IVF and fertility: what you need to know before you get started

What is IVF and how does it work if you have fertility issues?

If you’ve been trying for a child, only to find it’s not happening as quickly as you expected or hoped, you might be feeling stressed, confused or a mix of other emotions. But you’re not alone. About 15 per cent of couples in Australia face some kind of fertility problem.


A couple embracing

There are many possible causes of infertility. For women, it might be problems with the fallopian tubes, cervix or uterus, or might have something to do with your menstrual cycle or endometriosis. For men, it can be caused by problems with the sperm, impotence, or obstructions to the passage of sperm.

Depending on your age and how long you’ve been trying for a child, you may want to see a fertility specialist to discuss treatment options. 

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is just one of the treatments available. It’s a process where a woman’s eggs are fertilised with a man’s sperm outside of the body, and once they are fertilised, they are then transplanted into the woman’s body in the hope a successful pregnancy will follow.

If you are considering IVF, talk to your doctor about any concerns or questions you have. Here are some things to keep in mind. 

10 things to keep in mind when you are considering IVF

1. You are not alone.

One in six couples will have difficulty getting pregnant and approximately one in 25 babies in Australia were conceived using assisted reproductive technology. 

2. Don’t wait too long to seek advice.

IVF Australia recommends that couples under the age of 35 who have been trying for 12 months or more should seek advice from a fertility specialist. Couples over the age of 35 are advised to seek advice after 6 months, as fertility declines significantly in your late 30s.

3. You’ll need a referral from your GP.

Make time to chat with your GP about what you can expect and what support  is available.

4. Find the right clinic.

Your GP is a good starting point. You can also search the Fertility Society of Australia website for a list of accredited places in your state. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions to make sure the doctor, treatment, and clinic or unit is a good fit for you.

5. You will begin by undergoing a series of tests.

Both partners will usually undergo tests to explore the potential causes of infertility. These include blood tests, ultrasound tests for females and semen analysis for males. Treatment will largely be guided by the results of these tests.

6. You’ll get an individual treatment plan.

Once you have completed your tests, your fertility specialist will confirm your treatment plan and answer any questions you might have. Read more about what IVF treatment involves.

7. Understanding your chances of conceiving.

Different clinics report their success rates in different ways - and it can be confusing to understand, so don't hesitate to ask lots of questions. Researches at the University of New South Wales regularly report on overall trends on IVF treatments in Australia and New Zealand, if you want to see how your clinic compares. How likely you are to have a baby will depend on factors such as your age, the reason for infertility, your overall health and the approach that your doctor uses.

8. Some lifestyle factors affect the chance of IVF success.

To improve the chance of success both partners are encouraged to maintain a healthy weight, quit smoking, limit alcohol, eat a healthy nutritious diet, exercise regularly, avoid contact with toxic chemicals, and visit your doctor for a thorough preconception health check. Women are also recommended to increase their intake of folate.

9.The cost of IVF varies.

This depends on your individual treatment plan and if your health insurance includes cover for IVF. Medibank’s Growing Family Comprehensive covers some of the costs of IVF treatments. Check with your clinic and Medibank before you get started and do your research to get an idea of costs you can expect from IVF. Remember a waiting period may apply on your cover.

10. Undergoing IVF treatment can be emotionally difficult.

It’s important to get support if you are struggling. You can get counselling and free support from Access Australia.

Need a little extra support?

Health Concierge

Whether it’s taking you a little longer to fall pregnant than you expected, or you know you’ll be needing a bit of extra help, Medibank’s Health Concierge service is there to help. You can call 1800 789 414 for support and guidance, available at no extra cost for members with residential hospital cover#. 

Got a health question? 24/7 Medibank nurse phone service

Members with hospital cover can chat to experienced and qualified nurses over the phone to discuss any health questions or concerns and get professional advice on what to do next. Our nurses are available on 1800 644 325~ for round-the-clock health advice.

Optimal me

Medibank has partnered with Monash University to create OptimalMe, a research program designed to help mums-to-be optimise their health before they conceive. The program features tailored health and wellbeing tips and personal guidance on fitness and nutrition. 

If you’re planning to have a baby in the next 12 months you may be eligible to take part.  Find out more here


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Things you should know

~ OSHC members should call the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283.

# Health Concierge is available to all eligible Medibank members who hold hospital cover. Excludes Overseas Visitor Health Cover, Working Visa Health Cover and Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). Some referred services may involve out of pocket costs.

While we hope you find this information helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health advice, and is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees).