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Pre-Pregnancy | Fertility

The Low-Down on IVF Treatment

Fertility problems are far more common than you might think. Many couples worldwide are unable to conceive, thus not capable of realising their dream of having children. With medical assistance, however, infertile couples can now get help and increase their chances of falling pregnant. There are different treatments on offer – depending on the cause of infertility in each particular couple. Here’s the low-down on IVF treatment – one of the most popular options when it comes to fertility assistance. Let’s look at the causes of infertility, when to seek help, what IVF involves, its success rate and last but not least; the costs.


There are many different causes of infertility. Stress and other health issues, such as being overweight and smoking, can in some cases play a role. This is why it is very important to make sure you lead a healthy lifestyle once you have made the decision to make a baby. Nevertheless, most infertility problems are more complicated than this. Problems with sperm, such as low sperm count and reduced sperm motility, is one of the most common causes of infertility. When it comes to women, the main causes of infertility are; ovulation problems, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine problems, poor ovarian function and problems with the cervix. According to the renowned Cape Fertility Clinic, in 40% of infertility cases the problem lies with the man, in 40% the problem lies with the woman, and in 20% the problem is a combination of both partners.
The Cape Fertility Clinic can also tell us that approximately 1 in 8 couples are infertile – which confirms the fact that it’s a fairly common problem. If you are trying for a baby and haven’t conceived after 12 months of unprotected sex, it’s time to start fertility investigations in order to assess the cause of the problem. However, when women have irregular periods or are older than 35 years, investigations should be started after six months already. In most cases, your doctor will do tests and find out the exact infertility problem. But in some cases, couples can battle to fall pregnant for other unknown reasons – even though all fertility tests are ok. In this case, experts recommend that the couple should keep trying for at least three years before seeking medical assistance – such as IVF.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF
) is a suitable treatment for those couples who can’t get the sperm to fertilise the egg by natural means. The procedure sees eggs extracted and fertilised in tube-shaped containers of glass or plastic resin in the laboratory – hence the term “test-tube baby”.
At the Cape Fertility Clinic, the antagonist cycle – the most common IVF treatment plan – starts with fertility medications in the form of three different injections. The first, Gonal F, is an injection to stimulate growth of follicles/eggs, and usually starts on the third day of your period – unless your doctor advises differently. Gonal F injections should be given at the same time every day – either in the evening or morning. Self-administration is possible and very easy, and your doctor will advice you how to. You will then have ultrasound scans to check the growth of the follicles. Once they are about 11mm in size, you can move on to the next injection – namely Cetrotide. Used to suppress your natural ovulation, this injection should also be given at the same time every day. You will continue using the Cetrotide injections together with the Gonal F injections until the doctor tells you to stop both. This will be the day you are ready for the Ovidrel injection. Ovidrel triggers or matures the eggs, and your doctor will tell you the exact time it should be given. Two days after the Ovidrel injection the egg collection takes place – a small 10-minute operation done under general anaesthetic. A sperm sample is also required on the same day. The day after the egg collection, the woman must start taking folic acid progesterone replacement to prepare the lining of the womb for the implantation of the embryos. Between three and five days later your doctor will transfer the embryos that have been fertilised in the lab. This is a small and simple procedure – much like a gynecological examination. Ten days after the transfer, a blood test for pregnancy hormone (βHCG) will be done, and you’ll find out whether your IVF treatment was successful. If not, another treatment can start as soon as one month later, and can be repeated as often as required.

Success rate
For IVF to be successful you could say that it requires healthy ova (eggs), sperm that can fertilise, and a uterus that can maintain a pregnancy. The success rate of IVF treatments vary depending on your fertility problem and your age. Younger women produce healthier eggs, which means they have a greater chance of conceiving through IVF treatments. The success rate is also higher if you are healthy and not overweight. According to Dr K. Wiswedel, the director of the Cape Fertility Clinic, the success rates of IVF depends mostly on age. From 20 to about 34 years the success rate is roughly 45% per IVF cycle, but then it drops at around 3-4% per year – which means that a 40-year-old has a live birth rate of 15-20 % and a 44-year-old of 2-5%. Experts say that it’s unlikely for you to fall pregnant if IVF hasn’t been successful after three attempts, but then again many women have proven this wrong. So it’s entirely up to each individual couple how many times they want to go through with it. Remember that IVF can cause a lot of stress and pressure in both partners, so it’s important to keep this in mind and try to be as relaxed about the whole things as possible – in order to increase your chances of falling pregnant.

Dr K. Wiswedel says the possible risks of IVF are very low – about 0.5%, if that. The risks he is talking about here are Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, pelvic infection, ovarian torsion (twisting of an ovary), anesthetic complications and loss of future fertility. Other risks to take into consideration are those related to multiple births. Because two eggs are implanted in the uterus at a time, a lot of IVF treatments produce twins – where premature birth and low birth weight are common health risks. So you could say that the main risks involved when considering IVF are actually not related to the IVF treatment itself, but to multiple births or any genetic defects passed down from parents – which are the exact same risks as when a baby is conceived naturally.

treatments can be a costly affair, but prices vary from country to country. In the UK some couples qualify for one free IVF cycle on NHS (National Health Service), but the conditions are strict and the waiting list is long. So for some it’s an option to come to a country where having it done privately is at least cheaper than in their country of origin. At the Cape Fertility Clinic the price for an average IVF cycle is between R27 000 – R30 000 (as of 2010) . This includes the medication, visits, scans as well as the extraction and implantation of the egg. Note that this price does not include egg donation.

There you go – now you have the low-down on IVF treatment. If you have any further questions or need more information, we suggest you contact the very helpful doctors and staff at the Cape Fertility Clinic.

24 Responses to “The Low-Down on IVF Treatment”

  1. Joey smith says:

    Thanks for the information, its great too know all of this, we are tring 6 years know, my husband had been tested in 2008 and the news was bad, the doctors now say ifv is the only way that we can get pregnant so after reading the article i have hope, because of the price. One doctor said it is R50 000 and the other its R60 000 but when its up to R25 000 there is hope – thanks for everything.

  2. Editor says:

    The Cape Fertility Clinic charges between R27 000 – R30 000 for an IVF cycle which includes the scans, visits, medication as well as the extraction and implantation of the egg (excludes egg donation). They even have a budget cycle option for younger patients – R20 000 (all inclusive). They pride themselves in the fact that they most likely have the most reasonable price structure in the country and they are extremely helpful.
    The Cape Fertility Treatment contact details: 021 674 2088.

  3. Gemma says:

    You also have the option of using a payment plan through First Health Finance. They finance all the non medical aid procedures. I used them and although did not succeed first time round,the service was fantastic. Check out their site.
    Good luck, Gemma.

  4. Christel says:

    Hi guys … we also had various quotes from 25k – 52k!! We are also on a budget and it just took some “shopping around” – But I found that Dr Pentz in Pretoria offers the best rate (for the Gauteng Ppl) We are starting tomorrow with our treatment :)

  5. Elzet says:

    Thanks for your very valuable info, Christel.
    All the best – keep us posted!

  6. IVFSolution says:

    Hi Christel :-) Did you eventually settle with Dr.Pentz? I am currently undergoing my first IVF attempt with him. I have found the whole set up to be very proffessional and caring. It does seem to me that Dr Pentz wants to help very much and that its maybe not all about the money issue as such? Wish me luck, I go for egg transfer (2 only)on Thursday!!! I have had to go the IVF route due to sterilization 5 years ago after my second child was born. I am really hoping that I have remained as fertile as I was then so that this transfer is a success!!!

  7. mbali says:

    FertilityCareSA is a reputable South African egg donation agency with a large donor pool that reflects the wonderful diversity of our country. Our years of experience, devotion and hands-on customer care approach with our recipients and egg donors has earned us the reputation of being the most caring team. For an affordable and quality service please email us at

  8. IVFSolution says:

    Hi Christel….regarding your post 18 July 2010 regarding Dr.Pentz in Pretoria. How did your procedures go? Did you get a positive? What procedure did you go for? How many times did you go? etc, etc. Please let me know.

  9. Leila says:

    Hi Guys, we are also starting our IVF treatment with Dr Cassim at Brenthurst this month. He has put me on birth control first to regulate my period and then the injections will start..we also go a quote of maximum R26 000. I am 42 years old, and think that is quite a reasonable quote for whatever procedure is necessary.

  10. hayf says:

    Hi Guys. Does this rates apply to everybody or does it depend on nationality because I am from West Africa and want to come to SA with my wife to do IVF. What are the conditions for outsiders?
    Thanks for your help.

  11. I am about to start I.V.F. treatment at Tygergberg Hospital, a state funded infertility clinic. The cost is R5000. If you have the patience and time, it is well worth it as this is so much cheaper than anywhere else. You can expect to wait at least 3 hours on the day of your appointment to see the specialist, anywhere up to 6 hours, and about 6 weeks between appointments.

    We could not afford anything else so here we go …

  12. Yasmina says:

    Hi Heather

    I am responding to your post. You mentioned that Tygerberg is providing the treatment as well. Very interesting to know as the cost is very low compared to all the other costs mentioned. I would really appreciate it if you can keep me updated with how it is going. My partner and i really would like to do the procedure and i just got a quote from a doctor at UCT Private clinic for about R20 000.00 which is very steep. They will be doing it at Groote Schuur. I am willing to go through the waiting game it its a good option at Tygerberg. But does one not have to be referred to the hospital? Would love to hear back from you.


  13. nicqui says:

    Hi all!

    I am now day 2 post embryo transfer, so please pray for me! We are at Cape Fertility Clinic and it was around R38 000 for icsi, I went to Dr. Nosarka, for she is really a lovely lady and dr and can recommend her!
    Good luck to you all.

  14. Mel says:

    Hi Ladies,

    i see many ladies have gone for the procedure,,,, has anyone got feedback results…. any babies on the way yet?

    it would be nice to hear from you ladies again….

    babydust to all of you….

  15. Pules says:

    Hi.I would like to find out if anyone succeded in this procedure having a child.Other thing that I want to know is,how many children can i have with this procedure

  16. Phumi says:

    Hi Leila

    i am a year older than you and would also looking at IVF treatment. You mentioned Dr Cassim at Brenthurst. Could you please tell how it went. Was the procedure successful.

  17. shonu says:

    Hi phumi,
    I also had my first baby in 2010 thru IVF at brenthurst under treatment of Dr.Cassim and Dr.Dasoo.I used to see them both depending on whoever is available that time.Both of them are really good..Highly recoment this place.Very professional and friendly staff.Did my second IVF this year with frozen embryos and I am 12 weeks pregnant :-)

  18. sharon says:

    Hi guys im about to start my treatment on Friday with Dr Dasoo at brenthurst clinic @R21 500 was a special at the time.Very nervous but so ready .Please pray for me …..

    Good luck to everyone .

  19. Nadine says:

    Hi am in Kwa Zulu Natal does anyone know of any doctors that can help in that region , I had my tubes cut at 25 am remarried and 39 now, had 2 ops to reverse procedure nothing yet so IVF seems the only way to go ant advise out there

  20. kokky says:


    Also had my two tubes removed due to cycts and the other tubes was infected a year later.

    IVf is the only procuder and costly too…

    anyone who can advice where it can be done cheaper/reasonable?


  21. ilse says:

    hi, would like more info on tygerberg hospital’s costs for the whole ivf procedure? 2 years ago it was about R5000?

  22. Zanele says:

    Hi Heather!
    Im also responding to your post, I’ll be going to Tygerberg Hospital early next year for IVF. Could you plz tell me how it went with yours plz.

  23. Annabel truter says:

    I am, thanks to the Cape Fertility Clinic the happy mother of 3. They are truly an amazing group of very caring professionals. After many miscarriages and a still birth they helped us become parents. Finn, Tiaan and Tilly are all healthy normal children.

  24. Chantal says:

    Sharon – you said you’re starting IVF treatment @ Brenthurst with Dr Dasoo in July 2012? How has it gone since then? Have you been successful at all?

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