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Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority

The Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) provides independent information and support for individuals, couples, and health professionals regarding fertility, infertility, assisted reproductive treatment (ART) and the best interests of children born.

Vision and mission

VARTA's purpose is to regulate fertility treatment in Victoria, help people understand what they can do to improve their chance of having a baby, and support people involved in donor conception to get the information they need, and achieve their connection preferences.

How VARTA can help

  • independent information about fertility, infertility, assisted reproductive treatments, IVF, donor conception, and surrogacy
  • upcoming seminars, workshops and events
  • information about registers holding the details of thousands of people involved in donor conception in Victoria over the past 40 years
  • regulation of assisted reproductive treatment (ART) providers and the import and export of donated eggs, sperm and embryos formed from donor gametes.

VARTA is the lead agency in the Fertility Coalition which runs the Your Fertility program. Your Fertility educates Australians about factors that affect fertility.

Information lines / help lines

Call +61 03 8622-0500 Mon to Fri, 9am to 5pm AEST

Recommended links

This information was originally published on healthdirect - VARTA - Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority.

Last reviewed: March 2021

Information from this partner

Found 22 results

Fertility treatment journey | VARTA

Things to consider Possible emotional effects of fertility treatments Fertility treatments are psychologically and emotionally demanding

Read more on Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority website

Considering treatment | VARTA

Am I eligible? Eligibility requirements for fertility treatments in Victoria are outlined in Section 10 of the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008. According to the Act, a doctor must be satisfied that: the woman is unlikely to become pregnant other than by a treatment procedure; or the woman is unlikely to be able to carry a pregnancy or give birth to a child without a treatment procedure; or the woman is at risk of transmitting a genetic abnormality or genetic disease to a child born as a result of a pregnancy conceived other than by a treatment procedure, including a genetic abnormality or genetic disease for which the woman’s partner is the carrier. Things to consider Fertility treatment in Australia Having fertility treatment in Australia, and using an Australian donor or surrogate if you need one, has many benefits. These include: A high standard of regulated healthcare. Communication in English to ensure all parties are fully informed and understand the implications of treatment. Easy access to treatment Easy access to local support networks. Legal protections which ensure a donor or surrogate can be known to you and your potential child. Donors and surrogates are more likely to share your values and cultural background. Victorian legislation limits the number of women who can be treated by a donor to 10. Family limits are also in place in other Australian states. International commercial egg and sperm banks do not have such limits, meaning very large numbers of children can be created from the same donor. Treatment in Australia poses fewer legal challenges regarding immigration, citizenship, and recognition of parentage. It gives you greater opportunity to be involved at all stages: not only prior to conception, but from embryo transfer to delivery. Enables communication and ongoing contact if desired between the surrogate, parents and child born. Fertility treatment overseas If you are thinking about undertaking IVF, donor treatment or surrogacy in another country, make sure you are aware of the laws and regulations of that country. Regulation of fertility treatment varies between countries. Some countries have quite strict regulation while others have none. A lack of regulation in some countries can pose potentially serious risks and disadvantages for all parties involved – in particular, for resulting children. VARTA strongly encourages people considering surrogacy or donor treatment abroad to discuss options for local treatment with a fertility specialist first. Taking eggs, sperm or embryos overseas If you have eggs, sperm or embryos in storage in Victoria and wish to move them overseas, you will need to apply to VARTA for approval. When considering an application for export, VARTA must be satisfied that the way in which the eggs, sperm or embryos will be used overseas is consistent with the way they could be used under Victorian legislation. Additionally, you need to contact the fertility clinic where they are stored to arrange transport to another country. Getting information about treatment overseas Before making a decision about treatment overseas, it is important to seek as much information as possible about the treatment practices in the country you have chosen. There’s a good list of questions to ask doctors and clinics here. If you are accessing donor or surrogate treatment, VARTA recommends intended parents ask agencies for information about the surrogate/donor, including medical history, and whether contact and/or information exchange between the surrogate/donor and the parent(s)/child is possible. We also recommend making a written agreement about what information will be provided about the surrogate/donor and how future contact might be arranged. Having treatment after your partner has died Posthumous use of your partner’s gametes (eggs or sperm), or an embryo formed from their gametes is possible in some circumstances. Under Victorian legislation, there are a number of requirements that must be met before you can use your partner’s gametes, or an embryo formed from their gametes after your partner's death. The treatment procedure can only be carried out on a deceased person’s partner. In the case of a deceased woman, a male partner may be able to use her eggs or an embryo formed using her eggs, in the context of a surrogacy arrangement. The deceased person must have provided written consent for their gametes or an embryo formed from their gametes to be used in a treatment procedure after their death. The Patient Review Panel (PRP) must approve the use of the gametes or embryo. When the PRP is considering an application for posthumous use, the possible impact on the child to be born as a result of this treatment procedure is a main consideration. The panel also considers available research on the outcomes for children conceived after the death of one of their parents. The person undergoing the treatment procedure must receive counselling.

Read more on Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority website

Surrogacy perspectives | VARTA

Mother, surrogate and child share their story The three videos below show different perspectives about surrogacy including those of an intended mother, a surrogate and one presenting a child’s outlook

Read more on Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority website

A male perspective on IVF treatment | VARTA

Ben talks about the effects of IVF and coping strategies

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Fertility treatment explained | VARTA

Understanding fertility treatment There are many types of fertility treatments available, ranging from simple interventions such as medication to help a woman ovulate, through to more complicated procedures known as assisted reproductive treatment (ART). ART, also known as assisted reproductive technology, refers to medical and scientific methods used to help people conceive. Fertility treatments are used: to treat infertility for people who can’t become pregnant, carry a pregnancy or give birth to reduce the chance of a baby inheriting a genetic disease or abnormality to preserve fertility. Types of treatment Depending on the cause of infertility, the following types of treatment may be recommended by your fertility specialist. This information provides a general overview of techniques available. Speak to your fertility clinic for more information. Ovulation induction (OI) Ovulation induction (OI) can be used if a woman is not ovulating or not ovulating regularly. It involves taking a hormone medication (tablets or injections) to stimulate ovulation. The response to the hormones is monitored with ultrasound and when the time is right, an injection is given to trigger ovulation (the release of the egg). Timing intercourse to coincide with ovulation offers the chance of pregnancy. Artificial insemination or IUI Artificial insemination, which is sometimes called intrauterine insemination (IUI), involves insertion of the male partner’s (or a donor’s) sperm into a woman’s uterus at or just before the time of ovulation. IUI can help couples with so called unexplained infertility or couples where the male partner has minor sperm abnormalities. You can use the Unexplained infertility - exploring your options guide to better understand if IUI is a suitable option for you. IUI can be performed during a natural menstrual cycle, or in combination with ovulation induction (OI) if the woman has irregular menstrual cycles. If a pregnancy is not achieved after a few IUI attempts, IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be needed. In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) During IVF, the woman has hormone injections to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple eggs. When the eggs are mature, they are retrieved in an ultrasound-guided procedure under light anaesthetic. The eggs and sperm from the male partner or a donor are placed in a culture dish in the laboratory to allow the eggs to hopefully fertilise, so embryos can develop. Three to five days later, if embryos have formed, one is placed into the woman's uterus in a procedure called embryo transfer. If there is more than one embryo, they can be frozen and used later. The IVF process: Is IVF safe? IVF is a safe procedure and medical complications are rare. But as with all medical procedures, there are some possible health effects for women and men undergoing treatment and for children born as a result of treatment. Read more about the possible health effects of IVF here. Understanding IVF success rates Clinics report success rates in different ways, so when comparing clinics’ success rates make sure you compare like with like or ’apples with apples’. Most importantly, you need to consider your own personal circumstances and medical history when you estimate your chance of having a baby with IVF. You can read more about interpreting success rates here. The chance of a live birth following IVF depends on many factors including the woman’s age, the man’s age and the cause of infertility. Research using the Australian and New Zealand Assisted Reproduction Database calculated the chance of a woman having a baby from her first cycle of IVF according to her age. The results below apply to women who used their own eggs, and it includes the use of frozen embryos produced by one cycle of IVF: Under 34: 44 per cent chance of a live birth 35-39: 31 per cent chance of a live birth 40-44: 11 per cent chance of a live birth 44 and above: one per cent chance of a live birth. Costs of IVF In Australia, Medicare and private health insurers cover some of the costs associated with IVF and ICSI but there are also substantial out-of-pocket costs. The difference between the Medicare contribution and the amount charged by the clinic is the ‘out-of-pocket cost’. These costs vary, depending on the treatment, the fertility clinic and whether a patient has reached the Medicare Safety Net threshold. You can read more about costs here.   Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) is used for the same reasons as IVF, but especially to overcome sperm problems. ICSI follows the same process as IVF, except ICSI involves the direct injection of a single sperm into each egg to hopefully achieve fertilisation. Because it requires technically advanced equipment, there are additional costs for ICSI. For couples with male factor infertility, ICSI is needed to fertilise the eggs and give them a chance of having a baby. But for couples who don’t have male factor infertility, ICSI offers no advantage over IVF in terms of the chance of having a baby. You can read more about what’s involved in 

Read more on Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority website

Donor conception explained | VARTA

What is donor conception? Donor conception is the process of having a baby using donated sperm, eggs or embryos through self-insemination or fertility treatment such as IVF. Sometimes it involves surrogacy, too. Donor conception involves a donor (the person donating sperm, eggs or an embryo) and recipient parent(s) who receive the donation. A child born as a result of the donation is known as a donor-conceived person. There are legal consequences that result from using donated eggs, donated sperm or donated embryos. Donors, recipients and donor-conceived people all have legal rights and responsibilities under Victorian legislation. For example: Donors are limited to donating to 10 women including any partner or former partner of the donor. The treating fertility clinic is required to keep specific information about those linked through donor conception, and must report all births involving donor procedures to VARTA. Recipient parent(s) will be identified as the legal parents of a donor-conceived child. A donor is not a legal parent of a donor-conceived child. They have no legal rights or obligations to the child born as a result of their donation, or to the parent(s). All children born after 1 January 2010 will receive notification that the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages holds additional information about their birth when they apply for their birth certificate. VARTA’s donor conception registers record details of donors, recipient parents and their children, including both identifying and non-identifying information. Donor-conceived people have the right to apply for identifying information about their donor at 18 years of age - or younger if a counsellor gives approval. Anonymous donation is not possible in Australia.

Read more on Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority website

Planning to have a baby | VARTA

Planning ahead If you are thinking about having a baby in future, there are some things you can do to improve your chances. Preconception is the period leading up to getting pregnant. This is a great time for both men and women to focus on ways to improve their health, and increase the chance of pregnancy and having a healthy baby. The earlier you start the conversations about having a baby, the better. Here are some things you and your partner (if any) should start thinking about now: the number of children you would like to have the age at which you would like to have your first and last child improving your health before you try booking a preconception health check with your GP. Your Fertility has practical ideas for how you can improve your preconception health including checklists for men and women. Improving fertility Age is the most important factor affecting a woman’s chance of conceiving.  Female fertility starts to decline around age 30 and after age 35 the monthly chance of conceiving decreases more rapidly. Age can also affect a man’s fertility and the chance of having a healthy baby. Certain lifestyle factors for both men and women also affect the ability to conceive, the health of the pregnancy, and the health of the future baby. A healthy weight, a nutritious diet and regular exercise can significantly boost fertility, as can quitting smoking, stopping drug use and curbing heavy drinking. When you are ready to try for a baby, it is important to know when conception is most likely to happen. In an average cycle of 28 days, ovulation happens on day 14. However, cycle length varies between women, and it is important to note that ovulation occurs earlier in women with shorter cycles and later in women with longer cycles. However, pregnancy is only possible during the five days before ovulation through to the day of ovulation. These six days are the ‘fertile window’ in a woman’s cycle, and reflect the lifespan of sperm (five days) and the lifespan of the egg (24 hours). Your Fertility’s ovulation calculator can help you work out the fertile window. Medical conditions and fertility PCOS Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal condition affecting up to one in five women of childbearing age. The condition affects two hormones, insulin and testosterone (male-like hormones), which may be produced in higher levels and can impact on fertility. Women with PCOS are prone to irregular menstrual cycles due to absent or infrequent ovulation. While the majority of women with PCOS become pregnant without fertility treatment, they often take longer to fall pregnant and are more likely to need treatment (ovulation induction or IVF) than women without PCOS. Despite this, studies show little difference between the number of children born to women with PCOS than to those without. Conception may sometimes occur as a result of lifestyle modification or after receiving medication to assist with ovulation (ovulation induction) and advice regarding the timing of sex. The most successful way to treat PCOS is by making healthy lifestyle changes. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly is the best way to reduce symptoms and increase fertility. If you have difficulty conceiving, your GP may refer you to a specialist clinician. Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI) has a list of questions that may be helpful. You can find more information and resources about PCOS at Your Fertility, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health and MCHRI. Endometriosis Endometriosis is a condition in which endometrium, the tissue that normally lines the womb (uterus), grows outside the uterus. Endometriosis may cause fibrous scar tissue to form on the uterus. It can also affect the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the bowel. Endometriosis may cause very painful periods and reduce fertility or cause infertility. You can find out more about endometriosis at Jean Hailes for Women’s Health and the Better Health Channel.

Read more on Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority website

Suspecting infertility | VARTA

What are the causes? Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after 12 months or more of unprotected sex. If you have been trying to have a baby for a year or more, it is time to speak to your GP. If you are over 35, you should see a doctor if you have been trying to conceive for six months or more. About one in six Australian couples experience fertility difficulties. There are many reasons for this, some relating to the male partner, some to the female partner, and sometimes both. For many people, there is no medical explanation as to why they can’t conceive.  This is referred to as unexplained infertility. A diagnosis of infertility often comes as a shock and can be emotionally challenging. Unlike other adverse life events, which may have a clear resolution, infertility is uniquely distressing because it can last for many years and the outcome is uncertain. If you suspect a fertility problem, talk to your GP who will guide you through the steps of an infertility investigation. There are many reasons why pregnancy does not occur. About 20 per cent of infertility cases are due to male factors and 30 per cent are due to female factors. Sometimes both partners have a fertility problem, and in about 20 per cent of cases, there is no apparent cause of infertility (idiopathic or unexplained infertility). Many people are delaying starting a family beyond their most fertile years. If you are unable to conceive due to social circumstances, such as relationship, age, financial or practical reasons, and are concerned about your fertility declining, you might want to consider fertility preservation (e.g. freezing eggs or sperm for future use). The Better Health Channel has helpful information on infertility in men and infertility in women. Getting help Speak to a GP The first point of contact should be your GP who will start an infertility investigation. This involves a detailed medical history and a physical examination of both partners and some basic tests to make sure that the woman is ovulating and that the man produces sperm. If everything seems in order, your GP may advise you to keep trying for a little longer before consulting a fertility specialist. However, if your test results indicate a problem, your doctor will refer you to a fertility specialist straight away. The fertility specialist will do more tests to establish the cause of infertility and determine the type of fertility treatment you may need. The chance of fertility treatment working has greatly improved since the late seventies when the first IVF baby was born. Although your chance of having a baby with fertility treatment depends largely on factors that are beyond your control, there are some things that you can do to improve the odds. The lifestyle factors that influence the chance of natural conception for both men and women also affect your chance of success through fertility treatment. Finding a fertility specialist Fertility treatment is physically and emotionally demanding, and depending on your needs it can be expensive, so it is important to find a clinic and doctor that is right for you. You can ask your GP for advice about choosing a fertility specialist, but you can also do your own research before committing to a doctor and clinic. You can find out more about choosing a fertility clinic here. Finding a fertility counsellor If you want to speak to a private counsellor specialising in infertility, the Australian and New Zealand Infertility Counsellors Association (ANZICA) has a list of independent counsellors. You can also ask your fertility clinic about the counselling sessions included as part of your treatment.

Read more on Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority website

Journey to parenthood using donated sperm | VARTA

Listen to this three part series on Dianne's journey to parenthood as a single mother using donated sperm, talking to her children about donor conception and meeting her sperm donor, Adrian

Read more on Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority website

Sperm donor meets the family created from his donation | VARTA

Listen to this interview with Adrian, a sperm donor for single mother, Dianne

Read more on Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority website

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