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What are the alternatives to IVF?

As many as 1 in 6 Australian couples will have difficulties conceiving when they decide to start or extend their family. Pregnancy delay is still a relatively ‘silent’ topic, with many couples preferring not to openly discuss their difficulties when trying for a baby. As a result, there is still a lack of knowledge in this area, with many couples maintaining an unrealistic concern that seeing a fertility specialist will automatically result in them having to go down the IVF route.

It should be reassuring to know that there are many effective alternatives to IVF, if you do decide to seek help from a fertility specialist.

Couple seeing a Fertility Specialist

Getting your timing right with expert help

Timing is everything when trying to get pregnant. Many women are under the impression that they should have sex exactly when they ovulate and don’t understand the importance of having sex leading up to ovulation.

There are online tools and apps available to help you track your cycle and estimate when you are due to ovulate, so you can ensure you are having sex in the few days prior. Many fertility clinics offer ovulation cycle tracking  (which can involve simple blood tests and/or scans) to provide a more accurate way of identifying when you’re going to ovulate to help you get the time just right.

IVF isn’t the only fertility treatment available

Fertility specialists are expert gynaecologists and obstetricians who specialise in fertility. They are able to assess your full medical history and unless there is a good reason for moving straight to IVF, most fertility specialists will recommend a less invasive form of fertility treatment first.

For women that don’t ovulate regularly or at all, for example those with PCOS, Ovulation Induction can sometimes be enough to help them fall pregnant and only involves oral medication and an ultrasound scan.

The next, most common alternative, which can be effective and for those where regular ovulation is not the issue, is Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). This is also commonly referred to as artificial insemination and involves placing the male partner’s sperm inside the woman’s uterus. This very affordable procedure is performed in a doctor’s rooms, and is a similar feeling to undergoing a pap smear. 

If a medical condition, such as endometriosis, is thought to be the cause for the pregnancy delay, keyhole surgery may be discussed as an option to rectify the issue. Many women successfully achieve a pregnancy post-surgery without further intervention.

What can we do to boost our natural fertility?

Fortunately there are also steps you and your partner can take to boost your natural fertility, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy diet, committing to regular exercise, and consuming alcohol and caffeine in moderation.

What about alternative therapies?

If you do decide to consult a fertility specialist, it’s best to discuss any alternative therapies you are using or plan to use. Acupuncture and vitamin supplements are generally considered to be compatible with most fertility treatments, but it’s important to check that complementary medicines don’t interfere with any treatments your doctor may prescribe.

When is IVF recommended?

If other forms of treatment have proved unsuccessful or in limited circumstances, IVF may be recommended. This decision is usually made during a discussion between you and your partner and the treating fertility specialist.  However, if there are significant problems with the male partner’s sperm or the woman is over the age of 40, IVF may be discussed sooner. In addition, if you know or suspect you have a genetic condition or chromosomal abnormality, IVF combined with PGD will be recommended to avoid passing on the condition to your child.

Next steps

Fertility specialists recommend couples try to conceive for twelve months before seeking medical advice, except when the women is over the age of 35, or has known gynaecological issues (e.g. irregular periods, PCOS or endometriosis). In your late 30’s and early 40’s, women should try for just six months before seeking expert help.

Learn more: Fertility treatments in Queensland, Fertility Treatments in New South Wales, Fertility Treatments in Victoria, Fertility Treatments in Tasmania, Fertility treatments in Singapore

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Why is iodine important to preconception and pregnancy health?

One in six Australian couples struggle to conceive and for many of these couples it is important to understand that lifestyle factors such as weight and diet can play an essential role in improving your fertility.

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Endometrial Scratching & IVF

After multiple unsuccessful IVF cycles, couples often ask about alternative techniques that they can try on their next cycle to increase their chance of pregnancy. One such technique is endometrial scratching. So, is endometrial scratching as uncomfortable as it sounds, and can it increase your chance of having a baby?

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IUI versus IVF

Four things you should know when comparing IUI and IVF

A common dilemma faced by some couples who are having difficulties conceiving is whether to undertake IUI or IVF treatment.

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Fertility and Smoking

Clear the air for your fertility, pregnancy and baby

One of the most common questions asked by couples on their fertility journey is “What can I do to improve my chance of conceiving?”  
 

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Progesterone and Pregnancy

Progesterone is an important part of infertility treatment, with fertility specialists often prescribing progesterone supplements to help improve pregnancy rates from IVF.

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Who can help if we’re not getting pregnant?

If you’re struggling to conceive, it may give you some hope to know that Australians have good access to medical advice and assistance in relation to fertility. With 1 in 6 couples experiencing some difficulties when trying to fall pregnant, it helps to understand who you can turn to and how they are likely to approach your situation.

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Seeing an IVF clinic doesn’t mean you have to do IVF

When couples first start thinking about seeing a fertility specialist, because they are having difficulties conceiving, part of the hesitation about going to a fertility & IVF clinic is often patients aren’t yet ready to consider IVF treatment.

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Tubal Ligation Reversal vs IVF – Options & Success Rates

Tubal ligation reversal versus IVF: What are the options if you want to have another baby? 

Tubal ligation is a procedure women undergo to have their fallopian tubes permanently blocked, either by clipping, cutting, or burning.  It is one of the most effective forms of permanent contraception.  However, what happens if you chan

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Taking a pregnancy test and the tell-tale signs you’re expecting

When you are trying to become pregnant, there can be a lot of anxiety around knowing when to take a pregnancy test.

Furthermore, if you have been trying for some time, you are no doubt aware that if you take the test too early, the test may be negative, even if you are pregnant. So, what advice do I give women?

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How useful are home ovulation kits and fertility apps?

Most women who have been trying to conceive for over a year will have spent time (and money) on trying to understand more about their menstrual cycle and ovulation, in order to improve their chances of conceiving.

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Melanie McGrice's picture

Four dietary tips to consider when you’re trying to conceive

Women and couples who are trying to conceive are often looking for answers about what they should be eating during this time. Particularly women who are struggling to conceive.

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Dr Ben Kroon's picture

Understanding your cycle and timing for conception

There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there about how to increase your chance of conceiving. The piece of advice most often given is “get your timing right” – but what does that mean?

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Want a baby in 2016?

Make 2016 your year and join the Four Week Fertility Facts Program – it all kicks off January 17th

When you’re trying to conceive, it can seem like everyone becomes an expert on how you and your partner can try to make it happen.

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8 ways to survive the festive season when you’re having difficulties trying to conceive

The festive season can be challenging for many people, particularly if you’re experiencing difficulties getting pregnant, as you navigate extended family members asking about your plans for starting a family.

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Dr Fleur Cattrall's picture

What is embryo screening and is it right for me?

One significant development in assisted reproductive technology (ART) in the last 25 years is our ability to remove cells from a developing embryo and perform genetic testing.

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Could sunshine improve your chance of IVF success?

As we welcome spring with open arms, did you know that the warmer weather does more than put a smile on your face? A dose of sunshine, the best natural source of vitamin D, could also increase your chance of IVF success.

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How can weight affect fertility?

When women and couples who are experiencing difficulties with conception are overweight, they have generally already heard or read the advice that being overweight reduces their chance of falling pregnant.

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Dr Lyndon Hale's picture

Conceived by IVF or not, don’t you believe your child is brilliant?

Every parent wants the best for their children. For some parents, this can translate into a tendency to believe their child is super-smart. Why? Perhaps their son or daughter reached developmental milestones quicker than expected, or appeared more alert and able to master literacy skills from a young age.

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IVF & embryo donation – the gift of a family

With Sofia Vergara, star of the hit TV show Modern Family, reportedly in a battle with her ex-fiancé over the rights to frozen embryos they created while together, the press attention around her situation has thrown issues surrounding stored embryos into the spotlight.

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Reversing the Snip

Is it too late to have another chance at fatherhood?

Life can be unexpected. Although having a vasectomy may have been right for you a few years ago, you may be wishing that it wasn’t so permanent, as you now want to have another child.

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Dr Alex Polyakov's picture

What every man (and woman) should know about conception

From avoiding wearing tight pants to having intercourse every day, there are many myths and misconceptions about what men can do to improve their fertility.

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Dr Chandrika Parmar's picture

Male fertility issues – the most common cause of infertility after a woman’s age

 

Male fertility issues – the most common cause of infertility after a woman’s age

A common misconception is that infertility is a woman's problem and once that ‘problem’ is fixed the couple will be able to conceive

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Prof. Michael Chapman's picture

Same-Sex Couples Wanting to Fall Pregnant – Why use a Fertility Clinic?

IVF Australia proudly supports Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2015

IVF Australia is proud to be an official supporting partner of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2015.
 

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Dr Andrew Kan's picture

Do Asian & Caucasian women respond the same to IVF?

As a Singaporean born, and UK and Australian trained Gynaecologist, Obstetrician and Fertility Specialist, I have been exposed to how different ethnicities respond to fertility issues more than most.

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7 Fertility Lessons from People Who Have Been There

And what they wished they’d known before they started

If you’re trying for a baby, it can be difficult to know what advice you should be listening to.

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Dr Hossam Elzeiny's picture

Secondary Infertility: I already have a child, so why can’t I fall pregnant again?

You already have a happy, healthy toddler, and you’ve been trying for more than six months to give them a sibling – but nothing is happening. Having had a child already is a key promising predictive factor to conceiving again, but it’s no guarantee. 

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Is 2015 your year for a baby?

You’ve decided that you’re ready to have a baby! But now what?

There are a number of ways to increase your chances and make it more likely that you will conceive a child. Trying for a baby can be exciting and fun, but it can also be frustrating.

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Coping with the festive season when you’re going through fertility treatment

Many of my fertility patients express that they find Christmas the hardest time of the year. At this time, there tends to be a heavy focus on family and children, which is a constant reminder of what they are striving for.

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Dr Sharyn Stock-Myer's picture

Karyomapping – faster genetic testing for PGD patients

Genetic disorders (depending on their severity) can have a devastating psychological, social and economic impact on entire families. Many family members watch loved ones suffer through crippling conditions and lose hope of wanting to start a family of their own, for fear of passing on the gene that affected their family for generations.

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Fertility Preservation - Understanding Your Options

The recent news of Apple and Facebook offering female staff egg freezing to preserve their fertility has resulted in lively debates about its apparent pros and cons. But there’s no question that some women are interested in putting their fertility on ice. 

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Assoc. Prof. Peter Illingworth's picture

Understanding IVF success rates

If you’re starting IVF treatment or considering getting a second opinion, most patients will take a keen interest in a clinic’s IVF success rates. But what do these figures really mean and how do you compare them between clinics? 

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Does contraception affect future fertility?

A common question that I get asked by couples who are having trouble conceiving is whether their previous contraceptive use may be affecting their ability to fall pregnant now. As a fertility specialist, I know that issues with fertility can be one of the most difficult challenges couples will ever face.

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Moving from Contraception to Conception

When couples first start trying to get pregnant, they often don’t know where to start, and only a few minutes researching online will deliver a broad range of often conflicting advice. So if you’re just starting out or have been trying for a while, let our combined fertility expertise guide your path to pregnancy.

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Does Male Fertility Decline Over Time?

 

Tick, tock… do men have a biological clock?

It’s almost Fathers’ Day and as a Fertility Specialist and Obstetrician, I’d like to help every man who one day wants children to experience the joy of fatherhood. But like women, men who want to become a father shouldn’t assume it will always be possible... and here’s why.

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Dr David Molloy's picture

A review of the timing of contractual surrogacy in Australia is now overdue

The highly-publicised story of baby Gammy, who is the centre of a failed surrogacy arrangement between an Australian couple and Thai surrogate, has brought to light the difficulties involved in surrogacy.
 

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Going Solo - Contemplating single motherhood?

Compared with our mothers or grandmothers, the modern-day woman is more likely to be working, travelling, more educated and financially independent than ever before. As professionals in reproductive medicine, we’ve seen how these social trends are having a great impact on decisions surrounding motherhood.
 

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Third-party reproduction

Five things you need to know about using donor sperm, eggs and embryos

If you’re in a same sex relationship, or in a heterosexual relationship but dealing with complex fertility issues, sperm, egg or embryo donation may provide your only chance to start a family.

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Dr Lyndon Hale's picture

Oral Contraceptive Pill lowers ovarian reserve – A New Study

The Pill is one of the most popular forms of contraception in Australia and is taken by an estimated 100 million women worldwide. Nonetheless, one question many women want to know is, will taking the pill impact my long-term fertility?

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Assoc. Prof. Gavin Sacks's picture

Current study: Can acupuncture support IVF treatment?

Many people use complementary or alternative therapies to improve their overall physical and emotional health. Some women also consider using these therapies to prepare their body for pregnancy or support them through fertility treatment.

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Dr Hossam Elzeiny's picture

A Man’s Guide to Fertility

It’s a topic that doesn’t get discussed too often at the pub or on the footy field. But the truth is that there are many men trying to become a dad, and it isn’t always as easy as they first thought.

With Men’s Health week upon us, it seems timely to dispel some myths and discuss some tips about men’s fertility.

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What every woman should know about her fertility

How much do you know about your fertility? Is having a family something you’ve considered, but haven’t really given much thought to?

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Leita Fien's picture

15 years of IVF patients – how have women changed?

The media is increasingly full of stories showcasing the latest 50 year old mum, or the celebrity who has undergone IVF.

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Paternity, Maternity, Equality

Conceiving a baby in a same sex relationship

IVFAustralia, and its partner clinics Melbourne IVF and Queensland Fertility Group, are proud supporters of ‘rainbow families’.

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Dr Alex Polyakov's picture

Mediterranean diet – can it influence IVF results?

UK scientists will examine the effects of a Mediterranean diet rich in omega-3 fish oil and vitamin D on fertility for women and couples undergoing In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).

Common sense would suggest that preconception

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There’s a sperm donor shortage in Australia – but only 20% of men know about it

The leading fertility clinics in the Virtus Health group, including IVF Australia, Melbourne IVF and Queensland Fertility Group, have joined forces to research sperm donation in Australia

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Assoc. Prof. John McBain's picture

Children of IVF parents as healthy as those conceived spontaneously

In 2007 a local Melbourne paediatrician approached me curious about whether girls conceived through In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and other Assisted Reproductive Treatments (ART) enter puberty earlier than those conceived spontaneously.

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Dr Fleur Cattrall's picture

Is the AMH Test Reliable?

Recent media coverage has drawn considerable attention to the anti-Mullerian hormone or AMH test. The discussion was around whether this ‘egg timer test’ was worth doing or whether its time had run out.

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Dr Louise Fay's picture

Sperm Donation: Giving the gift of life

The recent SBS Insights Program is to be congratulated for exploring the complex issue of sperm donation in Australia. ”Insights” presented various aspects of this emotional, sensitive and often misunderstood path of creating a family.

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Dr Ben Kroon's picture

Post mortem sperm retrieval – a matter of life and death

Further to his interview on Channel 9’s 60 minutes programme, Dr Ben Kroon of Queensland Fertility Group discusses the topic of post mortem sperm retrieval.

Thankfully for the vast majority of people, post mortem sperm retrieval will never become a reality.

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Prof Bill Ledger's picture

Egg Freezing - No insurance policy, but is it better than doing nothing?

This week’s Australian Bureau of Statistics announcement that the average age of mothers is 30.7 with the number of teenage mothers the lowest in a decade and the number of over 40 year old mothers increasing raises the issue of how to protect and preserve a woman’s fertility.

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Snapshot of Fertility in Australia

There have been a number of happy and high profile stories in the press recently about older celebrities giving birth to healthy children. Stories like this used to be extraordinary, but they certainly seem to be on the increase.

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Jacqui Irving's picture

Behind the headlines – 'Three-person IVF'

Last week there was worldwide press coverage about a decision taken by the UK government to support three-person IVF.  The decision will see the UK government produce draft regulations later this year, with the procedure potentially being offered within two years.

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Dr David Edgar's picture

Embryoscope: the latest in early stage embryo development

Investigations into the early development of embryos using time-lapse photography are helping to predict which patterns of embryo development are associated with the best outcomes for patients.

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Assoc. Prof. Gavin Sacks's picture

Natural Killer Cells : an emerging possibility

Last year, at The Fertility Society of Australia’s annual conference in Auckland,  I presented some research into one of the currently controversial areas of reproductive medicine – the role of natural killer cells in pregnancy. 

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Dr Kate Stern's picture

Fertility Preservation: Hope for the future

Last week, 60 Minutes featured a story on ovarian tissue grafting, a procedure that is attracting more attention for its ability to preserve a woman’s fertility until later in life.

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Prof. Michael Chapman's picture

Sperm Donation: Giving the gift of life

The obsession with the celebrity world seemed to lift to new heights recently, when Australian media reported on a UK based sperm donor service that stated it aimed to match women with anonymous celebrity dads when i

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Dr Andrew Cary's picture

Fertility Forensics : Understanding your own fertility

Last month, the National Health Service (NHS) in a Scottish county banned access to publically funded IVF treatment for couples who are overweight or who smoke.  In the UK, the number of government funded IVF cycles available to couples varies from region to region, and the waiting lists can be three years or more.  Not surprisingly, the news wa

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Assoc. Prof. Peter Illingworth's picture

Conceiving in your 40s, what are the chances?

I was recently asked to comment in a Sun Herald article on 26th August (also published online here: Sydney Morning Herald) on Collette Dinnigan, who pregnant at the age of 46, has called on women not

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Dr David Molloy's picture

Is it a boy? But we want a girl!

I sympathise with the many couples which consult with me each year about the possibility of accessing sex selection for family balancing reasons.  For the most part, these couples are asking for genuine and valid reasons, and I understand my patients’ desire to experience the differences, joys and difficulties of raising both boys and girls.

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Advanced Embryo Selection Increases IVF Pregnancy Rates

Later this month I will present to a group of GP’s in Melbourne and Sydney on arrayCGH technology, a form of microarray used in Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) at Melbourne IVF, IVFAustralia and Queensland Fertility Group.  The significance of this technology is its ability to rapidly screen all 24 chromosomes in a developing embryo crea

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