Your fertility

Fertility services

Iris provides fertility services in the following areas:

Supporting each other on your fertility journey

For many couples looking to start their own families, the process can take longer than expected. Even though it may feel like everyone else is falling pregnant naturally, many couples (about one in six) experience some form of infertility.

Sometimes the cause of your infertility will be a female factor, sometimes it will be a male one. But as a couple your fertility is often a complex interaction between the two of you. Today, with constant advancements in fertility science and technologies, there is a good chance we can work out the cause of your infertility and provide you with the treatment you need, so that you can start your journey to parenthood.

Your age is a major factor in your fertility, so it’s better to act sooner rather than later. If you’ve been trying to fall pregnant for 12 months or more, it’s time to book an appointment with a fertility specialist. If you’re over 35, you should see a specialist after six months.

There’s endless information about fertility on the internet, and your friends might have their own set of opinions. Take all this with a grain of salt. Reproductive medicine is a constantly evolving field; new research is being done and new technologies are being developed all the time. Your fertility treatment might be stressful and overwhelming at times. Find an expert you can both trust, try not to pay too much attention to information coming from elsewhere, and support each other through your journey.

Fertility for single women

Advancements in technology have also made it possible – and increasingly popular – for single women to take charge of their fertility. If having children is important to you, regardless of whether or not you have a partner, you may want to consider preserving your fertility with egg freezing or using donated sperm to start your family yourself.

Pre-pregnancy care

When trying to conceive, it’s important to prepare your body for pregnancy. As a couple, both of you can take steps to optimise your health, and increase your chances of having a safe and healthy pregnancy.

Visit your GP

Before making an appointment with Dr Iris Wang, you’ll need to visit your GP, who can check your immunity to conditions that could cause problems with the baby’s development, and will also do a general health check. If you’re getting a referral from your GP, you can get these checks at the same time.

Your GP should check for:

  • rubella,
  • chickenpox,
  • hepatitis B,
  • hepatitis C,
  • HIV and
  • syphilis

They should also

  • check your full blood count,
  • check your blood group and antibodies,
  • check your Rh factor and
  • perform a Pap test.

STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhoea can affect your fertility. If appropriate, your GP can arrange tests and treatments for these types of infections.

You should also discuss any medications you are taking with your doctor. Some medications should not be taken during pregnancy, and others might affect sperm production.

Take your vitamins

Folic acid and iodine supplements for women can reduce the risk of neural tube defects in babies, such as spina bifida, and improve the development of the baby’s brain. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in Australia recommends taking a 0.5mg folic acid supplement for at least three months into the pregnancy. Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive should also take a 0.15mg iodine supplement.

Other supplements are not normally necessary, but you may find taking a multivitamin specifically for pregnancy or ovulation benefits your overall health.

Treat your body well

When trying for a baby, or during pregnancy, leading a healthy lifestyle is more important than ever. That means a balanced diet (for women, lots of leafy green vegetables provide an extra boost of folic acid) and regular moderate exercise, such as walking or tennis. Being in a healthy weight range is very important. If you are overweight, losing as little as 5% of your body weight can dramatically improve your chances of conceiving.

Cut down on alcohol, caffeine and smoking

When trying to conceive, women should reduce their alcohol intake. If you do fall pregnant, abstinence is generally recommended. Men should also be conscious of their alcohol intake, as heavy drinking is known to affect sperm production.

High caffeine intake has been associated with infertility in women in some research. Consider a moderate coffee intake – no more than two cups a day – and limit your intake of other caffeinated drinks like cola and energy drinks.

If you smoke, the time to quit is now. Even passive smoking – for both woman and men – can affect your fertility and a baby’s growth during pregnancy.

For more information about keeping healthy pre-pregnancy, see the IVFAustralia website.

Fertility treatment: first steps

When you come for your first appointment with Iris, you’ll discuss your medical history and have a physical examination. Bring any relevant test results with you, and any questions.

Iris will then explain the next steps, which will be individualised to your situation. You might be ready to decide upon an initial treatment plan, or you may need a few more tests done.

These might include:

  • blood tests and ultrasounds to check for PCOS, endometriosis, and regular ovulation,
  • the ‘egg count’ test, which measures the level of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) in your blood to give an indication of your ovarian reserve,
  • semen analysis to measure the quantity, shape and motility of sperm,
  • genetic testing for patients at risk of genetic disorders, and
  • a non-invasive tubal test to check the patency of your fallopian tubes.

For more information about fertility investigations, see the IVFAustralia website.

Common queries about Fertility

How long does it take to get pregnant?

Generally speaking, 60-70% of couples will become pregnant after six months of trying and 80-90% of couples after 12 months of trying. But your chances of falling pregnant decrease with age. This is true for both partners, but more so for the woman than the man. A woman produces one mature egg per month (if there is regular ovulation) and this egg will only survive 24 hours. As you age, the quality of your eggs may also diminish, making it even harder to get pregnant.

Do I have infertility?

The World Health Organisation’s definition of infertility is ‘failure to conceive after 12 months of unprotected intercourse.’ You should seek specialist fertility advice if you have not conceived after 12 months of unprotected intercourse. If the woman is 35 or older, you should seek this advice after six months.

How old is too old to have a child?

Generally speaking, a woman’s fertility declines after 35 and falls sharply after 40. Once past 40, pregnant women are at greater risk of miscarriage, medical difficulties like pregnancy-related diabetes or pre-eclampsia, and difficult labours. Mothers over 40 are also more likely to have babies with chromosomal abnormalities and genetic disorders, though there are antenatal tests that can be undertaken to assess the risk of these. That said, Iris has cared for pregnant women who conceived naturally at 46, and has successfully treated IVF patients who were 44. Age is a very important factor, but doesn’t totally rule out your chances.

What is the ‘egg count’ test?

This is a simple blood test used to measure the number of eggs a woman has left, by checking the level of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) in your blood. AMH is produced by the primitive eggs in your ovaries – the ones you were born with but which haven’t started growing yet. Once they do start to grow, they stop producing the hormone, so measuring it gives an indication of your fertility potential. AMH testing doesn’t reflect the quality of your eggs, however. Egg quality is more important to your ability to conceive but, unfortunately, we don’t yet have a test for this.