If you are researching fertility treatment such as IVF, or your doctor has suggested it as an option to conceive, then your first step is to get familiar with the processes that are involved. Infertility is not an inconvenience; it is a disease of the reproductive system that impairs the body's ability to perform the basic function of reproduction. Below is an overview of the basic information about fertility treatment put together by The Fertility Society.

What is IVF?

In a normal menstrual cycle your ovaries produce 1 egg every month. With IVF your fertility specialist will prescribe medications to stimulate the follicles in your ovaries so they produce multiple eggs. You will be closely monitored with blood tests and ultrasounds to see how the follicles are developing.
Your fertility specialist will keep an eye on how your eggs are growing and what size they are. When they are ready, it is time for egg retrieval or egg pick up. This happens in theatre under anaesthesia.
When the eggs are retrieved an embryologist will look at the eggs under the microscope. As not all eggs will have matured, they will pick the ones that are matre, and these eggs will be fertilised with sperm.
The fertilisation happens on the same day as the egg retrieval. Typically, about three to five days later, the fertilised egg (embryo) is placed back in the uterine cavity. In other cases, the embryo is frozen and will be placed back at another point in time. The embryo transfer is a simple procedure, similar to a pap smear test. It takes about five minutes and there is no anaesthetic required.
what is ivf?

The IVF journey explained

When is IVF recommended?

When is ICSI recommended?

IVF success rates

In 2017, the number of ART cycles reported in Australia and New Zealand was 82,215. That resulted in 15,405 babies who were born using ART treatment.
ART cycles reported
Babies born

IVF risks

IVF is an effective treatment and has helped millions of couples around the world to start a family. However, in vitro fertilisation is not without risks.

The treatment

The medication that is used to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs is not without risks. In some cases women may develop ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Most symptoms are mild but in severe cases, large amounts of fluid are built up in the abdomen and lungs. This can cause very enlarged ovaries, dehydration, trouble breathing, and severe abdominal pain. In very rare cases, OHSS can lead to blood clots and kidney failure.

During egg retrieval you will require an anaesthetic, which incurs the general risks associated with anaesthesia. In some cases the procedure may cause complications when bleeding or infection occurs. The instances of these complications are rare, but it is important that you and your partner are well-informed about the risk factor of IVF treatment.

The pregnancy

When a pregnancy follows after IVF treatment, the risks associated with the pregnancy are not very different to a pregnancy that happened naturally.

Having a multiple pregnancy is uncommon with IVF as in most cases a single embryo is transferred. Transferring two embryos means there is an increased chance of a multiple pregnancy. A multiple pregnancy, regardless of whether conceived with IVF or naturally) carries risks:

  • Preterm labor and delivery
  • Complications of prematurity for the newborns
  • Delivery by c-section
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Haemorrhage after delivery

Children born from IVF

Data about children that are born via IVF, compared to those that are not, show a subtle increase in birth defects in those that were conceived via IVF. It is not fully understood whether these birth defects or genetic diseases are caused by the infertility treatment itself or the underlying reason for infertility. Patients having IVF treatment are different to those becoming pregnant naturally. Women are on average older which is also a risk factor for some of these issues.

IVF donors

Egg donor

Sperm donor

Embryo donor

Cost of IVF

The cost of IVF depends on many factors, including the country or state you’re living in, as well as the clinic you choose. It is best to talk to your clinic or fertility doctor to understand the costs involved in the procedure.
Please note that the information provided is not medical advice. To obtain personalised information about suspected infertility, please contact your qualified fertility specialist.