September 14, 2018

SIMPLY’S SEVEN STEPS TO CHOOSING A FERTILITY CLINIC

With over 90 fertility clinics in the UK, it can be overwhelming to know where to start and what to look for when choosing the right one for you. To help answer your questions, we have written this guide to help you start your journey.

1. Location
Find out about all the clinics that are nearest to you, that what Google’s for! Bear in mind that treatment can be time consuming and you’ll need to be available for appointments, possibly at short notice, so a convenient clinic can make a big difference. Consider also how you will get there. Is it easy and affordable to park, does a familiar bus route pass by the clinic? You may choose one near to your place of work or closer to home, depending on your personal circumstances. Look out for clinics that are particularly flexible with their appointments outside the 9-5pm, these can really help maintain a sense of normality or enable you to keep your treatment discreet from work.

2. The Team (from consultants to nurses, receptionists to embryologists, they all matter)
If you ask people who have undergone fertility treatment what was most important to them, and certainly from our own surveys, we’ve found that the relationship with the whole team is really, really important. Take note of every member of staff you encounter and how the clinic environment makes you feel. Treatment will be much more successful when you are relaxed, calm and confident about the team that will hold your hand throughout your unique journey. Ask the clinic about the relationship between the team and the patient and the ways in which you can get support and your questions answered during treatment. Some clinics will provide mobile phone access to a fertility specialist 24/7 during treatment, which can be incredibly reassuring.

3. Expertise and Technology
Although success rates can vary, this may be more due to differences amongst patients (age, medical conditions etc) than the actual ability of each clinic. However, it is reassuring to look into the senior team (start with the consultants and embryologists) and ask about their level of experience, their length of time at the clinic, as well as the quality and age of laboratory equipment. For example, some clinics offer pioneering time lapse technology, which allow embryos to be viewed on a continuous cycle by photographing developing cells inside an incubator, without ever being disturbed.

4. Holistic Care
Fertility treatment can be a time of anxiety and uncertainty. For many, extra support in the form of holistic care options can make a real difference to both the experience and the outcome of your treatment. Find out what extra support is available at each clinic and whether there is a charge. For example, are there any complementary therapies like counselling or acupuncture available? Are patients encouraged to share and support each other? Can you receive lifestyle advice on topics such as nutrition and exercise?

5. Success Stories
It can be very heart breaking to see pregnant women and babies everywhere when it’s the one thing you want so much. However, hearing about a clinic’s success stories can really boost your morale and also allow you find out so much more about whether it’s the right clinic for you. Great clinics will have lots of very happy mums who would be delighted to share their experiences with you. The first place to look is on their website or on their Facebook pages, but it may also be possible to ask to speak to previous patients directly if you ask.

6. The Cost
Whilst it is not recommended that you choose a fertility clinic based on cost alone, for many, it is an extremely practical and important part of the decision making process. Do remember that many clinics manage the cost of fertility treatment differently so it is not always easy to make a direct comparison. Some may include all necessary drugs, or counselling for example, others may not. The right clinic should detail all the costs involved in your complete treatment from the outset. Do remember that many clinics are now able to offer some degree of certainty on the financial side, when clinical outcomes cannot be guaranteed (multicycle programmes – an agreed number of rounds of treatments for a fixed fee or a lump sum charge with full refund if treatment is unsuccessful).

7. The Initial Assessment
Once you have decided to start fertility treatment, the first step is to understand what your individual issues are and how treatment may be used to overcome them. There will be many variables within this, from the age of your eggs, the strength of a partner’s sperm to any pre-existing medical conditions. Remember egg and sperm donors are also available and becoming a donor yourself (by sharing eggs or donating sperm) may significantly reduce the cost of fertility treatment. Having a clear picture is the first step in a well-planned and informed journey. Most clinics now offer a full assessment, including a detailed consultation which will provide you with all the tests and the prognosis to enable all your questions and concerns to be answered, before making any big decisions. You should not feel pressured at any point and you should not need to pay more than £500 for this comprehensive information.

We hope our Simply Seven Steps will help you in some small way. If you have any questions, you are always very welcome to ask them of the team at Simply Fertility, just call us on 01245 201544, come along to one of our regular open evenings, book a free informal consultation or email enquiries@simply-fertility.com.

Sometimes when your questions are answered, the load can seem a little lighter.