Choosing your IVF clinic can be a confusing, overwhelming and emotional experience. There’s a lot to consider and you may feel in a rush to make a decision and get your treatment started.
When you first start the fertility clinic search, you just want concrete facts to help you make your decision. Because of this, many people turn to IVF success rates. Unfortunately, the definition of “success” can vary from one clinic to the next, making it difficult to compare clinics like for like.
Talking to Gaia Members and the wider IVF community over the last two years, I’ve learned that choosing your IVF clinic is truly personal – and there’s much more to it than just stats and data.
To help you make this tough decision, here are some questions you can ask so you can make the most informed choice possible.
11 questions to ask when choosing your IVF clinic
Does the location work for me?
Once you’ve started treatment you’re going to be making many trips to your clinic, so it’s a good idea to take its location into consideration. You may want your clinic to be close to home or work, so you can get there and back quickly and easily.
But if other factors are more important to you, that's fine, too! Just be prepared to have to go in for appointments throughout your treatment.
Does the clinic come recommended?
First-hand accounts are a great way to get an impression of a clinic. You may have a friend or family member who has already gone through IVF treatment and can tell you about their personal experience.
Otherwise, joining online support groups and reading patient reviews can be a great way to gain some insight into what your own experience with a clinic might be like.
What are the facilities like?
Many clinics run open evenings so you can take a look around and get a feel for what it might be like to have treatment there. Before you go for a wander around, think about the things that might be important to you.
Is the clinic clean? Do the treatment rooms feel light and spacious or dark and cramped?
What are the staff like?
It’s very normal to feel anxious and emotional when you’re going through treatment. Something as small as knowing you’ll be greeted by a warm and smiley receptionist when you arrive at your clinic can make all the difference. Paying a visit to different clinics while making your decision can help you get a good feel for what the staff are like.
Is the clinic easy to contact?
You’re bound to have lots of questions throughout your treatment. When choosing a clinic you should feel that your needs and concerns are being heard – and responded to in good time. When researching different clinics it can be helpful to give them a call or send an email. Ask a few questions so you can see how helpful they are and how quickly they respond.
Will I need to wait for treatment?
When researching clinics, you may find that some are more popular than others. This means you may have to join a waiting list for treatment. Although a clinic with a waiting list may be your first choice, it’s important to take into consideration how soon you’d like to start your treatment – in some cases, the sooner you start treatment, the better your chance of success.
What’s the waiting time for treatment using donor eggs?
You should bear in mind that the waiting time for donor eggs, sperm or embryos varies from clinic to clinic. It’s a good idea to check donor supply and availability with each of the clinics you’re considering as this could affect when you’re able to have treatment.
Will I be treated as an individual?
It can be frustrating to have to tell your story over and over again each time you go for treatment. It can be reassuring to find out if your treatment will be managed and carried out by one specialist who knows your name, and your story and can be a friend to you.
What support is provided?
Going through fertility treatment is incredibly difficult. Finding out how you can get support might be a priority for you. Every licensed IVF clinic in the UK is required to offer counselling to its patients, but how it’s accessed can vary. Talk to each clinic to find out how their counselling service works. Ask whether it’s included in your treatment package or comes at an extra cost.
What are the eligibility policies?
Clinics are free to set their own policies on who they will and will not treat. For example, most clinics will have an age limit for treatment. They will also take into account your health and any potential risks that mean you should not have IVF treatment.
How much will my treatment cost?
We've saved (one) of the most important questions until last.
The price of treatment can vary widely from clinic to clinic, and the full cost of IVF can be hard to pin down. If you’re financing IVF treatment yourself, it’s important to talk with different clinic providers about exactly what’s included in their packages, so you’re not caught out by unexpected add-ons.
To help you avoid financial uncertainty, we created the world's first IVF insurance. A Gaia Plan helps you pay for and protect your IVF journey, making IVF more accessible for more people.
If nothing else, listen to your gut
Over the years, countless couples and individuals have told me that, although they didn’t expect it, their gut feeling about a clinic played a large role in how they made their final decision. Many have even gone to the clinics they thought they should be going to, only to later change their mind and go with the clinic they initially felt was the right one for them.
So, once you’ve done your research and asked your questions, take a moment to really consider how you feel. Which clinic does your gut tell you to go with? More often than not, this will be the right choice for you.