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 cancer treatment, you'll usually only be considered for infertility investigations and treatment if you've been trying for a baby for at least a year without becoming pregnant.

If appropriate, your GP can refer you to a fertility specialist at an NHS hospital or fertility clinic.

Seeing a fertility specialist

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

Women may have tests to check the levels of hormones in their blood and how well their ovaries are working. They may also have an ultrasound scan 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 about diagnosing infertility.

At the assisted conception unit

Once you're accepted for treatment at the assisted conception unit, you and your partner will have blood tests for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, and to check if you're immune to rubella. Your cervical screening tests should also be up to date.

The specialist will investigate the amount of eggs in your body and their quality (your ovarian reserve) to estimate how your ovaries will respond to IVF treatment.

This can be assessed by measuring a substance called anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) in your blood, or by counting the number of egg-containing follicles, known as your antral follicle count (AFC), using a vaginal ultrasound scan.

Your specialist will then discuss your treatment plan with you in detail and talk to you about any support or guidance you may find helpful.

Read more about what happens during IVF and the support available during IVF.

Page last reviewed: 01/06/2015

Next review due: 01/06/2017