IVF add-ons in Australia and New Zealand: A systematic assessment of IVF clinic websites

Sarah Lensen, Sheng Chen, Lucy Goodman, Luk Rombauts, Cindy Farquhar, Karin Hammarberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background: In vitro fertilisation (IVF) ‘add-ons’ are extra (non-essential) procedures, techniques or medicines, which usually claim to increase the chance of a successful IVF outcome. Use of IVF add-ons is believed to be widespread in many settings; however, information about add-on availability in Australasia is lacking. Aims: To understand which add-ons are advertised on Australasian IVF clinic websites, and what is the evidence for their benefit. Materials and Methods: A systematic assessment of website content was undertaken between December 2019–April 2020, capturing IVF add-ons advertised, including costs, claims of benefit, statements of risk or limitations, and evidence of effectiveness for improving live birth and pregnancy. A literature review assessed the strength and quality of evidence for each add-on. Results: Of the 40 included IVF clinics websites, 31 (78%) listed one or more IVF add-ons. A total of 21 different add-ons or add-on groups were identified, the most common being preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidies (offered by 63% of clinics), time-lapse systems (33%) and assisted hatching (28%). In most cases (77%), descriptions of the IVF add-ons were accompanied by claims of benefit. Most claims (90%) were not quantified and very few referenced scientific publications to support the claims (9.8%). None of the add-ons were supported by high-quality evidence of benefit for pregnancy or live birth rates. The cost of IVF add-ons varied from $0 to $3700 (AUD/NZD). Conclusions: There is widespread advertising of add-ons on IVF clinic websites, which report benefits for add-ons that are not supported by high-quality evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Feb 2021

Keywords

  • add-on
  • adjuvant
  • endometrial scratching
  • IVF
  • time-lapse

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