Choosing the right fertility clinic

To coincide with the launch of our new ‘ask the expert’ feature, we thought we would look at the most important questions you should ask when deciding which fertility clinic is right for you.

Choosing the right fertility clinic is crucial to your fertility journey. There are a lot of clinics to choose from here in the UK, so make sure that you have the key information about the clinics on your shortlist before you make the final decision.

To help you to choose, here are eight questions you should ask your fertility clinic to ensure that you get only the best treatment.

1. How does the clinic decide which treatments to choose?

Through a thorough consultation with the individual and/or couple involved in their fertility treatment, examining medical and personal histories, fertility tests and investigations carried out, a clinic will be able to tell you which course of treatment is right for you.

View our range of fertility assessment packages.

2. What tests will I have to have?

There are a number of tests that you can be expected to have as the clinic looks to identify what may be causing the fertility issue. An initial fertility assessment on either the female or both partners in the relationship can help to ensure any issue is dealt with without paying for needless treatment if an easier or more cost-effective solution can be found.

3. Does the clinic work with patients to ensure the treatment for them is the most suitable?

Some clinics are simple IVF clinics, with this being offered to all couples. However, this may not be the best option for those suffering from conditions such as endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome. Choose a clinic that works with you to identify your best chance of success.

4. What treatments are available?

There are a variety of treatments out there, from IVF (In vitro fertilisation), where eggs and sperm are brought together outside the womb in a laboratory, to IUI (Intrauterine insemination), where sperm is inserted into the womb at ovulation time, as well as a host of other options. You can view our full range of fertility treatments here.

  • For IVF treatment, there are a number of different techniques. These include:
  • Natural Cycle IVF – the egg released from the ovary at ovulation is selected for use.
  • Modified Natural Cycle IVF – one egg is stimulated to be released early.
  • Mild Stimulation IVF – minimum doses of fertility drugs are used to gather eggs.
  • In Vitro Maturation – immature eggs are gathered and matured in the laboratory.

Ask your clinic which techniques they use and how successful they have found each one to be if they use a number of techniques.

5. What success rates does the clinic have?

Before you start out, you want to know that you have chosen a clinic that has high success rates in helping people to achieve their goals and become successfully pregnant. Make sure that you take the time to ask about how they measure success, particularly focusing on the treatments they have suggested for you and your partner.

6. What are the costs involved?

Speak to the clinic about the costs involved as these will vary. Make sure that you get them to clarify the total costs before you begin your treatment.

You can view our clear and transparent fertility price list here.

7. Are women with specific conditions accepted at the clinic?

If you are affected by a specific issue, you may find that your clinic does not treat it as they may not have the facilities or maybe don’t want to impact on their success rates. At Reproductive Health Group we are able to treat all gynaecological and infertility conditions under one roof at our Cheshire based Centre for Reproductive Health.

8. What makes the clinic different to the others?

Clinics will often have a speciality and not all clinics will offer the same range of treatments as the others.

In our case, it is our dedicated integrated fertility and women’s health hospital, one of the first ever in the UK. Every detail was designed by our consultants and embryologists, using their extensive experience to ensure that our patients receive the best possible care, using the very latest technology in a state of the art environment.

Summary

By asking a number of clinics these questions, you can be sure that your final decision on which is the right one for you is the right one.

If you would like to organise a fertility consultation with us to discuss any of the above, or additional questions you may have, you can request a consultation.

IVF for same sex couples

If you’re in a same sex relationship with another woman and are looking to start your family, then Reproductive Health Group can help.

Many same sex couples want to have a family with a biological connection with their child, so choose a method which uses the eggs of one person in the couple. Through the use of donor sperm and assistive reproductive technology such as IUI or IVF, many same sex couples can have a child which carries the genes of its parent.

Treatment Options

The two main forms of treatment that we use to help same sex female couples with are Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In-vitro Fertilisation (IVF).

IUI – This procedure is the simplest. It involves timing a woman’s ovulation and introducing the sperm to the uterus via a small tube immediately prior to ovulation. This technique needs to have only the highest quality sperm to ensure a better chance of success. This can be from donor sperm from someone that you know as long as it meets the criteria, or from a sperm bank.

IVF – Using fertility medication, the ovaries are stimulated to produce a number of eggs at once. These are collected and combined with donor sperm via a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection which injects a sperm directly into the egg. The developing embryo is allowed to grow in the laboratory for a few days before being transferred into the uterus to develop as a normal pregnancy. IVF is often more successful than IUI due to the fertilisation process occurring in the laboratory.

For a much reduced cost women can choose to do egg-sharing. This is where half of the eggs that are harvested from the donor as part of the IVF process are donated to couples who may not be able to use their own. This is only suitable for women who meet certain conditions. See our egg sharing page for more information.

Donor Sperm

All of our donor sperm undergoes rigorous screening to ensure the health of your baby. Same sex couples can use the sperm of someone that they know, or have the option of choosing donor sperm from our partner sperm banks. These are:

Xytex Cryo International www.xytex.com

Based in Georgia in the USA, Xytex work with us to provide UK compliant donor sperm which is imported to our centre.

European Sperm Bank www.europeanspermbank.com

Another donor bank, this time based in Denmark. The donors are both European and American.

Further Options

Before you begin the process of trying for a baby, many couples choose to undergo a full fertility check. This ensures that you are in the best possible position to start your fertility journey.

Another option is egg-freezing, for those who want to start a family in the future but are worried about issues with fertility that can occur with aging.

Reproductive Health Group has worked with many same sex couples to help them start their new families and begin their lives as parents. More than 99% of our patients rate our care as excellent or very good. If you’d like to know more, please get in touch with us today.

Luciano Nardo

How did you begin your career in IVF?

After training in Italy, London and Manchester I was appointed as a consultant in the IVF Unit at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester, where I was responsible for all aspects of reproductive medicine and surgery as part of a team of IVF specialists.

What are your main day to day responsibilities at Reproductive Health Group?

As Clinical Director of our clinic in Daresbury, Cheshire, I have overall responsibility for our patients IVF journeys – from their initial consultation and diagnosis, deciding on the most appropriate course of treatment, devising their treatment protocols in conjunction with my colleagues in our embryology and nursing teams, seeing the patients in my clinic and performing egg collections and embryo transfers. As an experienced reproductive surgeon I also carry out surgical procedures during my theatre sessions, including laparoscopic and hysteroscopic surgery, which can be done as day cases in our on-site theatre here at the Centre for Reproductive Health. I am also the nominated HFEA Person Responsible for the clinic, which means I am responsible for overseeing all our licensed activities in the fields of IVF and assisted conception.

What aspect of your role is the most rewarding?

The feedback that we regularly get from our IVF patients is the most rewarding aspect by far. When we receive cards and letters with comments such as ‘I can finally say I’m a mum, it’s the best feeling in the world’, ‘Thank you for helping us achieve our dream’, these comments are not just aimed at me but at our whole team who have worked together to help our patients get to this point. Being a part of that team is also very rewarding.

What has been your proudest moment at Reproductive Health Group?

The opening of the Centre for Reproductive Health, as the first integrated fertility hospital in the UK, was a very proud time for all of us here at Reproductive Health Group. The birth nine months later of our first baby born after IVF treatment ‘all under one roof’ at the Centre was also a very special moment.

PCOS & Infertility

PCOS, which is short for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common cause of infertility in women due to its impact on ovulation. Changes in hormone levels affect the way in which your body produces and releases eggs and can cause irregular periods. If regular ovulation is not occurring this can make it difficult to achieve a successful pregnancy.

Can I still get pregnant if I have PCOS?

This is a question we are asked regularly at Reproductive Health Group and the answer is yes! PCOS is one of the most common types of female hormone disorders, affecting between 8-10% of women and it one of the leading causes of infertility, but that is not to say that you can’t have a baby if you suffer from PCOS. The question is, which treatment is right for you?

Treatment options for PCOS and Infertility

There are a number of potential treatment options including conventional fertility treatments, such as IVF, but also natural, nutritional measures, improving diet and making changes to lifestyle.

For some women, simply making changes to their weight is enough to completely resolve their symptoms and restore a regular menstrual cycle. The best diet for women with PCOS who are overweight is one that promotes stable levels of blood sugars and lowers insulin levels. It is recommended to see a nutritionist who can recommend an appropriate programme. At Reproductive Health Group we can offer appointments at our fertility clinic in Cheshire with our own fully qualified nutritional therapist.

For other women whose lack of ovulation is the main issue, ovulation induction can be used to help stimulate the development of mature follicles at just the right time in the cycle.

Improve your fertility potential

Reproductive Health Group’s experienced specialists can advise on the best treatment programme to help alleviate symptoms and improve fertility potential.

If you would like to talk to one of our fertility specialists about PCOS and its affect on your fertility, or any other women’s health issue, please call us on 01925 202180, email us at info@reproductivehealthgroup.co.uk or request an appointment here.

Fertility Treatments Quick Guide

There are many fertility treatments available, with a host of different acronyms. One treatment that is suitable for one patient may not be suitable for another. Equally each treatment may provide a greater chance of success depending on a patient’s circumstances.

Our latest blog aims to provide a guide into the most common fertility treatments offered by Reproductive Health Group at our Cheshire IVF clinic, when they are typically used and what they cost.

If you would like any additional information about the treatments outlined below, or any of our other fertility treatments, don’t hesitate to contact us on 01925 202180 or by email here.

IVF

What is IVF?

IVF treatment is the process by which eggs are retrieved from the ovaries and fertilised with sperm to create embryos. At the optimum time, the embryos are replaced back into the womb and allowed to develop, implant and hopefully form a successful pregnancy.

When would IVF be used?

  • The patient has been diagnosed with unexplained infertility
  • The patient may have blocked fallopian tubes
  • The male partners fertility problems are not severe enough to warrant ICSI treatment
  • Fertility drugs or IUI treatment were not successful
  • Frozen sperm is being used
  • Frozen eggs or donated eggs are being used

ICSI

What is ICSI?

ISCI treatment is used in nearly half of all IVF treatments and the most successful form of treatment for men who are infertile. ICSI differs from IVF in that the embryologist selects a single sperm to be injected directly into an egg, bypassing the natural fertilisation process.

When would ICSI be used?

ICSI is typically used when there is a problem or potential problem with the sperm to be used in an IVF cycle. Problems may include:

  • Very low sperm count
  • Poor morphology or motility
  • Low fertilisation rate during previous IVF cycles
  • Frozen sperm is being used in your treatment which is not of optimum quality

IMSI

What is IMSI?

Similar to ICSI, IMSI treatment also involves inserting sperm directly into the egg, the only difference between the two procedures being the way that the sperm is selected. A high powered lens is used to observe the sperm in greater detail with the aim of improving the chance of pregnancy. The healthier the sperm and the egg, the healthier the resulting embryo and therefore the greater the chance of success. The IMSI microscope can magnify up to 6000 times allowing the embryologist to see potential abnormalities in the head of the sperm.

When would IMSI be used?

  • The male partner is over 35
  • Where a high number of abnormal sperm are found in a semen analysis
  • For couples who have had previously unsuccessful cycles
  • In patients where there is a history of miscarriage
  • For couples who have not achieved good quality embryos in previous cycles, – when the egg quality has appeared to be normal.

IUI

What is IUI?

IUI treatment or Intrauterine insemination is a relatively simple treatment which involves inserting prepared sperm into the uterus around the time of ovulation. The sperm is prepared by separating fast moving sperm from more sluggish sperm to ensure the best quality sperm is inserted. IUI can be performed with either the partner’s sperm or donor sperm.

When would IUI be used?

IUI may be used in the following circumstances:

  • Couples who have been trying for less than 2 years with no specific fertility issue.
  • Couples who have problems with sex such as impotence, premature ejaculation, vaginismus etc.
  • Couples in whom the woman’s cervical mucus is altered in amount and texture for the sperm to pass through.
  • Where the woman has mild/ minimal endometriosis.
  • Women undergoing insemination with donor sperm.

Ovulation Induction

What is Ovulation Induction?

Ovulation Induction involves the use of fertility drugs to help stimulate the development of one or two mature follicles in women whose ovaries do not develop and release a mature egg on their own every month. This treatment can be successful if there are no other identified causes of infertility.

When would Ovulation Induction be used?

Ovulation induction is typically used after all other fertility investigations have been carried out and irregular ovulation has been identified as the only problem.

Improve Egg Quality

You’ve probably heard that women have all of the eggs she’ll ever have stored in her ovaries when she is born. In fact, there are millions of immature eggs. These die off in a process called atresia. At the first menstrual cycle, there are only 400,000 left. Every cycle, a thousand follicles are lost and only one matures into an ovum.

Because eggs are a declining resource, women often want to know what they can do to ensure that the ones that they have are healthy. Lifestyle does have a role to play, so follow these tips to ensure that you are making the most of your fertility.

1. Diet

One of the most positive things that you can do when it comes to egg health is to concentrate on eating the best diet that you can.

Each layer of the ovum requires different vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. For example, the cell membrane requires Omega 3 and DHA. These can be found in fish or shellfish. Mitochondria within the cell need energy. The cell also requires B vitamins and zinc for division. These can be found in eggs, bananas, meat, oats and milk.

Another nutrition factor to consider is protein. Protein is the building block from which your cells are made. You need to make sure that you are getting a balance of protein from sources such as meat, fish, chicken, and legumes. You should try not to eat too many trans fats in your diet as these can impact on your body’s overall health.

2. Free Radicals

Over production of free radicals has a detrimental impact to our bodies. While we do need a small amount, if you drink, smoke, and don’t eat well, your body will be producing them in massive amounts – more than your reproductive system can cope with. Eating foods that are high in antioxidants can help to neutralise free radicals, so make space in your shopping trolley for cranberries, blueberries, blackberries and beans.

3. Sleep and Stress

Not sleeping well will have an impact on your hormones levels, and as these play a major part in your reproductive system, you’ll want to do your best to get a good eight hours every night. Try sleeping in a completely dark room, don’t use electronics in bed, and if you do sit on your phone or computer at night, consider downloading an app which changes the screen to emit less blue light which inhibits melatonin production, the hormone your body produces to get you to sleep.

Stress also impacts on ovulation. You can destress yourself by doing weekly exercise or trying meditation. There are a number of apps on Android and iOS which promote mindfulness and meditation – a fantastic way to help reduce how stress impacts your life.

4. Sunshine

Many women who undergo fertility treatments are found to be deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D can be made from going outside in the sun for just 20 minutes. You can also get it from green, leafy vegetables.

 

Whatever stage you are at on your fertility journey the more you can do to enhance the quality of your eggs, the more chance you have of establishing and maintaining a successful pregnancy, whether it be naturally or via fertility treatment.

Top Five Reasons for Not Getting Pregnant

Getting pregnant isn’t always as easy as you were once led to believe. While 85% of couples manage in the first year of trying, it can still take a few months or perhaps more before you see the double line on the pregnancy test. This can lead to worries about infertility.

Try not to compare yourself to other couples, however. There are many factors to consider when you are trying to get pregnant. Before you start to panic, have a look at our five top reasons that couples should think about have when trying and failing to get pregnant.

1. Weight Issues

One thing that can have a major impact on your ability to conceive is your weight. Studies have shown that you need to have a BMI of between 20 and 25 to conceive ideally. This isn’t just about your pregnancy – it’s about you and your child’s long term health.

If you do get pregnant when overweight, it can lead to complications like gestational diabetes, premature delivery, and miscarriage. Likewise, if the male in the relationship is overweight, it could have a damaging effect on his sperm health.

2. Smoking

Smoking has a huge impact on the general health and wellbeing of men and women. This is even more apparent when it comes to fertility issues. Smoking can cause problems with the uterus environment due to the toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke being present in the body.

DNA damage to sperm is also an often-overlooked side effect to smoking. Sperm is stored for up to three months in the epididymis, absorbing all of the toxins that a man ingests in this time.

3. Timing Issues

The fertile window every month is very short. A woman can use ovulation testing kits to get an accurate reading of when she gets a surge in hormones which mark the start of her ovulation. You can also try tracking body temperature at the same time every morning or use the Billings Ovulation method where you pay attention to the cervical mucus that is produced at different stages in a woman’s cycle.

Remember, an egg lasts between 12 and 24 hours after release, sperm three to five days. This leaves a very short window of opportunity when both are viable.

4. Hormonal Problems

Insulin resistance and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can have a huge impact on a woman’s reproductive health.  Symptoms  of  polycystic ovarian syndrome include irregular periods, weight issues, acne, and hirsutism (over-production of body hair).

If you suspect PCOS, getting in touch with your GP or contacting us directly at Reproductive Health Group could  increase your chances of conception.

5. Age

A woman’s fertility declines as she ages, with a large decrease happening between 35 and 39 for most women. While you shouldn’t start trying for a baby before you and your partner are both ready, you should be aware of how waiting can affect your chances long term.

Fertility Assessment Packages

If you are concerned about not getting pregnant as quickly as you would have liked or expected, we offer a range of Fertility Assessment packages that are designed to help you identify your fertility potential.

If you would like to organise a fertility assessment, contact us here or call us on 01925 202180.

 

Starting your conception journey is a wonderful time in your relationship. However, there could be an undiagnosed issue which you may not be aware of that could impact how successful you are or how long it could take.

Fertility Assessments

One way that you can put your mind at rest is by undergoing a fertility assessment. Some researchers have recommended that women should get themselves checked at age 30 to determine if anything is impacting their fertility levels. A woman’s fertility status changes as she gets older, so a good result at 25 might not be the same at 35.

If you are young and want to know the likelihood of getting pregnant, or if you’ve been trying for a short amount of time with no luck, a fertility assessment may be the help that you need to put your mind at rest. Stress impacts on your chances and also makes it harder to get into the mood for trying in the first place so ensuring that you and your partner are in peak health can be just the thing to reduce the worries that you may have about conceiving or highlight any help that you may need early on.

If you’ve been trying for a year or more, it could indicate that there is an issue with you or your partner. A fertility check at this stage can help you correctly identify where the problems lies and means you can start your treatment quickly and continue your fertility journey in the most appropriate way.

Ovarian reserves can be assessed if you are an older woman who is looking at her chances of getting pregnant.

If you have had fertility treatment before which was unsuccessful there are investigations available that could help us to correctly identify the reasons for this so that we can help you to come up with a viable solution to help you successfully conceive.

There are a number of different levels of fertility assessment which may be right for you and your partner. These include a female fertility assessment which includes; swabs, Chlamydia screen, ultrasound scan and HyCoSy for tubal patency, AMH test, and a rubella screen; or for both partners in a couple with an additional semen analysis to check for any problems with the sperm.

No need to wait for an assessment

The NHS doesn’t start carrying out fertility tests until you have been trying for two years. If you are an older women, the rapid decrease in fertility that happens as you age  may mean that you don’t have the time to wait – after all, two years is a long time to wait for assessment, investigation and treatment! Having a fertility assessment at our Cheshire fertility clinic, the Centre for Reproductive Health could be the first step in your successful reproductive journey.

You can book an appointment with RHG here, or simply call us on 01925 202180.

Boost your chances of getting pregnant

Getting pregnant is an exciting step in your life. But did you know that it can take the average couple quite a while to get pregnant even without any known fertility issues? If you are planning on having a baby, then you can try these simple tips to boost your chances of conceiving quickly.

Start your Prenatal Vitamins

You’ll no doubt know that you need to take folic acid during your pregnancy, but you can increase your chances of conception by starting your vitamins early. Remember that the neural tube is one of the first parts to be formed in your developing baby so getting a head start on your intake is a great idea.

Exercise – But Not Too Much

Being healthy is a great way to boost your fertility – but don’t push yourself too hard or you could do more harm than good. If you’re thin and work out vigorously for more than five hours a week, you could be harming your chances of conceiving. Find a less strenuous exercise regime, such as yoga or Pilates which can also help you to have an easier pregnancy and birth.

Cut Back

Alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine are known to affect the amount of time it can take to get pregnant so cut back on these while you are trying. Remember, it takes two to tango, so get your partner to cut back as well – sperm health is just as important as ovum health when it comes to making a baby! Another often overlooked factor can be fizzy drink consumption, with a 16% lower fertility rate for those that drink it than those that don’t, according to a recent study.

Get your Fertility Checked

You can have a check-up before you start trying to conceive to find out if there is anything impeding your upcoming efforts.  Reproductive Health Group offer a range of fertility investigations tailored to you and your partner’s needs to ensure that you are both in the best of reproductive health and to help solve any issues should they be detected.

Timing is Everything

Tracking your ovulation might seem like a pain, but your chances of conceiving are highest when you are ovulating. You can try basal temperature charting, ovulation kits, or cervical mucus monitoring to keep an eye out for your fertile window. There are apps available for your phone to help you track all your information.

Don’t Use Lubrication

While using a little lubrication can help matters in the bedroom, it doesn’t help when trying to get pregnant – many lubricants can have a negative impact on sperm mobility. There are fertility-friendly lubricants available if you do need a little to help things along. These are PH-balanced to cervical mucus and sperm.

Early Nights and Relaxation

Make the most of the sleep that you can get before you get pregnant – it will increase your chances of conceiving and you’ll certainly look back at this time fondly once you’ve had your baby!

Trying to get pregnant can be stressful, but try not to worry too much. 95% of couples get pregnant after two years of trying. While it might seem like everyone around you is falling pregnant, don’t over think it – remember, half the fun is in the trying anyway. Having regular unprotected sex is the main thing – every two or three days will ensure that sperm is in the best health.

Holistic Therapies and Fertility

When it comes to your reproductive health, treatment involves so much more than just the somatic aspect. While western medicine can do all sorts of wonderful things with IVF Treatment and medication to boost fertile windows and promote ovulation, the reproductive process can be helped in a number of additional ways to improve your physical and mental wellbeing. A whole body approach can be the best way for you to enhance your chances when it comes to achieving your conception.

As many as one third of women supplement their conventional fertility treatments with holistic therapy to help their chances of getting pregnant during their course of treatment. Working in conjunction with your fertility treatments, there are a range of complementary services which can sit alongside your treatment to calm, relax and help you on your fertility journey, reducing your stress and improving your overall health and wellbeing.

Acupuncture

Based on the Chinese idea that qi, or energy, flows along pathways through the body, acupuncture is used to stimulate specific points on the body to achieve balance. An ancient practice from 5000 years ago, its continuing popularity is boosted by recent research which has shown that  it may increase the chance of implantation of the embryo by increasing blood flow and relaxing muscle tissues around the uterus. In men, acupuncture may improve sperm health leading to a reduced risk of chromosomal abnormality.

Hypnotherapy

When you are struggling to get pregnant, couples often start to become stressed and emotional. After all, it is a trying time. One way that this can be improved is through the use of hypnotherapy.

Hypnotherapy can teach you to let go of the hurt that you may be carrying through relaxation and breathing techniques. These can help reduce the level of stress and rebalance the hormones which could be impacting on your reproductive health.

Reflexology

Reflexology is a health therapy which uses points on the head, hands, feet and lower leg that all are attuned with different parts of the body. Like other holistic therapies, it can be used alongside conventional medicine when trying to boost your fertility. It can help to regulate your menstrual cycle, improve circulation, balance your hormones, stimulate endorphins and get you to relax.

At the Reproductive Health Group, we know there’s so much more to your fertility than just the mechanics. We’re proud to offer a full range of treatments, from conventional through to complementary therapies to help you to reach your dream of creating your family.

Book appointment

You can request an appointment here or call our patient services team now on 01925 202180.