Considering fertility treatment

How long should we allow ourselves to fall pregnant naturally before considering fertility treatment?

If you have regular periods and are 35 years of age or younger, you should allow one year of trying naturally before undergoing any fertility investigations.

If you are over the age of 35 it may be reasonable to undertake some preliminary fertility testing sooner than this as your chance of falling pregnant, either naturally or with assisted reproductive technology, decreases with age.

If you have irregular menstrual cycles this can be a sign of irregular ovulation and it would be reasonable to have this investigated early on regardless of your age.

What is a ‘cycle’?

Your menstrual ‘cycle’ is the time between day one of one menstrual period until day one of your next period, usually around 28 days. If you are undergoing any type of fertility treatment your treatment cycle will be based around your menstrual cycle.

What is in vitro fertilisation?

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a procedure where eggs are removed from a woman’s ovaries and inseminated outside the body. Embryo(s) that result are then placed in the woman’s uterus where they may implant and grow.

How long does IVF treatment take?

Your treatment cycle is based around your menstrual cycle, so each treatment cycle takes roughly the same amount of time to complete. The procedure of collecting eggs takes approximately 30 minutes and is performed under sedation or local anaesthetic. The procedure of embryo transfer takes about 10 minutes and requires no anaesthetic and is performed at our clinic.

Do I need a referral to make an appointment with a fertility specialist?

Yes. You will need a referral letter (provided by your GP) to your fertility specialist of choice. This is a requirement of Medicare in order for you to claim any Medicare benefits you are entitled to for your treatment.

Is there a big difference in success between IVF clinics?

Yes – results do vary quite a lot. It can be difficult to compare though because success also depends on the average age of women who go to that clinic and whether the clinic takes on more challenging cases. Check the fine print behind any rates quoted – if the figure is for women under 35, for instance, the figure will be much higher than where all women are included. Life Fertility has high success rates by any measure due to our comprehensive diagnosis, advanced science and individualised treatment plans. Our goal is always to find you the shortest Pathways to Parenthood.

What are Life Fertility Clinic’s success rates?

We are happy to give you the most up-to-date Life Fertility pregnancy results and help you understand your chances of success when you discuss your individual history and treatment needs with our fertility specialist.

Are gay couples welcome?

Absolutely, we treat all patients equally regardless of their sexuality.

Are single women and men welcome?

Absolutely, we treat all patients equally regardless of their marital status or gender.

Treatment costs and success rates

What does IVF cost?

Costs are normally quoted on a ‘per cycle’ cost but be aware that hospital theatre costs, medications and supplementary treatments can add to the basic cost. Life Fertility offers competitive prices and has the advantage that we only ask you to pay the Gap between Life Fertility Clinic fee and the Medicare Rebate upfront whereas in some clinics you may have to find up to $10,000 initially. You would then claim the Medicare rebate which may take some weeks to be returned to you. If your fee for a cycle is around $6000 and the rebate from Medicare is around $3000, we would ask you to pay the difference of only $3000. Please ask us for more details of likely costs for your individual case.

Does medicare cover any of the costs?

Yes, Medicare covers some costs associated with IVF and fertility treatments if you are eligible but there will still be out-of-pocket costs. If you are registered for the Extended Medicare Safety Net (EMSN), you may be eligible to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses even further once your cycle is complete.  In most cases, it would reduce your out-of-pocket expenses to approximately *$2100 for an initial IVF cycle in a calendar year and *$600 for a subsequent IVF cycle in that calendar year. You need to register for EMSN before you begin treatment. To understand more about your eligibility, please contact Medicare or go to the Medicare website

Do private health funds cover IVF and fertility treatments?

If you are in a private health fund and have the appropriate level of cover you may be eligible to claim a rebate for some medications, a portion of the fees for your treating doctor when treated in hospital, hospital accommodation, anaesthetist and theatre fees. Please contact your private health insurer to confirm the benefits that would be available to you.

What are successful pregnancy chances with IVF?

It really does depend on so many individual factors that it is impossible to give an answer without knowing your details. We give you the best chances through our comprehensive diagnosis and advanced procedures and there are hundreds of Life Fertility babies to prove to prove it. Please book a consultation to discuss your individual chances in more detail.

How does age impact on fertility?

A woman’s age is the biggest single factor in determining a woman’s fertility and chance of getting pregnant. Quality and quantity of eggs start to decline after 30 and your best chances of conceiving are before age 35. By the time you reach 40, your chances of a naturally occurring pregnancy have diminished very significantly and IVF success rates are also not as high as they are for younger women.

I’m a healthy woman in her early 40s and I’ve never conceived. Is it too late for me to try IVF?

The chance of a successful pregnancy, using your own eggs with in-vitro fertilisation, is small if you are over 42 years of age. In our experience, a successful pregnancy using IVF in women between 40 and 42 years of age happens in only around 5-10% of cases.

If you are over 40, you can improve your chance of a successful pregnancy by using donor eggs from a woman younger than 35 as the success rate is then almost the same as for women of that age group.

About Life Fertility

What makes Life Fertility different?

The Life Fertility difference is about the knowledge and expertise of our Fertility Specialists and scientific team, our best-practice procedures – including a comprehensive pre-treatment diagnosis – and our values. It is important to us to welcome the diversity of potential parents, to see every person as an individual, to give really honest advice and to work with determination to explore all possible avenues for your success. Also, our billing structure can make IVF more accessible for many people as you only pay the gap between our fee and the Medicare rebate up front.

Can I choose my own specialist?

Yes, ask your GP for a referral to the specialist of your choice. See Our Team page for details of our specialists. If you would prefer to be treated by a female fertility specialist, Dr Megan Castner is highly skilled in supporting you during your fertility treatment.

Where is Life Fertility Clinic located?

Life Fertility Clinic is located at St. Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital. We are on Level 7, 457 Wickham Terrace, Spring Hill. Off-street parking is available at both St. Andrew’s Place and St. Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital.

We also have specialists available for consultations at North West Private Hospital and Mater Private Hospital.

What accommodation options are available near Life Fertility Clinic?

There are a number of hotels close to the clinic offering a range of accommodation options. Click here to learn more about the accommodation partners we are affiliated with. A Life Fertility staff member can assist with booking accommodation if you need.

Donor and Surrogacy Program

Does Life Fertility Clinic offer treatment using donor sperm/donor eggs?

Yes. Our nurse coordinators will be able to help you with the process of using a sperm or egg donor.

Does Life Fertility Clinic offer treatment involving surrogacy?

Life Fertility Clinic does treat patients who wish to use a surrogate, however, the arrangement must be altruistic and comply with current Queensland law. If you are considering undergoing fertility treatment using a surrogate our nurse coordinators will be able to assist you in understanding the arrangements that need to be in place before treatment can begin. Click here to learn more.

How do I find an egg donor?

Egg donors cannot be paid in Australia so donation must be altruistic and usually involves a friend or relative. If you need donor eggs, we recommend you find your own donor due to the limited number of egg donors available in Australia. If this is not an option, you may add your name to our waiting list, however it could be a couple of years before a donor becomes available. Another alternative is to advertise and, if the recipient does not wish to be known to the donor, our IVF nurses can act as go-between.

Planning your Life Fertility treatment

I am from out of town, how long would I need to be in Brisbane for my treatment?

Generally speaking, you will need to be in Brisbane for approximately two weeks during the active phase of the IVF treatment. Sometimes it is possible for some aspects of your treatment to be carried out elsewhere so you should talk to your fertility specialist and nurse coordinator about this.

How do I book a Skype consultation?

We support our patients living in remote regions, by offering teleconsultations via skype or video link. At the time of booking your consultation, simply advise the Life Fertility receptionist that you require this service and the necessary arrangements will be made. Our receptionist can also check your eligibility for a Medicare Rebate for this service for you.

How long will my ovarian stimulation process take?

The ovarian stimulation phase of your treatment cycle usually takes around two weeks although the exact amount of time varies depending on how your body responds to the medications you are given.

What’s normal during treatment?

Will I feel bloated and have breast tenderness during this process?

Some bloating and breast tenderness is common during a treatment cycle. If you are concerned about any of these symptoms please contact your nurse coordinator.

Should I still be in pain the day after my egg collection?

Some cramping and discomfort is normal following egg collection. This should be reasonably mild and improve in the days following your egg collection. If you are at all concerned about any of the symptoms you are experiencing please contact your nurse coordinator.

Should I still be bleeding the day after egg collection?

It is normal to experience some bleeding following your egg collection and it is normal for the bleeding to persist the day after. If you are concerned about the amount of blood loss please contact your nurse coordinator.

Why didn’t all of my eggs fertilise?

It is quite normal to have some eggs that do not fertilise, regardless of which method of fertilisation is used. There are a variety of reasons for why this happens and these can vary between patients and/or treatment cycles. We suggest you discuss any concerns regarding your fertilisation results with one of our embryologists or your fertility specialist.

How many embryos are transferred in a treatment cycle?

We typically transfer one embryo per treatment cycle. However, the number of embryos transferred in a treatment cycle will depend on a number of factors including the age of the female partner and whether or not you have had any previous success with any type of fertility treatment. You should be aware that Life Fertility Clinic is required to follow specific guidelines from our licensing authority regarding the maximum number of embryos that can be transferred in a given treatment cycle and these are based on the age of the female that the egg came from.

What if I have spotting/bleeding in the two weeks after the embryo transfer?

It is best to contact your nurse coordinator if you experience any spotting or bleeding while you are waiting for your pregnancy test following embryo transfer. Spotting or bleeding during this phase of your treatment cycle can have a number of causes but can potentially be due to the embryo implanting in the lining of your uterus.

For this reason it is very important to continue with your medications until you are advised otherwise by your fertility specialist or nurse coordinator.

Why weren’t all of my spare embryos all frozen?

At Life Fertility Clinic the most common stage that we freeze embryos for our patients is the blastocyst stage, this usually occurs on day 5 or 6 following insemination. We know that an embryo must form a blastocyst in order to go on to form a pregnancy, however, not all embryos are destined to reach the blastocyst stage. This is quite normal and is the reason why most patients find that not all of their excess embryos are suitable for freezing. If you are concerned about the number of embryos you have had frozen we suggest you discuss this with one of our embryologists or your fertility specialist.

Do I need to have a break between cycles?

It is best to check with your fertility specialist or nurse coordinator but as a general rule it is not usually necessary to have a break between cycles.

Health, wellbeing and alternate therapies

Can stress impact the likelihood that my treatment will be successful?

There is no clear scientific evidence that increased stress will negatively impact fertility treatment. However, at Life Fertility we believe that your fertility treatment is both a physical and emotional journey. Therefore, we offer continuous support as well as actual resources to help you deal with the stresses of fertility investigations and treatment through our health and wellness program.

Can I exercise as usual during my fertility treatment?

We suggest that you avoid strenuous exercise while undergoing fertility treatment, although gentle exercise may be fine. If you are considering exercising during your fertility treatment we recommend discussing this with your fertility specialist or nurse coordinator first.

Is it safe to take herbal products during my fertility treatment?

It really depends on the type of herbal product and your individual treatment plan. Many medications, including herbal medications, can have powerful biological effects and some may influence the safety and/or outcome of your fertility treatment. For this reason it is important for your fertility specialist to know about all of the medications you are taking (including herbal medications) so that your treatment can be planned with these in mind.

Can I continue to have acupuncture while on a treatment cycle?

It is completely fine to continue having acupuncture during your treatment cycle; in fact some studies have suggested that acupuncture may be beneficial for fertility patients both in terms of how they feel during treatment and the outcome.

Can I have intercourse during my treatment cycle?

Yes you can have intercourse during your treatment cycle, however we do advise you abstain from intercourse for a minimum of two days prior to your egg collection and also for two days post egg collection. We also advise you to abstain from intercourse for 2 days after your embryo transfer. Your fertility specialist or nurse coordinator will discuss this with you.

Do I have any lifestyle or diet restrictions during this process?

A healthy lifestyle is recommended prior to and during pregnancy. It is also important to maintain a suitable diet and exercise program to optimise your reproductive health. We recommend discussing your own circumstances with your fertility specialist or nurse coordinator but there are some recommendations that apply to most patients:

  • Start a folic acid dose of at least 500mcgs daily a minimum of a month before your treatment cycle and continue it for the first three months of pregnancy.
  • We recommend that both partners abstain from alcohol while trying to conceive and that the woman doesn’t drink alcohol at all during pregnancy.
  • We strongly discourage cigarette smoking for both partners as it has a negative effect on your ability to achieve and maintain a pregnancy.
  • We recommend that women limit caffeine intake to 200mgs (one cup) a day.

I feel like I need to talk with someone about the way I’m feeling. What are my options?

We understand that this can be a difficult and stressful time. We offer a range of options – see our health and wellness page. Contact your nurse coordinator to begin with and she will be able to advise the best course of action for you.