April 24, 2024

IVF woes #1: Australia

Couples are usually unaware of the low IVF success rates in Australian clinics.

As couples enter pristine Australian IVF clinics with their smiling staff and photos of bright-as-a-button babies, they are usually unaware of the harsh reality of IVF success rates. The statistics are worse than most would think.

Writing in The Conversation this week, lawyer and bioethicist Loretta Houlahan criticised the suppression of clinic success rates by the Australia and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Database (ANZARD). Each year ANZARD, an initiative of the National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit and the Fertility Society of Australia (FSA), releases generalised figures of success rates in clinics. But individual clinics are not named, leaving would-be-parents in the dark about standards at an individual clinic. This is problematic, considering that individual clinic success rates vary wildly (from 4.0% to 30.9% according to the 2012 ANZARD report.

The current system perpetuates a lack of accountability, Houlahan remarks:

“Year after year, the poor performance of Australia’s worst IVF clinics fails to be explained. Yet these figures raise serious concerns about the practices of the clinics responsible. The issue is there is no obvious plausible scientific explanation for IVF success rates in the single digits. On their own, without clarification, these sorts of figures are simply outrageous and unacceptable.”

Incidentally, the growth of Virtus Health, Australia’s largest IVF provider, has slowed dramatically. Analysts attribute this to both fierce competition in the Australian IVF market and flat growth in IVF demand. At the start of this month the company dramatically revised it net-profit growth forecasts for 2014-2015. 

IVF crisis in Australia
Xavier Symons
Creative commons
conflict of interest