Updated: Mar 6
The Together We Wait online community provides a platform for women in IVF to express their views and unique perspectives on IVF related processes, systems and issues.
Recently the NSW State Government has an investment of $13.8m over 4 years towards IVF treatment. Funding commenced in January 2020 and will see the lowering of IVF treatment costs for approximately 6,000 women over the 4 years.
Overall, the community views the funding as an excellent initiative. IVF is an expensive time and a one-off $500 payment helps somewhat. Yet, it will not to ease the financial burden entirely. Many people can spend 10-15x that on a single attempt at egg collection alone. Also, it is our understanding that the payment is available to patients undertaking IVF with public clinics, which is already mostly funded through Medicare. We would like to see more of a strategic approach to funding.
Some key points from the community in response to the funding and suggested areas for future funding.
1. Pre-conception testing, research and investigation.
There is a band-aid approach for undiagnosed infertility when it comes to IVF treatment. IVF clinics and specialists need to get more curious about the cause of infertility upfront. IVF is a very invasive process for many women (couples), and for some, it can take years to conceive. The investment in thorough pre-conception testing would be a much better use of funds. Pre-conception testing can be expensive. Yet, these tests gain insight into infertility and help to determine treatment methods and the IVF approach. In the long run, the government could save money from a decrease in women/couples needing many IVF cycles. Also, the emotional turmoil of IVF for women (and men) can be elevated sooner. Let's not put people on the painful trajectory of IVF for a more extended period than necessary.
We acknowledge the NSW Government made an investment in pre-conception testing and feel this should be continued and expanded upon to include critical testing and further research into early diagnosis testing for diseases such as endometriosis.
2. In-depth education programs for General Practitioners (GPs).
Many GPs are the first contact for people symptoms of these diseases &/or infertility. A system should be in place for diagnosing causes of infertility sooner. For example, an education program that covers the key causes of infertility e.g. PCOS and endometriosis.
3. Provide funding for the emotional support of women during IVF.
IVF process is isolating and can affect the immediate and long-terms mental wellbeing of women. There is also an impact and strain on interrelationships. This strain is often due to the financial, physical and emotional stress and pressure of trying to conceive via IVF.
4. Educating school-aged children about their fertility health and preservation.
Education in schools around what is normal and what is not when it comes to reproductive health. At the appropriate age children should understand fertility health and fertility preservation.