As part of our focus on fertility this month, there have been stories of people who have had babies, and plenty of stories from people who couldn’t for whatever reason.
IVF has become an important part of the fertility conversation, with over 8 million babies born since its introduction in 1978.
It’s a way for people to have more control over their own fertility, but can be costly, take a lot of time, and it doesn’t always work.
We’ve compiled a rundown of costs and success rates involved in IVF, so you can go to your doctor informed.
How to get IVF on the NHS
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – also known as NICE have guidelines on who is eligible for IVF.
Essentially, if you’re a woman aged under 43 and have been trying for a baby (either by having regular unprotected sex for two years or 12 artificial insemination attempts) you meet their criteria.
However, on a local level, there are Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) who also have a say. Their specific criteria may differ to NICE, and could mean you’re more or less likely to receive treatment on the NHS.
What is IVF?
IVF stands for In Vitro Fertilisation, and refers to the process whereby an egg is fertilised using sperm outside the body.
You can do this using sperm and egg from a male and female partner, or with a donor sperm or donor egg.
Once an embryo has been created, it’s implanted back into the woman’s uterus to hopefully grow.
There are usually several steps to a course of treatment, including hormone therapy, egg collection, fertilisation, incubation, and transfer into the uterus.
CCGs may also look at things such as whether you already have children, whether you smoke, and how ‘healthily’ you eat. Some CCGs also discount women over 35 altogether, so it’s important to speak to your GP about the situation in your area.
According to NICE, women under 40 can be offered up to three IVF cycles, whereas those between 40 and 42 can be offered only one as long as they’ve never had IVF treatment before, show no evidence of low ovarian reserve, and have been informed of the additional implications of IVF and pregnancy at this age.
Since the provision of IVF varies so much between CCGs, it’s worth finding your local one and finding out what you’re entitled to.
How much is private IVF?
It’s estimated that private IVF can cost between £3,000 and £5,000 per cycle.
R esearch by Opinium found that the average price for a single cycle of IVF is £3,348. The highest UK price was £4,195 and the lowest £2,650.
However, some places may also charge you for initial consultations and tests, as well as aftercare and drugs, which takes this cost up.
Those who travel abroad for treatment can reduce costs by up to 75%, but there are dangers associated with this, including a higher risk of multiple births (which can be dangerous for the mother) and differing standards.
In general, you should ensure if you’re going abroad that the clinic is registered with an appropriate body, and check online reviews.
IVF success rates
According to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the chances differ based on your age.
Chances of IVF success based on age
Under 35: 29%
Over 44: 2%.
These figures are for women using their own eggs and their partner’s sperm and use the per embryo transferred measure.
Clinics tend to report different results of their own, but it’s important to take these statistics with a pinch of salt unless they’ve been independently verified by a public body (such as HFEA here in the UK).
Many hopeful parents who visit other countries for treatment are swayed by individual success rates. Although not all of these will be false, some clinics have claimed that 9 out of 10 couples who come to them for treatment will have a successful pregnancy. These figures are not verified, and are vastly different to the averages which can be found elsewhere.
Your individual circumstances will also affect the success rate of any course of IVF, and your healthcare professional should give you a more specific outlook for you personally.
Worried about starting fertility treatment?
Contact HFEA on 020 7291 8200 for more information on the options available to you. (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm)
Alternatively, you can speak to Infertility Network UK on 0121 323 5025 (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 10am to 4pm)