Use of assisted reproductive technology treatment cycles 

There were 61,774 assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment cycles performed in Australia and New Zealand in 2010 (56,489 and 5,285 respectively), representing decreases of 13.4% for Australia and 1% for New Zealand from the previous year. The substantial decrease in cycles in Australia coincided with a change in government funding for fertility treatment.

There were 30,588 women who undertook autologous ART treatment in Australia and New Zealand in 2010. On average, 1.9 cycles were undertaken in Australia compared with 1.4 cycles in New Zealand. Women used their own oocytes or embryos in 94.8% of treatments (autologous), and 35.1% of all cycles used frozen/thawed embryos.

Women's age and parity 

One-quarter (25%) of ART treatment cycles were undertaken by women who had previously given birth. The average age of women undergoing autologous cycles was 36. In contrast, the average age of women undergoing ART treatment using donor oocytes or embryos was 5 years older (40.9). Almost one-quarter (24.3%) of autologous cycles in 2010 were undertaken by women aged 40 or older compared with 20.6% in 2006.

Treatment outcomes and number of babies 

Of the 61,774 initiated treatment cycles, 23.9% resulted in a clinical pregnancy, and 18.1% in a live delivery (the birth of at least one liveborn baby). There were 12,056 liveborn babies following ART treatments in 2010, with almost three-quarters of these (74.4%) being fullterm singletons of normal birthweight.

There was a higher live delivery rate in younger women. For women aged 30-34, the live delivery rate was 26.8% for fresh cycles and 21.8% for thaw cycles. For women aged over 44, it was less than 1% and 8.4% respectively.

Trends in ART procedures 

In the last 5 years there has been a shift from day 2-3 embryo (cleavage stage) transfers to day 5-6 embryo (blastocyst) transfers. The proportion of blastocyst transfers has increased from 27.1% in 2006 to 52.1% in 2010. Similarly, there has been an increase in the transfer of vitrified (ultra-rapid frozen) embryos. Compared with 2009, the proportion has more than doubled from 18.3% to 38.2%.

Multiple births 

A continuing trend in ART treatment in Australia and New Zealand has been the reduction in the rate of multiple birth deliveries, with a decrease from 12% in 2006 to 7.9% in 2010. This was achieved by clinicians and patients shifting to single embryo transfer, the proportion of which increased from 56.9% in 2006 to almost 70% in 2009 and 2010. Importantly, this decrease in the multiple delivery rate was achieved while clinical pregnancy rates remained stable at about 23% per cycle.