What is IVF?
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is one of several techniques available to help people with fertility problems have a baby.
During IVF, an egg is removed from the woman's ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory. The fertilised egg, called an embryo, is then returned to the woman's womb to grow and develop.
It can be carried out using your eggs and your partner's sperm, or eggs and/or sperm from donors.
For more information on IVF, take a look at this blog written by our Clinical Director Mr Andrew Drakeley.
Do I need a referral from my GP?
For NHS funded patients you will have to be referred by your GP before booking a consultation with us and starting your journey.
For private treatment a referral is not a necessity, however we do recommend it. The medical information given to us as part of your referral can be invaluable and allow us to speed up your treatments as well as ensuring the safety of our patients.
What are the Criteria for treatment?
For NHS treatment, the guidelines differ depending on where in the UK you live. Have a look at the HFEA website to find out whether you would be eligible or not.
If you do not meet the criteria for NHS funded treatment, then private treatment is always available subject to medical consultation. We offer some of the most competitively priced fertility treatment and payment plans in the UK.
Have a look at our partnership with Access Fertility, aimed at making IVF/ICSI more accessible to everyone by offering reduced pricing and refund options if treatment is unsuccessful (All potential applicants are subject to clinical review before approval).
What is ICSI?
ICSI is a slightly modified version of IVF.
Whilst IVF combines sperm and eggs under laboratory conditions, ICSI is a more sophisticated technique which injects the sperm into the egg, increasing the chances of fertilitsation.
This process is generally used to help couples who have previously had poor fertilisation rates in previous cycles of IVF, or where the male has a low sperm count.
For more information, take a look at the HFEA page for a more in-depth explanation.
What are the success rates of your clinic?
Our success rates are among the best in Europe with over 3,500 cycles performed every year. Our successful pregnancy rates for women under 38 are currently 52% and we have welcomed over 1000 babies into the world in the last 12 months.
For more informatio, take a look at our dedicated success rates page here.
Alternatively, you can always look at the HFEA statistical information here.
Am I too old for IVF?
For NHS treatment eligibility the cut off point for any woman wishing to undergo IVF treatment is 39 years old.
This does not mean that women older than that have no options available to them, if you choose to undergo privately funded treatment then that age limit can be extended.
If you are over 40 and are considering fertility treatment we would love to have a discussion with you about your options. Visit your GP and ask for a referral to The Hewitt Centre.
What are the opening and closing hours of the centre?
The Hewitt fertility Centre, Liverpool
8.00am to 5.00pm
The Hewitt fertility Centre, Knutsford
8.00am to 5.00pm
How much does treatment cost?
If you are eligible for NHS funded treatment, you will still have to pay normal prescription charges for your fertility drugs (unless you are exempt from paying prescription charges). Otherwise, all of your costs should be covered.
As well as NHS treatment, The Hewitt Fertility Centre offers privately funded treatment with levels of care and rates of success among the best in Europe. If you are interested in private treatment, we have an in depth list of costs here.
Do you offer private treatment?
Here At The Hewitt Fertility Centre we are proud to offer high levels of care to both NHS and private patients, we are confident that you will find the experience within our clinics comparable if not superior to other, solely private clinics in the UK.
Additionally, we have recently founded a partnership with the team at Access Fertility, enabling us to offer refund packages and finance options for those undergoing private treatment. (Subject to medical review)
You can find our private treatment costs here.
How long do I have to wait for a consultation?
Due to the popularity of the Hewitt Centre occasionally our waiting lists stretch to more than a couple of weeks, however these waiting times can change throughout the year and we encourage you to contact us to find out what our current waiting times are.
I already have a child, am I still able to recieve treatment?
Currently, if you already have a child from a current or previous relationship then you are ineligible for NHS funded IVF treatment.
If you do already have a child then IVF/ICSI treatment is still available to our privately funded patients, subject to medical review.
What is the treatment process?
Step One: Initial Scan
The first step on your journey will be an initial scan to assess your ovarian reserve as well as monitoring blood flow, check fro cysts and the quality of the womb. You will then be advised when to start your ovarian simulating injections.
Step Two: Monitoring Scans
From day 5 of your ovarian simulating injections you will still need to undergo 3 or 4 ultrasound scans to ensure everything is progressing as expected.
Step Three: The Trigger
IF everything is in order, a hormone injection will be given to mature your eggs triggering ovulation.
Step Four: Egg Collection
After being put under mild sedation, your eggs will be collected by one of our highly trained team. After the procedure you will spend an hour or so recovering in one of our suites. we recommend that you have a partner, relative or friend accompany you home after the procedure.
Step Five: Fertilisation
Once the eggs are collected they are mixed with your partner’s sperm (Or donor sperm if that is the treatment you have opted for) for fertilisation to occur.
The eggs are then monitored for fertilisation and you will be informed of the results as soon as possible.
Step Six: Embryo Transfer
Once an embryo has sufficiently developed, it is ready to be transferred into the uterus. This is usually performed without sedation. Prior to embryo transfer, medication is sometimes given to provide hormonal support. The medication can also continue for a number of days after the implantation period.
Step Seven: Pregnancy Test
10-14 days after the embryo transfer the woman uses a pregnancy test on a sample of her early morning urine. If the test is positive then we arrange your first pregnancy scan.
Step Eight: Pregnancy Scan
An early pregnancy scan is performed 3 weeks after a pregnancy test to confirm an intrauterine pregnancy and foetal heartbeat.
Will I need to take time off work to undergo treatment?
Depending on the nature of your work, generally speaking it is not necessary for you to take time off whilst undergoing treatment. Any exceptions to this would be discussed with one of our consultants upon your initial consultation.
Due to the operating times of our clinic, it may be necessary for you to arrange time off work to attend appointments for embryo transfer and subsequent scanning appointments.
I am interested in treatment, what now?
We are delighted that you are considering The Hewitt Centre for your treatment.
The next thing you need to do is arrange an appointment to speak to your GP. They will be able to refer you to us for an initial consultation and we can get your journey started.
In the mean time, if you have any wuestions at all please don't hesitate to contact us here.
If you are considering private treatment, thena refferal is not a necessity, however we do recommend it.
How long does treatment take?
IVF processes will be different in each clinic, but you can expect one IVF cycle to take between six and nine weeks, including the time it takes to know whether you’re pregnant or not.
Our Clinical Director, Mr Andrew Drakeley has recently composed a blog all about the IVF timeline, read it here.
How does the Hewitt Centre compare to other clinics?
Our success rates are among the best in Europe and in certain areas we are consistently graded above the national average for fertility treatment.
For a breakdown of our success rates, visit our success rates page.
What happens if I don't get pregnant after treatment?
We pride ourselves on our above average success rates, however if you are unfortunately unsuccessful in your treatment then we have a number of options available to help you.
If you have received your allocated amount of NHS funded treatment, we offer competitively priced private treatments.
If you are currently a private patient you may be interested in our partnership with Access Fertility and their great refund options (Subject to medical review.)
Whatever happens, our team of committed professionals will make sure that they take every possible step to giving you the best chance of starting a family.
How long should we try to get pregnant before considering treatment?
Pregnancy chances vary from person to person so there is no concrete way of knowing when to seek fertility treatment. We recommend that if, after a year of trying unsuccessfully to become pregnant, you consult your GP and ask for a referral to The Hewitt Centre. We can provide medical analysis to discover if you may have low fertility and what to do next.
How soon after treatment should a pregnancy test be done?
We recommend that you undergo a urine pregnancy test test 14 days after receiving your egg transfer. When you are undergoing treatment, our team will make sure to arrange this for you.
How long are your waiting lists?
Our waiting lists are among the lowest in the UK, however due to our reputation for high success rates and quality of care our services are in high demand and it can sometimes take a little longer to start your treatment.
Our waiting times vary from days to a few weeks and we endeavour to cater for every patient as quickly as possible without compromising our levels of care.
Is there anything I can do to increase my fertility?
The most effective way that you can improve your fertility is through lifestyle changes such as having a healthy diet and taking regular exercise. Not smoking, having a healthy body mass index and keeping to accepted levels of alcohol intake per week are also very positive steps.
The HFEA have put together a handy walk-through of the things you can do to increase your chances. Find it here.
What is the difference between IVF and ICSI?
ICSI is very similar to IVF in that eggs and sperm are collected from each partner. The difference between the two procedures is the method of achieving fertilisation.
In conventional IVF, the eggs and sperm are mixed together and the sperm fertilises the egg ‘naturally’. However to have a chance that this will occur, large numbers of actively swimming normal sperm are required. For many couples, the number of suitable sperm available may be very limited or there may be other factors preventing fertilisation, so conventional IVF is not an option. ICSI has provided a hope for these couples.
ICSI refers to the laboratory procedure where a single sperm is picked up with a fine glass needle and is injected directly into each egg. This is carried out in the laboratory by experienced embryologists using specialist equipment. Very few sperm are required and the ability of the sperm to penetrate the egg is no longer important as this has been assisted by the ICSI technique. ICSI does not guarantee that fertilisation will occur as the normal cellular events of fertilisation still need to occur once the sperm has been placed in the egg.
What is Hydrosalpinx?
A hydrosalpinx is when a blocked fallopian tube fills with fluid. If both tubes are affected, this is called hydrosalpinges.
The tube usually appears distended, which means it is swollen with fluid.
Most often, hydrosalpinx is caused by a long-term infection of the fallopian tubes. This infection may occur due a sexually transmitted disease, a ruptured appendix, or any other cause of infection that impacts the reproductive system or nearby organs.
What are Fibroids?
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in or around the womb (uterus). The growths are made up of muscle and fibrous tissue and vary in size. They're sometimes known as uterine myomas or leiomyomas.
What is an ovarian cyst?
An ovarian cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops on a woman's ovary. They're very common and don't usually cause any symptoms. Most ovarian cysts occur naturally and disappear in a few months without needing any treatment
What are the side effects of the medication I will take during treatment?
Depending on your diagnosis, your clinic may recommend using fertility drugs alone, or you may be offered them with other treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
A mild reaction to fertility drugs may involve hot flushes, feeling down or irritable, headaches and restlessness. Symptoms usually disappear after a short time but if they do not, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
What fertility tests are available for men?
Male fertility tests are based around sperm analysis. If you are worried that you may have a low sperm count then it is best to consult your GP, ask for a referral to The Hewitt Centre and our Andrology team can give you the answers you need.
Can I produce a sperm sample at home?
Yes, providing that you can bring the sample to the unit within one hour of it being produced. If that is not possible you will most likely be asked to use the facilities in the unit specifically designed for this purpose.
Can I go swimming during/after treatment?
During treatment it is a good way to keep fit. After treatment we would advise you not to go swimming for at least a week following your egg collection, to prevent the chance of infection occurring.
What is a Blastocyst and how can it help?
A Blastocyst is an egg that has been cultivated for 5-6 days until the cell starts to divide. This is the first step in an egg becoming a fetus.
At this time, one or occasionally two of the best quality blastocysts are selected and then implanted into the woman’s womb. A blastocyst must successfully attach itself to the wall of the womb for a woman to become pregnant.
Blastocyst transfer is better because it allows us to monitor and analyse the development of the embryo and then select the best egg to give you the best possible chance of having a baby.
What is time lapse monitoring?
Time lapse monitoring is when a camera is set to record a series of images at regular intervals. This technology is now available for monitoring the development of IVF embryos before they are transferred into the womb.
The Hewitt Centre is one of only a handful of clinics in the UK to utilise the revolutionary new incubation technology, the EmbryoScope.
The EmbryoScope is a new type of special incubator that has a built-in camera, capable of taking pictures of your embryo several times an hour. These pictures are then combined to create a time-lapse video showing the embryo’s development at every vital stage, for our embryology team to assess.
Take at a look at all of the advanced technologies that we use here at The Hewitt Centre that makes us one of the premier fertility clinics in the UK.
Can I freeze my spare embryos?
Often with IVF or ICSI, people have a number of unused embryos after their first cycle. Some people choose to freeze them for use in later treatment cycles or to donate for use in others’ treatment, research purposes or training.
We offer an embryo freezing and storage facility and our rates of success in thawing frozen embryos is among the best in the UK.
Your chances of becoming pregnant with a thawed frozen embryo are not affected by the length of time the embryo has been stored. But not all embryos will survive freezing and eventual thawing when they come to be used. Very occasionally no embryos will survive.
What is Embryoglue?
EmbryoGlue is a medium that embryos are held in during transfer, used in the final step of IVF treatment. It has been developed to closely resemble the environment in the womb, which can help to encourage successful implantation. Here at the Hewitt Centre we use EmbryoGlue routinely for egg transfers.
Would a single embryo transfer be better for me?
Elective single-embryo transfer (eSET) is a procedure in which one embryo, usually selected from a larger number of available embryos, is placed in the uterus. The remaining embryos may be set aside for future use or freezing.
eSET helps women avoid several risks to their own health that are associated with carrying a multiple pregnancy. It also helps families achieve success while preventing some risks known to be associated with giving birth to twins. Infants born in multiple births are more often born early, are smaller (low birth weight) and experience more adverse health outcomes than single infants.
Can I Freeze My Eggs?
The use of frozen eggs in treatment is a relatively new development. Eggs do not respond as well as embryos to freezing, subsequently very few babies have been born in the UK after treatment using patients’ own frozen eggs (although more have been born from donor eggs).
However, vitrification (a new method for egg storage) has recently been shown to improve the chance of eggs surviving the freeze-thaw process and therefore increase the success rate.
Is there a higher risk of miscarriage with IVF/ICSI?
While there are some studies that claim that IVF and other similar fertility treatments can raise the chances of miscarriage very slightly, these figures are so low it is generally not believed to be a concern.
How long can I store my eggs/sperm for?
If you come and visit us, we can talk about the possibility of freezing your embryos, because during IVF or ICSI, additional embryos may be produced. If you prefer, we can just dispose of these, but if we feel they are healthy we can freeze them for future treatment.
At the moment, the law only allows us to keep embryos for 10 years, but this limit can be extended in certain circumstances. Whatever your decisions, we’ll always be happy to offer help, advice or answer any questions you may have.
What lifestyle changes do I need to make whilst undergoing treatment?
We have a variety of insightful blogs composed by our Medical Director, Mr Andrew Drakeley to help you understand the changes that you can make to give yourself a better chance of becoming pregnant.
See our blogs here.
What are the blood tests that are required before treatment starts?
For females having treatment we need an Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) to assess ovarian reserve and a Rubella status. Other blood tests required by the HFEA for patients and partners having In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) are: HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C
If I have a partner do we both need to attend consultations?
If you are having treatment with a partner then you both need to attend consultations when results for both of you need to be discussed. Please check with a member of staff for all other appointments.
Once we have our test results and have signed our consent forms is there a wait for treatment?
Not as such unless you need to see a counsellor or require any further tests. Usually the nurses will book you in for treatment straightaway depending on your period date and the type of treatment you are having.
How long do scan appointments take?
Your scan appointment is usually 30 minutes so that you have your scan and then have time to discuss what the next step is for you eg another scan, more medication, arrange egg collection or insemination. Sometimes if you have a lot of questions this appointment can take longer.
Do the drugs need to be kept in the fridge?
Some drugs can be kept just at room temperature. Staff will advise you were to store your drugs.
Are there any side effects of the medication used during my IVF treatment cycle?
During down-regulation you may experience headaches, hot flushes or mood swings.
When you start your stimulating injections these side effects should subside, but you may experience ‘twinges’ in your ovaries and feel bloated. It is not unusual to experience an increase in vaginal discharge.
Can I stop my down-regulation eg Buserelin, when I start my stimulating injections, e.g. Menopur, Gonal F?
You must continue using your Buserelin throughout your cycle of IVF treatment. A member of the medical/nursing staff will advise you when to stop.
Can I mix the Buserelin and my stimulating injection together?
You cannot mix your Buserelin and stimulating injection together in the same syringe,but they can be injected at the same time as single injections.
Can I mix my Menopur/Gonal F/Merional the night before use and store in the fridge?
No. Your Menopur/Gonal F/Merional must be injected immediately after you have mixed it.
Will the drugs make me put on weight?
You will not increase in weight, but once you commence your stimulating injection i.e. Menopur,Gonal F/Merional you may feel a little bloated and experience lower abdominal swelling.
If I have any pain what can I take to relieve it?
You may use Paracetamol for any pain you experience
Do I have to have my stimulating injections at the same time each day?
It is advisable to administer your Menopur/Gonal F/Merional at approximately the same time each day. When you may need to attend the unit for a scan, do not have your stimulating injection before the scan as your injection dose may be changed.
Can I still have intercourse whilst on my drugs?
Intercourse is perfectly fine until day nine of you stimulating injections.
Why do I have to use a barrier form of contraception once I have commenced treatment?
If you should become pregnant naturally, the down-regulation drugs may increase the chances of miscarriage.
Can I go abroad while having treatment?
No, it is not advisable.
How long does an egg collection take?
You will be required to be on the unit for approximately two hours though the actual egg collection itself usually only takes 20-30 minutes.
Do I need to take time off work after egg collection?
You will have some medication during egg collection that means you should not drive, operate machinery or sign any legal documents for at least 24 hours. It then depends how you feel as to whether you go into work the next day or take some time off to rest.
How long do an embryo transfer / insemination take?
You will be required to be on the unit for approximately 45 -60 minutes though the procedure itself usually only takes 10-15 minutes and is similar to having a cervical smear test.
Following embryo transfer do you recommend I use my Cyclogest pessaries rectally or vaginally?
It is your personal choice whether you administer your pessaries rectally or vaginally. When using the pessaries vaginally you may experience a white discharge. If you suffer from any bowel conditions using the pessaries vaginally is advised
Can I do a pregnancy test earlier than two weeks following embryo transfer?
It is advisable to perform a pregnancy test when Cyclogest pessaries end. This can sometimes be sooner than two weeks and is dependent on the stage of development of the embryo replaced. Staff will advise you of the best time to do your pregnancy test.
Can I book a holiday abroad straight after my treatment?
If you are pregnant it is advisable not to travel abroad until your pregnancy is well established.
I am due to have a dental filling; can I have this done during treatment?
Yes, but it is advisable to inform your dentist of the possibility of your being pregnant. Your dentist will then decide whether dental treatment needs to be postponed or cancelled.
Can I drink alcohol during treatment?
There is evidence that alcohol reduces fertility in both men and women. It is advisable to keep alcohol intake to below the recommended limits e.g. up to 5 units per week. No safe level of alcohol intake has been identified in pregnancy.
Can I dye my hair/ use spray tans while having treatment?
Ask your hairdressers advice about using certain hair products in early pregnancy. A reputable tanning establishment should also be able to advise you
My doctor has given me antibiotics, can I take them during treatment?
If your G.P is aware you are having IVF treatment he/she will prescribe antibiotics that are safe to take during pregnancy. If your doctor is not aware you are having IVF treatment inform him/her that you may be pregnant.
Can I have my flu jab during treatment?
No, it is not advisable to have a flu vaccination during treatment unless recommended by your GP.
Can I use complementary therapies during treatment?
Acupuncture is safe and we have no evidence to say other therapies are harmful, but we would advise you to tell your therapist that you may be pregnant as the use of certain aromatherapy oils is not advisable during pregnancy.
A family member is diagnosed with chicken pox / measles while I am having treatment, what should I do?
You should telephone the unit for medical advice.