[ONLINE EXCLUSIVE] IVF: What You Need to Know

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IVF, or in-vitro fertilisation, can be the miracle answer for couples that have trouble conceiving. Consultant obstetrics and gynaecology specialist, Dr Raphael Kuhn, sheds light on this fertility treatment.



The inability to conceive after many years of trying can be disheartening for couples. The constant disappointment and emotional distress this brings may make some give up entirely.


Fortunately, there is hope for these couples, with the help of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).


What is IVF?

IVF is a type of assisted reproductive technology used to help women with infertility issues. These include:


  • Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes
  • Ovulation disorders
  • Unexplained infertility


It involves putting the egg and sperm samples together in a laboratory dish to aid fertilisation. The resulting embryo will then be placed in the uterus.




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The Success Rate

According to consultant obstetrics and gynaecology specialist, Dr Raphael Kuhn, who sits on the Board of the Melbourne IVF Human Research and Ethics Committee, the average live birth rate per cycle – whether from a fresh or thawed frozen embryo – is just above 20 per cent.


However, he states that this figure is age-dependent: “If a woman is between 30 and 34 years of age, the likelihood of her taking a baby home as a result of her first cycle is 40 per cent, but only 10 per cent if she is between 40 and 44 years of age.”


Failed Attempts

It’s essential to note that a successful pregnancy in the first cycle is not guaranteed. There are various factors that play a role in the odds of a successful pregnancy.



In his book, IVF Success: An Evidence-Based Guide to

Getting Pregnant and Clues to Why You are Not Pregnant Now,

Dr Kuhn discusses these factors, as well as their possible solutions.



For instance, a person’s body mass index (BMI) can lower the success rate. “If the woman is overweight or obese, there will be a reduction not only in the number of eggs collected and pregnancy rate but also most importantly in the live birth rate,” says Dr Kuhn.


He adds: “Being underweight can also be a problem. The ideal BMI is more than 18 and less than 25.”


A man who is overweight or obese can also affect the chances of a successful pregnancy. This is because it “creates an oxidative stress that has a significant adverse impact on sperm quality”, explains Dr Kuhn.



Smoking and alcohol consumption may

significantly reduce success rates as well.



Dr Kuhn elaborates on these factors: “If the woman smokes, it has a major negative effect on IVF success rates. If the man smokes but the woman does not, there is still a significant reduction in IVF success rates.”


On alcohol consumption, he adds: “Drinking alcohol at even what would be a social very acceptable level reduces the likelihood of IVF being successful. Consuming more than four glasses of wine per week reduces the live birth rate by 16 per cent. If the man drinks a similar amount as well, it is reduced by 21 per cent.”




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