One in six couples in Australia that are trying to fall pregnant will have difficulty conceiving, and this figure is only set to rise as we push back the age we have children. In 2002, only 11% of first-time mothers were aged over 35, in 2011 this figure had risen to 14%.
As we get older the chances of conceiving naturally start to decline, and as a result more couples than ever are turning to science for help. Assisted reproductive technology can help, with 4% of women using this method to get pregnant in 2011. But IVF can be costly, particularly if you and your partner are older when you start, have complex fertility issues, or need to do multiple treatment cycles.
Women who go through IVF describe the process as an emotional rollercoaster. Hormone injections can cause a woman to feel tearful and emotional, and this adds to the stress of the financial cost, the hope of a successful pregnancy and the disappointment if an IVF cycle is unsuccessful.
In 2011, for women aged under 30, the live delivery rate from IVF was 27% for fresh cycles and 23% for thaw cycles. For women aged over 44, it was just 1% and 5%, for fresh and thaw cycles respectively. Most women will require multiple cycles with the cumulative live delivery rate after the first cycle being 21%, increasing to 31% after two cycles and 36% after three cycles. Multiple cycles mean the emotional and financial cost escalates each and every time.
In Australia, Medicare covers part of the cost of any IVF treatment, as long as a diagnosis of medical infertility has been made. Other costs that may need to be taken into account include hospital procedures such as egg collection, appointments with specialists, and fertility drugs. As a rough guide, the average cost of an IVF cycle in Australia is $8000, and depending on your diagnosis, Medicare may reimburse up to $5000 of this cost.
Private versus Public Treatment options
As with many healthcare options in Australia, there is usually the option to receive fertility treatment through the public health system but the waitlists are generally long with less choice and flexibility during treatment. Since age is the most important factor affecting success, waiting may just not be an option for many women.
There are a number of well-established private fertility clinics that offer couples a range of choices when it comes to their treatment. This will include choice of Specialist, more convenient locations and appointment times, and access to a broader range of treatments including donor programs and advanced science for those with complex fertility issues.
More recently lower cost private IVF clinics have been established. These clinics are generally suited to couples where there is a low risk of complications and their treatment is expected to be fairly straight forward. The lower cost is generally achieved through streamlined processes, using Specialists on rotation, and providing a very simplified form of IVF treatment that may only suit some couples. Couples that are prevented from undergoing a second or third IVF cycle due to cost may consider speaking to one of the lower cost private clinics.
The Fertility Centre provides affordable care across NSW, QLD and VIC. To find out more about the services available, please visit: http://thefertilitycentre.com.au/
Article by a guest author