In vitro fertilisation (IVF)
Proud to be the world’s first IVF clinic, we provide a wide range of fertility treatments at our clinics in Cambridge, Norwich, Wickford and the East of England.
Our founders pioneered the IVF technique more than 45 years ago and won a Nobel Prize for their work. The world’s first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born in July 1978, followed by Alastair MacDonald in January 1979.
Today we continue that vision through outstanding success rates. 73% of our patients (under 35) have a baby within a year of treatment.
IVF, or In vitro fertilisation, brings eggs and sperm together in a carefully controlled environment to generate high-quality embryos.
In natural conception, sperm and eggs meet in the fallopian tube and begin the complex process of fertilisation, embryo formation and growth. Introducing the sperm to the eggs in the laboratory can overcome the physical, endocrine, and immune problems that may be preventing you from conceiving.
How does it work?
First, you need to make some eggs. To help, we use fertility drugs to stimulate your ovaries to produce a number of eggs. Then, we harvest them using a minor surgical procedure and place them in a culture dish.
Next, we take the semen – usually produced by masturbation – and, using a variety of techniques, wash it and select the best sperm. These are put in culture with the egg, and fertilisation occurs naturally over the next 18 hours or so.
After a period of growth has taken place, our skilled embryologists assess the delicate developing cell structure of each embryo under a microscope. One or two are then transferred into your uterus. If suitable, remaining embryos can be frozen for future use (see Frozen Embryo Transfer).
Is it right for me?
IVF may be appropriate in cases of male factor, or unexplained infertility, if you have blocked fallopian tubes, or have experienced a lack of success with other fertility treatments, such as Ovulation Induction (OI) or Intrauterine Insemination (IUI).
Sometimes conventional IVF – leaving the sperm and egg to do their thing in our laboratory – needs a helping hand. Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is a lab technique that may be appropriate for you if your sperm need a bit of extra help to achieve successful fertilisation.
If you are a woman aged up to 43, you can usually have treatment using your own eggs, depending on your individual circumstances. If you are aged 44 or more, we will advise you may need donated eggs or embryos. In every case, we will assess you and agree on a personalised and costed treatment plan.
Following an initial consultation with one of our fertility specialists, you’ll start your agreed treatment plan. This involves taking IVF drugs for several weeks to stimulate egg production and prepare your uterus to receive the embryos. Since your treatment plan is individual, the drug dosage and number of visits will depend on how your body responds.
You’ll need to visit one of our East of England clinics for scans and blood tests during this period – usually up to four times – and we’ll monitor you closely to assess your response to the medication, suggest any potential modifications to your treatment, and decide when to proceed to egg collection.
Egg collection is a minor ultrasound-guided vaginal surgical procedure and is carried out by one of our specialists. We immediately pass the collected eggs to our on-site embryology laboratories.
Following the fertilisation of your eggs with sperm, we transfer either one or two of the resulting embryos to your uterus using a narrow catheter passed through your cervix. Eighteen days after egg collection, you’ll be able to take a pregnancy test. If it is positive, you should attend the clinic about 20 days later for a pregnancy scan.
How much does IVF cost?
Each fertility journey is as individual as you are. Following your consultation, you will receive a detailed and costed treatment plan based on the options you discussed.
We have a range of packages and payment plans to help make your treatment affordable and achievable. You could be eligible for NHS funding or a reduced IVF cycle, if you are prepared to help others to start a family by sharing your eggs or sperm.
We also believe you should have every opportunity to optimise your health and lifestyle, to get the best out of your fertility treatment. We now include a free, comprehensive, one-hour consultation with our fertility nutritionist for all our self-funding patients undergoing IVF treatment. Our fertility experts will also be able to advise you if blastocyst culture is right for you, depending on your individual circumstances.