Ontario’s Funded IVF Services

Finally! Funded IVF

Ontario is now the only province in Canada that offers government-funded IVF fertility treatments. This includes one fully funded in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle per lifetime. With the new Ontario Fertility Program, which started in late December of 2015, IVF rates have dramatically increased. The Ottawa Fertility Centre’s current waitlist has grown to over 12 months and some clinics in Toronto have an waitlist of up to 2 years.

Publicly funded IVF offers hope to many couples that have had trouble conceiving, who otherwise could never afford to embark on such an expensive treatment option. This program has transformed the outlook of many, from that of despair and desperation, to a renewed sense of hope and possibility. The alleviation of stress alone for some people could mean a more positive outcome for pregnancy rates as it allows women to focus more on what’s important, rather than the price-tag that comes with the service.

Being a fertility-focused Naturopathic Doctor in Ottawa, I’ve seen a major shift in the attitudes of patients and couples in general that are on the funded IVF waitlist. While I am a firm believer that fertility treatments should be covered, I’m also witnessing an interesting phenomenon that is coupled with having the option of funded fertility treatments.

Funded IVF: A Stand Alone Intervention?

The decision of whether or not to resort to IVF is no longer a decision, but more of a waiting game. IVF used to be a plan B for many. Now patients are being put on the waitlist often before anything else has been attempted. A prime example that I’ve seen many times so far, is related to making dietary and/or lifestyle changes to improve fertility. We know that obesity can impede fertility, yet I’ve seen many women with far less than ideal weight being recommended for IVF without having any discussion of weight management. At most, they are being told to go see a dietician, without any substantial importance being placed on making these changes. The result is that these women don’t actually make any changes, and are ready to embark on the IVF procedure as a stand alone intervention.

Another example, on the male side of things, is that men with sub-optimal sperm quality are told that ICSI (intra cytoplasmic sperm injection; a procedure that is coupled with IVF where one single “good looking” sperm is injected into the egg) will bypass any problems, with little importance given to the lifestyle habits that could be leading to the problem in the first place (such as smoking, poor nutrition, alcohol, toxin exposure, etc.).

There are those that want to make the most of this “one shot” deal, and are eager to get their body in the best shape possible in order to maximize the chances of success.

Then there are those that have a false sense of the real success rates with one cycle of IVF. I see more people that are blindly convinced that the treatment will give them high chances of a baby, and are less willing to do anything else that may improve their fertility such as diet and lifestyle changes. They view IVF as the solution, rather than as a tool that can help facilitate pregnancy.

This has raised some questions about funded IVF that I believe are important to consider:

Are we being too quick to make that decision to do IVF? 50% of couples who fail to conceive within one year of trying, will conceive in the following year. Are we making the decision to do IVF simply because it’s covered, and not weighing all of the options, as well as the risks that come with it? It’s easy to ignore the facts related to the risks when blinded by the desire to have a baby sooner.

Are we giving up on other options such as natural fertility treatments and the possibility of natural conception? Patients are often discouraged from seeking natural treatments, or misled into thinking that IVF is the only option.

It’s no secret that the success rate of one cycle of IVF is not particularly high. Among women aged less than 35, the live birth rates per cycle are around 45%, around 25-30% in women aged 35-39, dropping down to only 10% in women 40 and over.

For most people, the one funded cycle is their only chance for IVF, as the normal costs associated with this procedure are prohibitive. Even when finances are not a concern, failed IVF cycles are not uncommon, and are often related to underlying health issues.

Your Role in Your Funded IVF Cycle

Choosing to do IVF should also come with the responsibility of improving one’s general health and nutrition. Doing so would greatly improve pregnancy rates, but also minimize complications related to pregnancy, and improve health of the fetus/baby as well as maternal post-partum health.

Nutrition and lifestyle changes alone can have a major influence on reproductive health which can increase success rates with IVF. Naturopathic Medicine can play an important role in helping you achieve your best chances at conception, whether trying naturally or as a preparation for your funded IVF cycle.

Nutrition, stress reduction, weight management, optimal hormone balance, optimal immune function, reducing toxins in the body, acupuncture, are all crucial in improving fertility. Additionally, a Naturopathic Doctor can help you uncover some of the hidden causes of infertility which are not addressed in your assessment at the Ottawa Fertility Centre.

I often see these strategies alone leading to successful natural pregnancies. At the very least, they can improve your chances of success with IVF.

You have one year to prepare – make the most of it!

Even if you’re on the waiting list, or are thinking about it, you still likely have at least a year to wait. You can keep trying to conceive in the meantime, but you can also take this time to get into the best state of health you’ve ever been. The fertility journey comes with a lot of stress and anxiety. You can either choose to stay in that state of worry, or you can take action and make the most of this wait time to transform your health. Spending 4-6 months on optimizing your health and preparing your body for conception or IVF, can mean the difference between having the baby that you now only dream of, or suffering for months or even years longer.

You have ONE shot! Make it Count!

Book a free discovery session today to learn all about how our Natural Fertility Program can help you maximize your chances for IVF success, and get you in the healthiest and most balanced state ever!

With love and in health,

Dr. Priya Prakash, ND

References

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