Associate Professor Oswald Petrucco, from the School of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at The University of Adelaide, and his co-authors say previously sterilised women wanting further pregnancy should be offered surgical reversal as an alternative to IVF as it offers the opportunity to have a natural pregnancy.
"Sterilisation is common in Australia, usually chosen at family completion. Requests for renewed fertility arise because of a new partner, improved economic circumstances or, more rarely, death of a child," Assoc Prof Petrucco says.
Assoc Prof Petrucco and his colleagues conducted a study into the live birth rate following surgical reversal of sterilisation in women aged 40 years and older.
Live births were successful in 40 per cent of patients and 44 per cent failed to conceive. Age at conception was between 40 and 47 years.
The total direct costs were $4,850 per treatment, and $11,317 per live birth. In comparison the direct cost of IVF was approximately $6,940 per cycle of treatment, and $97,884 per live birth for women aged 40-42 years.
Assoc Prof Petrucco says surgical reversal is a highly cost-effective strategy and should be financially supported by the Government or health insurers.
Medicare payment for reversal of sterilisation was withdrawn in 1997. At present women can choose between a self-funded reversal operation or Medicare funded IVF.
"In view of the comparison of cost per live birth, we believe Medicare funding for reversal of sterilisation should be reinstated."
The Medical Journal of Australia is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.