How To Choose An IVF Clinic
When you’re deciding on an IVF clinic, then you want to make a good choice. Many clinics have similar success rates, which makes it difficult to know which one to choose. It can be hard to see through the marketing and get the facts.
If you’re just looking at the success rate, then this can be misleading. A clinic with a high success rate could mean that they don’t take complicated cases. And a clinic with a lower success rate could, in fact, be a better clinic. The reason their statistics are lower is that they work with more challenging cases.
If you live in the UK then one of the best resources to use is the HFEA, which is an independent government authority and will give you impartial advice.
On the HFEA website, you can search for clinics, assess their success rate, inspection rating, patient rating and whether their IVF live birth rate is consistent with the rational average. You can dig deeper into the clinic by looking at the inspection reports and these will give you more detailed information. The patient rating assesses the clinic in terms of the experience that the patient has had; if they were treated with dignity, empathy, if they were well informed and communicated to and if the final cost was what they expected. And if you have specific requirements, then you can search for a clinic that has what you need. For example surgical sperm collection or counselling services at the clinic.
Most clinics have similar success rates, therefore it is important to look at what is relevant to you and then do the comparison.
- Look at the success rate for your age range, the type of treatment that is relevant to you and compare this to other women in a similar situation with similar challenges.
- Assess the size of the clinic and how many cycles they perform each year. Smaller clinic’s success rates will change more dramatically because they have fewer patients.
- Some clinics are selective about who they treat to give them better success rates, but it doesn’t mean they are a better clinic.
Multiple Birth Rates
Usually, good clinics have high success rates and low multiple birth rates.
- Multiple pregnancy creates health risks for the mother.
- Multiple births create health risks and often death to one baby.
Check to see what other services the clinic offer. For example:
- Eligibility – NHS, private, overseas patients.
- Staff – decide what is important to you, such as female doctors, always have an english speaking member of staff present, or if you have a condition like PCOS, you could find out if any staff specialise in PCOS.
- Facilities – parking, wheelchair access, or a room to lie down in after transfer.
- Counselling – find out if there is a waiting list or if you can book sessions when you need them.
- Patient support group – this is a sign of a good clinic.
- Complementary therapy – acupuncture, massage, yoga, mediation.
- Donor services – how long will you have to wait.
Think about where the clinic is because if you are working and fitting in appointments around work, then you don’t want to have to travel too far.
- How long will it take you to get to the clinic?
- How many appointments will you need?
- Do the clinic do early morning appointment that you can do before work?
Cost is not regulated.
- Get a costed treatment plan so that you can assess exactly how much the whole treatment will cost.
- Check what the price includes – counselling, drugs, freezing embryos.
- Ask what the average patient pays at the end of their treatment.
You want to do everything you can to make the IVF work. There are lots of add ons that clinics offer, however, many of them don’t have enough research to prove that they work and they increase the overall cost significantly.
- Assess the cost.
- Work out if you can afford the add on treatment and afford to do another cycle afterwards if the first one doesn’t work.
- Ask what is the evidence for the add on treatment.
- Ask why is the clinic recommending it to you.
- Ask what is the success rate of the add on treatment.
- Ask is the add on cost in line with other clinic prices.
Find out when you can start treatment ask:
- Will you need more tests?
- When can you start treatment?
- How long are waiting times for donor sperm and eggs?
There are many practical things to think about, such as:
- How will you get to the clinic?
- Can you get there at short notice?
- How much will it cost?
- How long will you spend while you get there?
- How long will it take?
- How many visits?
- Are there any english speaking staff and are they always there?
- How will they communicate with you when you’re not in the clinic?
one thing that causes problems is communication
- What are the IVF rules and regulations of that country and clinic?
- Ask about multiple pregnancy
- Make sure overseas clinic follow same regulations as the UK
- Check their success rate is validated and real.
- Do they have a partner clinic that you can use in the UK to do your bloods?
Do you like the clinic
Go to several open days and compare how you feel about different clinics.
Additional Questions To Ask An IVF Clinic (this list has been taken from HFEA website)
Some additional questions you might want to ask at the clinic include:
- What are the benefits of the treatment you’ve recommended and why do you think it’s the best option for me?
- How many patients at your clinic have had this treatment, and how many of them have become pregnant/had a baby?
- Are there alternative treatments? If so, what do they involve, and why do you think they are less suitable for me?
- What other options are available to me if this treatment doesn’t work?
- How does my age affect the choice of fertility treatment?
- What drugs will I have to take and what are the usual side effects they might have?
- Are there any alternatives to the drugs you have mentioned?
- Can you break down all the costs involved in this treatment? Are there any other costs that might arise? (Your clinic should provide you with a costed treatment plan.)
- What lifestyle changes can I make to boost my chance of success (eg, diet, exercise, stopping smoking)? How will these help?
- Is there a cost for counselling, or how many free sessions can I have?
- Does this clinic have a patient support group I can join, or are there other groups you would recommend?
- Could you tell me more about the assessment process you will need to carry out before giving me the go ahead for treatment (this is sometimes known as the ‘welfare of the child’ assessment)?
- What happens next? Do I (and/or my partner) need to do anything now?
There is a lot to think about when you decide to have IVF and it can feel overwhelming. Comment below if this information has been useful and ask me more questions about IVF.
All my best,
Rachel Bolton BSc (Hons), Lic. Ac., Lic. Tui Na.
I empower women to see themselves as Fertility Heroes and help them to optimise their fertility, get pregnant and have healthy babies.