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Let's Talk IVF

How does the IVF journey work?

There are a number of IVF stages. First, you take hormonal medications to stimulate your ovaries and produce multiple eggs. Then comes the egg collection, where the eggs are retrieved through a minor surgical procedure. Meanwhile, a man provides a sperm sample — and the eggs and sperm are combined in the lab.

Once fertilisation occurs, any resulting embryos are cultured for a few days, and a select number of healthy embryos are chosen for transfer into your uterus. Next, there’s a pregnancy test to determine if the implantation and pregnancy have been successful.

How does IVF address my infertility concerns?

IVF is designed to bypass potential obstacles in the reproductive system, by fertilising eggs outside the body. So if your fallopian tubes are blocked, or you have endometriosis, IVF lets us place your fertilised embryos directly into your uterus.

What are the advantages of IVF?

If you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), IVF can help regulate your ovulation and enhance your chances of conception. And if you’ve undergone unsuccessful attempts with intrauterine insemination (IUI), IVF success rates are notably higher.

When is IVF my best bet?

If you’re over 35, I’ll most likely recommend IVF to you, as your natural fertility chances get lower as your AMH score decreases. Especially if other less invasive treatments have proven ineffective, or if you’re dealing with infertility due blocked fallopian tubes, endometriosis, or any other issues.

“If you have a low AMH level, I may offer to move you onto treatments like IVF sooner than someone who has a normal or high level”.

IVF with Endometriosis

What is endometriosis?

It’s a chronic condition where tissue similar to the uterine lining grows outside your uterus, causing pain, menstrual irregularities, and potential blocked fallopian tubes.

Are blocked tubes common in Australia?

The diagnosis of endometriosis has escalated quite substantially in Australia, whether that’s just because we’re better at recognising it these days or because more women are actually having endometriosis — and it can often lead to blocked tubes.

Is IVF recommended if I have endometriosis?

Yes. Endometriosis can lead to pelvic scarring, tubal damage, and reduced egg quality, hindering natural conception. IVF bypasses these obstacles by directly fertilising eggs outside the body and transferring your resulting embryos into the uterus, increasing your chances of pregnancy.

What if I have an inherited genetic disease?

If you’re worried, we can also perform a Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening (NIPS) test, where we analyse cell-free DNA from your bloodstream to gauge the risk of your baby carrying certain genetic conditions like Down syndrome.

What are the benefits to non-invasive prenatal screening (NIPS)?

Advantages include:

  • Low Risk: NIPS is a simple blood draw from your arm, with no need for inserting a needle into the uterus. This reduces the risk of complications and miscarriage associated with invasive procedures.
  • High Accuracy: NIPS has demonstrated high accuracy in detecting certain chromosomal abnormalities. The accuracy rates are generally higher than traditional screening methods, leading to fewer false positives and false negatives.
  • Early Detection: NIPS can be performed as early as the 10th week of your pregnancy, so you can make informed decisions in plenty of time.

How do i know if my genetic disease carried through to the embryo?

Another test we can do is Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD), where we screen your fertilised embryos before they’re implanted in your uterus, and look for any genetic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities.

PGD gives parents with a known genetic risk or a history of certain disorders, the opportunity to select embryos free from those conditions, reducing the risk of passing them to their children.

What is IVF?

Invitro fertilisation (IVF) is when you combine a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm outside the body, in a laboratory dish. It’s a viable option for when you’re struggling to conceive naturally. 

How are the egg and sperm collected?

Egg collection is done with a thin, ultrasound-guided needle that’s inserted through the vaginal wall into the ovaries to aspirate the fluid from the follicles, which contain the eggs. This is usually done under light anaesthesia or sedation.

The sperm sample is collected on the same day as the egg retrieval, and the male usually produces it himself. But if he has difficulty providing a sample, there are other techniques to retrieve sperm, like testicular sperm extraction (TESE) or epididymal sperm aspiration (TESA).

Once the eggs and sperm are collected, they’re prepared for fertilisation in the lab, where the embryologist examines the sperm quality and selects the best sperm for fertilisation. All procedures are conducted under strict medical and ethical guidelines.

Are there any lifestyle factors that could influence my IVF suitability?

Yes. Keeping a healthy weight, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption and refraining from smoking can all positively impact your IVF results. And stress management techniques, like yoga and meditation, can contribute to a more conducive environment for successful IVF. All these factors help, along with sticking to the recommended medication regimen.

Do we also need to do Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)?

ICSI is commonly used when there’s a male fertility issue, like a low sperm count, poor sperm motility, or abnormal sperm morphology. You may also want to try it if your previous attempts at conventional insemination during IVF have not resulted in successful fertilisation.

How long can you freeze sperm for IVF?

Advances in cryopreservation techniques have improved the success rates of sperm freezing, making it a reliable option for fertility treatments. In general, sperm can be frozen and stored for several months to a few years with good success rates. But storage duration can vary based on factors like the sperm sample quality.

What are the IVF success rates?

It varies depending on your age, your reproductive health, the underlying cause of infertility. and the quality of embryos transferred. Generally, the younger you are the higher your chance of success. The success rates range from 38.9% for women under 34, to 5.6% for women over 43, but it’s a general rule only, because of all the many influencing factors.

Are there any risks or side effects associated with IVF?

While IVF is generally safe, the hormonal medications used for ovarian stimulation can lead to side effects like mood swings, bloating, and discomfort. The egg retrieval procedure carries a small risk of bleeding, infection, or damage to surrounding structures. Multiple pregnancies (e.g. twins or triplets) are more common with IVF, which can increase the risk of complications. And if IVF doesn’t result in pregnancy, it can lead to emotional distress.

How long does it take to do IVF?

The duration can vary, but it usually takes about 4-6 weeks. This timeframe includes ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, fertilisation, embryo culture, and embryo transfer. Some additional weeks may be needed for pregnancy testing and follow-up. Individual factors, such as the specific treatment plan, and your menstrual cycle, can influence the timeline.

How expensive is IVF?

It can range from around $8,000 to $12,000 AUD per IVF cycle, depending on your specific situation. The cost varies based on factors like your treatment plan, additional procedures, medications, and I always make you aware of any discounts or financial help available.

“Right now, there are NSW government rebates on offer for pre-testing and for an actual IVF cycle, too.” Dr Erin Fuller