What is IVF?

IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) is a popular assisted reproductive technique. It involves the process of giving the female partner hormone injections to stimulate egg production, then retrieving the eggs via outpatient surgery. The eggs will then be inseminated with her partner’s (or a donor’s) sperm. If viable embryos are created, one or more of them will be implanted in the uterus.

Who is IVF for?

IVF is for couples who have diagnosed infertility issues, have unexplained infertility issues and have been unable to conceive through regular intercourse, individuals who have no partner or individuals with a same sex partner so requiring donor sperm or a surrogate.

Who qualifies for IVF on the NHS?  

IVF treatment is only available on the NHS if certain criteria are met. NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) make recommendations about eligibility, but commissioning groups in local areas have the final say.

Some NHS CCGs (clinical commissioning groups) for example, insist on additional criteria to qualify for funding, eg. not having children already, with either your current or previous partner, being a healthy weight, not smoking or falling into a lower age range than the NICE guidelines state.

It’s advisable to speak to your own GP about your eligibility for funded IVF, as they will be aware of your personal circumstances, medical history and the up-to-date criteria in place for your local area.

How much does privately funded IVF cost in the UK?

The simple answer is that it can depend very much on which treatment centre you use, but in the UK, it can vary between £1,500 and £5000. In many cases though, the basic charge for IVF in the UK doesn’t include drugs, blood tests, anaesthetic, screening or other treatments like ICSI. When looking at your budget, you’ll need to take all of these things into account as additional expenses. Even clinics which offer unlimited IVF packages, with ‘UP TO 100% refund’ if clients don’t fall pregnant within a specified time, still don’t always include every aspect of treatment in their package cost.

Be very careful to check that any add-ons which are relatively new in reproductive science, are HFEA approved.

Funding cycles of IVF is expensive and sadly, there will still be no guarantee that you will get pregnant on the first, or any subsequent cycles that you pay for.

It’s advisable to get a range of quotes, detailing exactly what IS provided from each clinic.  Also be careful to ask them what is NOT included, which things are considered necessary and how much each of those things would be. In this way, you can make a much more accurate comparison of costs and not find yourself with unexpected expenses.

Is IVF cheaper abroad?

With the lack of funding and the ‘postcode lottery’ approach to IVF in the UK, many people are choosing to look abroad for treatment instead.

Popular destinations for treatment have been Spain, Czech Republic, Greece, Cyprus, Ukraine, Latvia, Poland and more recently, India. Clients are seeking destinations where the basic cost for IVF is cheaper and more things are included than in the UK. Obviously, treatment abroad means travel costs, accommodation and travel and insurance. It’s also important to research from trusted sources, which clinics are reputable.  

America has also recently become a popular IVF destination, although IVF treatment in the USA is reportedly costlier.

Be aware too, when it comes to comparing success rates, that new methods may sometimes be used abroad that are not always fully approved in the UK and that this may, or may not affect the data comparison.  

There are certainly many things to take into consideration when deciding whether to go down the route of IVF to help you to conceive. At the IVF Network, we have experts on hand to answer questions and to support you on your journey.