Fertility expert: Lynn Burmeister
Each Christmas, a grandfather in Melbourne raises a glass to Lynn Burmeister (MB BS 1989), and thanks her for helping create his eight grandchildren. His daughters became pregnant under the care of Burmeister, recognised as one of the country’s leading IVF and fertility specialists.
“It’s a sweet story,” she says. And it’s not an uncommon one; Burmeister helps thousands of patients have babies every year.
She has just set up her own egg freezing and fertility clinic after her long relationship with Monash IVF came to an end, opening her new rooms in Collins Street, Melbourne. The elegant furnishings and inspirational quotes adorning its walls give it an air of a day spa, but this is serious business for Burmeister and those who rely upon her.
“I’m not a miracle worker and I tell all the patients that, but I do like the complexity of a fertility patient because there are so many aspects that you have to get right,” she says.
“With IVF, every little step along the way – the health of the eggs, the health of the sperm, how the embryo is made in the laboratory, how the embryo is put back into the patient – if it’s not right, could mean that that patient might not be able to have a baby.”
She tries to solve any issues that hinder conception before IVF is needed, whether it’s fixing uterine abnormalities or removing ovarian cysts. She makes patients aware of their responsibilities, too, often telling them to lose weight or improve their diet or lifestyle before she’ll treat them.
Burmeister initially planned to become a surgeon, but while she was training her potential was spotted by IVF pioneer Professor Carl Wood. She hasn’t looked back since.
Since 2017, she’s been offering IVF in Geelong to comply with a temporary non-compete order with Monash IVF. Once that ends, she’ll open a full IVF unit in Melbourne, but is planning to keep her Geelong unit. “I’m just trying to make IVF more affordable and more accessible,” she says.
With many women delaying starting a family until they have established a career, fertility is a growing concern. Burmeister says the technology is improving all the time, but science has not yet discovered how to reverse the ageing process. “I tell my patients we don’t have Botox for eggs,” she says. “The older patient will always struggle to have a baby.”
While she can legally treat patients up to age 52, she urges women to try to complete their families by 35. Increasingly, women for whom that is not an option are choosing to freeze their eggs.
Despite her best efforts, there are some people Burmeister still cannot help. “I give them other options – there’s egg donor therapy, sperm donor therapy, embryo donor therapy.”
And when it does work – by whatever method – Burmeister shares the patients’ joy. “It’s so rewarding,” she says. “I love creating life.”
By Val McFarlane