Which treatment for us?
Having to undergo fertility treatment in a bid to get pregnant is a growing reality for many.
But while most of us associate treatment with in-vitro fertilisation, few realise there are other services offered by fertility centres to either enhance fertility or achieve pregnancy through assisted reproductive technology.
Fertility North medical director Vince Chapple says the first step is to work out the underlying cause of the infertility which will help choose a therapy that offers the best chance of conceiving, whether that be ovulation stimulation, insemination or IVF — each with varying costs and success rates.
“So if you have an ovulation dysfunction, then you treat that with ovulation stimulation and fertility drugs. If we can’t find a reason for what’s wrong, or there’s a proved mild male factor (such as low sperm count), then you use insemination treatments, ” he says.
“IVF is generally advised for couples who have unexplained infertility for a prolonged period, usually more than three years, or for those who have a severe male factor so insemination treatments are less likely to work.”
PIVET Medical Centre laboratory director Jason Conceicao says cycle tracking with timed intercourse — which involves blood tests to measure hormone levels, ultrasounds to measure follicle and uterine lining development, and encouragement to have intercourse around the time of ovulation — is usually undertaken without the need for fertility drugs.
“Ovulation induction is similar to cycle tracking with timed intercourse. But patients are administered medication to stimulate follicle development, ” he says.
“Ovulation is induced using a ‘trigger’ injection and patients are encouraged to have intercourse for the next two-to-three nights.”
With up to a one in four chance of conception, intra-uterine insemination (IUI) is becoming increasingly popular for couples where the male is a FIFO worker or deployed overseas, or for single women or same-sex couples using donor sperm.
Concept Fertility Centre’s Peter Burton says this treatment involves placing washed and treated semen into the uterus of a woman at the time of ovulation.
“The actual insemination is quite simple and painless and only takes a few minutes, ” he says.
As for IVF, Mr Conceicao says it involves a woman self- administering fertility drugs and having her eggs retrieved to be fertilised with sperm in a laboratory. An embryo is then inserted back into her body.
“The resulting embryos are grown until day three or day five before the best quality embryo is selected and transferred back into the patient’s uterus, ” he says. “All excess good-quality embryos are frozen for future treatment, ” Mr Conceicao explains.
DID YOU KNOW?
•The average age of women seeking fertility assistance in Australia is 35 years.
•There are 39,000 cycles of IVF a year in Australia.
•One in 25 children born in Australia is conceived using IVF.
FACTS AND FIGURES
•Cycle tracking with timed intercourse: 5-10 per cent success rate, $250 with no Medicare rebate.
•Ovulation induction: 10-20 per cent success rate, about $1250 with no rebate.
•IUI: 15-25 per cent success rate, about $2500 with a $521 Medicare rebate.
•IVF: 40-50 per cent (under 35 years); 30-35 per cent (35-39 years); 10-15 per cent (over 40 years) success rate. Approximate cost is $7250 but Medicare will rebate $4712 if it’s your first cycle in a calendar year and $5267 for subsequent cycles in the same calendar year.
•Frozen embryo transfer: Same success rate as IVF for the differing age groups. Approximate cost is $2950 with a $1422 Medicare rebate.
Age has a significant negative influence on a couple’s chances of conceiving. Generally, a couple will have a one in 20 chance of having difficulty conceiving when the female partner is under the age of 30. The figures increase to one in 10 if the woman is between 30 and 35, and one in five if she is over 35.
© The West Australian
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