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 Embryology and Fertilisation Authority (HEFA) website has some handy lists of questions to help you with this. You can find this at www.hefa.gov.uk.
Comparing IVF clinics
Once you’ve established your criteria you can start to compare clinics. Again, the HEFA 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 right 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.