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.
It is with pride that we celebrate and show our support for diversity, acceptance and importantly the families within the LGBTQI community that we’ve helped create.

We wish all of our patients, staff and friends a happy and safe Mardi Gras. 

Families come in all shapes and sizes. We’ll help grow yours.

IVF Australia and our sister clinics Melbourne IVF and Queensland Fertility Group offer comprehensive donor programs that can assist lesbian couples or single women to conceive using donor sperm and support gay couples through surrogacy arrangements.
Increasingly more and more members of the LGBTQI community are accessing our donor programs to fulfil their dream of having a baby.
If you choose to involve a fertility clinic you can use a donor that you know, or select from a database of de-identified donors that have been recruited locally or from overseas.

Why use a fertility clinic over self-insemination?

Whilst it is quite reasonable for same-sex couples to proceed with self-insemination when trying to fall pregnant, there are a few things worth considering:

Health risks

When you use a fertility clinic we can protect your health by ensuring that all sperm donors (known or de-identified) are thoroughly screened and their sperm is quarantined before being released for treatment.

All donors will also have undergone a thorough medical assessment and detailed genetic testing. 


All parties will receive compulsory counselling to consider the legislation and the long term implications of becoming a sperm donor or recipient. Complex emotional and social issues are discussed as well as psychological implications and plans for future exchange of information and contact.
Fertility counsellors also provide invaluable support throughout the treatment process.

Security of identification and records

Fertility clinics ensure that all donations are carefully recorded. This allows you to be certain about the information and access that your child will have, if they request it.

Security of access

If you wish to have a genetic sibling for your child, using a clinic recruited donor will give you the best chance of accessing the same donor, providing they haven’t withdrawn consent.

Choice of treatment

While Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is often the first choice for fertility treatment when lesbian couples are trying to conceive a child, due to the age of the mother or other complications, IVF may be required.

Many couples also choose to egg share, where the eggs of one partner are used in an IVF cycle to create embryos that are then transferred into the other partner, with the effect that one partner is the birth mother and the other partner is the genetic parent. 
For more information on fertility treatments for same-sex couples please visit your local clinic website:

IVFAustralia  |   Queensland Fertility Group  |  Melbourne IVF
The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is a not for profit member based organisation responsible for hosting the annual parade and festival, as well as a number of other events throughout the year. IVF Australia has been a Presenting Partner of Women Say Something and Official Supporting Partner of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras for the last 2 years. 


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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 to leave it too long to try for a baby.

It is always news when a high profile personality such as Ms Dinnigan, has a child, particularly when the personality in question is a bit older.  The difficulty is that these occasions, while very happy for the people involved, give a misleading picture of the actual likelihood of conception in these circumstances.  Remember that high profile personalities such as Ms Dinnigan, are human beings who quite rightly value their privacy and so very rarely (quite understandably) talk to the press when things aren’t going so well.  It was therefore, a particularly courageous action of Ms Dinnigan, while celebrating her own happiness, to so publicly, point out the difficulties that may face other women, seeking the same fulfilment.

What then, are the issues for women in their forties who are planning to have a child?

The main difficulty is that conceiving is simply harder at that age and, even once a woman does conceive, the risk of miscarriage is higher.  Surprisingly, although we have very good data about the effects of age on IVF conception (more shortly), we don’t have very good statistics about the effects of age on conceiving naturally. The limited available data about natural conception comes from old population studies or studies of unique populations, such as the Hutterites of North America, who do not use contraception.  Interestingly these data, such as they are, seem to be entirely consistent with the more modern and abundant IVF data.  Generally, in one year of trying, 75% of women under 30 years and 66% of 35-year-old women but only 44% of 40-year-old women will achieve a live baby naturally.

The main explanation for this, is that women are born with a finite number of eggs, and from that moment onwards, the number of eggs is declining all the time, until women go through their menopause at around 50-51.  Nonetheless, women in their 40s do still ovulate each month.  What is it about their eggs that cause all these problems?

A common misunderstanding with some women is that the fact she looks and feels young, and leads a healthy lifestyle, means that her eggs will be healthier. I regularly see women who have taken enormous care with their fitness and their health.  The rest of their body is in great shape, completely fit and ready to carry that longed-for pregnancy.  Sadly, despite this, the eggs still can’t do it.  The effects of time are remorseless and, sadly, there is no wonder drug to fix it.

Scientists have shown that eggs from older women are more likely to have an abnormal makeup making pregnancy less likely, miscarriage more common and increasing the risk of Down Syndrome, a condition where a child is born with an extra chromosome number 21.

Nor is IVF a cure for this problem. For women, in their early 40s, IVF is still a good thing to try and gives significantly higher success rates than trying naturally.    However, IVF success rates fall sharply after the age of 40 and by the time a woman is 45 are close to zero.

So, what’s the good news?  Well despite all of the above, many women do conceive in their forties, either by IVF, or naturally, and have very happy healthy families.  It is obviously better to have your family earlier, if you can, but all hope is not lost, just because you’re past 40.  Conception and early miscarriage are the big problems but, if you do conceive and get past the first few weeks, by far the most likely outcome will be a healthy child.  While the risk of Down Syndrome is increased, most of the other problems that affect young children are not increased by being conceived a later maternal age.

Finally, many women worry that by having their children later, their long term health and emotional development may be affected.  On the contrary, we now know that the children of older mums grow up to be as healthy and bright as any other child.

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.

While this trend is supported by data that shows the fertility rate and numbers of births are increasing for women over 30 and especially for women in their early 40s, women and couples should understand the risks associated with having children later in life. 

Interestingly, research from the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) shows that in 2011 a record 12,800 babies were born to women in Australia over the age of 40 – an increase from 7,100 babies born ten years previously.

While this number continues to increase, it’s important to understand that evolution is still yet to catch up with the social realities of this day and age. While a woman’s likelihood of becoming a mother can be delayed due to career aspirations, or taking the time to find ‘the one’, we are still wired to breed in young adulthood.

As we get older, the chances of successfully conceiving decrease.

Studies show that by the time you reach 36, your likelihood of conceiving naturally is half that of a 20 year old. By the time you’re at the age of 41, your chances of natural conception have reduced to just 4%.

Why is this?

While a woman is born with 2 million eggs, these are the only eggs she will ever have. By the time she hits puberty that number has already dropped to 400,000. And as age progresses, the egg quantity and quality continues to decline.

Men are at less of a disadvantage when it comes to age and infertility, but should still be aware that there is a relationship between the two. The fact is, male factors contribute to over 40% of all infertility cases. While some of these issues can be lifestyle related, abnormalities and low counts caused by other issues can play a role, including age.

While we can’t stop or reverse the ageing process, there are positive steps both genders can take to boost fertility and a successful pregnancy.

IVF Australia, Melbourne IVF and Queensland Fertility Group, have teamed up to create their latest infographic - “Fertility and Age in Australia” which explores some of these issues.

 Fertility in Australia infographic

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.

What did we find out about Sperm Donation?

Only 20% of men are aware that there is a shortage of sperm donors in this country.

While the majority of Australians are aware of the need for blood and organ donation, the requirement for sperm donors is largely unknown.

Who uses sperm donation?

Used by patients as either part of an In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) cycle, or via Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), donor sperm can help overcome male factor infertility (15%), or help same-sex couples (35%) and single women (50%) have a child.

What are the common motivations for donation?

The same research also discovered that the common reasons for wanting to donate sperm included:

  • Helping others to have a family (38%)
  • Knowing other people going through fertility treatment (24%)
  • Knowing my sperm count and quality could be assessed at donation (20%)
  • Everyone deserves to be a parent if they want to be (18%)

Sperm donors in Australia can be known to the recipient or recruited via the clinic. Many couples and individuals choose their sperm donor through a clinic, as knowing the demographic profile of the donor but not their identity is a preferred option. In these cases, children of sperm donors are able to access their biological father’s details when they are 18 years old.

The reason for this is that in the past, many donor conceived individuals have reported extreme distress about the absence or lack of information about their biological parents. Nowadays, the exchange of this information, once the child has turned 18 years of age, is considered to be an important part of the use of donated sperm.

While Australians cannot be paid for their sperm, most clinics reimburse donors for legitimate expenses. Sperm donors in Australia are typically aged 25-45, with or without their own families, and of any sexual orientation.

De-identified donor sperm can be used to create up to five or 10 families, depending on what state they’re in, please check with your local state for family limits. Unlike popular belief from movies such as Vince Vaughn’s ‘Delivery Man’. Donors need not worry – fathering 500+ children from their sperm donation is a scenario only Hollywood can create.

Would you or someone you know now consider sperm donation?

After seeing the results of this research, we want to raise awareness of the need for more sperm donors in Australia. If it is something that you would consider talk to your local clinic for more information.

Sperm Donation in Australia Infographic

Sperm Donation in Australia infographic


* Research conducted by Woolcott Research in March 2012. 

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