How to choose a fertility clinic
Fertility treatment may be available on the NHS under certain conditions in some areas. Other couples who are unable to conceive naturally may also consider paying for private fertility treatment.
The process of choosing a fertility clinic is helped by the regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which provides a database of information about every licensed UK fertility clinic.
Statistics include the numbers of live births after fertility treatment, treatment types offered and the numbers of multiple births.
Couples looking for fertility treatment will also want to consider factors such as:
- Costs and what's covered
- Location of clinic
- Eligibility for procedures
- Cancellation policies
- HFEA inspection reports
Here are some questions worth asking the clinic:
- How long has the medical director been there? How long have the doctors and technicians been there? High staff turnover can be a sign of bad management and can contribute to mistakes.
- Which procedures do you do, and how often? Be sure the clinic has a wide range of infertility procedures available and is familiar with the latest technology.
- Do you have age limits for treatment? If so, it's a sign that the clinic is concerned about ethical issues.
- When you do an advanced procedure that involves fertilising the eggs outside the woman and then implanting them inside her, who decides how many eggs go back in - the doctor or patient? This is important because the more eggs implanted, the greater the chance of multiple births.
- How many cycles per year do you do? Some clinics handle so many patients - each of whom may be treated for multiple menstrual cycles - that patients end up feeling like a number.
- What does the treatment cost? While you don't want to choose strictly on price, it's good to know costs ahead of time so you know what you're getting into. Beware of clinics that offer a money-back guarantee if you don't get pregnant - the doctor may have a financial incentive to treat you more aggressively than you want.
Fertility treatment abroad
Some people look for fertility treatment abroad if they are considered too old for UK treatment.
In some cases, costs may be cheaper, but the clinic will not be covered by UK standards and inspections.
There can be difficulties if anything goes wrong with treatment or care, or making a complaint.
Legal issues on donor eggs and other considerations may differ from the UK's rules.