IVF - Getting started 

Getting started 

If you're having problems getting pregnant, see your GP. They will look at your medical history and give you a physical examination.

They may also recommend some lifestyle changes to help fertility.

Unless there are reasons that may put you at high risk of infertility, such as treatment for cancer in the past, you'll only be considered for infertility investigations and treatment after you've been trying for a baby for at least a year without becoming pregnant.

Your GP will be able to refer you to an infertility specialist at an NHS hospital or fertility clinic.

Referral to an infertility specialist

The specialist will ask about your fertility history, and may carry out a physical examination.

For women, you may have tests to check the levels of hormones in the blood and how well the ovaries are working. You may also have an ultrasound or X-ray, to see if there are any blockages or structural problems.

Men may be asked for a semen sample to test sperm quality.

If the specialist thinks your infertility could be treated by IVF, or if you've been unable to conceive for at least two years, you may qualify for funding for IVF treatment.

If IVF is the best treatment for you, the specialist will refer you to an assisted conception unit (see below).

Read more information about diagnosing infertility.

The assisted conception unit

Once you're accepted for treatment at the assisted conception unit, you and your partner will have a blood test for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and syphilis, and to check that you're immune to rubella (German measles). Also, your cervical screening tests should be up to date.

The specialist will investigate the amount of eggs in your body and their quality (your ovarian reserve). It will be assessed by measuring your anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) level.

This can be done with a blood test or by counting the number of egg containing follicles, known as your antral follicle count (AFC), using vaginal ultrasound. An AMH test can be done on any day of your cycle. Your AMH and AFC levels help to estimate how your ovaries will respond to IVF treatment.

Additional semen samples may be required.

The specialist will then discuss your treatment plan with you in detail.

Read more information about how IVF is performed.

You will need to sign consent forms giving permission for the use or storage of your eggs, sperm or embryos throughout the procedure.

You may find you need support and guidance while going through this process. Some people find counselling helpful.

Read more about the benefits of counselling and how to access it on the HFEA website.


Page last reviewed: 01/08/2013

Next review due: 01/08/2015

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The 12 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

paulacharles said on 30 October 2012

Can anyone give me some info im 33 years old and i lost a baby 2 years ago as a ectopic then the next year i miscarried so clearly i have problems and my gp is not very good and i want helo to have a baby as thats all i think about but my problem is i dont have the money to go private and im now single so how do i get on to the list for free ivf on the nhs and do they also help single woman if they dont have a sperm guy to help?

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Dean1973 said on 05 October 2012

Hi. My partner and i have been trying for a baby since 2001. We have had countless misscarriges, one being a nightmare as we lost our baby 20+ weeks into the pregnancy. We have had all the necessary tests including genetic testing, and was told everthng was fine! But still we continued to have further misscarriges.

Recently things have taken a turn for the worst as my semen has now started to deteriorate. We are currenlty going through a referral for IVF by our GP, but have just been informed we're not eligable becuase my wife has children from her previous marrige, but her children are not with us, thye were taken away from her and adopted becuase of her abusive husband. I myself do not have any children and would very much like to have a baby with my wife. How is this fair?

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chyna said on 08 August 2012

I've been having fertility problems from 2005 back and forth from my gp and hospital always trying to receive the help I need to receive treatment for ivf. Im in a 6 year relationship I have two children but my partner has none. I'm on a low income but desperate to have a child with my partner is it likely we could get help with funding even if I have children already from my previous relationship? My gp is not much help and its becoming a major issue in my life, I would love to know what help is out there for me.

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Alena84 said on 13 June 2012

Hello everyone. We picking our jabs on the 2 of July. We find out, that we are entitled to have multiple eggs to put in me and not only one! The consultant said to us, that there is a risk to have twins and that either one or could be both having cystic fibrosis and more health issues, and so we was very put off and just was left shocked, scared and frozen by it. We are glad to be picked from NHS to have the chance to be parents. Should we talk to them again? Does any of you have a similar experience and could give us advice pls? Thank you xx

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Alena84 said on 13 June 2012

Hello everyone. We picking our jabs on the 2 of July. We find out, that we are entitled to have multiple eggs to put in me and not only one! The consultant said to us, that there is a risk to have twins and that either one or could be both having cystic fibrosis and more health issues, and so we was very put off and just was left shocked, scared and frozen by it. We are glad to be picked from NHS to have the chance to be parents. Should we talk to them again? Does any of you have a similar experience and could give us advice pls? Thank you xx

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claudia6662 said on 26 February 2012

Reguarding this to Planning happiness, i dont know whether your still in the same situation as you were in feb 2011 but i just wanted to give you some advice if you still are.
I have been in the same situation as yourself, i have been with the same partner for nearly 10 years and have never fallen pregnant once.
Like yourself i went to the doctors, saying i have never been pregnant and that we are wanting a child and they kept fobbing me off saying we will test your bloods, check for infections blah blah.
Its been only been with constant nagging to my doctors that i finally got refered and now hopefully will starting IVF.
My main point to you is dont give up and keep on going to see your gp, keep on telling them, thats the best thing you could do.
I wish you the best of luck xxxx

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ANITA BUBBLES said on 10 November 2011

i was told at 17 that i had gone through the menapause, which was a big shock . at the time i was only told that i would have a to be in a stable relationship and be over the age of 25 to recieve i.v.f. when i was 23 i found the man i wanted to marry and we went to see abou the waiting list and ask more questions. we were then refused as my partner had children which i didnt know was part of the cryteria. we duid make a complaint and then shortly after ended up with his children. i have now left that partner and is wanted and have wanted all this time to have a child of my own. i understand that i will have to pay for it but i am on my own how can i go about it ?

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arnoldmt said on 31 July 2011

Since me and my wife transferred here in Pontefract,we continously tried our IVF consultation and medication.Since my wife is on average 80 kg.,the IVF treatment is not done since the NHS has the weight to be followed with respect to height and age.Despite all these matter,my wifes monthly period is irregular,and it comes o a point were she is getting ill and having some problems in adopting the requirements of IVF treatment.From Pontefract General Infirmary,Pinderfields General Infirmary (Wakefield),Saint James Hospital (Leeds),to Seacroft Hospital (Leeds),were the first treatment for IVF was done Nov. to Dec. 2010.At that time I'm 45 years old and my wife is 41. Unfortunately,it was unsuccesful,because we both get ill that time.Then we were informed that if we want to proceed on the second time,we will pay all the bills,approx.£ 5,000 minimum and no assurance as same as the first treatment.Now we decided to ask a copy of all our document and we did pay £50 for it.Are we still eligible for free IVF treatment? Where can we ask for help about this matter?Because we cannot afford to pay these treatment.We need your advice about these problem.

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sparklz said on 11 February 2011

Comment to planning for happyness...fingers crossed for you i know how stressfull all the waiting is, best wishes x

I am 28 and have been trying to conceve for 1.6 years. I have PCOS and have known for 6 years. I have had blood tests done, thyroyd is normal but my LH hormone level is none existant. so I am not ovulating/ producing eggs. My parner was then refered to get his sperm tested and he is Azoospermia (no sperm,blockage or so we think). My doctor has refered us to a fertility clinic in out local hopital for more tests. I hope they can help us with possible IVF? ... thanks for reading and good luck to all you trying to conceve x

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sparklz said on 11 February 2011

Comment to:Planning for happyness...
After my blood test I was asked to schedule an apointment to disccuss the next steps...my parner was refered to have his sperm tested and i was refered to the infretility clinic at our local hospital. My results were that i was not ovulating i had no LH hormone and my thyroid was normal. Best wishes to you...i know how frustrating this all can be x

I was told i have PCOS 6 years ago, me and my partner have been together 4 years and trying to conceve for 1.6 years I am 28.This will be our first child. I have had tests done and I am not producing eggs. My partner has had his sperm count done and has Azoospermia (Blockage/ birth defect). We have an apointment to see a specilist at a fertility clinic in a few weeks and im hoping that we can have IVF as i should still have eggs and he has sperm (or we think he does and its an obstruction). Im unsure what to expect but trying to keep positive!...Id be happy to hear your comments...thank you.

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Planning happiness said on 07 February 2011

I will be 37 years old this year and my husband will be 40 and we have been trying for some time to get pregnant (this will be our first child). I went to my GP who sent me to get blood tests done. I called for the results they said they were "ok" and nothing else...apparently no follow up gets scheduled to discuss the results. They said the next step is to try for another year...this doesn't seem right. Is it up to the individual GP to decide if I should get a referral and if so can you change GPs to get another opinion because the longer I wait the less chance I have of conceiving.

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dahan said on 06 April 2010

we had 2 ivf in aintree hospital(faild)
paid for by the nhs.
that was in 2000,can we apply again?or can you send me some information how to go on for another go even if we have to pay for it.
thank you

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