Finding a fertility clinic

Before doing so you need to decide whether you are having treatment on the NHS or at a private clinic. You can apply for help with paying for your treatment via your local Primary Care Trust (PCT) who can ‘sponsor’ you for NHS treatment.

If you are lucky they will pay for you to have IVF or ICSI on the NHS although this is limited to a pre-defined number of cycles.

Visit The Cost of Infertility section to learn more about this.

If you are going to be treated on the NHS then you will have fewer clinics to choose from as compared to going private. This is something you need to take into account when deciding between the NHS and the private sector.

If you are opting to have private treatment then you have a wide variety of clinics to choose from.

Your GP or fertility specialist can also recommend a clinic.

This is one of the most important aspects of the whole process so you need to be sure that you have chosen the right clinic for you.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has plenty of information on fertility clinics in the UK which also includes a database of clinics.

Okay, so what do you need to consider when searching for a clinic?

The following factors will help with making that all-important decision:

  • Location: you want a clinic which is easy to get to as you are going to be visiting it on a regular basis. You may find one that has a five star reputation but is no use if you live in Scotland and it is based near London.

    Infertility treatment can be stressful and the last thing you want to do is to add to that stress by undertaking long journeys to and from the clinic.

  • Cost: the costs of infertility treatment can be eye-wateringly expensive which is discussed in greater detail in the cost of infertility section.

    It may seem rather callous to mention costs but if you have to pay for your treatment then it can’t be ignored. The cost of fertility treatments varies between individual clinics so you will have to weigh these up.

  • Reputation of the clinic and its success rates: it’s important to check that the clinic is reputable, professionally run and has high success rates. After all, you are going to be spending a great deal of time there so you want to feel reassured and relaxed in their presence.

    The success rate largely depends upon you but it is important to compare rates between clinics. Especially when you are going to be paying large sums of money to do so.

  • Professionalism of the staff: you want a specialist who is highly skilled and experienced but this also applies to the staff too. Check to see how long they have been working there and read through any feedback or testimonials left by previous patients.

    If the staff are brusque, unsympathetic or uninterested in your needs then go elsewhere.

  • Treatments: check to see what treatments are available as not all clinics offer the same. Some clinics will specialise in one form of treatment rather than another so look at what’s on offer.

    Give the clinic a ring and ask what treatments they offer, and if there are any age limits.

  • Criteria: some clinics will only treat single women whereas others will only treat couples of a certain age (e.g. under 40).

Be prepared to spend some time on this. This means undertaking research into fertility clinics and their services. If you can, talk to others who have been in the same situation as they may be able to recommend a clinic.

Once you have drawn up a shortlist of clinics your next step is to visit them in turn. It’s a good idea to go with a list of questions written down so that you don’t forget to ask anything important.

If possible, talk to other patients at the clinic which will give you an idea of what the place is like and type of treatment you will get. Go with your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right then visit another.

Have your list of questions to hand during the initial consultation. If you are not sure what to ask then we have prepared a list of questions for that consultation.

Questions to ask at the fertility clinic

The initial visit can be nerve wracking but you will find that your specialist and staff are there to reassure you and will answer any questions that you have. Ask as many times as you need to and don’t be afraid to ask for him/her to explain anything you are not sure of.

List of questions:

  1. Does my age affect the choice of infertility treatment?
  2. What infertility treatments do you offer?
  3. What is/are the most suitable treatment/s for me and why?
  4. How many patients have undergone this treatment in the last 2 years?
  5. What are your success rates? (for IVF, ICSI, GIFT etc)
  6. If this treatment doesn’t work then is there an alternative?
  7. Are there any alternatives to the treatment you have recommended? Why do you feel that these are less suitable?
  8. What fertility drugs will I have to take and what are their side effects?
  9. Do you offer a ‘treatment package’ and if so what does this include? And what doesn’t it include?
  10. Can I have a breakdown of costs for my treatment?
  11. Are there are cheaper alternatives or can these costs be reduced?
  12. Are there any ways I can increase my chances of conceiving?
  13. Do you offer counselling? If so, how much does this cost?
  14. Do you have a patients support group?
  15. What do my partner and I have to do next?

Remember, staff are there to help you. Take as much time as you need as there are many things you will have to think about.

One of the biggest questions couples will ask is about success rates. After all, the reason why you are embarking upon this is to be able to have a baby. So it is important that you know beforehand what the success rates are for a particular treatment. And success rates vary from one treatment to another.

Please bear in mind that the success of a treatment will depend on various factors which include the treatment itself, your infertility problem and your age. Your age is particularly relevant as the older you are the less chance you have of conceiving.

You will find that there are clinics which specialise in treating older couples and because of this their success rates will naturally be lower. Don’t be put off by this because they might be the best clinic for you.

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