Choosing a fertility clinic - any experiences or help much appreciated

(33 Posts)
worriedmum100 Tue 12-Nov-13 20:12:08

Hello

Quick back story. Been TTC DC2 for 18 months after no problems conceiving DC1. I am nearly 38 and DP is 43. Had all the tests the NHS provides and nothing seems to be wrong. I ovulate naturally no blocked tubes, fibroids or cysts. DP has a slightly low count but not anything to be concerned about according to consultant. Really good motility etc.

I have recently discovered a cyst on my thyroid which is being investigated but I doubt this is the cause of the unexplained secondary infertility because I don't really have any symptoms to suggest hypothyroidism.

So, we have decided to seriously consider assisted conception which we will have to pay for privately.

I have started to research clinics. I've looked on the HFEA website. I live in the South East and seem to have a wide choice but I don't really know where to start with narrowing it down. Is word of mouth best?

A friend went to the Oxford Fertility Unit and says they were good. Success rates seem about in line with national average. But then I looked at ARGC which seems to have double the success rate for women my age (40% vs 23%). Can this be right?

I don't really know how to choose. Can anyone who has been through this offer any advice. Where did you go? How did you find it? What qualities should I be looking for.

Also I'm finding it hard to estimate a realistic cost. The prices for IVF are listed but I have no idea what will be added on top - blood test, drugs etc. I had a figure of 10k in my head - is that about right?

Many thanks in advance.

faulty2015 Mon 21-Sep-15 11:45:54

Would not recommend Lister Hospital. Not what was expected. I went to Lister hospital for egg freezing. I had Dr Jaya Parikh who performed the surgery. On the cycle I was due to start, my follicles were low compared to the previous cycle. I was concerned but Dr Parikh seemed very commercial and money driven and persuaded me that l never know if the next cycle is going to be good cycle in terms of higher number of follicles. So l went ahead. She also said there was a polyp in my uterus that needs to be removed. In fact l never had a polyp and Dr Parikh proliferated and the dialator went through my uterus and l had to do an emergency laporoscopy to check for internal bleeding. I also only had 2 eggs retrieved. Very disappointing. I went to private thinking that I will get better service but please be cautious. I was otherwise healthy now l have scars from laporoscopy and a damaged uterus. Be warned of Dr Parikh, she is not good doctor, and she became very defensive, no apology at all from her. I want to write this, so that other patients do not go through what l did. I also asked for refund and they refused to give me back the £5.8k I spent on the egg freezing. My social life has taken a bad turn as a result, it has left me psychologically damaged.

worriedmum100 Sat 07-Dec-13 09:43:06

Hello

Just a quick update. I went to open evening at CRGH last week and also took up their offer of a free 15 minute consult. I really liked them. Not swish or corporate and seem caring. Dr said that in our particular circumstances he wouldn't necessarily recommend IVF straight away but probably IUI with super ovulation. I need to look into that a bit more but pleased that we may have cheaper less invasive options. He also recommended a closer look at dps sperm (Dna fragmentation test?) And a 3d scan of my uterus to check for any adhesions caused by EMCS. CRGH is convenient for work ans railway station we come into so think we will probably look to start with them after Christmas.

triplespin Fri 06-Dec-13 13:57:39

Hello - I am also just in the initial stages of researching IVF options and am veering towards CRGH based on review so far. ARGC looks great but probably a bit too expensive for us to afford and also CRGH is much closer to work (so more convenent from that perspective).

Does CRGH go the 'chicago' /immunity tests? Would those even be relevant if I have had a successful natural pregnancy before?

Monkfish79 Wed 27-Nov-13 10:38:37

I had a great experience at Oxford. Did two cycles through them with satellite care nearer home in Cambridge for monitoring appts. Loved speaking to their embryologists directly in the days after fertilisation and felt they had a caring yet honest approach. The care I received during egg collection and embryo transfer was fantastic. Dd is now 14 weeks old! I had previously had treatment at Bourn Hall in Cambridgeshire, which I would not recommend.

BettyBi0 Tue 19-Nov-13 03:11:51

We started at Homerton and had a pretty mixed experience (mainly negative/ verging on dangerously neglectful/ wasted a lot of time!)

Then moved treatment to CRGH and the difference in personal care and attention was just amazing. They were really on the ball with latest research and tailored everything to fit. It wasn't cheap though. Although the basic cost of an IVF there was about 3 to 3.5k, once I'd added the cost of my tests, drugs, pre-cycle d&c, ongoing meds in early pregnancy etc it came to about £9,000. Eeeek!

But we were lucky on our first IVF cycle there. I had to use 3 weeks of annual leave to do the cycle as I normally work fixed inflexible shifts and CRGH wanted me to do daily blood tests to monitor my response to the stims drugs. Then every day the senior drs review progress including latest scans and a nurse would call with my exact dose to inject that day. I think this attention to detail is what gets them such great results.

Whereas when I cycled at Homerton they only checked my bloods a couple of times during the stims phase, scanned every 3-5 days, missed some critical things like my thyroid, and I ended up with OHSS which was very scary. They also still went ahead and still transferred 2 blastocysts which was really dangerous considering I already had OHSS. But I guess any positive pregnancy test would help their stats.

So in short I really do think you get what you pay for.

Best of luck x

Callofthewild Mon 18-Nov-13 22:31:51

Another vote for ARGC here. Personally I didn't find it too intensive and the attention to detail by them when you are cycling is meticulous. All your treatment is tailored to suit you as an individual and they are open 7 days a week 365 dyad a year so if for instance they think that the best day for your embryo transferred is Christmas Day well then that's when they'll do it.

It is however very expensive, our cycle (my first IVF cycle) came to around £18k but we now have beautiful twin daughters. Feel free to PM me if you want to know more about the clinic.

worriedmum100 Sun 17-Nov-13 10:10:50

Thanks everyone. I feel like I've narrowed it down in my mind to Lister, ARGC,UCH and poss oxford fertility unit or herts and Essex.

The logistics are potentially going to be tricky because of having ds but sure we'll work something out.

I just wish we knew what the problem is. Maybe the thyroid cyst is causing issues. I also keep going back in my kind to dps count (13 million). Consultant said this was the lower end if satisfactory but that the good motility etc made up for it. Also we got pg with ds so quickly I can't understand why this would be a problem now.

Sorry, drivelling on. AF is here so I also go a bit odd for a few days!

OinkGlitter Fri 15-Nov-13 23:12:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

IloveCheese11 Fri 15-Nov-13 22:48:22

Ooh thank you beginnings, that's very reassuring to hear. Let's hope we do as well as you. Fingers crossed for a BOGOF too!

Dannygirl Fri 15-Nov-13 21:48:48

Another vote for ARGC here, they managed a successful outcome with me when another clinic told me it wouldn't be possible (after 4 years of trying). I agree with a few things that have already been said - ARGC is indeed like IVF boot camp, and also you should consider getting your immunes tested if other things look OK. I also found this article which compares the success rates of clinics in an easy to understand way, I hope you find it useful and all the very best of luck xx

understandinguncertainty.org/fertility

MrsHY1 Fri 15-Nov-13 20:08:20

Another vote for the Lister here. We saw Alison Taylor and for the first time felt like we were being treated as intelligent, unique individuals rather than generic people on a production line (we were at Kings before). Don't get me wrong, the NHS does a fabulous job with the resources it has but I truly believe it was the immune and blood clotting testing and treatment that the Lister recommended that meant our third FET (having two blasts transferred each time) was the successful one, I'm now 37+2 weeks. Good luck with whatever you decide x

BranchingOut Fri 15-Nov-13 16:12:00

Interesting thread.
I have just had an initial appointment at the Bridge, but we didn't come away feeling entirely convinced. I had gone with quite a few test results (day 3 tests, CD 21, swab, bloods, pelvic ultrasound) from the NHS, plus my husband's results, but the Dr didn't seem to feel that much of this was too helpful and said that we had 'unexplained sub fertility' without being too specific about the options open to us....Wants to book me in for another scan and HYCOSY, plus a whole raft of other bloods at £50 a throw... Is this normal?

wifeofdoom Fri 15-Nov-13 16:00:13

I'm at new life in Epsom, they are very professional - specialise in immunity stuff so no surprises when they recommended that after 2 failed cycles there. On the expensive side I think but don't dare count up... It's the cycle cost plus about 8 blood tests at £100 a go and all the drugs. The immunes have been into the thousands before the cycle even starts. They are new so didn't used to have hfea success rates but think they have just published. Lovely facility and I have seen the consultant at every scan, and usually on time. Good luck!

beginnings Fri 15-Nov-13 12:57:53

ilovecheese she is fantastic throughout treatment. Good choice. Pragmatic, caring, very respectful of the rest of the team. She is what a doctor should be.

Good luck - I hope she helps you achieve the same result as she did me.

IloveCheese11 Fri 15-Nov-13 00:37:53

Hi Worried, we have just started with the Lister and I am please with our choice so far. We chose them because of my age (40) as they have a good reputation for success with older women. I have also heard good things about UCH/CRGH

This is our experience to date. Hope it helps.

- We got an appointment pretty quickly and had to fill in lots of forms and send them back beforehand, so quite organised about things. I did it all by email so I could do it at work without anyone knowing.
- At the first appointment I had an ultrasound and day 3 bloods (lucky timing, not deliberate), DP had a SA.
- We saw Dr Parikh who gave us quite a lot of information. Maybe a bit too much to take in if you're new to fertility stuff but I think we got the gist of it and I'd rather have too much than too little. You certainly go away with lots of things to google!!
- Dr Parikh looked at and took copies of all our NHS paperwork and then reviewed our ultrasound and SA then and there. That was great as you wait weeks for that with the NHS.
- I felt she considered our personal circumstances well. We got to ask all our questions and did not feel rushed.
- She gave us forms to take to our GP for all the standard blood tests - thyroid, HIV etc and chlamidya swab. She said that way we could have them on the NHS rather than paying the Lister for them.
- She arranged a telephone appointment to follow up on the bloods and sent us away witha load of information to red (really loads and I still haven't read it).
- The worst part of the experience was handing over my credit card. For the initial appointment, day 3 bloods, SA and ultrasound it cost £680ish. If I could work out how to do smileys, this one would be shocked!

I have now had my follow-up telephone consultation (£145) and we have decided to go ahead with treatment. She was positive but not unrealistic given my poor results. I found her quite lively and energetic which sounds like a weird thing to notice but I was just thinking in contrast to your other experience with Dr Monotone and his tick list.

Re overall cost, I reckon it will be in the £5-6k bracket. Meds could push it up though as I think I will be having high dose.

Good luck with wherever you choose. x

Pinkpinot Wed 13-Nov-13 20:38:42

We had a very impersonal experience at the Bridge, lots of reading files as we were in the appt, nothing was explained very well, and there was always another test we needed, nothing seemed very organised or thorough

Wouldn't recommend, heard better things about the Lister

galwaygirl Wed 13-Nov-13 20:29:09

Hi, can't help with clinics but we were up in Scotland and when it came to deciding I went with the stats (since I work with them haha) and it worked fantastically for us. In
Would definitely contact ARGC (not sure if I've arsed that up) and look into their figures.
We were unexplained, I was 31 and we got DD from a fresh ICSI cycle (single blast transferred) and DS two years later from a single FET and we have three more in the freezer.
We had our fresh cycle in 2011 and I'd say it was more like £7,500 all in. We went for ICSI as we were unexplained and didn't want to find out there was an egg wall or sperm issue through a failed fertilisation. It doesn't add much to the cost and could potentially save loads.

Best of luck xx

TattyCatty Wed 13-Nov-13 20:15:47

Gah - there, not their on the first line. Been a long day!

TattyCatty Wed 13-Nov-13 20:15:00

If you're looking for positive experiences, can I put in a vote for CRGH (formerly ACU at UCH)? My DD was conceived their via IUI back in 2005, and the staff were wonderful. They were in a really run down building at the back of UCH back then, and I remember feeling a little peeved about the basic facilities given the money we were spending, but the care and expertise easily made up for it!

I had a torrid time in the early stages, as my HcG levels weren't rising fast enough and they were struggling to visualise the pregnancy in my uterus, but all of the medical team were so supportive. When we finally saw a heartbeat at 7 weeks, Paul Serhal, the Clinical Director ran over and gave me the biggest hug, whilst announcing to the entire reception area that "the baby we thought wasn't going to make it is going to be just fine" grin.

If you do carry on working during treatment, ease of access to the clinic is a big consideration. I was backwards and forwards for scans every couple of days, but was able to go either just before work or during lunch breaks.

I don't have any up to date info on success rates, but from a personal point of view, they are responsible for my DD and my 3 darling nieces, so we're big fans. Good luck!

Buildingamystery Wed 13-Nov-13 20:05:49

What is it about these terrible clinics? I had a woeful experience at Create. Rude, ignored calls and in the end I have just given up on them. So disappointing to be back at square one again. Looking at the Bridge or maybe the Lister. I don't know!

worriedmum100 Wed 13-Nov-13 19:32:00

Thanks again. This really is very helpful. I talked to dp about viewing it as a 3 cycle thing but he's not keen on doing it more than once (for financial and emotional) reasons but is open to the idea of freezing and FET (if poss).

I'm a bit torn on the work thing. On the one hand I can see that it might be a distraction but on the other I'm not sure if I could cope with stress on three fronts (work, IVF, caring for ds). My job has time critical elements (court deadlines) so would be difficult if they clashed with treatment days. Will think on it though.

Thanks again for sharing your experiences.

ceara Wed 13-Nov-13 18:31:49

Sorry, I meant to say, your FSH is better than mine was :-) And my ageing ovaries managed 13 eggs and 4 good quality blastocysts after very average drug doses. So don't write your eggs off just yet.

I work in London too and worked through both my cycles except for egg retrieval and embryo transfer days, so I would say it is doable as long as you have enough flexibility to go in a little late on days when you have scans (generally early morning). Work for me was a sanity preserving distraction :-) Also, our consultant advised seeing IVF as a course of 3 cycles and focussing on cumulative success rates, so on that basis I wouldn't have had enough leave not to work through the cycles anyway!

ceara Wed 13-Nov-13 18:21:09

Definitely second the advice to go to some open evenings to get a general impression of several clinics and where you feel comfortable. It's an emotional roller coaster so feeling supported and trusting those treating you makes a huge difference in getting through it, especially if a cycle isn't successful.

In relation to costs, clinics have different "added extras". Where I went the cost was all inclusive except for drugs, and embryo freezing (if relevant), so the cycle cost under £4,000 all in - £3000 plus the drugs. Freezing our extra blastocysts plus the FET cycle was another £1500 approx. That was all earlier this year.

ARGC get good results but are very much IVF boot camp with very intensive (and costly) monitoring during the cycle, which doesn't suit everyone. I know I couldn't have coped with all the appointments and blood tests.

When looking at quoted success rates make sure you know what a clinic's figures relate to ie positive pregnancy test, clinical pregnancy (sustained to 6-7 weeks), or healthy baby.

For what it's worth I'm 39, unexplained infertility ie all good on paper, and I am pregnant after one straightforward (failed) IVF cycle and an FET. Both times we had a single blastocyst transferred on the advice of the embryologist. We didn't have immunes testing as our consultant didn't advocate it in our situation -just the standard tests which the NHS paid for- though I know immunes testing has helped other people.

Best wishes.

worriedmum100 Wed 13-Nov-13 17:58:28

Thank you all this is so helpful. I have an FSH of 6 and a borderline satisfactory/low fertility AMH so guess ARGC would accept me but wary of the hype. Perhaps I'm over cynical but if it seems too good to be true it usually is!

I'm worried that at the end of the day, the cause is just that I'm older and popping out rubbish eggs and IVF won't help with that sad

I work in London so a London clinic would be doable but not sure I'd want to be working at the same time as treatment that is so time critical. Job is quite stressful so am thinking of taking leave. Not sure if it counts as sick leave?

The Chiltern won't be on my shortlist! Sorry you had that experience.

beginnings Wed 13-Nov-13 12:15:13

Oh cwtching how horrible! Good luck at the Lister - it's such a supportive environment. DD2 is a BOGOF baby - arriving only 16 months after DD1. At 7 weeks I was a bit worried symptoms were abating and really wanted a scan. I called the Lister and asked if I could just come and have one - I think I phrased it as "would you see an old friend". Of course I had to pay for it but they were delighted to see me - I got a big hug from my consultant when I bumped into her in the corridor, the sonographer I always see was practically dancing a jig for me and was thrilled to put up a photo of DD1 in her office. I had the odd niggle about some of the service I received there and some of things that happened along the way (two fresh cycles, one frozen) but in the main, I have nothing but praise for them.

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