IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization)
At Women’s Health Melbourne, we strive to be your boutique Melbourne fertility clinic.
We want to ensure all of our patients get the best possible information and the most refined and personalised expert care pursuing IVF treatment in Melbourne.
We believe with the right expert support, seeking IVF treatment shouldn’t be the difficult and daunting task it sometimes can be and we are committed to answering any questions our patients have along the way.
What Is In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)?
IVF is an assisted reproductive technology, where sperm and egg are united outside of the body (in-vitro). Embryos formed are assessed and compared.
A woman’s strongest and best embryo is then replaced through her cervical canal into her uterus. Remaining embryos may be frozen. The treatment aim is to achieve a pregnancy and ultimately, the birth of a healthy baby.
Who Is IVF Recommended For?
IVF has helped couples struggling to conceive to overcome a variety of fertility barriers including fallopian tube blockage or absence following surgical removal (e.g. a complication of ectopic pregnancies).
IVF can also assist couples with multiple factors contributing to subfertility (e.g. endometriosis, female age >35, mild sperm problems) and also where the reason for delayed conception is unexplained.
IVF using Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) can assist couples to conceive where there is a severe sperm problem. IVF can also be used by single women and same sex couples using donor sperm to conceive, and by women aged over 35 who have frozen healthy eggs for when the time is right.
The IVF Procedure
The IVF process involves several steps to achieve a pregnancy.
Step 1. Recruiting eggs
One of the ways IVF works is by being a numbers game.
During the first phase of your IVF cycle, hormone medications (in the form of daily injections) help several eggs grow within cellular structures in your ovaries – called follicles.
In a natural menstrual cycle – it is usual for only one egg to develop each month and not every egg is capable of becoming a baby. An IVF cycle can amplify your chance of conception by making more eggs available each month to try.
Your treatment cycle
Dr Raelia Lew, the founder of Women’s Health Melbourne, carefully takes your situation into account and expertly tailors your hormonal regimen to achieve the best number of eggs your ovary can produce. Every pregnancy is precious to her.
IVF shouldn’t be a protocol driven, “one size fits all” procedure, and Dr Raelia Lew stands out amongst many Melbourne IVF experts by adjusting and individualising your treatment to maximise your chance of successful conception.
Dr Raelia Lew is an expert in all treatment cycle types used in IVF, including GnRH agonist and GnRH antagonist treatments, Flare, Micro-flare, long down regulation and short down regulation cycles.
Monitoring your IVF cycle
Dr Raelia Lew will review your progress on several occasions during your treatment. She closely monitors your ovaries using high resolution trans-vaginal ultrasound at least twice during your treatment cycle. Eggs grow nested in supportive structures known as ovarian follicles.
Your hormone levels will be precisely measured, requiring several blood tests during this phase of your IVF treatment. At the right time, Dr Raelia Lew will order a “trigger” medication, which acts at a cellular level to release your eggs from the follicle walls, making their collection possible.
Step 2. Collecting eggs
When your follicles have grown to approximately 2cm in diameter, the time has come to collect eggs for elective egg freezing or IVF.
Egg collection is achieved through a technically precise surgical procedure known as an OPU (Ovum Pick Up). While you are asleep, under ultrasound vision, Dr Raelia Lew will gently collect your eggs. Using a fine needle introduced trans-vaginally (through the vagina, into the ovary) fluid from each of the follicles is drained.
Scientists then search under a high power microscope to locate your eggs. Part of what separates the WHM approach from other Melbourne IVF treatments is Dr Raelia Lew’s commitment to personally performing egg collection procedures for her IVF and egg freezing patients. This both ensures her patients receive what she considers to be the best technical care in IVF, and avoids the stress many IVF patients must feel passing from doctor to doctor and potentially meeting a surgeon for the first time on the day of their IVF procedures. Dr Lew believes stress is a negative factor when it comes to achieving a pregnancy – her aim is to make IVF treatment as stress free as possible.
Step 3. Collecting sperm
Sperm is ideally collected on the same day as your egg collection, although using previously frozen sperm is another option.
Usually sperm is collected via masturbation, but in some cases, surgical sperm retrieval may be necessary (e.g. if a man has previously had a vasectomy). Dr Raelia Lew is highly skilled at testicular sperm retrieval by both fine needle biopsy and open surgical sperm retrieval techniques.
Following collection, sperm is prepared in the Melbourne IVF andrology lab – with specialized techniques employed to remove dead cells and debris, and to select the best swimming sperm for use in IVF or ICSI.
Step 4. Fertlization
Standard In Vitro Fertilization is achieved by placing >100,000 sperm in close proximity to each egg and allowing sperm binding and fertilization to occur naturally. If a severe sperm problem has been detected, a helping hand for the sperm (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) may be needed.
Step 5. Growing embryos
After fertilization has been confirmed, embryos are nurtured under strict and stable culture conditions in miniature incubators.
Limiting the degree to which embryos are disturbed in the first few days can boost their chances of developing normally. We therefore only check in on embryos’ progress at specific time points.
Advanced Embryo Screening Technologies
Dr Raelia Lew and Women’s Health Melbourne, together with Melbourne IVF, are proud to offer our patients access to cutting edge technologies involving safe embryo biopsy and advanced screening to detect genetic errors.
Technology including Karyomapping, PCR, SNP array and CGH array testing allows Dr Lew to only transfer embryos proven to be normal. This can reduce your risk of miscarriage, where pregnancies featuring genetic errors fail during the first, and sadly sometimes second trimester.
Step 6. Embryo transfer
Embryos can be transferred “fresh” in the same month that they were created or “frozen-thawed” in subsequent months, or even years after they were created.
An embryo transfer is a procedure where your embryo is placed gently via your cervical canal, into the cushioned cavity of your womb (the endometrium).
Step 7. Luteal Phase Support
The luteal phase refers to the earliest stage of pregnancy, before the placenta has formed. During this time, the embryo relies heavily on hormonal support from the ovary.
In an IVF cycle, this support can be deficient, specifically in regards to production of the hormone Progesterone. Topping up your body’s natural progesterone can dramatically improve your chance of successful conception in an IVF cycle.
Progesterone can be delivered in several ways, but one of the most effective method is through vaginal gels or pessaries (dissolving tablets which are inserted into the vagina).
Step 8. Pregnancy monitoring
When a pregnancy has been achieved, Dr Raelia Lew continues to care for her patients until their antenatal obstetric care has been arranged.
Dr Lew performs a pregnancy dating ultrasound at 6 weeks gestation and a follow up ultrasound check at 8 weeks gestation. She can then arrange non-invasive prenatal testing and arrange and interpret first trimester fetal anatomy screening investigations.
As a respected Melbourne IVF expert, Dr Raelia Lew works closely with Melbourne’s best obstetricians. Based on your preferences, and taking into account your personality, she will help you to find the perfect obstetrician to deliver your baby.
Dr Raelia Lew ensures that your transition to obstetric care is seamless – you will feel cared for and supported from conception to delivery and beyond.
IVF Treatments Cost
Each individual’s fertility needs will be different depending on the treatment necessary. We tailor each fertility plan to the individual and the cost of treatments will often vary between each patient.