Why Can’t I Get IVF For Free?

Although the NHS provides free fertility treatment, as has been much publicised recently, there are many different things that can affect eligibility, depending on where you live, your age and your health. Although NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) recommends three cycles for women under 40 who have been trying for two years, and one cycle for some women, aged 40-42 (who meet the criteria and have been trying for two years), many of the regional areas (the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG)) in the country will not fund these treatments. Only 18% of CCGs offer three cycles of IVF1.

Even if your CCG is one of the more consistent providers you will still need to meet certain criteria and possibly join the end of a long waiting list. Once treatment starts, unless you are exempt, you will be required to pay prescription costs for fertility drugs.

With one in seven couples experiencing fertility issues, many will need to turn to private clinics for their treatment.

How Much Does Private Fertility Treatment Cost?

It’s difficult to say how much a cycle of IVF will cost each individual couple because there are so many variables. The general consensus is that a cycle will cost around £5,000. However, private clinics set their own prices for different treatments, so it’s wise to look at a few options and do the figures.

Most private clinics are upfront with their fees, and an initial consultation will give you the best idea of what tests and treatment, if any, you need in addition to the basic package.

At The Fertility and Gynaecology Academy, for example, our one IVF cycle package costs £3,850. This includes: ultrasound and hormone blood test monitoring, sedation, egg collection, laboratory work, blastocyst culture, embryo transfer, pregnancy test, one counselling session and follow up appointment on the cycle being unsuccessful. However, it does not include: drugs, infection screening tests, any test prior to baseline scan or the HFEA fee. Extra costs apply for ICSI, embryo freezing and storage. We also have an all-inclusive package (subject to certain criteria being met) and a three-cycle package.

If you have been trying to get pregnant for some time, we can provide tests/treatments you might need in order to bring the most positive outcome for you. These tests and other treatments, such as immunology therapy, will also cost extra. A full rundown of our fees is on our website and can be accessed here.

Why Is IVF So Expensive?

Many patients ask why IVF is so expensive. IVF treatment is a highly skilled, time intensive treatment. There are many steps involved to ensure that you get the outcome you want. As mentioned above, you may need prior testing or treatment (both females and/or males) to ensure that the issues preventing you getting pregnant are identified and treated before the IVF programme can begin. Once it has been established that you are ready for fertility treatment, there is much work to be done:

  1. Medication to suppress your menstrual cycle.
  2. Ovarian stimulation (injecting drugs).
  3. Monitoring of the drug response (ultrasound examination and blood tests).
    The goal is to harvest a good number of eggs (8 – 15) to have one embryo replaced and, if possible, to freeze a couple of good quality embryos for future use.
  4. Egg maturation (a final hormone injection).
  5. Egg collection (small procedure with a light sedation).
    Under a light sedation, the eggs will be harvested. The same day, the eggs will be ‘mixed’ with fresh sperm.
  6. Sperm collection
  7. Embryo transfer (two-five days later, into the uterus).
    Some eggs will fertilise over the next day, some won’t. Once the eggs have been fertilised, the resulting embryos are checked constantly for growth. Your consultant will decide on the best embryo(s) to transfer back into the womb. This is normally carried out 3-5 days after egg collection.
  8. Embryo freezing (other embryos frozen for later use).
    Embryos that make the grade but are not used can be frozen for later use. Embryos may be stored for up to 10 years and that period can be extended pending further medical assessment.
  9. Pregnancy test (two weeks after egg collection to check if implantation has occurred).

How to fund your treatment is an issue every couple considering IVF face. With private fertility clinics asking for full payment up front, you will need to work out the best way for you, as a family, to fund your IVF. Alternatively you can seek a medical loan.

What About IVF Success Rates? How Likely Am I To Get Pregnant From IVF?

In 2015 the IVF success rates (cycles resulting in live births) across the UK were2:

  • 32% for women under 35
  • 26% for women aged 35 to 37
  • 20% for women aged 38 to 39
  • 14% for women aged 40 to 42
  • 11% for women aged 43 to 44

Each clinic will have different success rates. Our success rates can be found here. And whilst this is a factor for many couples when deciding where to go for treatment, it is not the only factor that should be taken into consideration.

How Do I Choose The Right Fertility Clinic?

As mentioned above, many couples get caught up trying to find the clinic with the best success rates, but this is not all you should look for. With such an emotional, financial and physical challenge ahead of you, you need to feel at home with the people in charge of your care. It might be important to you that you see a female practitioner, for example.

It’s always important that the clinic you choose has a seamless, organised and professional attitude. With so much to think about, choosing a clinic that you know will take care of your interests is of the utmost importance. Having a good rapport and being able to trust your doctor is imperative during this time. Feeling able to share your issues and knowing that your doctor has the experience and skill required to get the best result for you are important factors.

Take time to research your options. IVF treatment is expensive and can be life changing. Treat it as you would all the big decisions of your life. Make time to find out what you need to know to make a well thought out and balanced decision.

To find out more about The Fertility & Gynaecology Academy, you can visit our website or call our support team on 020 7224 1880 to discuss a clinic tour or to book an appointment.

You’re Invited To Our Next FREE Open Day

*LIMITED PLACES AVAILABLE – REGISTER NOW TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT*

Choosing your fertility clinic? Visit the next The Fertility & Gynaecology Academy IVF clinic open day, just off Harley Street, London.

  • Meet fertility consultant, Dr Amin Gorgy, and our friendly team of embryologists.
  • Tour the clinic and view our £1m+ recently refurbished laboratory.
  • Join a short presentation from Dr Gorgy.
  • Ask any questions you may have about our services.

FIND OUT MORE

References

 [1] https://www.nice.org.uk/news/article/nice-calls-for-an-end-to-postcode-lottery-of-ivf-treatment
 [2] https://www.hfea.gov.uk/about-us/new-statistics/