What is IVF?
IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) is a procedure, used to overcome a range of fertility issues, by which an egg and sperm are joined together outside the body, in a specialised laboratory. The fertilised egg (embryo) is allowed to grow in a protected environment for some days before being transferred into the woman's uterus increasing the chance that a pregnancy will occur.
In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) can be used to overcome a range of fertility issues and for many couples, gives them the best chance of having a baby.
- IVF Treatment
Your treatment will be coordinated by your fertility specialist who is supported by an experienced team of nurses, counsellors and scientists. We understand how important having a family is to you and can assure you that we will provide you with the highest standard of fertility care.
We usually grow embryos in the laboratory until Day 5, known as the Blastocyst stage, because there is strong evidence that these embryos are more likely to implant into the uterus.
Fertilised embryos are transferred to the woman’s uterus in a simple procedure call an embryo transfer (a very similar technique to a pap smear).
If more than two embryos develop, we can freeze those that are surplus for use in subsequent cycles. Find out more about freezing embryos...
If there is any concern about sperm quality, the process of fertilisation is carried out by Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). This is where one sperm is inserted into each egg.
- How much does IVF treatment cost?
IVF cycle payment IVF estimated out-of-pocket costs (Medicare safety net not reached) IVF estimated out-of-pocket costs (Medicare safety net reached) $9,828 $4,991 $4,438
What does the Medicare safety net mean?
In a calendar year, generally during your first cycle, you can expect your out of pocket costs to be approx. $4,991.
If you need more than one cycle in a calendar year and reach the Medicare safety net, your out of pocket costs will be less at $3,946.
Read more about the costs of fertility treatment >>
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- Watch a video about the IVF process
Video - How the IVF process works
- The IVF process step by step
Each IVF treatment cycle takes around six weeks.
Step 1: Initial Specialist Appointment
At your initial appointment, your fertility specialist will review your medical history and all previous investigations and treatments.
You and your partner should both attend your first appointment with your fertility specialist. They will review your medical history, all previous investigations and treatment, and will provide preliminary advice about your treatment options.
Step 2: Pre-treatment consultation
You’ll meet again with your fertility specialist, confirm your treatment plan, have any questions answered and sign the relevant consent forms. Discuss any complementary medicines you are taking now, as these may interfere with your treatment.
Step 3: Treatment begins
Your fertility nurse gives you the medication you need, explains the treatment cycle timeline, and shows you how to self-administer the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) injections. We recommend both you and your partner attend this appointment.
Step 4: Hormone stimulation
FSH is administered through a diabetic-style pen, stimulating your ovaries to produce more eggs than usual. We have a higher chance of achieving fertilisation and pregnancy when we can collect more eggs.
Step 5: Treatment monitoring
Throughout your cycle, regular blood tests measure your hormone levels and ultrasounds measure the size and number of your ovarian follicles. This also helps us determine the appropriate time for egg collection. All your blood and ultrasound tests are conducted by our nurses within your chosen IVFAustralia clinic, and are included as part of your treatment costs.
Step 6: Trigger injecton
Once you have the optimum number and size of follicles, we plan your egg collection. You’ll have a trigger injection of hCG (human chorionic gonatrophin) in the evening, and the operation for egg collection will occur 36 to 38 hours later. The hCG injection replaces the natural Luteinising Hormone in the body and 'triggers' or instigates ovulation.
Step 7: Egg collection in day surgery
Egg collection is undertaken in day surgery, usually under ultrasound guidance. Most women prefer a light general anaesthetic, but you can have a local anaesthetic with sedation if you prefer. You will be at the hospital for about 4 hours and will need someone to drive you home afterwards. Make sure you can take the rest of the day off work.
On the morning of your egg collection your partner will need to provide a fresh semen (sperm) sample, so we can immediately fertilise your eggs.
Step 8: Egg fertilisation
Collected eggs are taken to the laboratory and placed in culture medium to prepare them for fertilisation later that day. In IVF, prepared sperm and eggs are placed together in a dish where fertilisation occurs. In ICSI, an individual sperm is selected by a highly experienced embryologist, and, under very delicate microscopic control, the egg is injected with this single sperm.
Step 9: Embryo development
The egg and sperm are then placed in individual incubators at 37 degrees to mimic the temperature of the human body. The next day, scientists will examine the eggs to determine if fertilisation has occurred, and will call you to advise you of the development of the embryos.
Step 10: Embryo transfer
Embryo transfer is a simple day surgery procedure and usually takes place five days after the egg collection. The embryos are transferred into the uterus through a very fine catheter passed through the cervix, a procedure similar to a pap smear. In some cases we may recommend transferring embryos earlier.
Step 11: Embryo freezing
Any extra embryos not used during a treatment cycle that are suitable for freezing can be stored for the future.
Step 12: Pregnancy test
Your nurse will organise an appointment for you to have a blood test two weeks after the embryo transfer. Occasionally, women can still have a period despite being pregnant, so this blood test will occur even if your period has commenced. We do not recommend the use of urinary pregnancy test kits, as the hormone medication given throughout treatment could produce an incorrect reading.
Your pregnancy blood test results are usually available by mid afternoon. If the pregnancy test is positive, we will arrange an ultrasound scan approximately three weeks later.
- IVF treatment protocols
IVF treatment is tailored to your specific needs by your fertility specialist. Most patients who undergo IVF will be prescribed one of two main treatment protocols Long Down Regulation and Antagonist treatment cycles.
Long Down Regulation [Agonist] treatment cycle
Long down regulation treatment is the process of suppressing a woman’s natural hormones before fertility medications.
Approximately 3 weeks after your period starts you will have a blood test and begin pre-IVF treatment [GnRH analogue] in the form of a Synarel nasal spray or Lucrin injection to control your natural hormones before the fertility medication starts.
About 12 days later another blood test will be taken to make sure your own hormones are low [or down regulated] and you will be instructed when to begin daily hormone Follicle Stimulating Hormone injections [Gonal-F or Puregon]. You will continue taking the Synarel or Lucrin throughout this time.
5 days after you begin FSH injections you will have a blood test and ultrasound of your ovaries. You will be monitored closely with blood tests and ultrasounds until you have an optimum number and size of developed follicles. Once you are ready will we advise when to have your hCG trigger injection and schedule your egg collection 36 hours later.
After egg collection you will use supplemental progesterone either as a vaginal gel, pessary or subcutaneous injections until your pregnancy test two weeks later.
Antagonist treatment cycle
Antagonist treatment uses injectable drugs called antagonists to prevent premature ovulation. It is the most commonly used treatment protocol because the shorter cycle makes it more convenient for patients and reduces the risk of hyper-stimulation.
Starting on the second day of your period you will have a blood test and providing all your hormone levels are low, you will be advised to begin Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) injections [Gonal-F or Puregon] that day.
After four days of injections you start a second injection [Cetrotide or Orgalutron] to switch off your own hormones and prevent premature release of the eggs. 6-8 days after you begin FSH injections you will have a blood test and ultrasound of your ovaries. You will be monitored closely with blood tests and ultrasounds until you have an optimum number and size of developed follicles.
Once you are ready will we advise when to have your hCG trigger injection and schedule your egg collection 36 hours later After egg collection you will use supplemental progesterone either as a vaginal gel, pessary or subcutaneous injections until your pregnancy test two weeks later.
Want more information?
To find out more about what’s involved in IVF treatment please come to a free information night or book an appointment with a fertility specialist. Appointments are available within the next couple of weeks and will cost approximately $150 for a couple after the Medicare rebate.