The treatment you are offered will depend on what is causing your fertility problems and what is available from yourlocalclinicalcommissioning group (CCG).
Fertility treatment funded by the NHS varies across the UK. In some areas, waiting lists for treatment can be very long.
The criteria that you must meet to be eligible for treatment can also vary. Your GP will be able to advise about your eligibility for treatment.
If your GP refers you to a specialist for further tests, the NHS will pay for this. All patients have the right to be referred to an NHS clinic for the initial investigation.
If you have an infertility problem, you may wish to consider private treatment. This can beexpensive and there is no guarantee of success.
It is important to choose a private clinic carefully.
You should find out:
Ask for a personalised, fully costed treatment plan that explains exactly what is included, such as fees, scans and any necessary medication.
If you decide to go private, you can ask your GP for advice, and make sure you choose a clinic licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) . The HFEA is a government organisation that regulates and inspects all UK clinics that provide fertility treatment, including the storage of eggs, sperm or embryos.
There are three main types of fertility treatment:
Medicinesoften used to assist fertility are listed below. These are usually prescribed for women, although in some cases they may also be prescribed for men.
However, medication that stimulates the ovaries should not be given to women with unexplained infertility, as it is not thought to be an effective treatment in these circumstances.
Surgical procedures that may be used to investigate fertility problems and assist with fertility are listed below.
If your fallopian tubes have become blocked or scarred, perhaps as a result of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) , you may needsurgery to repair the tubes. Surgery can be used to break up the scar tissue in your fallopian tubes, making it easier for eggs to pass along them.
The success of surgery will depend on how damaged your fallopian tubes are. One study found that 69% of women with the least damaged tubes had a live birth after surgery. Other estimates for live births in women following surgery are 2050%.
Possible complications from tubal surgery include an ectopic pregnancy (when the fertilised egg implants outside of your womb). Between 8% and 23% of women may experience an ectopic pregnancy after having surgery on their fallopian tubes.
Laparoscopic surgery is often used for women who have endometriosis (when parts of the womb lining start growing outside of the womb), to destroy or remove cysts (fluid-filled sacs). It may also be used to remove submucosal fibroids (small growths in the womb).
In women with PCOS, laparoscopic ovarian drilling can be used if ovulation medication has not worked. This involves using either heat or a laser to destroy part of the ovary.
Sometimes the epididymis becomes blocked, preventing sperm from being ejaculated normally. If this is causing infertility, surgery to correct the blockage can be performed.
Surgical extraction of sperm may be an option for men with:
Both procedures only take a few hours and are carried out as outpatient procedures under local anaesthetic. You will be advised on the same day about the quality of the material collected and if there are any sperm present.
Any material with sperm will be frozen and placed in storage for use at a later stage. If surgical retrieval of sperm is successful, enough sperm is usually obtained for several cycles of treatment (if required).
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) involves sperm being placed into the womb through a fine plastic tube. Sperm is collected and washed in a fluid. The best quality specimens (the fastest moving) are selected.
The sperm are passed through a tube that enters the cervix and extends into the womb. This procedure is performed to coincide with ovulation, to increase the chance of conception. The woman may also be given a low dose of ovary stimulating hormones to increase the likelihood of conception.
Some women may experience temporary cramps, similar to period cramps, after or during IUI, but other than that, the procedure should be painless.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that you should be offered up to six cycles of IUI if:
The availability of this fertility treatment on the NHS varies throughout the UK. In some areas, the waiting list for treatment can be very long. The criteria that must be met to be eligible for treatment can also vary.
Provided that the man's sperm and the woman's tubes are healthy, the success rate for IUI in women under 35 is around 15% for each cycle of treatment.
During in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) , the fertilisation of the egg occurs outside the body. The woman takes fertility medication to encourage her ovaries to produce more eggs than normal. Eggs are then removed from her ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory dish. A fertilised embryo is then put back inside the woman's body.
There are several different methods that can be used during IVF and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). You can read more about these and other fertility procedures on the HFEA website .
NICE recommends that IVF should be offered to women up to 42 years of age, depending on their circumstances. Priority is often given to couples who do not already have a child living with them.
The success rate for a cycle of IVF is about 32% for women under 35 years of age. The success rate decreases as the womans age increases.
If you or your partner has an infertility problem, you may be able to receive eggs or sperm from a donor to help you conceive. Treatment with donor eggs is usually carried out using IVF.
Anyone who registered to donate either eggs or sperm after 1 April 2005 can no longer remain anonymous, and has to provide information about their identity. This is because a child born as a result of donated eggs or sperm is legally entitled to find out the identity of the donor upon reaching the age of 18.
Infertility is when a couple cannot conceive (get pregnant) despite having regular unprotected sex.
Infertility can be caused by many different things. For 25% of couples, a cause cannot be identified.
Around 84% of couples conceive naturally within one year of having regular (every two to three days) unprotected sexual intercourse. You should visit your GP if you have not conceived after one year of trying.
The treatment you are offered will depend on what is causing your fertility problems and what is available from your local clinical commissioning group (CCG).
Some infertility treatments can cause complications including side effects of medication, multiple pregnancy and stress.
For some, adopting a healthier lifestyle through simple lifestyle changes or staying up to date with regular health checks and tests, may help to prevent infertility.