If you are just starting to look into having fertility treatment, the options available may seem a little overwhelming at first. If you’ve done a Google search, you may have found many unfamiliar terms and abbreviations and not known where to start.

Here, we have broken down some of the information you might need, into simple chunks, to help you to find out what is available and to become more familiar with the terminology.

Where do I start when it comes to fertility treatment?

If you are a woman over 35 and have been trying to conceive unsuccessfully, for over 6months, or if you are a woman under 35 and have been trying to conceive unsuccessfully for over a year, it is advisable to go to your GP with your concerns about your fertility. They will begin by asking questions about your general health, your fertility history and that of your family.

If you have a partner, going together to this appointment will help your GP to build up a clearer picture.

They will be able to give you advice on your own medical situation and may be able to refer you for fertility tests or to see a consultant.

If you live in the UK, you may be eligible for NHS funded fertility treatment, which can take a lot of the pressure off, not just in terms of finances, but in terms of advice and choices too.

What is involved with fertility testing?

A fertility specialist will carry out a variety of tests on you and your partner, if you have one. These may include blood tests, an ultrasound to assess your ovaries and a semen analysis. They will also ask questions about your family history and any known fertility issues or genetic problems.

Following those tests, they may, or may not, be able to diagnose a specific barrier to conception. Depending on the cause of infertility, or if ‘unexplained infertility’ is diagnosed, then drugs, surgery or Assisted ReproductiveTechniques may be suggested, to try to help you to conceive.


When might drugs be prescribed for infertility?

Some people with conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome, or problems caused by hormone imbalances, might be able to avoid the need for more invasive treatment by taking fertility drugs.

Fertility drugs may also be prescribed during IUI, IVF and ICSI treatment, in order to fulfil a purpose like stimulating the ovaries to release more eggs.

How could surgery help with my infertility?

Surgery may be able to help some people with regard to increasing their fertility. If you are a woman with blocked fallopian tubes or endometriosis or you are a man who has had a vasectomy and would like it reversed, then surgery could potentially help.


What are the 3 main types of Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART)?

IUI (intrauterine insemination) is a fertility treatment where sperm is inserted directly into a woman’s womb, via a thin tube. The sperm can come from the woman’s own male partner, or from donor sperm. IUI can be done as a stimulated cycle (using fertility drugs) or an unstimulated cycle (without the use of fertility drugs). IUI is a relatively low-risk procedure and takes about 10 minutes.

IVF (in vitro fertilisation) is a longer and more invasive procedure than IUI. Many people opt for it if IUI has been unsuccessful for them, although people do also go straight to IVF without trying IUI first.

The process usually begins with fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries. Scans and possibly blood tests are used to detect how the follicles are responding and to pinpoint the best time to harvest the eggs. The eggs are removed under sedation and the sperm is added in a special dish in the lab. If viable embryos are produced, then one or two embryos will be transferred, via a catheter, into the woman’s uterus.


ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) is a commonly successful treatment used when male infertility is an issue. It involves the same process as IVF, but with ICSI, an individual sperm is injected directly into each egg.

Here at The IVF Network, we understand how challenging it can be for individuals and couples going through infertility. That’s why we provide information via our dedicated channel of experts, our website and our blog posts, to help you to make informed choices on your personal journey.