More women seeking help to conceive

The use of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs, or IVF) in Australia and New Zealand grew by almost 50% over the 5 years to 2009, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Assisted reproductive technology in Australia and New Zealand 2009, shows that there were 70,541 ART treatment cycles undertaken in Australia and New Zealand in 2009—a 14% increase on 2008 and a 48% increase on 2005.

‘The numbers of ART treatment cycles births grew steadily each year, with recent estimates showing about 3% of all women who gave birth in Australia received some form of ART treatment,’ said AIHW spokesperson Associate Professor Liz Sullivan.

In the vast majority (95.2%) of ART cycles in 2009, women used their own fresh or frozen eggs, while the remainder used either donor eggs or other forms of ART, such as surrogacy.

Of the 70,541 treatment cycles undertaken in Australian and New Zealand clinics in 2009, almost 23% (15,975) resulted in a clinical pregnancy and about 17% (12,127) resulted in the birth of at least one liveborn baby.

The rate of multiple birth deliveries for ART treatment cycles dropped to 8.2% in 2009— compared with 8.4% in 2008 and 14.1% in 2005. 

‘This reduction is due to the continuing uptake of single embryo transfer by clinicians and patients,’ Associate Professor Sullivan said.

‘Importantly, this substantial decrease in the multiple delivery rate was achieved while clinical pregnancy rates remained stable at around 23%.’

About 8% of all deliveries resulting from ART in 2009 resulted in the birth of twins and 0.2% resulted in triplets.

The average age of women undergoing ART treatment using their own eggs in 2009 was 35.8, with almost one in four being 40 or over.

Women undergoing ART using donor eggs were generally older—their average age was 40.8, with 62.5% being over 40.

‘Advancing women’s age is associated with a decrease in live delivery rates,’ said Associate Professor Peter Illingworth, President of the Fertility Society of Australia.

‘For example, of those who used their own eggs, the live delivery rate was almost 27% for cycles in women aged 30–40 years, but decreased to less than 1% for cycles in women aged over 44.’

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 9 November 2011

Further information: Associate Professor Liz Sullivan, AIHW National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit, University of New South Wales, tel. (02) 9382 1014, mob. 043 999 4820 or Associate Professor Peter Illingworth, Fertility Society of Australia, mob. 0418 615 344

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032