Professor Rob Norman, pioneer of many key techniques used in assisted reproduction clinics, including frozen egg technology, co-founder of Fertility SA, a reproductive medicine unit, professor of reproductive medicine and periconceptual medicine at the University of Adelaide has recommended women ask these important questions when interviewed by the journalist Sarah Dingle for the recent Four Corners investigation  :

1. Are you a recognised specialist spending the majority of your time in the fertility area, and what is your experience and reputation?

 Some doctors claim to be fertility specialists who are not qualified gynaecologists or physicians. Some do fertility work as a minor part of their work, whilst others are gynaecologists with subspecialty reproductive endocrinology and infertility training in addition to being gynaecologists.

2. Will you fully investigate us to see if a cause can be found for our infertility that might avoid complicated treatment and advise us on whether waiting longer has a good chance of working?

Some doctors move straight to treatment without adequate investigations, including ultrasound, radiology, surgery and blood tests.

3. What options are open to us other than IVF, and what can we do to avoid treatment or maximise our chances of success?

These sometimes include waiting longer, changing diet, optimising weight, stopping smoking or drugs, timing intercourse and offering other treatments, including ovulation induction and intrauterine insemination.

4. If we undergo IVF, what are our chances of having a single healthy baby from one treatment cycle?

Ask for results based on your age, your diagnosis and that clinic's actual results declared to a central reporting body rather than a generic figure for all their clinics and all ages. Make sure you understand you are not quoted a "cumulative" figure, which includes all frozen embryos over several additional cycles. Ask what your chance of getting an embryo transferred, because many couples may not get to have an embryo that is normal.

5.What will the real financial and emotional costs be if I undergo treatment?

There may be undeclared add-ons, such as additional costs for intracytoplasmic sperm injection, pre-implantation diagnosis, freezing of embryos, certain laboratory procedures, or anaesthetic charges. Some people find the treatment very difficult for their emotional wellbeing and ability to work.

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