IVF is a type of fertility treatment for couples or individuals who seek assistance to conceive a child. In IVF, eggs and sperm are fertilised outside of the womb before being implanted into the person carrying the pregnancy.
A fertility doctor prescribes fertility medication to grow and mature egg follicles over the course of about two weeks. Once the follicles are ready, a doctor retrieves the eggs under anaesthesia. In a lab, embryologists fertilise the mature eggs with sperm to create embryos. A healthy embryo can be transferred to a woman’s womb to carry the pregnancy.3
If you’re transferring an embryo right away, the whole process takes between 4-6 weeks.4
People going through treatment take hormonal medications, usually through injections they give themselves, over the course of a few weeks. The medications prescribed suspend a person’s normal menstrual cycle, help the ovaries produce more eggs than they normally do in a typical cycle, and finally, send a signal to the body to mature and release the eggs.
Patients give themselves hormonal injections at home to stimulate their ovaries, visit their clinic regularly for ultrasounds to ensure things are progressing as expected, and finally, go through a procedure called “egg collection” under anaesthesia to collect mature eggs.
On the same day as egg collection, the clinic will collect a semen sample, either from a partner or a donor, to fertilise the eggs.
In a lab, an embryologist will fertilise eggs with sperm and monitor those embryos for several days as they grow. Good quality, healthy embryos can be transferred to a woman’s womb, and any extras can be frozen and stored to use later.
After an embryo is transferred, patients wait a few weeks before taking a pregnancy test. If it’s positive, they can carry the pregnancy like any other. If it’s negative, they can transfer any remaining embryos, or start the process over again.5
IVF can be exciting, stressful, and emotionally exhausting. Many people have found counselling and support groups helpful in their journey to parenthood.
Doctors and scientists studying fertility learn more every year, and IVF success rates have improved over the past several decades.
Although pregnancy and birth rates have increased over the last 30 years for people of all ages, an egg’s age plays an important role in the success of IVF treatment.6
If you’re older than 42, the chances of success may be limited and IVF treatment with your own eggs should only be attempted after a detailed medical evaluation of your individual chances. The doctor might recommend using donor eggs.7
The average cost of one round of IVF, from egg collection through embryo transfer, in the UK is:
Base cost of IVF:
Total average cost:
If you’re going through private IVF treatment, the cost depends on your clinic and the medication your fertility doctor prescribes.
Your doctor will prescribe the protocol that they think will work best for you. If you decide to go through multiple rounds of IVF to increase your chances of pregnancy, your doctor will be able to better understand the medication protocols that work best for your body.
Depending on your situation, there may be multiple options, including “natural” cycles, which don’t use any medication and are less expensive, or “mild” ” IVF cycles, which use less medication and are slightly less expensive than “stimulated” IVF. Your doctor will be able to tell you which option(s) will be best for you.
Because everyone’s treatment is unique, everyone’s price is unique, too. Clinics often list “ballpark” pricing because patients might need different essential procedures and medications, like embryo freezing and storage for additional embryos created, sedation during egg collection and medication, which can be up to £3,000 on top of your treatment costs.