Christa Nicola

These days we all seem to know someone or have been someone doing IVF. And it’s not just our imagination. According to Medicare data, there has been a considerable spike in IVF enquiries during the post lockdown period. IVF has been on the rise in Australia in recent years and has significantly increased during COVID-19 – analyses of Medicare data shows a 12% increase in pre-COVID figures.

Male fertility has halved since the 1970s, and almost one in 20 Australians is now born through IVF.

Now that more people want IVF, there is a growing demand for affordable fertility treatment. Sydney Observer spoke to the CEO of Connect IVF, Brendan Ayers, to get his insight into Australia’s ever-increasing IVF market.

“The whole Covid pandemic has made many people reassess what’s important in their lives and re-prioritised family. I also think that with so many lifestyle restrictions during the pandemic, many people have had more free cash that would have been spent on holidays, travel and other things, being spent on IVF and starting a family, Mr Ayers said.

Mr Ayers believes male fertility has dropped due to modern lifestyle and environmental factors. “Lifestyle is things such as an increase in obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption, stress and age when trying to start a family.

“There are a number of introduced chemicals in plastics, electronics, food, packaging and cosmetics that interfere with hormone levels, and it seems particularly male hormones. Most, have been introduced since the ’70s.”

Historically, IVF has been very expensive. But Mr Ayers thinks things are changing. “Over time, as the technology and medications improved, outcomes improved, and service costs fell. Unfortunately, this cost reduction was not passed on to the patient. Medicare support for IVF also improved over time and so low-cost and finally bulk-billed IVF was able to be introduced,” he said.

Mr Ayers believes there will always be a place for high-cost IVF clinics for those that want up-market IVF services with direct 24/7 access to their IVF doctors. But he thinks that an increasing number of people will demand outstanding IVF outcomes at the most affordable price. 

“So, over time, bulk-billed IVF will become the norm.”