If natural fertility treatments didn’t prove effective or they just really aren’t your cup of tea the next step in the baby making process is medical fertility treatments. Two percent of New Zealand babies are conceived via In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) every year. However the process can be long, difficult and potentially heartbreaking and deciding whether or not it is a journey yourself and your family want to make can be difficult.
The level of medical intervention you need in order to conceive depends on the cause of your infertility. For some families IFV is as straight forward as possible and for others donors and ICIS may be necessary to help improve your chances of a successful pregnancy. In this instalment of let’s make a baby we look at IFV, ICIS, sperm donation and egg donation.
In Vitro Fertilisation or IFV is the process of taking healthy sperm and eggs from either you and your partner or donors and combining them in a nutrient rich petri dish which is then placed in an incubator. If the sperm and the egg join fertilisation has occurred. Embryos are left to culture for one to five days and during that time tests are preformed to find out which embryos are most likely to implant. Embryos are then transferred back to the Mother. The number of embryos that are transferred depends on the mother’s age but generally most IFV embryo transfers are of one embryo.
In some cases IFV is enough for a couple to have a family. However it can be more complicated, depending on the cause of your infertility. Up to 50% of couples need to use Assisted Fertilisation in IVF. ICIS is used to assist IVF when the sperm being used has been deemed ‘poor quality’. The process involves Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection or for those of us without a medical degree injecting one good quality sperm directly into an egg. This process can also sometimes involve collecting sperm from the male via one of three methods. Sperm collection is necessary in cases when the male is producing sperm it does not leave the testes or survive outside the testes. Around 50% of men can have their sperm successfully collected for ICIS.
Occasionally families will have to consider sperm donation. Discovering you need to use a sperm donor can have a large emotional toll and experts highly recommend seeking counselling throughout the process. As all sperm donors in New Zealand pass through a vetting process which involves counselling, blood tests and a medical using donor sperm is a safe process. However it is important to note that due to New Zealand law and the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act (HART Act) all donors are required to be available to the donor family and will be given the gender and birth year of any successful births. Once a child turns 18 they will have access to a nationwide database that will give them information and the ability to make contact with their donor.
Although the process is different egg donation is incredibly similar to sperm donation. The HART ACT requires the same of egg donors as they do of sperm donors and any children conceived with donor eggs will have access to their donor at age 18. As egg donation in New Zealand must not be commercial, egg donors cannot be paid for their donation. You can either choose to have a donor you know or use a clinic donor.
IFV can be an incredibly costly endeavour. Private IVF can cost around $10,000 per round and for most couples more than one round is needed for a successful pregnancy. However, if you meet the criteria you may be eligible for two free rounds of IVF, care of the New Zealand government. If you do quality you will be placed on a waiting list.
If you and your family do decide that medical fertility treatment is the way forward, seek professional counselling immediately to help with the process and potential heartbreaks during the process. Not every round of IVF is successful and by having supports in place before a negative result you are putting yourself and your family in a position to better cope with it.
In the last instalment of the lets make a baby series we will look into fostering and adoption in New Zealand.