Australia

IVF success rates spike in Australia and New Zealand

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Frozen embryos and better technology has increased the success rate of pregnancies in Australia and New Zealand for patients looking at IVF treatments.

A record number of IVF babies are being born in Australia and New Zealand, as more women opt to freeze their embryos.

It comes amid calls for greater transparency in the industry to give people looking to conceive access to more information on the life-changing treatment.

Summer Gartrell-Zarb has polycystic ovaries and was worried she wouldn't be able to conceive another baby after her eldest son.

But with the help of IVF, and her decision to freeze an embryo, that all changed.

Summer Gartrell-Zarb thought she wouldn't be able to have kids after her eldest son Beau.
Summer Gartrell-Zarb thought she wouldn't be able to have kids after her eldest son Beau.
supplied/Summer Gartrell-Zarb
“You’re very much aware of things that you wouldn’t be aware of if you were conceiving naturally so every day it’s a rollercoaster ride,” she said.

"I just remember breaking down in tears that finally it had happened for us.”

She said greater transparency around treatment options would also help ease the financial burden on patients.

"Because it is so expensive and you don't want to keep going back for rounds after rounds, you do want to go to a clinic that has the best results," she said.

Ms Gartrell-Zarb is one of nearly 14,000 IVF success stories in Australia this year alone.

A University of New South Wales report which looks at assisted reproductive technology in Australia and New Zealand recorded that birth rate numbers in 2017 using IVF increased by 3.2 per cent.

Summer Gartrell-Zarb and her partner Josh tried to have children naturally again but were unsuccessful so turned to IVF.
Summer Gartrell-Zarb and her partner Josh tried to have children naturally again but were unsuccessful so turned to IVF.
Supplied/Summer Gartrell-Zarb

Meanwhile, the use of multiple embryos during the process has dropped to its lowest rate at 3.6 per cent.

President for the Fertility Society of Australia, Michael Chapman, said multiple transfers can often be a problem and skew success rates when looking at results globally.

“89 per cent of our cycles were single embryo transfer, which I’m delighted about, because it reduces the chances of babies dying and getting brain damage from multiple pregnancies,” he said.

Better technology at clinics has also contributed to improved rates of pregnancy.

Summer Gartrell-Zarb was successful with IVF using a frozen embryo.
Summer Gartrell-Zarb was successful with IVF using a frozen embryo.
Supplied/Summer Gartrell-Zarb

Scientists at Australian IVF clinic Genea have come up with a new version of continuous culture fluid which is closer than ever to that found in the human body.

That technology used along with a timelapse incubator is also having an impact on birth success.

“Older incubation systems required embryos to be moved around the laboratory,” he said.

“Essentially we've taken all the environmental disturbance out of the system which results in better quality embryos for patients to use."

Two proposals for greater transparency surrounding IVF treatment, including easily accessible clinic success rates, is being considered by a parliamentary committee.

Technology has also contributed to IVF success rates.
Technology has also contributed to IVF success rates.
SBS News

Experts said it's important for women and couples looking to conceive to have greater access to IVF information but not at the risk of unsafe clinical practices.

UNSW Professor for Policy, Analysis and Epidemiology Georgina Chambers said transparency on clinic success rates is important in the digital age but needs to be regulated.

"It needs to be done very carefully so that we don't disadvantage patients that may not have as good a chance of success,” she said.

“We also don't want to encourage multiple embryo transfers or other forms of aggressive IVF treatment."

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