IVF Treatment Packages

To coincide with National Fertility Awareness Week, we are excited to announce a truly innovative approach to IVF & fertility treatment.

Reproductive Health Group recognises that embarking on fertility treatment is a very important decision in the lives of our patients. Uncertainty about the ultimate cost of that treatment can cause concern and be responsible for further delays. For that reason, we have developed a unique approach to fertility care and the packages available to all of our patients.

We recognise that all of our patients are different, so we begin with a detailed medical history and a series of tests that help our highly experienced consultants create a personalised care plan for them based on one of our 3 new IVF care packages. Once they have explained the approach we are recommending, we will guide them to the right fertility package to suit their specific needs, combining optimum care with the best value, available.

View our innovative new fertility packages.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) using donor eggs (ie, oocytes) from a known or unknown altruistic donor is becoming more accepted by couples and less of an ethical issue for society and the media. The desire that most couples have to have a child seems to be the springboard for overcoming the barriers, if any, of embarking on assisted conception treatment using donor eggs. Realistically, it is often the only option for infertile couples whose female partner has been diagnosed with poor or absent ovarian function as result of premature ovarian failure (also known as early menopuase), chronological age, surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or smoking. Egg donation is also the avenue recommended to couples who have had repeated IVF failures with suboptimal ovarian response (less than 4 egg collected), low fertilisation rate and poor quality embryos in the context of normal sperm parameters and sperm DNA fragmentation test.

What is egg donation?

Egg donation entails the fertilisation in-vitro in the laboratory of eggs donated from a healthy third party with sperm from the male partner or a donor. The first egg donation cycle as a result of which a healthy child was born was carried out in Australia in 1983. Since then, egg donation programmes have become available in some fertility centres and in some countries. According to national statistics, approximately 9,500 in vitro fertilisation cycles using donor eggs were registered in the US in 2009, accounting for 9 per cent of all the cycles performed. According to data from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), over 47,000 children were born in the United States thanks to egg donation. In 2006 a total of 11,892 in vitro fertilisation cycles using donor eggs were performed in 17 Member States of the European Union, as a result of which 4,862 children were born. Although the number of donors increases year on year, however in the UK it is not yet close enough to the number needed to satisfy the demand.

Donor eggs become available through egg sharing (eggs provided by young women who undergo IVF because of tubal damage or male factor infertility, who agree to donate half of their harvested eggs in return for subsidised treatment) or true egg donation (eggs provided by young women, known or unknown to the recipient, who decide voluntarily and altruistically to undergo ovarian stimulation with hormones to donate all their harvested eggs to help somebody else have a family).

What does the egg donation process entail?

Following meticulous screening, dedicated implications counselling and accurate matching of the donor with the recipient, egg donation treatment follows the same standard process as in most cycles of in vitro fertilisation when the ovaries are stimulated with hormones to induce the growth and maturation of follicles within which the eggs are contained. When the follicles have reached an appropriate stage of development, the eggs are collected under ultrasound guidance in the safe environment of an operating procedure room. The eggs are then used for fertilisation in-vitro using either conventional IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Mature eggs can also be frozen for future use.

At the Reproductive Health Group we offer a wide range of egg donation options to meet the demand and wishes of our patients. Although we have well established links with egg donation clinics overseas – Spain and Cyprus – we are amongst the very few UK-based licensed clinics to have donor eggs from altruistic anonymous donors with virtually no waiting times. The entire process is carried out under the supervision of our experienced fertility specialist team and coordinated by a dedicated nursing team.

Egg donors

In order to guarantee the maximum safety for the mother and protect the short- and long-term health of the child, each potential egg donor undergoes various examinations and tests. Only completely healthy women who meet the criteria below are eligible to donate their eggs:

  • no genetic disorders
  • no underlying medical problems
  • no mental illnesses
  • no transmissible diseases
  • 35 years of age or younger
  • satisfactory ovarian reserve (as confirmed by both AMH and antral follicle count)

By Luciano Nardo (Consultant Gynaecologist & Reproductive Surgeon at Reproductive Health Group)

Fertility Preservation

Ovarian function is not forever. Fertility naturally decreases with chronological age and it cannot be restored after the menopause and after some types of cancer treatment. Research shows that the 21st century is a time of significant population ageing and that women leave it too late before they decide to start a family. Both fertility physicians and scientists have given a great deal of attention to strategies to optimise fertility preservation methods in women, to ensure that preservation programmes are available, affordable and reliable. At the Reproductive Health Group we have the latest technologies and the multidisciplinary experties to assist you through the fertility preservation journey. Cancer patients can benefit for tailored support counselling and start treatment to freeze their eggs or sperm within days of the life-changing diagnosis.

What are the main causes of reduced fertility?

There are many factors affecting fertility. Age is one of them. The percentage of couples who are having children later in life is increasing. Demographic data indicate that the population is ageing. In the 1950s, couples had on average four children, whereas now, less than two. In 2050, more than 40 per cent of the world’s population will be over 65 years of age. On a global scale, the number of children is decreasing in countries in which the standard of living is increasing.

What causes a decrease in fertility?

Women want to get a degree, have a stable successful job and then start planning to have children for children. During these years women age and naturally fertility decreases. Out of the million egg cells which women are born with, they may use around 400 during ovulation between the age of 15 and 45. Every minute two egg cells die in a woman, and the older they are, the faster they die.

Apart from the natural fertility loss, there are also extenuating factors which may cause a radical decrease in fertility. For instance, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancer may impair fertility, some kind of surgeries may affect the reproductive organs function. Whenever possible women should be warned about the risks of infertility and options to preserve fertility should be offered.

What fertility preservation methods are used?

Like men have the option of freezing the sperm to preserve their fertility, women can freeze their mature eggs and also ovarian tissue as a form of fertility preservation. Thanks to vitrification, a special fast freeze method, the stored eggs have great potential to be used for in vitro fertilisation. More recently, techniques to freeze ovarian tissue have been developed and optimised. The method is used in those patients who cannot undergo controlled ovarian stimulation with hormones before the treatment due to the risk that the cancer may progress to a more advanced stage.

Do all cancer treatments cause infertility?

Not all cancer treatments leave women infertile. However, it is important that patients are fully informed of the risks and have realistic expectations. Young women diagnosed with cancer think about their life with the disease and are often talked in to the available treatments, but very seldom are counselled regarding their fertility potential if and when they recover.

How does cancer treatment affect fertility?

Cancer treatment affects the reproductive function of female and male patients. The longer the treatment and the stronger the doses the higher the risk of damage to the pelvic organs. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy destroy the rapidly dividing cancer cells and normal cells alike. They may damage or completely destroy both eggs and sperm. The effect could also be the same if some treatments take place away from the pelvis. For example, irradiation of the pituitary gland or other regions in the brain that produce hormones which control the function of the ovaries or testicles may cause infertility. Bone marrow and stem cell transplants, which usually require large doses of chemotherapy are also associated with a risk of infertility. Surgery to treat cancer may affect fertility potential and pregnancy rates both in women and men.

Frozen Embryo Transfer

The technique of freezing embryos for storage is called cryopreservation and the first birth after freezing was recorded in the 1980s. Its contribution to IVF treatments has been increasing ever since.

Traditionally, in the practice of IVF, a handful of embryos are formed and the best is freshly replaced into the womb and the rest are frozen to be used at a later date, either if the first embryo does not result in a successful pregnancy, or if further pregnancies are desired. There is a pool of research accumulating suggesting freeze-thawed embryo transfer (FET), which involves freezing all of the embryos rather than replacing the best fresh embryo, may result in better pregnancy outcomes. The kind of beneficial outcome discussed include:

  • Avoiding low birth weight and prematurity which can lead to further problems as the child develops
  • Birth defects to do with the heart, digestive system, urinary and/or gynaecological system, and muscle and/or bone system, and also cerebral palsy
  • Fewer problems with bleeding prior to labour or placenta abnormalities
  • Decreasing risk and progression of late onset ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which is an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous complication of ovarian stimulation

How is Freeze-thaw Embryo Transfer (FET) different?

FET is a process to preserve embryos not replaced immediately after fertilisation, by freezing and storing them in liquid nitrogen. These embryos are now called cryopreserved embryos and can be replaced at later date. The embryos are cryopreserved using a method called vitrification, which the embryologists at the Reproductive Health Group at used for long time.

Once thawed, these embryos can be replaced into the womb, at an appropriate stage of the cycle, when there is a more natural environment available compared with a fresh transfer where the hormones from ovarian stimulation may have altered the favourable conditions. If you opt for a freeze all cycle, you can choose to transfer the embryo(s) at any time.

What do we do at the Reproductive Health Group

The consultants and embryologists at the Reproductive Health Group will discuss the available options with you and your partner, and recommend the best approach for your treatment cycle. Decisions to freeze all embryos are made case by case, depending on previous history, findings in the fresh cycle and availability of suitable embryos. One in two patients undergoing a FET cycle at the Reproductive Health Group achieve a clinical pregnancy.

Luciano Nardo

Following the recent conflicting publications on the Mail Online website regarding the best time to have a baby, RHG clinical director & UK IVF expert Luciano Nardo has voiced his opinion on the subject.

Women that leave until their late 30s to start trying to conceive can be a real risk to themselves and to the society. They should be made aware by healthcare professionals that postponing intentionally pregnancy and not making provisions for fertility preservationegg freezing” until the time when their reproductive potential physiologically decline is unreasonable and dangerous. Women who begin trying to conceive later in life are more likely to be faced with significantly reduced chances of success, to spend more money for their fertility treatment and indeed to require egg donation.

These comments followed today’s article from Lord Professor Winston claiming that “Waiting to have children is a ‘really good thing’“, which contradicted a recent piece covering NHS chief Professor Geeta Nargund’s letter to the education secretary published at the end of May, which warned “women not to wait until 30 to have baby as country faces a fertility timebomb“.

Egg & Sperm Donation

Reproductive Health Group, based at UK most comprehensive independent fertility hospital the Centre for Reproductive Health, are leaders in the provision of fertility and gamete donation treatments for singles and couples. Our established and successful donation programme runs in the UK and overseas, and is carefully coordinated by a team of experienced clinicians, embryologists and nurses supported by a highly knowledgeable fertility counsellor. We strongly believe in individualised patient friendly care, and promise to do our utmost to make you feel comfortable and satisfied at all the time.

You can arrange an appointment to see the Reproductive Health Group clinical director and world renowned fertility expert Luciano Nardo or a member of his expert team for an initial consultation.