With 15% of Australian couples facing a fertility problem, overcoming infertility has become big business. While there are a variety of treatment options, including natural treatment options, timed intercourse, surgery and hormone treatment, quitting smoking and going on a diet might also work.
In-vitro fertilisation is one of the most invasive treatments, but also very effective for cases that can’t be resolved with less invasive ones. IVF expenditure by Australians has more than tripled between the late 1990s and 2008 to reach more than $90m, according to IbisWorld, and close to one in 30 babies are conceived via IVF.
And IVF can be very expensive for prospective parents. At the more expensive clinics, a single IVF cycle can amount to more than $3000 in out-of-pocket costs.
Selecting the right clinic and doctor
Your GP may know a fertility specialist (FS) suited to treat your specific problem; they might also be able to run some diagnostic tests and outline your treatment options.
Online forums can also be a good place to find specialist and clinic recommendations. Consider these questions when you call the clinic or at your first appointment:
- What treatment options – for example, genetic screening of embryos – are available?
- How individualised is the treatment? Is there just one protocol for a group of patients?
- Which diagnostic tests are available? And if surgery is a treatment option, as in the case of
endometriosis, will it be performed by a specialist in the area?
- What are the thaw survival rates in case there are leftover embryos that can be frozen?
- Does the clinic handle the Medicare claim? Do they have a gap agreement with your health fund?
- Is egg retrieval and embryo transfer offered any day of the week? Would these procedures be
done by your specialist personally?
Consider getting a second opinion if you have any doubt that your FS is offering the best treatment protocol, especially after two failed cycles.
Keep in mind that despite the special nature of fertility businesses, they’re still businesses aiming to make a profit.
Look for a specialist you trust, who has investigated your case in detail and has come up with a treatment plan that makes sense to you.
Choosing a clinic according to how many successful births it has produced is somewhat futile, since there are many variables at play, including the definition of “success”. Success rates depend on your individual circumstances, and the most expensive clinic won’t necessarily provide the best treatment for you. You may be able to get the same quality of treatment at a lower cost.