THE FACTS ON IVF

Your Pregnancy - - Pregnancy Files -

LONG­ING FOR A child hild can cloud ld your head like a rainy day. When you can’t get preg­nant, ev­ery sec­ond woman seems to be preg­nant or push­ing a pram. Preg­nant friends be­come hes­i­tant – should or shouldn’t they share their good news with you? Men also strug­gle with in­fer­til­ity and can feel in­se­cure and in­ad­e­quate. You may be think­ing about IVF (in-vitro or artificial fer­til­i­sa­tion) but what are the risks, how much will it cost, how will you cope if the treat­ments are un­suc­cess­ful – and what will hap­pen if you end up with triplets? Lead­ing fer­til­ity spe­cial­ist Dr Mer­wyn Ja­cob­son, at the Sand­ton Vi­ta­lab fer­til­ity clinic in Jo­han­nes­burg, gives his ad­vice on what you need to know about IVF.

WHO CAN HAVE IVF?

“IVF treat­ment is avail­able to cou­ples or women who are hav­ing dif­fi­culty con­ceiv­ing.”

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

“As with all med­i­cal pro­ce­dures, there are risks that pa­tients need to be made aware of – the most widely noted risk of IVF treat­ment is a mul­ti­ple preg­nancy. Other less com­mon risks associated with

un­der­go­ing an IVF treat­ment could be ovar­ian hy­per­stim­u­la­tion syn­drome (OHSS) and com­pli­ca­tions at egg re­trieval, such as bleed­ing or in­fec­tion.”

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

“IVF treat­ment varies in cost due to the tech­nol­ogy, treat­ment and med­i­ca­tion used within a cy­cle of treat­ment. This means that it’s in­di­vid­u­alised for each pa­tient. “Typ­i­cally, an IVF cy­cle will range from R55 000 to R80 000 in pri­vate prac­tice, which may be more than it costs in aca­demic prac­tice.”

DO MED­I­CAL AIDS COVER EVEN A PER­CENT­AGE OF THESE COSTS?

“Un­for­tu­nately, the med­i­cal aid com­pa­nies in South Africa cur­rently do not cover fer­til­ity treat­ments such as IVF, with the ex­cep­tion of Ca­maf (Char­tered Ac­coun­tants Med­i­cal Aid Fund), which makes a con­tri­bu­tion.”

DO STATE HOS­PI­TALS (ACA­DEMIC TRAIN­ING HOS­PI­TALS) PRO­VIDE THIS SER­VICE?

“Yes, there are some state/aca­demic hos­pi­tals cur­rently in South Africa that do pro­vide this treat­ment. There is a low-cost IVF pro­gramme at Tyger­berg Hos­pi­tal in Cape Town.”

HOW CAN A WOMAN PRE­PARE HER BODY FOR IVF?

“All prepa­ra­tion that is needed for an IVF treat­ment cy­cle will be ex­plained to a pa­tient and man­aged by the med­i­cal pro­fes­sional with the ap­pro­pri­ate med­i­ca­tions. A bal­anced and healthy life­style is al­ways rec­om­mended.”

WHERE CAN WOMEN GO FOR IVF?

“The South­ern African So­ci­ety for Re­pro­duc­tive Medicine and Gy­nae­co­log­i­cal En­doscopy (Sas­reg) has a list of ac­cred­ited clin­ics within South Africa who of­fer var­i­ous fer­til­ity treat­ments such as IVF. Go to sas­reg. co.za/ac­cred­ited-clin­ics/.”

WHAT ABOUT BIRTH DE­FECTS?

“When ba­bies are con­ceived nat­u­rally, they have the ad­van­tage of hav­ing im­per­fect sperm sifted out by the cervix – but this doesn’t ex­clude ge­netic ab­nor­mal­i­ties. The mother’s age is the pri­mary risk fac­tor. Some coun­tries rec­om­mend the cut-off age to be 43. More re­search needs to be done to find out whether ba­bies con­ceived us­ing IVF may have a big­ger risk of cer­tain birth de­fects. On the other hand, some ex­perts be­lieve that us­ing IVF does not in­crease the risk of birth de­fects.”

WHAT LIFE­STYLE CHANGES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE IF YOU WANT TO IM­PROVE YOUR CHANCES OF SUCCESSFUL FER­TIL­ITY TREAT­MENT?

■ QUIT SMOK­ING Women who smoke risk hav­ing fewer eggs re­trieved dur­ing IVF and may have a higher risk of mis­car­ry­ing. Smok­ing can also lower her chances of hav­ing a successful IVF. ■ LOSE WEIGHT Obe­sity can de­crease a woman’s chances of get­ting preg­nant and hav­ing a healthy preg­nancy. It’s best to cut out all non-nu­tri­tional carbs, sugar, cakes, fast-foods and car­bon­ated cooldrinks and to eat more fruit and veg­eta­bles ev­ery day. ■ EX­ER­CISE Im­proves over­all health. Walk­ing is best. Use the stairs, walk dur­ing your lunch hour and walk ev­ery day be­fore or af­ter work. ■ CUT-OUT AL­CO­HOL, RECRE­ATIONAL DRUGS AND EX­CES­SIVE CAF­FEINE Speak to your doc­tor about any med­i­ca­tions you may be tak­ing that could in­ter­fere with your fer­til­ity. YP

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