If you’re confused about the difference between the terms IVF and test tube baby, then you might be surprised to find out that they are generally used to refer to the same thing. However, the history of the term actually pre-dates the invention of IVF.
Growing numbers of people in the UK are choosing to travel overseas to have fertility treatment. Everyone has their own reasons for making this choice, but there are some common factors that are driving people towards overseas care. Some people are tempted by the lower costs and other benefits but increasing numbers of people are also finding it harder to access fertility treatment in the UK.
Fertility Treatment in the UK
Fertility treatments such as IVF are available in the UK, through both the NHS and private clinics. For many people, having their IVF treatment in the UK will be the best option. However, it has become more difficult to get fertility treatment though the NHS due to restrictions on eligibility. Many NHS trusts have introduced stricter criteria over recent years. In some parts of the country, it is now impossible for women over the age of 35 or for men who are overweight to qualify for IVF treatment.
Only 12% of the Clinical Commissioning Groups that set guidelines for local NHS trusts now offer three cycles of NHS to couples under 40 and all of these trusts are in one part of the UK, in the Greater Manchester area. If you don’t live in this part of the country, then you may struggle to access fertility treatments like IVF through the NHS. Some NHS trusts aren’t able to provide any fertility care at all, so patients in these areas won’t be able to have IVF unless they visit a private fertility clinic.
Some people who have been denied IVF treatment on the NHS have turned to private clinics in the UK instead. Private clinics are willing to treat a broader range of patients and there are no limits on the number of IVF cycles that you can have. You will also be able to choose your own fertility specialist and to arrange appointments faster and more easily. However, this isn’t always the right choice for everybody. More people are now turning to the other alternative, which is to seek private fertility treatment overseas.
Going Overseas for IVF Treatment
Many fertility clinics in countries such as Dubai, Bahrain and Greece are able to provide high quality care at lower costs than private clinics in the UK. As the fertility services available in the UK have become more limited due to issues with NHS funding, more people are taking advantage of these overseas clinics.
One survey of people who were considering or already having IVF treatment in the UK found that:
- 93% would consider going abroad for IVF
- 68% were tempted by the lower costs of international care, compared to private care in the UK
- 47% would go abroad to benefit from shorter waiting times for treatment
- 28% were interested in the wider range of fertility treatment options available overseas
Clearly, there are many reasons why people consider having IVF overseas. Arranging treatment in another country isn’t always the first option that you will think about, but with restrictions on NHS care it can be the best choice for you.
Benefits of Having IVF Treatment Abroad
If you are considering your options for IVF or other fertility services, then there are some significant benefits to travelling overseas:
- The costs can be significantly lower than for private care in the UK. If you aren’t eligible for treatment on the NHS, then this could be the most affordable choice, even with the added costs of transport and accommodation. However, it can be tricky to find the best prices on international IVF when you’re unfamiliar with other healthcare systems. You can easily get caught out by hidden extras, such as blood tests that aren’t included in the price you’re initially given. One of the ways that we help is by ensuring that you avoid these kinds of traps so that you know upfront how much your care will cost.
- Get your treatment at a top private clinic. International patients have a lot more choice about where they will be treated, so you can choose the best clinic and the most experienced fertility specialists. We can help you to find the right clinic, wherever you want to be treated.
- More options for egg and sperm donation. While it is possible to use egg and sperm donors in the UK, it can be easier in other countries where there are more willing donors. However, it’s important to understand the different regulations in each country so that you can make an informed choice. Donors can remain anonymous in some parts of the world, so you will need to decide if this is right for your family.
- You can make the whole experience calmer and more enjoyable by combining it with a trip overseas. Many couples find it easier to relax when they’re away from home, which can make the treatment easier. Having IVF in another country can also make it feel more like a holiday than a medical procedure.
Arranging Your Fertility Treatment in Another Country
Although there are many benefits to travelling overseas for IVF treatment, there are also some potential issues. It can be difficult to know where to find the best overseas clinic for IVF treatment. You might also be faced by difficulties such as language barriers, depending on where you want to have your fertility treatment. It can also be difficult to know which fertility clinics provide the best services, especially as some may make misleading claims about their success rates in countries that aren’t as carefully regulated as the UK.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should give up on gong overseas for IVF treatment. If you’re considering travelling to another country for IVF treatment, then we can provide the support and advice you need. We have lots of experience arranging fertility treatment in the UK and overseas, so we will be able to organise everything for you. We’ll ensure that you get the best care, at the most affordable prices, with as little stress as possible.
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while or you’re having fertility treatment, then you will probably have come across a lot of advice on what you can do to improve your chances. All kinds of tips are given online, in magazines, and even by friends and family. Unfortunately, there is no magic trick that can make you get pregnant or ensure your IVF treatment is successful, but there are some things you can do to ensure that you have the best possible chance.
What Causes Fertility Problems?
Many different factors can affect our fertility. Sometimes there is a specific medical issue that makes it harder for us to get pregnant without fertility treatment. If you’ve been having trouble getting pregnant, then it’s a good idea to see a doctor for a fertility assessment. Some kinds of fertility problems are treatable. For example, if you have blocked fallopian tubes, it may be possible to have surgery to clear the way for your eggs. However, it isn’t always possible to treat infertility. In some cases, it isn’t even possible to identify a specific cause.
If there is no diagnosable reason or it isn’t possible to treat the cause of your fertility problems, then you may need IVF treatment to have a baby. However, there are still a few other things that you can try to improve your fertility or to increase the chances of success during IVF treatment.
Lifestyle and Fertility
Our lifestyle can have a big impact on all aspects of our health, including our fertility. There is evidence that everything from air pollution to stress can affect our chances of having a baby. We can’t control everything about our environments, but there are some areas where we can make changes to improve our health and wellbeing.
Making these changes won’t be enough to guarantee that you will get pregnant. Eating a healthier diet isn’t going to help if you have blocked fallopian tubes, so it’s important to seek medical advice too. However, improving your lifestyle will ensure that you have the best possible chance. You will experience the same benefits whether you are trying to conceive naturally or you’re having IVF treatment.
Diet and Exercise
Eating well, getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can all help to improve our health. There is some evidence that is can also affect our fertility, so it’s a good idea to make the following changes if you’re trying to get pregnant or you’re about to start IVF treatment:
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet will ensure that your body is functioning at its best. Women should also start taking pre-natal vitamins to get important nutrients like folic acid.
- Getting some regular exercise can have lots of benefits. It will help you to stay fit, maintain a healthy weight and improve your mood, all of which is great for your fertility.
- Losing any excess weight can have a big impact on your health and fertility. It can help you to produce healthier sperm or reduce the impact of some gynaecological conditions.
Smoking and Alcohol
We encounter a lot of different chemicals during our everyday lives. While there’s not much you can do about air pollution or plastics, both of which have been suggested as causes of infertility, there are some common chemicals you can limit your exposure to when we’re trying to conceive naturally or through fertility treatment.
- Giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do to improve your fertility. Try to avoid being in smoky areas too, as second-hand smoke can affect you.
- Limiting your alcohol intake can also help with fertility, so you might want to reduce the amount you drink or even to give it up for a while.
- Caffeine can also be bad for your fertility, so try to avoid drinking too much tea, coffee or other caffeinated drinks.
Our mood and stress levels can have a big impact on our physical health, including our fertility. Some people find that alternative therapies such as massage or acupuncture can help them to de-stress while they’re having fertility treatment, but there are plenty of other ways to relax too. Talking to a friend, taking a walk, or snuggling up with a good book can all help you to feel calmer and happier.
We can also help with your stress levels by taking on all of the hassle of finding fertility clinics and arranging your IVF treatment. Allowing us to do this for you can enable you to relax and focus on staying well.
Extra Fertility Tips for Women
All of the lifestyle tips listed above can help both men and women to improve their fertility, but there are some extra gender-specific things that you can do too. The main thing that women can do is to become more aware of their menstrual cycle, especially when trying to conceive naturally. You should try to recognise when you are ovulating so that you can ensure you’re sexually active in the days before you release an egg. Apps and ovulation tests are available to help with this.
If you need some extra help to conceive then you will learn a lot more about the hormones that control your menstrual cycle. You’ll need to take medication during IVF treatment to help you produce more mature eggs.
Extra Fertility Tips for Men
The main fertility tips for men are to protect the testicles, which are very sensitive to temperature. Simply wearing looser underpants can help to improve sperm production. You can also prevent overheating in this area by avoiding placing anything warm (like a laptop) on your lap. Even these easy changes can increase your chances of conceiving naturally or through fertility treatment.
What Can You Do to Improve Your Chances of Conceiving?
A healthy lifestyle can make a big difference to your chances of conceiving naturally or through IVF treatment. Although there is no easy trick that can guarantee you’ll get pregnant, there is a lot you can do to increase the chances of success, even when you’re having fertility treatment.