A fertility expert says IVF is often prescribed unnecessarily to women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, costing them emotionally and financially.
The condition affects about 15 per cent of reproductive-aged women and can cause irregular or infrequent ovulation, making it difficult to time intercourse to achieve pregnancy.
Professor Robert Norman from Fertility SA said 80 per cent of sufferers responded to simple reproductive treatment, such as weight loss or ovulation induction, and that most did not require IVF to get pregnant.
“IVF can be risky for patients with PCOS due to the high likelihood of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome,” he said.
That syndrome causes numerous eggs to be produced because they are overstimulated and often results in hospital admission.
He said about 20 per cent of female fertility issues were due to PCOS.
“People with PCOS think they can’t get pregnant because they are not having periods,” he said. “They think all that can help is IVF.”
But, he said there were numerous options for women with PCOS, including losing weight and addressing other lifestyle issues, the fertility drug clomiphene and ovulation induction with follicle stimulating hormones.
He said women with PCOS have a greater risk of diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Dr Richard Henshaw from fertility clinic Repromed said things couples should do while trying to conceive included exercising regularly and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol intake.