One in six Australian couples is affected by fertility problems. But if the dream of starting a family turns out not to be as easy as you hoped, the prospect of medical intervention can seem daunting.
While everyone’s story is different and not all couples faced with infertility will require IVF, there have been recent advances in assisted reproductive technologies that have led to significant improvements in success rates at some clinics.
Success varies according to a woman’s age, but at Genea, world leading science and constantly improving techniques and technology means overall 60 per cent of our patients will have a baby. And 90 per cent of these patients will have success within three or less cycles of IVF.
The improvements in success rates – and particularly in the use of frozen embryos – means it is increasingly likely that our patients will potentially complete their family with one cycle of IVF.
Analysis of patients under 40 who had their first cycle of IVF with Genea in the first six months of 2011 revealed that more than half of those who had an embryo transfer had achieved an on-going pregnancy from their first transfer.
Home and Away actress Ada Nicodemou went though a year of trying to conceive naturally, before coming to Genea. She is now looking forward to becoming a mum after success from her first cycle.
“For me, as soon as I knew I was being looked after by fertility experts, I relaxed. Even though I was giving away a bit of control, I felt I was getting somewhere,” Ada, 35, says. “When it worked first time, I was filled with such a sense of joy and relief that all my hopes and dreams were finally happening.”
Ada and husband Chrys Xipolitas also have four embryos that are frozen and hold the hope of increasing their family later on.
“I feel really secure in knowing that I have got four frozen embryos,” Ada adds. “And for me, it’s really great that they are embryos that were frozen when I was 34, because as you get older there are so many more risks.”
And she has the comfort of knowing that at Genea, the success rate from frozen embryos is now on a par with fresh transfers – thanks in part to an advanced technique known as snap freezing.
In fact, Genea is now undertaking a world-first trial to investigate the benefits to patients for freezing all embryos. It will test the hypothesis that there is an advantage to transferring a frozen embryo during a woman’s natural menstrual cycle, rather than the traditional IVF model of transfer following hormone stimulation.
Dr Mark Livingstone, Genea Deputy Medical Director who is leading the study, says: ‘It could be that for many patients in the future the best and quickest way to achieve a healthy baby is to freeze all embryos – and hopefully we will see increasing numbers of our patients completing their family after just one stimulated cycle of IVF.
“That’s great news, because it would potentially mean less hormone stimulation, intervention and cost for many of our patients.”