Private Maternity Care

Author: Dr Koon Loong Chan, Consultant Obstetrician and Subspecialist in Fetal and Maternal Medicine

Being pregnant is an exciting time but can also be daunting for mums-to-be, especially if this is your first baby and don’t know what to expect. Antenatal care is dedicated to giving you the support and healthcare you and your baby need while you are pregnant to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy and baby. It will also give you an opportunity to plan your birth and to get any concerns you may have answered by the midwife or obstetrician (doctor specialising in pregnancy care).

Differences between NHS and Private Care

The majority of pregnant women have pregnancy care provided by the NHS and deliver in a NHS hospital. This is perfectly adequate for these women. However, some women chose to have private pregnancy care. This may be a package of pregnancy care catering for the pregnancy, delivery and after delivery or a package of pregnancy care catering for the pregnancy and after delivery but not the delivery itself – this is provided by the NHS hospital you chose to book and deliver at.

There will be women who would be adequately looked after in the NHS but prefer to have private pregnancy care so they have more choice over who takes care of them and prefer the one-to-one care that private pregnancy care offers. Women who are relatively high risk may still chose to have private pregnancy care as this may give them more reassurance to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable pregnancy.

Our Private Maternity Packages

At Reproductive Health Group, we have private obstetricians who are Consultants in Obstetrics and Specialists in Maternal and Fetal Medicine at St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester who offer care for the pregnancy and after delivery but, at present, not delivery. The Consultant package will provide a high level of specialised care which will help you feel reassured throughout your pregnancy. We also offer a Midwifery package for those women that are low risk. Whichever package you chose you will regularly see the same team of specialists for consultations, scans and blood tests. We also offer individual tailored care so that you can chose what tests and scans you prefer during your pregnancy. This tailored care can be discussed at your first visit with the Consultant or the Midwife. We offer a relaxed environment giving time for consultations and visits that are convenient.

Benefits of Private Care

  • Consultant led care
  • Appointments usually seen with a private midwife
  • No waiting lists – you will be seen promptly
  • Relaxed and calm environment
  • More time dedicated to you and your baby
  • Clean and safe private hospital
  • Free parking and refreshments
  • Professional, caring and friendly staff

If you would like to talk to us about our maternity care packages, please call us on 01925 202180 or contact us via our website here.

Egg Freezing Cycle Offer

We are delighted to announce that you can save 10% on all Egg Freezing cycles completed before the 31st December 2018. For more details about this limited time offer, please call us on 01925 202180, email us at info@reproductivehealthgroup.co.uk or contact us here.

Common Questions about Sperm Freezing

What is the sperm freezing process?

The sperm freezing process is a much simpler procedure than freezing a woman’s eggs.

Firstly, the man is screened for serious infectious diseases such as HIV, HTLV and Hepatitis B/C. Afterwards he will need to provide written and informed permission for his semen to be stored by the fertility clinic, and specify for how long.

At the clinic, he’ll be asked to produce a fresh sample of semen which is then frozen with a cryoprotectant such as glycerol to protect it from damage during freezing, in a process called semen cryopreservation. The sample is then cooled, frozen and stored in liquid nitrogen.

There is no limit to how long sperm can be stored for and the longest recording of cryopreserved semen is 24 years.

Why would I consider freezing my sperm?

There are a few reasons a man may want to freeze his sperm.

Medical treatments such as chemotherapy can affect the quality of a man’s sperm and cause infertility. Men who are aware of future treatments or procedures such as chemotherapy or a vasectomy may want to preserve their fertility by freezing their sperm.

Men who know they have a low sperm count or sperm that is deteriorating in quality can freeze their sperm before the quality deteriorates further.

Men who are transitioning from one gender to another, may also want to freeze their sperm for possible future use.

What causes male infertility or a low deteriorating sperm count in men?

Low sperm count, or oligozoospermia, is where a man produces less than 25 million sperm per millilitre of semen. It is relatively common. Low sperm count can make conceiving more difficult and is thought to be a factor in 1 in every 3 couples who are struggling to conceive.

Less common is the more serious azoospermia, which means there is no sperm in the semen and is normally caused by genetic issues, infections, or trauma.

Environmental Causes

Prolonged exposure to industrial chemicals such as benzenes, herbicides, paint materials and lead may contribute to a deteriorating sperm count. This is also the case with exposure to heavy metals.

High levels of radiation or X-rays can cause permanent damage to male fertility, as can overheating the testicles. Overheating can be caused by lots of seemingly innocuous activities, like wearing overly tight clothing, working in front of hot cookers, or working in the same position for prolonged periods of time.

Lifestyle Causes

Emotional stress or severe depression may stint the production of hormones that produce sperm. Alcohol, drugs such as steroids and cocaine, tobacco smoking, excessive weight, and occupation may also affect the health and wellbeing of a man, and in turn hinder his body’s ability to produce sperm.

Other risk factors may include medications, previous trauma to the testicles, cancer medications, celiac disease, chromosome defects, undescended testicles, hormone imbalances and infections.

A low sperm count can be caused by several factors, and while there’s many listed above, it is by no means an exhaustive list, which is why speaking to a medical professional is crucial for information specific to your situation.

If you are considering sperm freezing, please speak to one of our team for information about sperm freezing costs and further information about the process.

What To Expect From The Egg Freezing Process

What is Egg Freezing?

Freezing eggs is a fertility preservation technique offered by fertility clinics, where a woman’s eggs are harvested, frozen unfertilised and stored for later use. A frozen egg can then be thawed, fertilised with sperm in a laboratory and implanted back into the uterus (in vitro fertilization or IVF).

Why would I consider freezing my eggs?

For many women, having a child is not an option until their mid to late thirties or early forties.

But because our bodies change with age, with a decrease in our bodies’ ability to produce and maintain healthy cells, the option to remove and preserve eggs and sperm can be key. The ability to preserve eggs and sperm while they are healthy is often a highly important step for women who want to have children later in life.

Egg freezing may also be necessary if there’s a problem obtaining a sperm sample during IVF treatment. If there’s a problem obtaining a sperm sample, egg freezing is a procedure which ensures the eggs can still be used when the sperm is available.

Additionally, some medical treatments such as chemotherapy may severely affect fertility by damaging a woman’s eggs, making egg freezing a way of insuring fertility in worst case scenarios.

What to expect during the egg freezing process?

The first phase of the process is very similar to the standard IVF cycle. Ovaries are stimulated using fertility drugs, so they produce more eggs than usual. They are then monitored and collected when they’re mature.

A single cycle involves: 8-11 days of hormone injections which stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs, instead of just the one. During this time, ultrasound monitoring is used to keep track of how many follicles are developing. Blood tests may also be taken to check hormone levels.

How are eggs collected?

When three or more follicles measuring more than 17mm in diameter have been produced, a hormone trigger injection which will ripen and mature the eggs is given.

36 hrs after this, the patient is admitted to the clinic for egg collection to take place. This takes around 20 minutes.

How are frozen eggs stored?

Eggs are frozen using a technique called vitrification and stored in liquid nitrogen until the patient is ready to undergo treatment using the eggs. Eggs can currently be stored like this for up to ten years.

Using Your Frozen Eggs

When the patient is ready, eggs are thawed, analysed, and fertilised using Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). The highest quality sperm is injected into the egg and the best quality embryos will be selected for transfer.

If you have any further questions about the egg freezing process, success rates, or cost, please feel free to contact us and book a consultation with one of our fertility experts.

Differences Between Egg Freezing And Sperm Freezing

Fertility preservation techniques are a way of decreasing the chances of infertility affecting your chance to build a family. Not everyone wants to have a child right away, but when there’s an upcoming change in circumstances or medical treatment that can have a possibility of affecting your fertility, many people want to have the security of knowing starting a family won’t be impossible in the future.

Two of the main types of fertility preservation techniques are egg freezing and sperm freezing. Both have their distinct uses and pros and cons. Find out what the main differences between the two are here.

Egg Freezing

Egg freezing is a way of preserving eggs at the peak of a woman’s fertility, reducing the pressure to have a child before this peak is over. It’s one of the most popular fertility preservation techniques and is used in conjunction with IVF as a method of conception.

How does it work?

The egg freezing process involves screening to check for risk of contamination, the use of medication to boost egg production, and then egg collection which is carried out under sedation.

Once collected, the eggs are frozen by being cooled to a suitable temperature and stored in tanks of liquid nitrogen. A significant number of eggs are normally collected to ensure that individuals have the maximum chance of fertility in the future.

How safe is it?

Freezing eggs is very safe. The only real risks are the impact of side effects from the egg production boosting medication, and the chance of miscarriage. However, the chance of either situation occurring is quite low.

How effective is it?

The number of people opting for egg freezing as a method of fertility preservation is relatively small. Between 2010 and 2016 roughly 500 babies were born from frozen eggs. Recent research has shown that ‘fast-frozen’ eggs can have an average thawing survival rate of 90%-95%.

Generally, the figures that are given for success rates vary depending on age. They are currently quoted as being approximately:

80% chance of one live birth if 15 frozen eggs beneath the age of 35
80% chance of one live birth if 20 frozen eggs between the ages of 35-37
75% chance of one live birth if 30 frozen eggs between the ages of 38-40
50% chance of one live birth if 30 frozen eggs between the ages of 40-42

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
It’s a safe procedure Pregnancy isn’t guaranteed
No worries about diminishing egg quality It can be costly financially
Success rates are quite high

Sperm Freezing

An alternative method of fertility preservation is sperm freezing. This is a similar concept to egg freezing but involves freezing a certain amount of semen containing sperm instead. Frozen sperm is often used in fertility preservation between couples, and it’s the method of storage for the sperm of sperm donors in IVF treatments.

How does it work?

Like egg freezing, sperm freezing patients will first have screening tests and then sign a consent form detailing how long the sperm can be kept for.

They’ll then be asked to produce a sample of sperm which will be frozen and mixed with a cryoprotectant to prevent any damage being done during the frozen period. The sample is then submerged in liquid nitrogen until it’s needed.

The sperm is held in different containers (called straws) so that not all of it needs to be thawed at once.

How safe is it?

As far as anyone can tell, there are literally no risks involved with sperm freezing. However, not all sperm will survive the process.

How effective is it?

IVF using frozen sperm is just as effective as with fresh sperm. The current figures for IVF live birth success rates depend on age, but they’re generally quoted as:

40-43% for a woman under 35 years old
33-36% for a woman between the ages of 35-37
13-18% for a woman between the ages of 40-44

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
There are no health risks involved at all It can be costly to store sperm for a long time
It’s just as effective as fresh sperm during IVF Not all sperm survive the thawing process
Frozen sperm can be stored for up to 10 years You have to be able to produce the sperm on the day of freezing

If you’re interested in egg or sperm freezing as a method of preserving your fertility, get in touch with us today or read more about our sperm and egg freezing success rates, processes, or prices.

What’s the Right IVF Protocol for Me?

We understand that it can be daunting when you’re first starting out on your fertility journey, especially when so many complicated medical terms are used.

If you’re considering the IVF process, one of the medical terms that may have caused confusion is ‘protocol,’ which is more than likely used by your fertility consultant.

Maybe they’ve mentioned short protocol, or long protocol IVF, either way, if you’re not sure what these terms mean it can be quite confusing.

In this post we cover what these terms mean, how they differ from each other, and how you can decide which would be best suited to you. So, if you are looking for some answers then continue reading this post.

What does the term IVF protocol mean?

The easiest way to come to terms with the word ‘protocol’ is to think of it as a fancy word for regime.

Protocol refers to the specific stimulation treatment plan that you will undertake as part of the IVF process.

Whether you have chosen to undertake a long or a short protocol IVF treatment, it refers to your personal schedule for how your treatment will be carried out, when procedures will be undertaken, and which drugs will be administered.

What is the difference between long and short protocol IVF?

The long protocol IVF refers to the standard IVF process. This usually involves procedures such as hormone injections that will start at around day 21 of your menstrual cycle, blood tests, and ultrasound scans alongside the egg retrieval and fertilisation.

Beginning early in your menstrual cycle, short protocol IVF on the other hand, starts with low daily doses of hormone injections. The aim of these injections is to completely shut down your ovarian hormones. This protocol is used in several different situations, such as when a woman has not produced the desired amount of eggs under the long protocol.

As the name suggests, short protocol IVF is a quicker process and is sometimes used when a woman has not produced that many eggs under the long protocol process.

In both variants of the IVF process, you will be carefully monitored to ensure that the treatment is going to plan and is on schedule. It is essential to confirm that your follicles are at the right size and stage of development for aspiration.

What determines which IVF protocol I am treated with?

The decision on which route you will take with the IVF procedure will ultimately lie with your fertility expert. Therefore, it is incredibly important that your fertility expert has all the information needed to weigh up both options.

At Reproductive Health Group, our experts would certainly take your thoughts and concerns into consideration when deciding which protocol would be best for you. So, if you have any questions, concerns, or doubts during the initial stages it is worth mentioning them. This will allow us to resolve any potential issues and provide extensive support.

Factors such as age, the primary cause of the infertility, and how your body has previously responded to fertility treatments would also be considered when deciding whether short or long protocol IVF would be best for you.

So, there you have it, a significant part of the IVF process broken down and explained. If you do have any further questions, please feel free to contact us and book a consultation with one of our fertility experts.

What Is the Sperm Donor Process?

Unfortunately for some time now, the UK has faced a sperm donor shortage, with large organisations dedicated to sperm donation shutting down.

On the other hand, the number of women searching for donor sperm to help them conceive is rising. More and more single women, lesbian couples and heterosexual couples with fertility issues are seeking assistance from this route.

In some clinics, sperm has needed to be shipped in from countries such as Denmark and the USA, just to meet demand.

Deciding to go through with the donor process is a big decision, and one which shouldn’t be taken lightly. Here is some information on how to become a sperm donor, and what the procedure involves.

What is involved in the donation process?

The process itself is very simple. You will be asked to carry out an initial sperm test analysis, alongside some blood tests. This is simply to ensure that you’re free from any infections, and that your sperm is suitable for freezing.

Once that’s complete, you’ll be invited to a fertility clinic to provide your donation, which will then be frozen. If your sample meets the eligibility criteria, you’ll be selected as a donor and your sample will be used as part of an IVF, ICSI or IUI treatment.

You will have to attend more than one donation session, meaning that the entire process can take around six months to complete.

Sperm Test Analysis

Is there payment for a sperm donation?

Legally, a sperm donor can receive up to £35 per clinic visit, which covers expenses for things like travel and accommodation. It’s illegal to pay sperm donors more than enough to cover reasonable expenses.

Can I be an anonymous sperm donor?

Due to a change in the law in 2005, anyone conceived with the help of a donor can, when they turn 18, request information about the donor including their name, date of birth and last known address.

How to become a sperm donor

This doesn’t mean necessarily mean you will be contacted. Alongside this, if you’ve donated through a licensed UK fertility clinic, like us, you will have no legal responsibilities or rights to any children conceived through your donation.

You are able to access information as to how many children have been conceived from your donations, should you choose to.

Having this choice will mean that whether you decide to find this information or not, the option is there if your mind changes.

Hopefully, this article has opened your eyes to how secure and relatively simple the donation process is, and how much of a positive impact it can have on individual lives.

If you wish to discuss the process in more detail or have questions about the other fertility treatments we provide, feel free to get in touch with us today. We are always more than happy to help you to take the next step on your fertility journey.

What are the costs associated with IUI?

Intrauterine Insemination, or IUI, is often the first treatment used when couples have been trying to achieve a pregnancy for up to two years.

As it’s a relatively simple treatment, it’s suitable for almost anyone facing fertility problems and requires very little preparation.

But what does the IUI procedure involve, and what are the costs associated with it? In this blog post, we explain how the process  works, what fertility problems it can address, and what you can expect for your fee:

What is involved in the IUI procedure?

At the beginning of the IUI procedure, diagnostic tests will be required. Women must undergo a HyCoSy test, a HSG test or a laparoscopy, which look for things such as clear fallopian tubes. For men, a semen analysis is undertaken, to determine the quality of sperm.

Once these tests are complete, the procedure, which removes the need for sperm to make its way through to the cervix, can begin. Prepared sperm is inserted into the uterus via a catheter. This is done around the time of ovulation.

What is involved in the IUI procedure?

Your doctor will decide when the time is right to begin the IUI procedure. In some cases, a low dose of fertility drugs should be taken, in order to ensure at least three mature follicles (immature eggs) are available. The growth of these follicles are tracked by ultrasound.

Once the follicles have grown to the correct size, the woman can be injected with a trigger drug to ripen and release the egg. The sperm, taken from your partner, or is donor sperm, needs to be prepared two hours before the insemination takes place.

What is included in the IUI cost?

No person is the same, and so we believe their fertility problems won’t be either. That’s why every procedure we offer is completely bespoke.

In terms of the IUI cost, the basic procedure includes the following:

  • HEFA fee (when using donor sperm)
  • Monitoring scans
  • Sperm preparation
  • Insemination

There may be extra costs which include pre-treatment consultation, scans, screening bloods, purchase of sperm and medication.

What is included in the IUI cost?

You may also wish to consider sedation for insemination and freezing and storing sperm samples, as additional costs.

If you would like some further information on the IUI procedure, or you’d like support with other fertility problems, please contact a member of our team for help.

What does the cost of IVF include?

In Vitro Fertilisation, or IVF, is a fertility procedure which has become increasingly popular over recent years. As an infertility treatment, IVF is a great option for couples who have been trying to conceive for two years or more without success, or same-sex couples looking to start or extend their family.

However, with all the private IVF options available, it can be difficult to know exactly what’s included in a package, and what process you’re going to be facing. In this blog post, we explain what is usually included and what treatment is included in the cost.

What happens during the IVF procedure?

Taking anywhere between four and six weeks to complete, the IVF procedure is straightforward. Once you’ve chosen your private IVF provider, you’ll start your journey with an initial consultation.

This meeting will familiarise you with the entire IVF process, allowing you to have any questions answered and any worries resolved. You can also discuss any  fertility issues you might have experienced before.

Following your meeting, ovary stimulation will need to take place, which includes hormone injections. This will give you the best chances of producing follicles (otherwise known as immature eggs) of the best size and number for the IVF procedure to work.

What happens during the IVF procedure?

After your eggs have fully matured, a specialist doctor will retrieve them, whilst you’re under sedation. The retrieval is carried out by inserting a needle into the ovary via ultrasound. The highest quality eggs are used in the IVF procedure. These eggs are combined with sperm, either from your partner or a donor, and carefully monitored.

Finally, following a successful fertilisation process, your embryo will be transferred into your womb via a small plastic tube through your cervix. We advise waiting around two weeks to take a pregnancy test, to learn if your infertility treatment has been successful.

What does the IVF cost include?

What does the IVF cost include?

The basic IVF procedure include the following:

  • Monitoring scans
  • Hormone medications
  • Egg retrieval
  • Sperm preparation
  • The fertilisation process
  • Embryo culture to blastocyst
  • Embryo glue
  • Embryo transfer
  • Follow-up consultation

Additional costs might include pre-treatment consultations and scans, screening bloods, purchase and courier charges of sperm, and any other medications you might need.

Additional costs might include pre-treatment consultations and scans, screening bloods, purchase and courier charges of sperm, and any other medications you might need.

At RHG, we understand that every person’s body is completely different, and when it comes to infertility treatments, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The best way to obtain a full costing for IVF is to visit our fertility centre and speak to our expert consultants.

IVF packages are bespoke, so the price is determined by personal circumstances. Visit our pricing page or get in touch with a member of our team for more information.

How do I get a cost for IVF?

When you’re deciding whether to undertake a cycle of IVF, the overall cost of the procedure might be plaguing your mind.

After all, with fertility specialists offering so many types of fertility treatment, understanding the costs associated with each can help you to plan your journey to parenthood.

So, if the question “how much is IVF?” has been whizzing around in your mind, we’ve got all the answers you need:

What is IVF?

In Vitro Fertilisation, or IVF for short, is a fertility procedure used by couples who wish to become pregnant. It happens when a woman’s eggs are collected, and manually fertilised with sperm in the lab.

If fertilisation is successful, the embryo is allowed to develop in the lab for two to six days. After this period, it is then transferred back to the woman’s womb to hopefully lead to a successful and healthy pregnancy.

How do I get a price for IVF?

How do I get a price for IVF?

The best way to obtain a full costing for IVF is to visit a fertility centre and speak to an expert consultant. This is because IVF packages don’t have a ‘one size fits all’ approach – the price is determined by your own personal circumstances and needs.

Here at RHG, all of our IVF treatments are completely bespoke. Not only are they personalised to your individual situation and fertility past, but we offer tailored advice for everyone looking into using IVF as their fertility treatment of choice.

Depending on the suggestions and advice of our consultants, the cost of IVF could differ. For further information, please visit our pricing page which can provide further information.

What does the basic IVF cost include?

Are you wondering what the IVF cost actually includes? Generally, costs for the basic IVF procedure include the following:

  • Monitoring scans
  • Egg collection
  • Sperm preparation
  • The IVF process
  • Embryo culture to blastocyst
  • Embryo glue
  • Embryo transfer
  • First follow up consultation

You might have to pay additional IVF costs for: pre-treatment consultations and scans, screening bloods, purchase and courier charges of sperm, and any other medications you might need throughout the process.

What are typical IVF success rates?

What are typical IVF success rates?

If you’re considering IVF as a fertility treatment, it’s important to understand the success rates for each process. However, as with every fertility treatment, the patient profile has an effect on the success of each IVF cycle.

For example, age is a factor: the younger you are, the better quality the egg (and therefore embryos), leading to a higher chance of successfully becoming pregnant.

According to the latest HFEA fertility trends report, the below percentages show the average chance of a birth from IVF treatment depending on a woman’s age. These figures are for women using their own eggs and their partner’s sperm, and use the per embryo transferred measure.

  • under 35: 29%
  • 35-37: 23%
  • 38-39: 15%
  • 40-42: 9%
  • 43-44: 3%
  • over 44: 2%

Weight and BMI are also a factor in IVF success rates, and improving your diet, quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol can all help improve your chances of getting pregnant through IVF.

As you can see, the costs associated with IVF can range, depending on your personal situation.

If you’d like to talk to a fertility specialist and receive quotes for bespoke IVF treatments, contact us today. We’re always on-hand to help, and we can’t wait to help you along your journey to parenthood!