IVF treatment in the UK or In Vitro Fertilization is the procedure by which a woman’s ova or eggs are removed from her body and fertilized by the man’s sperm in a test tube and the resulting embryo is then transferred to the womb. The success rate for such a procedure is around 25% per treatment cycle, one of the highest success rates of any modern fertility treatment.
In vitro actually means in glass in the Latin language and in the early days of IVF treatment the offspring were referred to as test tube babies. Depending upon the amount and quality of the female eggs on offer, donor eggs can be also used in the fertilization process. IVF treatment is usually considered a last resort when it comes to attempting pregnancy and is only recommended when other attempts at conception have failed. The cost of IVF treatment will vary according to which centre is used for the procedure and what additional procedures and drugs required.
The cost of IVF treatment in the UK can range between £4000 and £8000 per IVF treatment cycle including consultations and prescription charges. The IVF treatment cost will also depend on whether such procedures as ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) are needed. ICSI is the process by which the sperm is injected into the egg and then left to develop in a special growth medium. Whether this procedure is necessary can be determined by an analysis known as sperm penetration assays where a test sample of sperm is analyzed to see if it can puncture a test egg.
In addition to the need for an ICSI to be performed, the overall cost IVF treatment in the UK will also be influenced by how many IVF treatment cycles a patient requires and also what types of drugs are administered throughout the process. There will also be the option for the couple to freeze their embryos for later use. Frozen embryos are stored in liquid nitrogen and this additional service for embryo freezing will be a option that clinics will charge up to £3000 for the extraction and initial freezing with an additional yearly charge of around £160 for storage.
IVF treatment as an infertility treatment was pioneered in the UK with the first procedure being in 1978. The United States fertility market followed shortly after with their first IVF procedure in 1981. Initially, there were objections to the extraction and external fertilization of eggs outside of the woman’s body on safety and moral grounds. However nowadays IVF treatment in the UK is now widely accepted as a valid option for families wishing to have a family but have failed to conceive naturally as well as same-sex couples looking to start a family.
The rate of success for IVF treatment can vary dramatically based on a number of factors including the reason behind the infertility and the age of the woman being treated. Younger women are more likely to have healthier eggs and subsequently have a better rate of success whilst undergoing treatment. According to a study conducted in 2008; the percentage of IVF treatments that resulted in a successful birth varied from:
For more information about IVF success rates and the possible risks associated with treatment then please consult the IVF section of the NHS choices website.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that couples should be entitled to at least 2-3 IVF treatment cycles on the NHS however the final decision on whether to fund treatments will fall to the local Primary Care Trust. Getting free IVF treatment through the NHS can be an long and arduous process with requirements varying from area to area. Even then the couple requesting IVF treatment will need to meet certain requirements before being considered for funding such as one of both persons being diagnosed with a fertility problem, being infertile for three years or more and the female being between the ages of 23 and 39.
Even if couples are considered suitable candidates for NHS funding for their IVF treatment then the waiting lists are notoriously lengthy with some couples having to wait years to receive treatment. It is recommended that any couples looking to undergo IVF fertility treatment consult their GP beforehand who is on hand to provide advice, information about the various options available and referrals to fertility specialists.
To find out more about the criteria required to qualify for fertility treatment from the NHS in your local area then you can get in contact with your local Primary Care Trust for more information and guidance.