In 2004, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommended that couples aged between 23 and 39 who have either a specified fertility problem, or who have been unsuccessful in conceiving for three years or more, should receive up to three cycles of IVF on the NHS.
However, since this IVF treatment provision depends on local NHS budgets, the availability varies widely from one health authority to the next, forcing many couples to seek private treatment. In reality, it very rarely happens that you can find a hospital to give you three attempts on the NHS. So how do you find the right IVF clinic for you?
This article is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
Before you start
Assisted reproduction is a major step for any couple, potentially involving a long process with a great deal of emotional stress. Taking some time to choose the right clinic can help you to reduce this stress and make the process as easy as possible.
Everyone’s needs are different and you need to consider a wide range of factors when you make your choice. For some couples, having a clinic close by is important, taking away the worry of travelling and making the whole process more convenient. Others are prepared to travel to get to a clinic that has a higher success rate for their age group or medical status. You may have a good idea of the treatment you want and be looking for a specialist in this field, or you may want a clinic with a good reputation for counselling and advising patients to help you choose your treatment.
With so many variables, you need to draw up a list of exactly what you want before you start. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) website has some handy lists of questions to help you with this. You can find this at www.hfea.gov.uk.
Comparing IVF clinics
Once you’ve established your criteria, you can start to compare clinics. Again, the HFEA website will help you find clinics in your area or with the specialities you require. You should then draw up a shortlist and visit each clinic in person.
Naturally, you should check that they carry out the treatment you require and that you qualify for treatment there (some clinics have age limits or medical restrictions). However, given the sensitive nature of the process, it is much more important that you feel comfortable there. You should meet with the staff and thoroughly inspect the facilities to set your mind at rest that it’s going to be the right one for you. If you are in any doubt, go elsewhere. There is enough stress in fertility treatment without adding extra worries about your clinic.
Success rates are often used to sell a clinic, but you should make sure they are presented correctly and in a way that is relevant to your situation. A good overall rate may not be reflected in your specific age group. What’s more, like selective schools, some clinics improve their published success rates by having very strict acceptance criteria, giving a false impression of their success.
It may be possible to save money by having your IVF treatment abroad, however it’s important to remember that overseas clinics may not be regulated as strictly as those under the jurisdiction of the HFEA. That said, all EU clinics are bound by the quality and safety standards of the EU Tissues and Cells Directive; however these standards may not be enforced as rigorously in some countries.
Visit www.treatmentabroad.com, to find IVF clinics abroad.
IVF treatment is a life changing, and hopefully life creating, process so needs serious and lengthy consideration. With a 30% considered a ‘good’ success rate, there’s a possibility you’ll need to undergo more than one cycle of IVF at your chosen clinic, and they will need to support you through disappointment as well as the thrill of success. So it makes sense to make a very careful choice to ensure that you’re not only in safe, experienced hands, but also in the hands of people you trust and feel comfortable with.
The longer you take choosing your clinic, the greater the chances of a happy and successful IVF treatment.