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I want to get pregnant. When is the best time to have sex?

Your Fertility’s ovulation calculator can help you work out the fertile window. These are the days a woman is most likely to get pregnant.

Where can I find more information about men’s health and fertility?

  • The Healthy Male website provides the latest scientific and medical research on male reproductive and sexual health.
  • The Your Fertility website provides facts about fertility, so that you can make the best possible decisions about having children.
  • Make an appointment to talk to your GP about preconception health and trying for a baby.

We’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while. When should we get help?

If you have been trying to conceive for a year or more without success, it is time to see a doctor. For women aged 35 years or older, speak to your GP after trying for six months or more.

I have PCOS, can I still have a baby?

Women with PCOS often take longer to fall pregnant and are more likely to need treatment than women without PCOS. Despite this, studies show little difference between the number of children born to women with PCOS than to those without.

You can find out more about PCOS and fertility here.

I have endometriosis, can I still have a baby?

About 30 per cent of women diagnosed with endometriosis have trouble getting pregnant. However, most women with endometriosis become pregnant without the need for treatment. You can find out more about endometriosis and fertility here.

When does my fertility start to decrease?

For women, fertility starts to decline around age 30 and from age 35 the decline speeds up. Men’s fertility starts to decline from age 40. Regardless of if you are conceiving naturally or using fertility treatment, women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of having a child than those who are older.

When should I seek the advice of a fertility specialist?

Speak to your GP about referral to a fertility specialist if you have been trying to get pregnant for 12 months or more of unprotected sex without success. If you are 35 years or older, it is recommended to seek advice after six months of trying unsuccessfully.

If you’ve tried to get pregnant for a year or more, and there’s no explanation for your lack of success, you have unexplained infertility. A fertility specialist can advise you on the best options. You can find out more about unexplained infertility here.

What should I think about when choosing a fertility specialist and clinic?

Fertility treatment is physically and emotionally demanding, and depending on your needs it can be expensive, so it is important to find a clinic and doctor that’s right for you. You can ask your GP for advice about choosing a fertility specialist, but you can also do your own research before committing to a doctor and clinic. You can read more about choosing a fertility specialist and clinic here.

What questions should I ask my doctor when considering IVF?

It is important to understand the success rates with different treatment options. Here are some questions to ask to help you get a realistic idea of your chance of having a baby with IVF.

  • Considering your circumstances and medical history, what chance of having a baby can you expect?
  • what is the clinic’s chance of a baby per started stimulated treatment cycle?
  • What is the clinic’s chance of success for women of your age?
  • What proportion of women in your age-group have embryos available for freezing after a stimulated treatment cycle?
  • What is the cumulative chance of having a baby for a woman of your age if she has three stimulated treatment cycles?

You can read more about Understanding IVF success rates here.

Does IVF affect the long term health of babies?

Studies over the years have shown that babies born after fertility treatment are more likely to be born prematurely and to weigh less at birth, and they have a slightly greater risk of birth defects.

However, by the time they become adults, research has shown that they are just healthy as other people. You can read more here

Where can I find out more about my fertility treatment options?

It’s helpful to know your options so you can make well-informed decisions. Talk to your fertility specialist and nurses about what to expect as part of your treatment and for resources about your treatment.

I’m undergoing fertility treatment. Where can I find support?

Fertility treatment is emotionally demanding. It is common for people to feel sad and worried during the ups and downs of treatment, particularly when waiting for results, when treatment fails, or when deciding whether to stop treatment. It’s important to know that there is no evidence that worry or sadness reduces your chance of success with IVF. Options for getting support include:

  • social support networks which can be made up of partners, family members, friends and work colleagues.
  • professional support from your fertility clinic
  • professional support from a private counsellor

Having several sources of support is often useful and if you reach out you are likely to find people who are more than willing to listen and help in any way they can.

I’m thinking about stopping fertility treatment – what emotions am I likely to experience?

When IVF fails, people often feel very disappointed and sad. However, follow-up studies show that within a few years of ending treatment, there are very few differences in terms of emotional wellbeing and life satisfaction between those who had a baby as a result of IVF and those who did not.

I have finished my fertility treatment and want to talk to a counsellor. Where can I go for help?

You can ask your fertility clinic about the counselling sessions included as part of your treatment.

If you want to speak to a private counsellor specialising in infertility, ANZICA has a list of independent counsellors.

I am undergoing fertility treatment. Am I at greater risk of cancer because of this?

People are often concerned that the use of fertility drugs may increase a woman’s risk of cancer. Some studies have focussed on the relationship between fertility treatment and cancer, including large studies looking at the use of fertility drugs and breast cancer. When the results are combined, studies of more 45,000 women have found no overall increase in the rate of breast cancer among women who have used fertility treatment.

Ovarian and uterine cancers are much more uncommon and therefore more difficult to study. However, most studies have shown no significant increase in the risk of developing these cancers after using fertility drugs. Some studies have raised questions about whether there is an increase in cancer risk associated with the duration of fertility drug use, or use of specific types of fertility drugs among some groups of infertile women. To date, there is no conclusive evidence that these factors increase the risk of cancer.

Although the findings of these studies are reassuring, it is important to remember that IVF has only been available for just 40 years and that it is only in the last three decades that IVF has been used by large numbers of women. Therefore, questions remain about the very long-term risks of using fertility drugs, particularly for rare forms of cancer. Also, little is known about the effect of fertility drugs in women with a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, or in women with a personal history of cancer prior to fertility treatment.

Read more on the possible health effects of IVF here.

How many cycles should I have?

It is important to discuss the number of cycles you are likely to need with your fertility specialist. Understanding the chance of a baby after one, two, or three IVF cycles can give you an idea of what you can expect. Having a plan and setting limits for the number of treatment cycles you will have can be useful for avoiding the temptation of ‘trying just one more time’.

If you have one or several unsuccessful treatments it’s important to talk to your fertility specialist about how your results can be used to predict your chances of having a baby if you continue treatment.

This may include a discussion about the number of eggs retrieved, the number of embryos formed and the quality of those embryos. If, based on this discussion, you decide to have more treatment it may be useful to agree on how many more times you try.

Deciding to stop treatment can be emotionally difficult, so you may find it helpful to talk to a clinic counsellor about how to manage this.

Should I tell my colleagues about my fertility treatment?

It’s up to you whether to discuss your treatment with work colleagues and your manager. If you think they are likely to be supportive it may be helpful as you will not need to explain absences.

Working with pregnant colleagues or listening to conversations about a colleague’s children can be difficult. You may be
asked questions you do not wish to answer, such as: ‘when are you going to start a family?’ Prepare your responses.

If you have decided to be open with your manager and colleagues, you might need to explain what fertility treatment is. The VARTA website is a great starting point. If confidentiality is important to you, be clear that your private information should not be shared.

What are some alternative options to biological parenthood?

Although most people's first priority is to be the genetic parent, this may not be possible. There are a number of alternative options:

  • donor treatment
  • fostering, adoption and permanent care
  • volunteering within your community with organisations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters Australia, or sporting communities.

Why do people enter into a surrogacy arrangement?

People in different situations enter into surrogacy arrangements for a number of reasons, including:

  • a woman is unable to become pregnant or carry a baby for medical reasons
  • a woman is at risk of harming herself or the child if she becomes pregnant
  • a same-sex couple (male or female) or individual may want to have a child, conceived using their own sperm or eggs and donor sperm or eggs
  • a couple for whom repeated IVF attempts have failed
  • a couple who are involved in an IVF treatment program may have embryos in storage and, if the woman dies, the male partner may wish to commission a surrogate to carry and give birth to a child.

What is the chance of having a baby with surrogacy?

The chance of having a baby with surrogacy depends on a range of factors, including:

  • the age of the person providing the egg or sperm
  • the age of the surrogate
  • the lifestyle of the surrogate and egg, sperm or embryo providers
  • the stage of development when the embryo is transferred to the surrogate (2-3 day or 5-day embryo).

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