IVF - costs and access
If you are hoping to have IVF fertility treatment on the NHS you will need a referral from your GP.
Availability of IVF on the NHS varies around the country, as does the length of waiting lists. Some areas may not offer IVF at all, while others may limit the number of treatment cycles.
You may also have to pay prescription charges for fertility drugs in some areas.
Is IVF for you?
This is a decision that will be made by you in consultation with your GP or fertility clinic, taking into consideration your age. It's known that IVF is the best treatment to deal with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, low sperm count or poor sperm movement, or unexplained infertility.
The NHS says IVF isn't usually recommended for women above the age of 42 because the chances of a successful pregnancy are thought to be too low. The percentage of IVF treatments resulting in a birth are around:
- 33.1% for women under 35
- 27.2% for women aged 35-37
- 19.3% for women aged 38-39
- 12.5% for women aged 40-42
- 4.9% for women aged 43-44
- 2.5% for women over 44
How do I get IVF privately in the UK?
If you’re not eligible for NHS treatment, or think the waiting time too long, you may consider paying for private fertility treatment. You can approach a private fertility clinic directly. Private clinics are businesses and are there to make a profit, so do find out what they charge and shop around before you choose one. Prices can vary from clinic to clinic.
One private IVF cycle including drugs, fertility testing and consultation fees can be £5,000 or more. The final cost of your treatment will depend on a number of factors, so ask your clinic for a personalised, costed, treatment plan before beginning any treatment.
Whichever clinic you choose it should be licensed by the HFEA. Other things to take into consideration are:
- Location. How easy is it for you to go there for treatment? If you opt for a clinic that is further away from your home you may be able to have certain treatments carried out at a local hospital.
- What is the clinic’s cancellation policy? Find out how many cycles of treatment are allowed before trying another or stopping treatment altogether.
- Success rates. How successful is the clinic treating women in your age group? How many women of your age do they treat?
- Does the clinic offer reduced fees if you donate some of your eggs for others to use (egg sharing).
Private IVF treatment abroad
A small percentage of women travel abroad for IVF and most of those are also seeking an egg donation.
The HFEA only licenses and regulates clinics in the UK. Clinics abroad may provide a cheaper service but you need to consider the safety and standard of care you'll receive and what you would do if anything went wrong.
If you are seeking an egg donation, the clinic should be able to provide you with information about the donor (for example, a physical description and medical history). In the UK, where donation is not anonymous and where donor information is stored on the HFEA Register, donor-conceived children will be able to trace donors and donor-conceived siblings once they reach the age of 18. This may not be the case if you are seeking treatment abroad.