An Introduction to IVF

Some people fall pregnant very easily, some struggle a little and others face a fierce battle to conceive.

When it comes to fertility unfortunately nothing is a given and many couples each year visit their GP for advice and support, further testing and a referral to a specialist.  While there are a great number of reasons why a couple may struggle to conceive on their own and different options to explore to increase the chances one of the more commonly heard of procedures is IVF.  This Introduction to IVF provides some basics to get you started.

What is IVF?

IVF or in vitro fertilisation is a procedure that helps begin the fertilisation of an egg outside of the body rather than in the womb. Some of the woman’s eggs are surgically extracted and fertilised using sperm (from the partner or a donor). The fertilised egg or embryo is then implanted into the woman’s womb.

The process may take anywhere from four to seven weeks typically. To read more on how the actual procedure and following process works visit this page on the NHS website.

Realistic Expectations

Current statistics show that in the UK 20-25% of IVF cycles go on to lead to a sound pregnancy and birth with this number decreasingly sharply in women over the age of 40. IVF isn’t a miracle cure for infertility and is something to be considered carefully.


While IVF does offer hope to many couples the disappointment that comes with failed attempts may be crushing and so before, during and prior to IVF there is a lot of support available to help couples through the process. Anxiety and depression is not uncommon and therefore your specialist should recommend you attend counselling prior to and after IVF.

Am I Entitled to IVF on the NHS?

The NHS has a list of criteria regarding who is eligible for IVF which may be found here. There are a number of other options available to treat infertility in addition to IVF however if you don’t fulfil the NHS’s requirements you may be suitable for private IVF treatment, although this is very expensive.

There is a waiting list for IVF on the NHS and this may result in a significant wait which is something you must prepare for.

Is IVF for Me?

It is important before making any decisions regarding IVF to discuss all of your options with your GP or specialist. IVF is a very involved process and not one to be undertaken lightly.

Other Options

Infertility is a broad diagnosis basic meaning a failure or inability to conceive. There are many reasons why this may happen and just because you don’t fall pregnant immediately does not necessarily mean that there is any problem. Some couples do find that conceiving may take some time, even if they have had other children and fell pregnant quickly with them.

Discuss your options with your GP and specialist team in order to decide on the best course of action available to you, specific to your individual needs.

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