IVF - In vitro fertilisation

Many causes of infertility can be successfully treated with IVF – male infertility, tubal damage, endometriosis, ovulation problems and unexplained infertility.

IVF treatment creates the optimal conditions required to give eggs and sperm the highest chance of getting together to create a pregnancy.

  1. First, medication is taken to increase the number of eggs available - this is called ovary stimulation.
  2. Next, the eggs are removed, during a process called egg collection, and sperm is added to the eggs in the lab. Where fertilisation takes place.  
  3. When IVF includes having the sperm injected directly into the egg, it is called ICSI.
  4. The embryologist then selects the embryo, they consider has the best chance of a pregnancy, to be transferred into the uterus.
  5. Other good quality embryos can be frozen for another chance of pregnancy.

Because IVF typically makes 6-10 eggs available, younger women have a 40-50% chance of having a baby from a single treatment.  This is double the chance of pregnancy that couples with normal fertility have per month.

While most people think about IVF one cycle at a time, the overall chance of having a child depends on the number of cycles you are prepared to undergo. 

Fertility Associates offers a refund package called Fertility Cover that includes up to three full cycles and the use of any frozen embryos.

IVF treatment has some risks and common side effects during treatment. Please see our IVF section in the Pathways booklet for more information on this.  Link below.

Thaw cycle of IVF

When there have been embryos frozen following in vitro fertilisation, they can be thawed and transferred into the uterus at a later stage. This usually entails several bloods tests to time ovulation during a natural cycle. In some cases it is necessary to control a cycle using drugs to prepare the uterus for implantation. Embryos are transferred into the uterus at the appropriate time, as they are in an IVF cycle.

Embryo Freezing

Often more than two or three embryos are produced in an IVF cycle. Good quality 'spare' embryos can be frozen, and later thawed to give another chance of pregnancy. Freezing and thawing have to be done under special conditions; about 60-70% of embryos can survive the procedure. When embryos are to be thawed the woman's menstrual cycle is monitored with blood tests to make sure the embryos are replaced at the right time of the menstrual cycle. More

IVF problems, risks and solutions

IVF treatment is a complex medical and scientific procedure so it is not surprising that unexpected things can sometimes happen even with the best knowledge in the world and lots of experience. If things do not go as well as expected, we will always discuss the options with you before any decision is made. More

Surgical Sperm Retrieval - Mesa, Pesa, Tesa & Tese

These are the various techniques to obtain sperm from the epididymis or testis from men who have no sperm in their ejaculate (azoospermia). If the cause of the azoospermia is an obstruction then the sperm retrieval procedure is usually simple and can be done under local anaesthetic with sperm being frozen for future use. If the cause is “non-obstructive” then the procedure will be more complex and best results are achieved with microsurgical techniques. More  

Backup sperm

If you or your partner are concerned about producing a semen sample on the day of IUI or IVF treatment or that you might be away, we can usually freeze a back-up sample. You need to arrange this well in advance so we can see how well your sperm survive freezing and thawing. There is a separate charge for sperm freezing unless it is needed for medical reasons as part of a publicly funded treatment. If you are having IVF with frozen back-up sperm, we suggest you consider using ICSI to maximise the fertilisation rate of the eggs.

Sperm will only be frozen if you request this service and complete a consent form for sperm freezing.

Options you may want to consider with IVF:
  • ICSI is a variation of IVF. Instead of the sperm and eggs being mixed in a test tube, a single sperm is injected into each mature egg. ICSI is used when sperm quality is too poor for conventional IVF to work. ICSI allows almost any man with sperm, either in his semen or in his testis, to try IVF. 
  • IMSI: When there is significant male infertility, the embryologist injects a sperm into each egg using a technique called ICSI. IMSI is a variation of ICSI using high magnification.More
  • PGS: checks the number of  chromosomes in each blastocyst.More
  • TiMI: Photographs embryos every 10 minutes to capture developmental milestones in the embryo’s life that
    are missed when embryos are only inspected once a day.More
  • Assisted Hatching: This is an option in IVF or ICSI. A small hole is made in the soft shell of the embryo before it is replaced in the uterus. There is some evidence that assisted hatching can improve pregnancy rates in some groups of IVF patients, mainly those who are older or who have had several IVF cycles without success, or those replacing frozen thawed embryos.
Single Embryo Transfer

From the early days of IVF people have tried to increase the chance of pregnancy in IVF by transferring more than one embryo. But transferring more than one embryo also raises the possibility of multiple pregnancies.

As IVF methods improved, clinics stopped transferring three embryos in younger women to limit the chance of triplets. Now that the chance of each embryo implanting in the uterus has improved even further.  Fertility Associates is encouraging Single Embryo Transfer (SET) in younger women. SET is also a trend in Australia and northern Europe.  To read more find out Fertility Fact Sheet here.