The number of couples making use of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) to start or expand a family has been the subject of a recent study that aims to quantify the deployment of the technology across the country.
According to the report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on November 9, the use of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as IVF has increased across both Australia and New Zealand by almost 50 per cent over the last five years to 2009.
The paper - Assisted reproductive technology in Australia and New Zealand 2009 - shows that the 70,541 ART treatment cycles undertaken in Australia and New Zealand in 2009 is a 14 per cent increase on the number in 2008 and a 48 per cent rise from 2005 levels.
It goes on to say that 17.2 per cent of the procedures in 2009 resulted in the birth of at least one child - with over 13,000 IVF babies recorded for the year.
Speaking for the AIHW, associate professor Liz Sullivan said that this meant that nearly 3 per cent of all women in Australia who gave birth in that year had received some sort of ART treatment.
She also said that the rate of multiple birth deliveries - the birth of twins, triplets or higher - that resulted from these procedures had reduced from 14.1 per cent in 2005 to 8.2 per cent in 2009.
"This reduction is due to the continuing uptake of single embryo transfer by clinicians and patients," said Sullivan.
The vast majority of patients undergoing ART treatments made use of their own eggs when trying for a child, with only 4.8 per cent choosing other methods.
This could be due to the daunting nature of issues surrounding the surrogacy agreements and donor eggs - with savvy couples seeking family law advice before entering into any binding contract.
The age of patients has also been noted as important in the success rate for ART procedures, with the president of the Fertility Society of Australia associate professor Peter Illingworth stating that advancing years coincided with a decreased success rate.
Illingworth said: "The live delivery rate was almost 27 per cent for cycles in women aged 30 to 40 years, but decreased to less than 1 per cent for cycles in women aged over 44."
This information could provide incentive for couples to investigate alternative ART avenues such as surrogacy.
However they should consider consulting with a family lawyer to help ensure that all parties involved are treated fairly by the end arrangement.