Fertility NZ is a registered charity dedicated to providing information, support and advocacy to people experiencing fertility issues.

Fertility Treatment Options

Treatments for infertility

  • Treatments for fertility problems are many and varied. Some common treatments include medications to improve the production of eggs, surgery on the fallopian tubes to fix damage, insemination of the woman with either the partner’s sperm or with donor sperm, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or IVF with intra cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
  • Though success rates vary, treatment does not carry any guarantee of success. 
  • There is no treatment for egg quality (due to age) – egg donation is sometimes the only option for women with poor ovarian reserve.
  • Some people try natural treatments such as acupuncture and naturopathic treatments.
  • Some couples choose not to seek treatment; infertility treatment can be emotionally draining, and although some publicly funded treatment is available in New Zealand, specific eligibility criteria must be met, and there may be a wait to access treatment.
  • A small number of New Zealanders will adopt children (around 60 non-relative adoptions per year), while others will remain without children.

If you’ve been trying to conceive for a while with no luck, or have a medical condition which impacts fertility, you might want to look at the next options for making a baby.  This can be incredibly daunting and stressful.  Often, coming to terms with the reality that making a baby isn’t as easy as you imagined has its own grief attached.

  • We recommend that you take as much control as possible, and have a plan
  • Ideally you should be able to check all the lifestyle boxes (weight, alcohol, stress, an understanding of your age, etc) described here. Learn to identify the fertile window and you feel confident about your general health.   Even if you are years into a fertility journey, it's important to know this information
  • If you have been trying to conceive for 12 months (9 months if the woman is over 35, and 6 months if the woman is over 40), see your GP for preliminary tests
  • If you meet the eligibility criteria, your GP can refer you for a consultation with a fertility specialist, or you can make a private appointment
  • A couple where the woman is aged 30 has around a 47% chance of a baby from one IVF cycle.  If the woman is aged 40, this drops to 23
    Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) is the most serious ‘potential’ complication that can arise from IVF treatment
  • Egg freezing may become an option for those wishing to delay parenthood, but it is expensive. In women aged 35 or younger, one egg freezing cycle may give up to a 50% chance of a child from using frozen eggs later (this varies depending on the number of eggs obtained)

Treatment options in New Zealand

OPTION

DESCRIPTION

SUITABLE FOR

Waiting

Trying naturally for a further number of months

There is no diagnosed cause for infertility

The woman is relatively young

Clomiphene citrate

Drug which promotes egg production

No injections

Have sex to become pregnant

May or may not be part of a monitored cycle

Women who don’t ovulate

Women with short cycles

Women with short duration of unexplained infertility

Intra-uterine Insemination (IUI)

Preparing sperm in lab

Selecting best sperm for implantation in uterus

May be combined with fertility drugs such as Clomiphene to increase the number of eggs available

Can be conducted over course of several cycles

Mild male factor infertility

Short duration of unexplained infertility

IVF

Drugs to increase number of eggs that mature

Eggs collected

Sperm added in lab

Best embryo selected to replace any additional can be frozen for later use

Nearly any cause of infertility - tubal damage, endometriosis, unexplained infertility, ovulation problems

IVF with ICSI

IVF as per the above, with an extra step of the best sperm being selected by an embryologist and injected directly into an egg

Sperm defect has been identified or where there has been poor fertilisation with ordinary IVF (although ICSI is widely used now)

Funding

Requirements for publicly funded treatment differ slightly by District Health Board, but these criteria include:

  • The couple have been trying to conceive for at least twelve months (for single people and same-sex couples, refer to ‘Making Babies with Donors and Surrogates’)
  • If there is no diagnosed reason for infertility (‘unexplained infertility’), the couple must have been trying to conceive for four years
  • Woman’s age 39 or less at time of consultation
  • Woman’s BMI 32 or less
  • Woman must be a non-smoker (at least three months prior to application)
  • NZ citizenship, residency or visa of at least two years’ in duration (for both partners)

Other treatment options: Male Factor Infertility

There are new methods available which attempt to isolate mature, structurally-intact sperm with high DNA integrity which are then injected into the egg.

• PICSI selects a mature sperm which could bind to the Zona Pellucida, the soft ‘shell’ encasing the egg

• IMSI uses high magnification to select a sperm without vacuoles.

These methods may be suggested after a failed ICSI cycle. Studies are needed to confirm that PICSI and IMSI improve outcomes over conventional ICSI.

Ask questions!

  • What is your diagnosis / diagnoses?
  • Options?
  • Chances of success of each option?
  • Likely costs?
  • Side effects?
  • Is a counselling session included?
  • Who will contact you with results?  Who can you contact with any concerns?  Who do you contact regarding appointments?
  • What complementary medicines do they support?