Seeking fertility treatment? Start here
If you have tried to become pregnant for a reasonable period of time, you may start the fertility patient journey with many questions in your mind
The five common questions that most come to our patient’s minds are:
- What is the cause of my infertility?
- Where should we go for IVF treatment?
- What is fertility treatment?
- Will the IVF treatment work?
- Can we afford IVF treatment?
What is the cause of infertility?
Taking the first step towards a successful pregnancy is a big challenge. Many patients have had some basic fertility tests with their GP surgery or local hospital before starting specialist infertility treatment.
Generally, the initial fertility tests are very basic and address – to a certain extent – the ovulation, patency of fallopian tubes (are they open vs unobstructed), and male fertility.
It is not common for patients to have received much information about their problem. Many people are still trying at this stage to understand the cause of their infertility.
How do I choose the best fertility clinic?
You may be eligible for NHS funding of fertility treatment, but a significant number of patients choose to self-pay for treatment because they either a) do not want to wait, or b) have heard private clinics offer better results.
Choosing the right fertility clinic is an important decision. Some aspects that patients should consider are:
- Can you choose your fertility consultant?
- Does the fertility clinic offer continuity of care from appointment to appointment?
- Do you enjoy a good rapport with your fertility specialist?
- Does your fertility Consultant listen and empathise with your situation?
- Is it easy to understand the total cost envelope for fertility treatment?
- Is the clinic in a location that you will be happy to visit multiple times?
- Does the clinic offer early morning, late evening and weekend apointments that fit in with your schedule?
- Does the clinic deal with patients in similar clinical circumstances to yours?
What is the best fertility treatment?
There is a lot of information about fertility options coming from many sources these days. It is difficult to judge the reliability of the information you find online.
Each patient has a unique clinical situation and requires an individualised treatment plan. The best way to get a good overview of your options is to meet with a fertility specialist or gynaecologist at your chosen fertility clinic.
Some clinics offer short, free consultations. Some arrange open evenings with groups of prospective patients. You may also seek information from the Infertility Network UK or Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
Will the fertility treatment work?
The success rates of infertility treatment have improved considerably over the last few decades. We are however still far away from ensuring that every single patient who starts the fertility treatment journey gets pregnant.
It is important to understand fertility treatment success rates. These depend on a number of factors, such as the women’s age, the cause of infertility, her ovarian reserve, the outcome of her previous treatments, any co-existing medical conditions, lifestyle factors, and the quality of eggs, sperms and embryos.
When looking at fertility clinic success rates, you should seek further information to understand how they have been derived and how the clinic expresses their success rates.
Can I afford fertility treatment?
A significant proportion of patients have to pay for their fertility treatment. You should seek clarity with regards to what the total cost will be for all the treatments you will need. A common frustration expressed by patients is the lack of clarity about IVF treatment costs. Make sure your shortlist of fertility clinics can give you a clear idea of your anticipated total cost. It’s fine if the total cost of treatment varies slightly from the initial estimate, but having a rough ballpark helps you to manage your expectations and not receive unexpected costs down the road that can be stressful.
While cost should not be your key factor in choosing a clinic, it is important to discuss the details of the treatment cost, what is included, and what extra add-on costs you should consider with your shortlist of fertility clinics.