If you’ve been diagnosed with fertility issues, your next task is to find the clinic that will be best for you. You may think that all clinics broadly offer the same services and therefore the same likelihood of positive outcomes. Alternatively, you may think that there are far too many factors to consider and that choosing the right clinic is an almost impossible task.
We’ve prepared this blog to give you a guide of things to look out for when making your decision, hopefully giving you the information you need to make the process less stressful.
With recent changes to NHS funding, an increasing amount of people have to carry the burden of funding for fertility treatments themselves. This can add an additional level of stress to what can be an already worrying situation.
Current NHS guidelines require patients to adhere to age, weight and lifestyle criteria to qualify for funding of IVF treatment. For an increasing amount of people, privately funded care is the only option. This is why cost of treatment will be one of your prime concerns when choosing a clinic.
Here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre, we are passionate about ensuring that as many people as possible have access to the care that they need and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that finances are not a stumbling block on your path to pregnancy.
When you set out to choose the clinic where you will be undergoing treatment, it’s important that you understand what costs may be involved. A clinic’s advertised costs should be inclusive of everything for the IVF cycle apart from drugs. You need to be informed of any additional charges that you may incur throughout your treatment journey. With this in mind, you will be able to make the right decision when choosing what clinic will offer you the best value for money.
You may think that the successful birth rates of a clinic would be the best way to make the decision on where to undergo treatment. Not necessarily so…
Due to the nature of measuring clinics’ success rates, there are numerous mitigating factors that can skew outcomes. For instance - smaller clinics with a low level of patients may have very high success rates compared to larger clinics that treat many more patients. For the smaller clinic to establish 60% success rates, it may only need to create a handful of successful pregnancies. In contrast, the larger clinic may need to produce hundreds of successful pregnancies to achieve the same rates.
There are however, some specific statistics that can be helpful in gaining an understanding of how reliable and successful a clinic may be:
- Multiple birth rate – multiple births are the biggest threat to successful pregnancies. Try to find a clinic with low levels of multiple births.
- Success rates in older women – if you are over 35, your chances of conceiving naturally are drastically lower than they would be if you were in your 20s. A proven track record with older women is a good sign.
- Patient Ratings – the HFEA have recently added a patient review section to their site which allows those who have been treated in a clinic to tell you how they found their experience.
The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) have a detailed list of all of the fertility clinics in the UK and the clinical standards of those clinics. Visit their site to find out more.
In the 40 years since the advent of IVF treatment, the technologies, equipment and techniques used have advanced greatly. While the process itself – extraction, fertilisation and transfer – is the same as it was all those years ago, advances in incubation, fertilisation equipment and egg and sperm freezing techniques have seen success rates and quality of care rise.
When choosing a clinic, understanding what technologies are available to help you is more important than you may think. For instance, since installing EmbryoScope technologies to analyse the development of embryos while in incubation, The Hewitt Fertility Centre’s success rates have risen considerably. This means that, without any additional costs being incurred, you have a markedly better chance of a successful pregnancy as a result of better technologies.
We recommend you visit the website and blog section of different clinics to see what advanced technologies they use to give you the best chance of a successful pregnancy.
Level of care and comfort
While almost all fertility treatments will not require you to stay in the clinic overnight; with frequent visits for consultations, drug appointments and scans you will want to ensure that you feel comfortable at your clinic of choice. If you have time, it may be worth lining up visits to a handful of clinics to personally get a feeling for how suitable you feel it is for you. When first visiting, or doing preliminary research about treatment centres, ascertain how many treatment rooms, recovery suites and clinical staff each clinic has. All of these factors will help you make the right choice.
On average, you will likely be visiting your clinic of choice more than 5 times per cycle of treatment. So for your own convenience, choosing a clinic located within a reasonable distance and with good transport links is very important.
The HFEA has a very handy location guide - enter your postcode and it’ll show you a list of the clinics closest to you.
Getting your diagnosis right is arguably the most important part of your fertility journey. You may choose a clinic that you think is ideal, but if their diagnostic procedures are below par, you could end up spending a lot of time, money and stress to be left with unresolved issues.
It’s important that you establish the range of tests that a clinic can offer as well as the cost of testing and how those tests can benefit you. For instance, here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre we offer a full range of testing including Preimplantation Genetic Screening, which allows us to test for genetic abnormalities in your embryos before they are transferred. These tests can help give you all the information you and your clinician will need to make the right decision.
We recommend that you find a clinic that offers the following diagnosis procedures as standard:
- Ovulation testing
- Ovarian Reserve Testing
- Hormone Testing
- Genetic Testing
While overcoming fertility issues and becoming pregnant is your primary concern when choosing a fertility clinic, doing so successfully is not solely down to physical procedures. Stress and anxiety can play a crucial role in your ability to become pregnant with recent studies showing that a woman’s fertility can reduce by almost 16% if she is under stress.
A range of counselling and support services is therefore a key consideration when choosing a clinic. When investigating which clinic is right for you, we recommend you establish whether a clinic offers a range of counselling services including one-on-one sessions and group counselling as well as alternative therapies such as mindfulness or acupuncture.
Range of treatments offered
Whilst understanding that you’re struggling with fertility issues, it’ll be unknown what manner of treatment you may need. After consultation and diagnosis, your clinic can offer you the best range of treatments to ensure that you receive not only the most effective treatment but also the most cost effective and least invasive. A lot of clinics may only offer IVF treatment as it’s convenient for them, but this could be an unnecessarily lengthy and expensive procedure when simpler methods may be just as effective in overcoming your fertility issues.
We would recommend that you try to find a clinic that offers a full range of testing and treatment options. IVF may be the answer but if unsuccessful or not financially viable, ICSI, Donor Insemination or drug based remedies may help. Find a clinic that offers you the widest range of treatments and therefore the widest range of solutions to your problem.