Why undertake fertility treatment?
There are a number of reasons why individuals choose to undergo fertility treatment in the UK, which include:
- Unexplained infertility or miscarriage.
- Women with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes.
- Men with low sperm counts or abnormal sperm.
- Fertility preservation (e.g. cancer treatment).
- Medical conditions which affect fertility or result in the transmission of hereditary conditions.
- Transitioning gender.
What fertility treatment options are there?
IUI (Intrauterine insemination)
IUI is a fertility treatment whereby better quality sperm are selected over poor quality sperm (abnormal shaped, slow or non-moving). The better quality sperm are then injected directly into the woman’s womb.
A range of people choose to undertake IUI, to include:
- Single women (with no fertility issues).
- Lesbian couples (with no fertility issues).
- Couples unable to have sex (e.g. disability).
IUI is less invasive, cheaper and more natural than IVF. The average cost of an IUI cycle in the UK is £350 – £1,000. However, it is less successful than IVF and figures released from the HFEA for 2016 show success rates as follows:
- Women aged under 35:14%
- Women aged 35-37: 12%
- Women aged 38-39: 10%
- Women over 40-42: 6%
ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection)
ICSI is a fertility treatment whereby an embryologist injects a sperm into an egg to create an embryo, which is then transferred to the woman in treatment.
ICSI can be helpful in a range of situations, which include:
- a man has a low sperm count.
- a man has abnormal sperm.
- following a non-reversed vasectomy.
Success rates with ICSI are similar to those for IVF.
The average cost of ICSI is £500 – £1,000 in addition to IVF treatment.
Surgery can be offered to treat a range of medical and fertility related issues, which include:
- blocked fallopian tubes
- fibroids and polyps
- sperm extraction
- reversal of a vasectomy
Depending upon personal circumstances, you may be offered keyhole or conventional surgery. Surgery does not guarantee a successful conception and birth and this makes it important to carefully consider other fertility treatment and family building options as necessary.
Fertility preservation treatment
There are various fertility preservation treatments, namely:
- egg freezing
- ovarian tissue freezing (still experimental and there is only limited data available on its efficacy)
- sperm freezing
- testicular tissue freezing (still experimental and has not yet lead to any reported births)
- embryo freezing
IVF (In vitro fertilization)
IVF is where a woman’s eggs are collected and fertilized with sperm in the lab to create embryos. The embryos can develop for between two and six days and are then transferred to the woman or frozen for future use in treatment.
IVF success rates reduce as a woman gets older. Figures released from the HFEA for 2016 about IVF success rates of a live birth based on a woman’s age using her own eggs and her partner’s sperm are:
- under 35: 29%
- 35-37: 23%
- 38-39: 15%
- 40-42: 9%
- 43-44: 3%
- over 44: 2%.
The average cost of an IVF treatment cycle in the UK is £3,000 – £5,000.
Fertility drugs are used in a variety of ways, which include:
- Regulation of a woman’s fertility cycle to control the development and release of eggs in treatment.
- To increase the number of eggs which mature.
- To manage hormone imbalances.
The use of fertility drugs can create a variety of side effects, which include:
- Mood changes and depression.
- Nausea, vomiting, headaches, cramps.
- Weight gain.
- Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHS).
- Multiple births.
As with any drug usage, you should always take appropriate medical advice and make informed decisions.
This is a fertility treatment and family building option for: gay and lesbian couples, single men and women, heterosexual couples.
Surrogacy law is complex in the UK, making it advisable to obtain specialist legal advice at the outset and before conception.
For more information about UK surrogacy law click here.
Do I need legal advice?
Specialist legal advice can help manage a range of legal and practical issues to consider when considering fertility treatment, which include:
- Giving informed legal (as opposed to medical) consent to fertility treatment at a UK fertility clinic.
- Tailored advice about fertility preservation options and law.
- Tailored advice about family building options and law (if fertility treatment is unsuccessful).
- Tailored advice about surrogacy law in the UK.
- Tailored advice about posthumous fertility treatment.