Fertility treatments

We offer a range of fertility treatments that will suit different people depending on your circumstances.

Our most common treatments

Genetic services

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is a method by which inheritance of serious, debilitating genetic problems can be avoided.

Embryos are brought about using IVF with ICSI and tested to check whether they carry the genetic problem. Only those that are clear of the problem are transferred. Depending on the circumstances of individual patients, funding may be available for this procedure.

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)

IVF treatment is complex, but our expert team are here to guide you through every step of the way. The technology behind IVF is constantly and rapidly advancing, and our Fertility Centre is at the forefront of many of the pioneering advancements, allowing us to bring the best available care to our patients.

Who needs IVF?

IVF is suitable for any situation where there is a problem bringing eggs and sperm together, for example:

  • Women with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
  • Some couples with unexplained infertility
  • Some forms of male infertility

What is IVF?

IVF literally means fertilisation ‘in glass’ hence the familiar name of ‘test tube baby’. Eggs are removed from the ovaries through a minor operation, and fertilised by sperm in the laboratory, resulting in the development of embryos. The embryos are cared for inside a carefully controlled incubator, and when they are ready, they are placed into the woman’s womb.

What does it involve?

For her – IVF involves taking fertility drugs which are tailored to your individual needs. Your own hormone production is temporarily switched off and your ovaries are stimulated to produce more eggs than usual. The development of the eggs is monitored by regular ultrasound scans. When the eggs are ready to be released, you will have a minor operation to collect them (egg collection).
For him – You will be asked to produce a sperm sample at the clinic on the day of the egg collection which are washed and prepared for mixing with the eggs.

What happens next?

The eggs are mixed with sperm and left to fertilise. After two or more days, one or two embryos are placed in your womb. Any other good quality embryos may be frozen and stored for your future use.

Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

ICSI is a technique that has been developed to assist fertilisation where there are very few normal sperm, or there are other problems with sperm being able to penetrate eggs.

Who needs ICSI?

  • Couples where the male partner has a low number of normal, motile sperm
  • Couples who have previously experienced failure of fertilisation with IVF
  • Couples where the male partner has previously stored sperm and the quality/numbers are not suitable for IVF
  • Women whose eggs have previously been frozen
  • Couples who are undergoing pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.

What does it involve?

ICSI follows the same pathway as IVF. The only difference is in the insemination procedure. A single sperm is injected into each egg as opposed to adding prepared sperm to the eggs as in IVF.

Compensated egg-sharing

If you are not eligible for NHS funding, one way of helping to pay for IVF/ICSI treatment is through egg sharing. Egg sharing means you would get your treatment at a heavily subsidised price. In return, you agree to share your eggs with an anonymous recipient.

To be an egg sharer you must be generally fit and healthy, aged 18 to 35 years, non-smoker, free of any serious medical problem, disability, congenital or hereditary disease and not severely overweight for your height.

Treatment using donated eggs

The fertility tests that we do include tests to check on the ovarian egg store. You will be offered a follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) test, which measures the amount of FSH in a blood sample and in addition, you may be offered an anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) test to check on your store of eggs. If the egg store is low, then donor egg treatment may be an option for you. We have a specialist team to remove the complexities of donor egg treatment and guide you through a step-by-step and effective treatment pathway.

Egg donation may be suitable for women who:

  • Have had an early menopause
  • Have no ovaries or had them removed
  • Have had cancer treatment which has damaged the ovaries
  • Are producing few or low quality eggs
  • Have a high risk of passing on an inherited disorder

What does this treatment mean?

Eggs from a donor are fertilised with your partner’s or donor sperm and transferred to your womb.

Where do donors come from?

We recruit egg donors, but there is high demand, and you may need to wait up 18 months for a suitable donor who matches your characteristics. This may be longer depending on your specific requirements.

Alternatively, you may ask a friend or relative to donate their eggs, either directly to you or anonymously to someone else on the waiting list. You will then automatically go to the top of the waiting list for the next suitable anonymous donor.

Treatment using donor sperm

Donor sperm is needed for a variety of reasons:

  • Where a couple’s cause of infertility is due to a lack of sperm, or a very low sperm count, not suitable for ICSI
  • Where the male partner has a heritable disease and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis is not suitable
  • For single women and same sex couples.

Sperm donors are recruited from a wide range of backgrounds. They are required to be fit and healthy, with no family history of hereditary disease. Donors are screened for a variety of infectious conditions, including HIV and hepatitis, and for some genetic conditions, according to national guidelines.

As far as possible we try to match donor characteristics to the patient’s requirements - ethnicity, skin, hair/eye colour, height etc.

Donor sperm can be used in conjunction with artificial insemination, IVF or ICSI.

Single women and same sex couples

Sperm donors are recruited from a wide range of backgrounds. They are required to be fit and healthy, with no family history of hereditary disease. Donors are screened for a variety of infectious conditions, including HIV and hepatitis, and for some genetic conditions, according to national guidelines.

As far as possible we try to match donor characteristics to the patient’s requirements - ethnicity, skin, hair/eye colour, height etc.

Donor sperm can be used in conjunction with artificial insemination, IVF or ICSI.

Surrogacy

Surrogacy involves the transfer of embryos created using the eggs and sperm of a couple undergoing treatment (the commissioning couple), into the womb of another woman, the 'surrogate' and is carried out when for some reason a woman cannot carry a child herself.

The centre will consider surrogacy on a case-by-case basis. You would need to find your own surrogate as we cannot do this for you. Further information is available on application.

Less common treatments

Ovulation induction

Ovulation induction is a treatment for women who, for some reason, do not ovulate (release an egg) every month. By stimulating the ovaries with mild type fertility drugs and monitoring the effects with ultrasound scans, ovulation can be induced. The couple are then advised to have sexual intercourse over the next three days.

Artificial insemination with partner’s sperm

This is a technique that is occasionally recommended used for couples with ‘unexplained’ infertility. The procedure ensures that sperm are present at the time of ovulation, with the added advantage that the sperm are prepared and selected.

This procedure is carefully co-ordinated with the woman’s cycle. The husband/partner is asked to produce a semen sample on the day of treatment, which is prepared and used to inseminate the female partner. Depending on the female partner, some mild ovarian stimulation may be used.

Surgical sperm retrieval

When there are no sperm in the ejaculate, sperm can sometimes still be recovered from the testicles by an operation. There are a variety of techniques.

  • Percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA) – A fine needle is inserted into the epididymis (the sperm reservoir) at the upper area of the testicle and any sperm will be drawn through the needle into a syringe
  • Testicular sperm aspiration (TESA) – A fine needle is inserted into the testicles and any sperm are drawn through the needle into a syringe
  • Testicular sperm extraction (TESE) – If few or no sperm are obtained from the above procedures a biopsy (tissue sample) is taken from the testicles through a small incision

These procedures are carried out either under local or general anaesthetic. The sperm can be used either for diagnosis, immediate treatment or frozen for use in future treatments.