Help! There are so many different types of fertility treatments. What is the difference?

Posted on 30 June 2016

With so many different types of fertility treatments and practitioners around, it is important to be aware of the differences so you can make an informed decision when it comes to who you chose to help you on your fertility journey.

Choosing your doctor

Selecting your fertility specialist is possibly the most important decision you will make. IVF is not the only option, and for some women struggling to conceive it should not be their first line treatment. Patients and their referring GPs need to do their homework: not every fertility specialist is equally trained and certified. Choosing a doctor trained comprehensively in every aspect of fertility care means you will have access to the most clinically appropriate treatment to help you to conceive.

Things to look for:

  • RANZCOG CREI trained fertility subspecialists have undertaken 3 further years of study in the field of fertility medicine compared with other gynaecologists who may practice IVF. Furthermore, entering into CREI post-graduate training is highly competitive, only the best candidates from among applying specialists are selected. Choosing a CREI trained fertility specialist is a major advantage to you as a patient.
  • Choose a fertility specialist whose personality and manner that will suit you. Fertility care is extremely personal – it is important to choose a doctor with whom you feel you have a good professional rapport.

Choosing your IVF model of care:  Is it apples with apples?

To achieve your fertility potential, what you should have on your wishlist is as follows:

  1. A warm, professional and highly qualified fertility specialist overseeing every aspect of your care
  2. A strong fertility laboratory, offering the lastest technological advances in IVF science
  3. A co-ordinated multidisciplinary clinical team of fertility nusrses, counselors and administration staff to support you in navigating the IVF process

Simply put, in IVF you get what you pay for. Choosing to be under the care of a qualified CREI trained fertility subspecialist is the ideal case scenario. Even then, some doctors are a lot more hands on than others. Ask if your specialist will be involved in personalizing your treatment during your IVF cycle. Who will perform your scans and procedures? In the ideal case scenario – this will be your treating specialist. Most fertility subspecialists work in association with premium care IVF units.

So-called “lower cost” models of care may assert comparable outcomes, but promises made are often misleading. Hidden costs are frequent, such as high embryo freezing fees and non-included mandatory services like fertility counseling. Care is often provided in a highly protocolised manner and your care provider may be a GP, trainee or locum gynaecologist and may change with each clinical encounter.  Limitations are placed on treatment options, like reducing medication dose to save costs and restricting the number of embryos that may be transferred. Many patients note that they have experienced “production line” style care, feeling much like a number rather than an individual person. Models may restrict participants to “good prognosis patients” in order to bolster reported pregnancy success rates. If a clinic only offers IVF, it is important to research if other options that may be offered by a qualified fertility specialist may be relevant to you instead.

Questions to ask before committing to treatment:

  1. Who will be my doctor? What are his or her qualifications?
  2. Will I see the same doctor or a different doctor at every time point?
  3. Who will manage my cycle? Who will perform my scans and procedures?
  4. What are the total costs of all elements of my IVF cycle (including counseling, tests, ultrasounds and embryo freezing)?
  5. What are my other treatment options aside form IVF?
  6. What are the clinic success rates for women like me (e.g. not just overall)? The important outcome to ask about is your chance of treatment resulting in a live birth.

Click here to access further detailed information about PCOS, ovulation induction, IUI, IVF, ICSI  and much more


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