Financial motives drive some doctors’ decisions to offer IVF

03 November 2017

Around one in 25 Australian babies are conceived using assisted reproductive technologies (ART), including in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). These interventions are almost all offered in private fertility clinics, backed by a thriving fertility industry. Women who are deemed eligible for IVF can have an unlimited number of cycles subsidised by Medicare, but out-of–pocket costs can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars per cycle. Our research, published today in the journal Human Fertility, suggests the money being made from IVF could be subtly changing the advice doctors give. Informed consent Although IVF is a well-established procedure, it is not without its risks. These include ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, where hormone levels rise too much (causing abdominal swelling, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea); obstetric complications such as premature delivery; and psychological distress, especially if the process fails. Although long-term outcomes for children conceived using IVF appear to be similar to non-IVF children, questions remain about possible harmful impacts, including developmental abnormalities and cancer. Given the financial, physical and psychological burdens of IVF, patients must be able to make informed decisions about whether to pursue these treatments in the first place, and when to stop. So it’s concerning that couples are often oversold the likelihood of success.