Frequently asked questions

FAQs

Below is a list of questions and answers.  If you can't find the information you need get in touch.

Questions you may have before treatment

  • What is a hydrosalpinx?

    'Water' in the Fallopian tube is the medical term to describe a reaction of the tube to severe inflammation. This can happen after sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia but this is not the only cause. Swollen tubes can be detected by ultrasound scan and have an important impact on the success of IVF treatment: they can diminish your chances of success by up to 50%. It is common to discuss an operation (key-hole laparoscopy) to confirm the suspicion and then remove the tube which can no longer serve any useful purpose. 

  • What is a fibroid?

    Fibroids are like lumps of gristle in the 'meat' of the muscle of the womb. The can be tiny like a grain of rice or large like a melon and anything in between. They are very common and often do not cause problems or any difficulties with getting pregnant. Sometimes they can form just under the surface of the womb lining where a pregnancy will try to implant. These fibroids usually need to be removed (surgically) to improve fertility. Large fibroids (eg the size of an orange or more) can cause heavy periods, distortion of the womb and discomfort such as pressure on the bladder. This is worse if there are several of them. Surgery may be advised before fertility treatment.

  • What is an ovarian cyst?

    A cyst is a pocket of fluid. Every monthly cycle involves the development of a cyst containing the egg for that month's ovulation. This type of cyst is called a follicle. So, ovarian cysts can be quite normal and a sign of the normal monthly pattern of egg turnover. Sometimes the cycle goes off-track and a cyst will remain visible on ultrasound scanning for longer than usual. It is common for these cysts to disappear with patience and a bit of time (a few weeks).

     

    Endometriotic cysts are not normal- they contain endometrial (womb lining) cells that have migrated into the wrong place. They can enlarge and cause pain as the cells inside them bleed regularly in time with your period. They do not usually go away with patience and observation. Sometimes surgery may be advised (keyhole / laparoscopy).

    Dermoid cysts are quite common. They can be present with absolutely no symptoms and found by chance on ultrasound scan. They are benign (not cancer) but can get bigger over time. they can contain all types of body tissues: skin cells, hair, teeth, glands. It is common to recommend the removal of dermoids because they can get in the way of the egg-containing area the ovary and can make the whole ovary twist on its stalk. This is painful and dangerous if it is not managed quickly and properly (surgical operation).

    Malignant or cancerous cysts are very rare in women in the fertile age group.

Questions you may have once treatment has begun

  • What side-effects can the fertility medicines cause?
    • long protocol prostate / buserelin injections can cause hot flushes and night sweats
    • Cetrotide / fryemadel injections can cause skin irritation
    • Progynova tablets can cause nausea (split the tablets up; take with food)
    • Cyclogest pessaries produce a waxy discharge when they warm up to body temperature. Do not worry that the medicine is being lost- it is not.
    • Prednisolone can cause insomnia. Try to take it at the beginning of the day / before lunch.
  • Can I mix injections together to reduce the number of needles?

    You can mix the same products together but you should not mix different products. Your nurse will demonstrate how many powders you can get to dissolve properly in one vial (1ml) of water (maximum 3 powders).

  • Can I get my injections ready (mix them up) the night before?

    No you must not do this, please. This is an infection risk (bad hygiene). The medicine needs to be freshly activated before you use it.

  • Do I need to give my injections at the same time every day?

    Yes please. This means your doses are evenly spread. You can vary the time by up to 30 minutes on all but the TRIGGER injection. This one needs to be taken at the time that you are specifically advised.

  • If I have any discomfort or pain, what can I take for it?

    Paracetamol is the preferred pain killer; 1g (2 tablets) every 4 hours as needed. You can add Ibuprofen 400mg (2 tablets) if necessary; staggering the two means pain relief in one or other form every 2 hours. It would be unusual for this to be needed. Consider seeking advice from the clinic if your pain is regular.

  • Will I gain weight during treatment?

    No - fertility treatment does not make you put on weight (until you get pregnant..)

  • Can we have sex during treatment?

    Yes you can but you may find it uncomfortable during the stimulation phase of treatment and around the time of egg collection.

  • Can I go swimming / running / take antibiotics / to the dentist for a filling / dye my hair / fly off on holiday during / after treatment?

    Generally speaking, we would advise against doing anything that you may look back on and regret having done / not done. 

    Swimming is not advisable whilst using vaginal medication or between egg collection and pregnancy test if not using vaginal medication.

    High impact exercise e.g. running is not advisable once you start your stimulation injections, up until your pregnancy test. If your test is positive you will probably want to continue to avoid strenuous exercise until your pregnancy is confirmed on ultrasound scan. Many women take regular exercise during pregnancy and this is encouraged, once you have healed from the IVF procedure.

    You can take antibiotics if they have been prescribed by a doctor who is aware of your treatment and the stage of treatment that you are at.

    You can have dental work during treatment if necessary.

    It is probably sensible to dye your hair before treatment starts (if that is your normal hair care) and wait until you know the outcome (pregnancy test) before doing so again. You may decide to wait a bit longer if you become pregnant.

    Going far away for a holiday / work during the treatment program is not advised. You should wait until you have had your pregnancy scan before you leave because you probably do not want to be in an unfamiliar place / country if you were to develop any problems e.g. bleeding, pain, ectopic pregnancy risk. 

  • What is a blastocyst?

    This is the name given to an embryo that has reached five days of life. The ball of cells has separated into the cluster that will form the baby and the supporting cells that will develop into the afterbirth. The embryo is ready to hatch from its shell and seek implantation (connection) with the womb lining. This is the ideal stage for embryo selection and transfer.

General questions

  • Do I need to be referred by my GP?

    If you want to be seen in the clinic on the NHS you must see your GPs (both partners in a couple) to request a referral and to get your basic tests done. Your GP can find guidance on the tests required through 'Leeds Health Pathways'.

    If you would like to be seen privately, it is still best to get a referral from your GP, and to have the initial tests done. You will get more out of your first appointment with this preliminary information. You can tell your GP which consultant you would like to see and which hospital you would prefer to attend. 

  • How do I get NHS–funded treatment / what are the access criteria?

    NHS-funded fertility treatment is allocated according to local criteria based upon the Clinical Commissioning Group that pays for the services your GP uses in their area. Your GP is the best person to ask if you are 'eligible'.

    Sometimes your partner's situation may influence your eligibility. For example, many CCGs will not fund treatment if one partner has had a child with a previous partner.

    In general:

    • fertility treatment is not NHS-funded over the female age of 43
    • fertility treatment is not NHS-funded for women who are significantly overweight (Body Mass Index higher than 30 kg per m squared)
    • fertility treatment is not NHS-funded for single women

    The details vary from CCG to CCG: please check with your GP. 

  • Do you offer private treatment?

    Yes, we do a lot of private treatment under the same roof (same Licensed laboratory) with the same team of experts.

    This allows for seamless continuity for people who need more than one cycle of treatment and move from being NHS funded patients to privately funded patients.

  • I am interested in finding out more and coming to see you. What do I do now?

    To have an appointment with us, you will need a referral.

    If you would like to visit the clinic before deciding to make an appointment contact us.

  • Am I too old for IVF?

    The chances of successful IVF treatment are more closely related to the age of the woman than any other factor. This is because the eggs a woman has have been in her ovaries since before she was born. They reduce in number and quality over time. By the age of 35, the average woman has already lost about 80% of all her eggs.

    By the menopause (average age 51) they have all virtually disappeared.

    At 43, about 90% of the eggs that are left are abnormal and not capable of producing a healthy baby. Usually they do not fertilise, of, if they do, they do not continue (late period, fleeting positive pregnancy test, early miscarriage).

    IVF is not NHS-funded over the age of 43 because the chances of success are so slim (less than 5%). Most women who conceive in their mid-forties will do so with the help of donated eggs from younger women.

    The age of the male partner is less important. Men continue to make new sperm through their life and the quality is much 'fresher' than eggs of similar age.

  • What is fertility treatment?

    IVF in a nutshell:

    • take hormone injections to make the ovary produce multiple eggs a once, instead of just 1.
    • take a second hormone injection to prevent the body from releasing those eggs until they are all ready
    • take a third hormone to synchronise the release of the eggs
    • collect the eggs (through a needle inside the vagina guided by ultrasound scanning) with sedative and pain-relieving medicines 
    • fertilise the eggs with a fresh sperm sample in the laboratory: allow the embryos to grow
    • select the leading embryo for transfer and insert it into the womb
    • two week wait to pregnancy test
    • three week wait to pregnancy scan (looking for a heartbeat in the baby)
  • How much time off work will I need?

    Your nurse consultation planning appointment will last about 60 mins and requires both partners in a couple to attend. Women will need to have the day of their egg collection procedure off work, and the day after to recover fully from the sedation medication. You will need to take a half day off on the day of your embryo transfer as the timing can vary. 

  • How long does treatment take?

    An IVF treatment cycle takes from four to six weeks (depending on the specific tailor-made program) until the pregnancy test result.

  • What happens if treatment doesn’t work for me?

    All treatment is followed up with a clinic appointment to discuss the details, what we have learned, whether there is anything we would change next time and whether it is sensible to try again.

    Our fertility counsellors are here to support you if needed. They can be very helpful to talk through options as well as coming to terms with disappointment.

  • When will I know if I am pregnant?

    IVF treatment uses different combinations of medications in different situations. You will be advised at your nurse consultation whether you are doing a short or long protocol. This is a decision taken by your consultant in the individual planning process.

    Short protocol: result after about 4 weeks (18 days from egg collection)

    Long protocol: result after about 6 weeks (18 days from egg collection)

  • Can I freeze spare embryos?

    Leeds Fertility freezes embryos in about 60% of treatments. About 90% of these will survive the freezing and thawing process and have a very good chance of producing a pregnancy.

  • Does IVF / ICSI cause any harm to the baby?

    IVF has been done for 40 years. ICSI has been done for nearly 30 years. There have been many studies following the physical and mental health and well-being of IVF / ICSI conceived children. There have been no major concerns that the process of these treatments is doing harm. More than 5 million children have been born form these techniques to date. 

    In the UK, every treatment is registered with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority which gives clinics their license to offer these treatments. The Register permits on-going research as the first IVF / ICSI generation is starting to have their own children. It will take another generation to understand whether some infertility is inherited.

    Our IVF / ICSI patient information leaflet contains more detail

  • Is miscarriage more common after IVF / ICSI?

    No it is not. However, because IVF pregnancies are so closely monitored, very early losses are identified when they may not have been noticed under normal circumstances.

    Miscarriage is actually very common (1 in 4 of all pregnancies end in miscarriage) and is usually the natural consequence of an abnormal or unhealthy pregnancy being 'let go'.