Got questions about fertility? Here are the answers, according to a fertility specialist.
At a glance
- Fertility specialists encourage patients to ask as many questions as possible
- No query is too awkward/over-asked
- Go straight to the source - Google is good but an expert is better
No matter where you are on the fertility journey, it’s not uncommon to end up with a search history full of frightening forums and over-googled hypotheticals. However, fertility specialist Dr Melissa Luckensmeyer urges us to step away from our screens.
“Rather than searching for yourself it’s really important to take all of your questions to your fertility doctor,” she says. “And honestly, we really have heard them all before.”
So, what are the most-asked questions at appointments? Probably the very same ones you’ve been wanting answers to…
“Can taking the contraceptive pill for a long period affect my future fertility?”
“A lot of people worry that taking the pill for too long affects fertility, but it actually makes no difference whatsoever, whatever contraception you’re on,” explains Dr Luckensmeyer.
“How much does IVF cost, and how many cycles will I have to do?”
Because fertility treatment is so individual, the number of cycles required varies greatly between patents, along with out-of-pocket costs that depend on variables like private healthcare rebates and the nature and number of rounds of the procedure required.
“Most people realistically need two to three cycles to achieve pregnancy,” explains Dr Luckensmeyer. “Which of course depends on many other personal factors too.”
“Is IVF my only option if I’m struggling to conceive naturally?”
No! In fact, it can often be the very last therapy considered as part of a fertility treatment plan. You could simply need Ovulation Induction (OI), where medication is used to stimulate growth and release of the eggs or Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) which involves inserting concentrated semen into the uterus close to the time of ovulation.
So according to Dr Luckensmeyer, there is “a number of therapies to look at before trying IVF, [but] It would depend on individual circumstances and why fertility treatment is needed in the first place,” she explains.
- Fallopian tube damage
- Ovulation disorders
- Uterine fibroids
- Impaired sperm production or function
- Unexplained infertility
- A genetic disorder
- Donor sperm or embryos
“Can IVF be used to choose my baby’s gender?”
In Australia, using assisted reproductive technology to pre-select a baby’s gender for family balancing reasons isn’t currently legal, however Dr Luckensmeyer explains that there is an exception to the National Health and Medical Research Council’s ruling.
“If someone had an underlying medical condition where it was unsafe for a baby to be born a certain gender, we would be able to sex select.”
“Do fertility drugs have crazy side-effects?”
Many people associate fertility-inducing drugs with an emotional intensity usually reserved for peak PMS, however Dr Luckensmeyer assures us that most women don’t experience many side effects at all. “Often there’s a bit of bloating,” she says. “But most actually tolerate it really well.”
Got more questions? Talk to your local GP or fertility specialist who’ll be able to offer you qualified support, advice and guidance.