If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while, you may be starting to think about fertility treatment.
Here’s a quick guide to the best-known, IVF.
At a glance
- IVF is the best treatment to deal with a range of fertility problems
- In 2010, IVF worked for 32.2% for women under 35
- Try to find out as much as you can about the treatment, the risks associated with it and the chances of success
Who’s it best for?
IVF is the best treatment to deal with a range of fertility problems:
- Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes – with IVF eggs are taken direct from the ovary, fertilised and implanted straight into the uterus (womb), avoiding the need for fallopian tubes
- Low sperm count or poor sperm movement – by mixing eggs and sperm together in a labroratory, it’s much easier for sperm to fertilise an egg. Then it’s popped straight into the womb
- Unexplained infertility – when doctors don’t know why couples can’t conceive, IVF is often the best solution
During IVF, an egg is surgically removed from the woman's ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory. The fertilised egg, now called an embryo, is then popped back into the woman's womb to hopefully grow and develop.
What does it feel like?
While IVF can be a great solution, it’s important to go into this treatment with your eyes open. More than other treatments , IVF can be quite physically and emotionally demanding, sometimes putting a toll on your body and relationship. If you decide to go private, there’s the financial element too.
“When it works, IVF is a fantastic treatment for couples who would not be able to get pregnant naturally,” says Richard Smith, Consultant Obstetrician. “But it’s a complex, invasive procedure that can prove quite stressful. A cycle can go on for seven weeks, and includes many visits to the fertility clinic.”
The good news is, you really get well looked after when you do IVF, with most couples being offered really helpful counselling. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that counselling should be offered before, during and after IVF treatment.
“Some couples find fertility problems start dominating their lives, and it’s hard to get a break,” says Smith. “People often need to do further cycles and of course, they unfortunately may not get pregnant. You can protect your relationship by approaching IVF as a couple, supporting each other throughout and asking for help when you need it.”
What are the success rates?
In 2010, IVF worked for 32.2% for women under 35, with lower success rates for women in older age groups.
Where can I get treatment?
NHS trusts are working to provide the same levels of service across the country, but access still varies depending on where you live. Have a chat with your GP to find out more.
If you decide to pay for IVF, you can approach a private fertility clinic directly. Some clinics ask for a referral by your GP. On average, one cycle of IVF costs about £5000. However, this varies from clinic to clinic and there may be additional costs for medicines, consultations and tests.
IVF is the best-known treatment for fertility problems, but there are other options and your doctor or fertility clinic can help you decide what’s the best fertility treatment for you.
IVF does work and brings utter joy to many families. So if you’re interested, try to find out as much as you can about the treatment, the risks associated with it and the chances of success. Then you can make an informed decision on whether IVF is for you.
Care to share?
As well as speaking to health professionals, some couples find it useful to join a fertility support group or online forum for support. You can find lots of people trying to get pregnant in the Bounty Community.
Chat with other mums trying for a baby