repromed Scientific Director, Dr Debbie Blake.
What is IVF?
IVF refers to fertilisation outside of the body, with eggs collected and mixed with sperm in a laboratory. Embryos are created then cultured (grown) in the laboratory where their development is observed. One embryo is replaced back to the uterus, which hopefully generates a successful pregnancy.
Is IVF expensive?
This is one of the most common questions. At Repromed the cost of a cycle of treatment can be between $11,500 and $17,000 (including medication estimate, excluding genetic screening costs). However, the price will vary depending on your specific requirements.
We also offer free public funding for up to two cycles of IVF, in the Northern Region. Find out more about public funding and check your eligibility, here.
How many cycles will I go through?
A typical IVF cycle takes around a month to complete and refers to the process of stimulating the ovaries, collecting eggs and sperm, fertilising the eggs, transferring an embryo back to the uterus, freezing surplus embryos and finishing with a pregnancy test. However in about 40% of cases, the cycle is shortened, with all the embryos being frozen, which are then available for thawing and transfer in one or more following menstrual cycles – we call this a freeze-only cycle.
The number of cycles you may go through to achieve a live birth will depend on your personal circumstances, including the type of infertility involved and health conditions.
A key contributing factor to the success rate of IVF, is a woman’s age. Women under the age of 35 have the highest chance of a birth while the most common age group who seek IVF treatment, those aged between 35 and 39, have a 23% rate of having a baby. However the cumulative chance of having a baby from each IVF cycle is increased with every additional embryo frozen.
For a full breakdown of what happens in an IVF cycle, click here.
Is IVF only for those who can’t conceive?
IVF can be a good option for people who have been unsuccessful in first-line fertility treatments like Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and Ovulation Induction (OI). Some situations where IVF may be considered include:
- Blocked fallopian tubes
- Age-related issues with conceiving
- Unexplained infertility
- Viable sperm unable to be produced
- Failure to ovulate
- Presence anti-sperm antibodies
- Diminished ovarian function
- Being at risk of some genetic disease
Can you do IVF at any age?
While there is no clear cut answer to this question, anyone who has viable eggs or embryos (either their own or from a donor) and a receptive uterus (their own or through a surrogate) are capable of having a live birth through IVF.
As mentioned, the success rates for IVF are dependent on your personal circumstances and age. A good resource is an online tool called Your IVF Success Estimator provided by the Australian Government. It may be able to assist with the decision making process for IVF, with the support of their Repromed fertility doctor.
The online calculator uses the main factors that are known to be associated with the success of IVF treatment. The estimate generated is based on the information you enter, and the chance of a live birth based on people who have had IVF treatment in Australasia with the same characteristics as you. The prediction is derived from the annual data collected by the National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit (NPESU) of the University of New South Wales Sydney (UNSW) from all licensed New Zealand and Australian IVF clinics.
The Estimator can be helpful in providing a ballpark idea of the chance of success, however the estimate provided may not fully reflect the impact of your own individual clinical situation that would take into account such factors as your AMH (egg reserve) level. We therefore strongly recommend that it is used in conjunction with your fertility doctor’s advice and guidance. Click here to use the Estimator.
Does IVF hurt?
Everyone responds differently to IVF, but it would be fair to say the majority of people tolerate and manage the discomfort incredibly well. The fertility nurses genuinely empathise with the range of concerns that can naturally occur and are experts at listening and guiding you through this process. For some who find injections challenging, we recommend asking a partner or a friend to help you with them.
The egg collections usually take 10-15 minutes and most of our clients comment they can’t recall feeling pain during this procedure, due to the highly effective local anaesthetic and sedation that is used.
Does IVF mean I’ll have multiple babies?
Historically, people having IVF treatment have had a higher chance of having twins or triplets because up to three embryos were transferred in each treatment cycle. These multiple pregnancies carried with them a significant risks of premature birth and health problems to the babies such as cerebral palsy, and for this reason, it is now standard practice in New Zealand to only transfer a single embryo in each IVF cycle.
Will my IVF baby be as healthy as a naturally-conceived baby?
Yes, you can be reassured that your baby will be healthy. A recent study led by the University of Bristol found that the differences in the growth, weight and body fat levels of children conceived through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) are no longer apparent by late adolescence, and are unlikely to lead to any health implications.
Get in touch
If you’re a new client, and a NZ resident, you can book in for a 15 minute free phone consultation with one of our fertility doctors.