Choosing a Fertility Clinic

Your GP, and certainly this article will tell you that if you are looking for private fertility treatment it is of vital importance that you make sure that the clinic you are going to has an established success rate in its treatments, particularly those that you are considering. This article is a guide to what these success rates can mean, where they come from, and why they are so important, as well as other factors you should consider before picking a clinic.

What is a clinic’s success rate?

Fertility clinics in the UK come under the watchful eye of an association called the HFEA, also known as the Human Fertility and Embryology Association. The HFEA makes sure that couples suffering from infertility or anyone else looking for a fertility treatment are all provided with the best care from facilities that are monitored and regulated by an impartial government organization.

The HFEA reports on clinics and their success rates to give you access to real and reliable information that can help you make a decision about whether or not the clinic in question is for you. An HFEA licensed clinic’s success rate indicates how many treatments were performed by that clinic in a certain year, and the resulting number of successful pregnancies and live births.

The HFEA will warn you that its success rates are only a general guide, and there are many other aspects of a clinic and its performance that need to be considered before making a decision. While most clinics are maintained at around a national average, they still vary in terms of their location, the quality of the service they offer, their staff, what treatments are actually available. A complete inspection report is provided by the HFEA for each of its licensed clinics, and these can provide the depth of information you need.

The HFEA presents a clinic’s success rates by comparing it to the national average, the number of treatments and the number of those that were actually successful, and a predicted probability of a successful live birth that that clinic can offer.

Why can success rates vary between different clinics?

Fertility is a complex process, and so it’s not surprising that there are many different factors that come into how successful a treatment can be at a fertility clinic. The major factors are, for instance, a patient’s age and the nature of their infertility, which treatment is being used by the clinic, and how that treatment is actually performed.

Some clinics will treat more complex patients and their success rates will suffer for it, while others will take in more ‘simple’ cases and field better rates as a result. Some clinics will also favor treating women who are fertile but are using donated sperm, whether as a surrogate, single parent, or part of a same sex couple.

How do I compare the information on clinics?

Comparing so much different information and bearing in mind all these different points can be daunting at first, but the HFEA aims to make everything as accessible and understandable as possible. The HFEA website offers a facility on their website which is called ‘Choose a Fertility Clinic’ and offers a great deal of information on all of its clinics, but more importantly, explains what all that information means.

Remember however, that your particular situation is individual and the website can only provide impartial information. Your decision will come down to how well that clinic performs in general, and how well they will be able to treat your specific condition. The HFEA website will provide summaries about the kinds of patients each clinic treats, so you can look for a clinic that treats patients who are similar to you in terms of age, cause of infertility, and the type of treatment sought amongst other factors.

How useful are clinical pregnancy rates?

A clinical pregnancy rate isn’t quite the same as a success rate, as the measure of a clinical pregnancy is whether or not a heartbeat is detected through an ultrasound scan. A success rate compares the number of treatments to the number of live births, so by its very nature is only reported roughly every year, compared to about 3 months for pregnancy rates. Remember that a clinic’s pregnancy rates are not necessarily indicative of success, and can be misleading as many of these pregnancies won’t be carried to full term.

Other data of importance

Complications are an unfortunate part of fertility treatments, and are always worth looking into when considering a clinic. Multiple births for instance (twins, triplets, and more) are a considerable health risk to both you and your child, so looking into the multiple birth rates reported by a clinic is a great way to establish how safe and effective their treatments are. The best outcome of any fertility treatment is a single, healthy, live birth, and ideally your clinic of choice should have a high proportion of these as it reflects well on their practice.

The HFEA’s target for clinics is that at least three quarters of live births should be single births rather than multiples, so this is a benchmark you should look into. Again however, the number of single births can depend on the type of treatments used and the nature of the cases that are being treated.

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