For men and women struggling to conceive a child through natural means, In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is one popular technique available to help. During IVF, a woman’s ovaries are encouraged to produce more mature eggs than usual using hormone treatment. Using an ultrasound scan, the maturation of the follicles containing the eggs is monitored and eventually the eggs are removed from the ovaries to be fertilised with sperms in a lab. The embryo, which is the correct term for a fertilised egg, is then returned to the woman’s womb where it will hopefully grow and develop into a healthy foetus.
Unfortunately, IVF is not offered by the NHS to everyone who has fertility issues, because the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have strict fertility guidelines. NICE’s guidelines recommend that women under the age of 43 who have been trying to conceive through regular unprotected sex for 2 years should be offered IVF but the local CCGs apply further restrictions based, amongst other things, on funding. For those who are not eligible for NHS IVF treatment, there are options to pay for treatment at a private clinic.
Sadly, no-one can guarantee that IVF treatment will be anywhere near 100% successful and it usually requires more than one cycle of treatment. NICE typically recommend three full cycles of IVF, as this tends to be the most clinically effective and cost-effective number. There are various factors at play when it comes to both male and female fertility, so the success rates of IVF vary from case to case and across different clinics. Age is one big factor, which is why the NHS doesn’t usually provide IVF treatments to women over the age of 42. Patients undergoing IVF treatment are strongly advised to maintain a healthy weight and avoid smoking, alcohol, and caffeine to increase their chances of success.
Understandably, dealing with infertility and IVF can take its toll on a patient’s mental health, which is why counselling is recommended. At Concept Fertility, we offer counselling for all patients undergoing a cycle of IVF, in which any issues or concerns can be discussed. Stress and other mental health issues can manifest in different ways and can often affect fertility, so taking care of your self and talking to a trained professional to receive support is very beneficial.