Understanding IVF

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a type of assisted reproductive technology (ART) used to treat infertility that has failed to respond to other medical or surgical interventions. IVF literally means “fertilisation in glass” and involves the fertilisation of the egg by the sperm in an incubator outside the body, followed by transfer of the embryo back into the uterus.


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IVF – Step-by-Step Guide

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In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)


IVF Treatment Procedure

The female IVF treatment cycle generally follows these stages:

  • Pre-treatment tests and preparation.
  • IVF treatment information and discussion.
  • Preparation of ovaries and uterus by intranasal spray (in some instances).
  • Follicle growth treatment (stimulation by injection).
  • Ovulation timing (based on blood tests and ultrasound scans).
  • Egg collection.
  • Insemination of eggs with sperm.
  • Assessment of fertilisation.
  • Culturing of the embryos for two to five days.
  • Embryo transfer to the uterus.
  • Pregnancy test (blood test).
  • Ultrasound if pregnant.
  • Referral to your chosen antenatal care provider.

Who is IVF Recommended for?

IVF was developed to treat infertility caused by tubal damage, endometriosis, sperm disorders and unexplained factors. Whether you need IVF will depend on the diagnosis of your infertility and the treatment plan required to address your condition.

What are the Potential Risks?

Potential risks and side effects associated with IVF procedures include:

  • An exaggeration of usual menstrual cycle symptoms (such as bloating, breast tenderness and mood swings) because the ovaries have been stimulated to produce more than one follicle.
  • In about 1% of cases, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) develops. The ovaries become extremely enlarged and extra fluid accumulates in the abdomen. This complication requires rest, close monitoring, intravenous fluids or even drainage of the abdominal fluid. In rare cases, if we feel you are a high risk of developing OHSS, the embryos may be frozen rather than replaced.
  • If more than one embryo is transferred into the uterus, a multiple pregnancy may occur. Multiple pregnancies carry a higher risk of pre-term delivery and other problems. Twins can occur in 10% to 20% of cases.
  • Fertility drugs have not been proven to increase the risk of breast, ovarian or uterine cancer; reassuring data is now available from several large follow-up studies. However, women who have never been pregnant have a higher risk of breast or ovarian cancer. Past or future use of the birth control pill will lower your risk of ovarian cancer. A yearly physical exam is important for the prevention and early detection of all diseases.

Are IVF Babies Healthy?

IVF babies are the same as babies born through natural conception. However, because of the older age of many women undergoing IVF, we encourage patients to undergo Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) to identify any genetic abnormalities.

The world’s first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born in 1978 in England. Since then, about 5 million babies have been born as a result of IVF.

Cost of Treatment

We understand that each patient’s fertility needs are different. This is reflected in our fee schedule, which is structured around your individual plan and means costs can vary between patients according to the different levels of treatment required. The exact structure of these costs can be discussed fully with you once a treatment plan has been established by your specialist. Please visit the Cost section for detailed information about treatment fees and Medicare rebates.

Beginning Treatment

The first step to access fertility treatment is to obtain a referral, from your GP, to one of our accredited fertility experts – you can download a referral form by following this link: Download Referral Form.

Your initial consultation with a City Fertility specialist will allow him or her to gather all the relevant information regarding your circumstances, medical condition and previous care to provide the direction for your treatment.

Your specialist will devise a treatment plan based on your needs as a couple. Some couples may need further investigations. Once these investigations are carried out, your specialist will ask that you make an appointment for a complimentary pre-treatment information session with one of our experienced fertility coordinators and patient services administrators. All aspects of your fertility treatment, including the cost structure, will be discussed with you at that time.


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For more information about IVF, please read our fact sheets: In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)IVF FAQRisks and Complications of IVF TreatmentFertility Medications and Their Side Effects and Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)


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