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IVF Clinics in London - Should I Switch or Stay with My Current Clinic?

(36 Posts)
extremelychocolateymilkroll Thu 02-Apr-09 16:10:26

Just wondering if anyone has any ideas as to whether it's a good idea to change clinics after a couple of cycles? After a naturally conceived miscarriage in December 05 I've had 2 cycles at the ACU at Chelsea and Westminster. Had dd from first cycle, 2nd cycle failed but was able to freeze some eggs and became pregnant from that cycle but miscarried 3 weeks ago at 9 weeks. I'm 42 in July so realise that age is obviously affecting the quality of my eggs. In a way the clinics are not really doing that much with IVF. Once the correct drug dosage is achieved and providing they can take out and return the eggs okay there's not much more involved. On the failed cycle had a different doctor put them back - don't know if that made a difference. The Lister obviously has a good reputation, deals with many more women and has a better success rate for my age group - 23% compared to 16% for Chelsea and Westminster. Then of course there's ARGC which seems to achieve better results by monitoring women more closely.

Have an appointment booked at the Lister for end April and waiting to hear back from ARGC just to hear what they say - but of course they will want to sell their clinics. Anyone have any advice? TIA

Onlyaphase Thu 02-Apr-09 16:31:00

I'm in the process of changing clinics at the moment, caused by a 250 mile move north, and had much the same debate with myself before changing clinics.

I would say that you really have to go on results for your age group to a large extent. It is nice to be able to go back to a clinic where you know the nurses and receptionists by name, but I think the most recent live birth results are the key. Also, the more women undergoing treatment the better in some respects - for example, the busier clinic will do egg collections each day, so you aren't made to fit in with their timing requirements over your own cycles.

Is it possible for you to visit the other clinics and have a consultation first, to see how they would treat you? This might help clarify your thoughts.

MrsHappy Thu 02-Apr-09 17:06:52

Most of the clinics run open evenings so you can go along and get a feel for the place. I felt it worth paying for an initial consultation so I could meet a consultant on my own and work out if I felt comfortable. I guess you still need to work out if you want to move at all, and seeing the places might just help with that.

ARGC does get good results although the process seemed somewhat rigorous to me and I ended up thinking of it as the clinic of last resort. Of course, many women swear by the place.

Have you considered the UCH ACU? I believe their current results are amongst the best. See here. I had some investigations there but then conceived naturally so don't know how they go about IVF, although from what I have read they seem quite thorough - doing a dummy transfer etc.

Have you also considered asking the ladies on Fertility Friends about their experiences of the different clinics? Some of them have been at more than one and so might have a helpful perspective to offer.

extremelychocolateymilkroll Thu 02-Apr-09 17:08:20

Thanks onlyaphase. How are things with you - how are you feeling? I'm still getting very light bleeding and it's 3 weeks today since it started. My GP said that it was impossible to say how long the bleeding would last but what was important was that it was getting lighter. I'm still feeling a bit more tired than usual but nothing as bad as a week or so after the bleeding.

Your comment that your consultant had said that miscarriage was a positive sign was one of the factors which contributed to me thinking of having another cycle. I had been thinking to myself that it would have been better all round if I had just had another failed cycle rather than a positive test and then a miscarriage but his comments - and those of other people - made me review this and think it might be worth giving it another shot. I also spoke to my doctor re. my concerns about long term effects of the drugs and she said that it was not really significant compared to taking the Pill for years or being on HRT.

I think I've become hardened not to be too bothered by the bedside manner - or lack of it - of the nurses and doctors. The doctor who did the egg collection for our first cycle says fairly insensitive things quite regularly. After putting back the two embryos this time he said, presciently as it happened, "If they're any good, they'll stick". But he was partly responsible for our daughter so I can't hold it against him or expect too much really. The other doctor who put the eggs back on that occasion spent the whole time on our first consultation with him looking at my husband - except when he looked at me to say "Well, we can't make you any younger" - which strangely enough wasn't why we had gone to see him. But again, he was partly responsible for dd.

I agree that results are the most significant factor and if the clinic has done more procedures I guess they should be more efficient at it. The Lister did 476 cycles for my age group and Chelsea and Westminster 48 in the last recorded year. I know that I have read that you should lie down for 30 minutes after the eggs have been put back. At C+W the most I managed was 10 minutes before being shunted off whereas a friend said that at the Cromwell they insisted that you wait for half an hour.

I've got an appointment booked for the Lister at the end of April and need to call ARGC back on Monday - apparently there's a 6-8 week wait for a visit there.

extremelychocolateymilkroll Thu 02-Apr-09 17:11:37

Thanks MrsHappy. Will look at UCH and Fertility Friends. I alsways susspected ARGC of being a bit dodgy to be able to produce such results but it does seem from what a lot of people say that the extra monitoring they do has a lot to do with it. A friend of mine has a friend with PCOS who had 9 failed cycles, went to ARGC and on her first cycle there had twins and 6 frozen embryos. It's kind of hard not to be swayed by anecdotal experience like that.

Onlyaphase Thu 02-Apr-09 20:03:31

Hi Chocolatey - thanks for asking, I'm actually doing fine. My bleeding only lasted a week and was relatively painless in comparison to some periods, so I guess I'm back to normal physically now. Good that your bleeding has slowed down, hope it stops soon.

I was all set to quit IVF after the last cycle, but after the miscarriage I had a re-think and realised that it wasn't that I couldn't face any more IVF, but that it was the trek to the clinic I couldn't face. I was still using my old clinic in the south, we used to live so close to them, they had great results and we had DD on our first cycle with them.....but they are a long way away and I was sick of the travelling. So, when I looked locally I was really pleased to find a good hospital based clinic, with fab results (1 in 3 for my age group) and I am so pleased we have decided to go ahead.

I think the problem is that age-wise we have to rush ahead now, we can't delay. For me the key is that I don't want to regret anything in 5 years time, I don't want to look back and wish I'd had more cycles now. If things don't work out then so be it, but I feel that I really want to give it one or two last shots now.

Completely agree that visiting the potential clinics is the best way forward. Good luck with the visits

soosy Thu 02-Apr-09 20:22:39

Only so sorry to hear your news - I hope you are ok and send lots of love. You are right about regrets and yes I too am at it again and strangely the Chelsea and Westminster!

extremely I think I can guess who your consultant was and not wanting to mention names I have a friend who thinks he may be on the autistic spectrum (my friends daughter has asperger's, so she wasn't being rude just pointing out a fact from her experiences).

I have been with the C&W for 11years I have spoken with my preferred consultant may times about different treatment and there is little evidence to support much of it. They also as a NHS clinic have to treat every one, I know ARGC are very picky about their clients and when they do their cycles, as for them their success rate is everything. I just think I don't get pregnant very easily.

I think the most important thing is you feel comfortable at your chosen clinic as probably being relaxed is the most important thing when doing IVF. Incidentally Sam Abdullah at The Lister was one of the consultants I used to see at C&W. Finally I was told by my Obstetrician who delivered my darling boy that it was the embryologist who was the most important person in all this! Good Luck with whatever you decide.

extremelychocolateymilkroll Thu 02-Apr-09 23:19:36

Glad to hear you're doing okay Onlyaphase and that the bleeding didn't last too long. I agree that we just need to do all we can so that we don't regret not trying later. It's great that you've got a good clinic. How old is your dd?

Hi soosy - good to meet another C+W veteran. VERY interesting what you say re. the consultant. Would love to check that it's the same consultant we're thinking of - are you emailable through CAT? Very interesting what you were told about the embryologist - have always been very impressed with the embryologists at C+W.

extremelychocolateymilkroll Fri 03-Apr-09 11:40:51


Caitni Fri 03-Apr-09 12:19:22

hi extremelychoclateymilkroll

so sorry to hear about your m/c sad (and yours Onlyaphase sad).

I'm planning to start IVF at the Lister in a couple of months. I was initially impressed by their stats but am now more comfortable with the collegiate atmosphere there, as Sam Abdallah (who I saw initially but I'm now under Dr Jaya Parikh) is quite anti the idea of "brand name" IVF consultants where women are deperate to see a particular doctor as a "miracle worker". This was part of what made me uncomfortable about the ARGC as it's all about Mr Taranissi there (though their stats are so impressive that it's hard not to be tempted).

I actually asked about this at the Lister on my first consultatation and was told that it would depend on the outcomes but that if there was no success (live birth) after three cycles then it may be best for the patient to move clinics. Having said that, Mr Abdallah went on to emphasise that he's also happy to treat women who've had failed cycles elsewhere...

Going to see a few clinics (and checking out Fertility Friends - though it's far too "hun"/emoticon heavy for me to post there!) is a good idea. Whatever you decide I hope you get excellent treatment and you get your baby smile

extremelychocolateymilkroll Fri 03-Apr-09 13:02:56

Hi Caitni. Good to hear from you.

It's interesting what you say about the different approaches the clinics have. A friend of mine is pregnant with her 3rd cycle under Dr Parikh. She had a baby with her 2nd cycle as well. She was really impressed with Dr Parikh - she found her quietly confident and honest. Have you had any cycles anywhere else?

I was wondering if one of the difference between ARGC and other clinics was the daily scans to check progress with follicles - this seems to the opinions of some people.

I have posted a couple of questions in Fertility Friends but haven't had any response yet. Makes you appreciate MN even more! I do know what you mean about the huns and emoticons. The flashing is giving me a bit of a headache. I saw you can turn them off but haven't got around to it yet.

Best of luck.

Caitni Fri 03-Apr-09 14:09:10

Wow, thanks for telling me about your friend and her experiences with Dr Parikh!! Much appreciated smile as any positive anecdotes help...

I've not had any tx anywhere yet, as we were only diagnosed with male factor in Feb and I needed a bit of time to get my head around it before we started blush. But Dr Parikh was so sympathetic and nice that scheduling treatment for May/June was no problem.

I think the daily scans at the ARGC must definitely help explain their phenomenal success, but for me it would be impossible to have that and continue with daily life (and I've told my employer about my plans and they're supportive - must be verging on impossible if you don't tell your employer!).

Keep us posted about what you decide - and thanks for the tip re turning off all those emoticons on FF. I never managed to stick around on the site long enough to figure out how to make it all stop grin

londonlottie Fri 03-Apr-09 16:40:15

Message withdrawn

extremelychocolateymilkroll Fri 03-Apr-09 22:20:45

Hi Caitni

I know of two other girls who had success at the Lister. Both on their first cycle had a baby. One of the girls had to have IVF because her husband has had chemo and she has had 2 babies. The other girl's husband had ICSI. Another thing I was told was that over a third of women treated at the Lister are over 40. One friend in her mid thirties said she always felt like she was the youngest person there. There are lots of really positive comments on MN about Sam Adbullah and on Fertility Friends from what I have seen.

I would advise braving those flashing emoticons (until you've worked out how to turn them off) and loveys/huns as I've been getting a few really good replies from Fertility Friends. As lottie says, many IVF doctors feel that a lot of the daily scans at ARGC are unnecessary. Surely if they were felt to be necessary at other clinics they would also do them?

Hi londonlottie

Thanks for your reply. Sorry your first cycle didn't work. I know lots of people who have been successful on their second cycle. Some people feel that the first cycle helps the doctors to establish the correct drug dosage. I've never heard of the three-cycle deal before. It's good that you've got a free cycle on the NHS. I don't know anyone who has been able to do this. In my area you have to be 36 or under to qualify. Best of luck with your cycle at Guys. When does that start?

What is the Assisted Conception thread called?

It's really great to hear from people with similar stories.

londonlottie Sat 04-Apr-09 00:38:16

Message withdrawn

extremelychocolateymilkroll Sat 04-Apr-09 17:32:51

Hi londonlottie

Not sure how to turn off those emoticons -did see there was the option on one page but can't seem to find that page again now. If I do I will let you know. Congratulations on your wedding. Maybe the fact that you've had a lot else on will be positive in that you won't have had time to obsess too much? You may well be trying to protect yourself. All I can say is that each time the signs haven't looked good - on my first cycle - things have worked out - our dd. With the second and third cycles - better response, pregnancy from frozen cycle - no joy. You just never can tell. Best of luck and let us know how you get on.

Onlyaphase Sun 05-Apr-09 20:09:19

Hi Soosy lovely to hear from you. I was wondering how you were getting on, if you had changed clinics and were starting treatment again, as I remembered you would try and schedule this over the Easter holidays. Best of luck anyway

Lottie congratulations on your wedding and hope your scan goes well

I get my AMH tests results this week - has anyone else had this test? I was happy enough for it to be done until the nurse said that taking the test was a bit like sudden death - if the results are crap it is game over. Cheering to hear this, yes?

Oh and Chocolately the Assisted Conception thread is here handily called Assisted Conception and the bits inbetween

mummytowillow Sun 05-Apr-09 22:12:05


I had my first ICSI at The Lister, sadly it didn't work but they are very good at what they do, ARGC are also very good, BUT they do daily blood tests, so if you have to travel it can be very stressful, also very hard on your wallet, but he does get very good success rates, if I had to choose I would go for The Lister. (SEFC in Tonbridge have excellent results as well)??

We decided to try Guys ACU, self funded as our GP told us they were good, our 2nd cycle worked but I sadly miscarried, but our 3rd worked to and we have a wonderful little girl (19 months), I threw everything at this cycle as it was our last go, acupuncture, Zita West vits, sick leave, bed rest after ET and those horrid Gestone injections! If I can recommend anything I would say acupuncture and Zita West vitamins, I swear buy them, not cheap but worth it!

I wish all of you so much luck on your journey and hope you all get your dream.


Feel free to pick my brains if you have anymore questions!!

extremelychocolateymilkroll Sun 05-Apr-09 22:40:55

Hi mummytowillow

Thanks very much for your response. We've both got wonderful little girls of 19 months and it just makes it all worthwhile, doesn't it?

Will definitely look into your recommendations.

extremelychocolateymilkroll Mon 06-Apr-09 10:21:26

Thanks Onlyaphase - will check out that thread.

extremelychocolateymilkroll Mon 06-Apr-09 22:55:25


LadyMuck Mon 06-Apr-09 23:17:06

Well both the Lister and the ARGC have excellent success rates with women, especially older women. But as someone else has mentioned, a clinic is only as good as its latest sets of results, so it is worth checking what the most recent results are for women in your age group for each clinic.

I was a Lister patient, and they recommend thinking about thinking about a course of treatment being 3 cycles in total. They would also disagree with the view that the clinic doesn't do much as they do view that the role of the embryologist is key.

My perception of the 2 clinics is that the Lister is a bit more relaxed. We took the decision to limit the number of eggs to be fertilised as we didn't want to destroy surplus embryos (knowing that this would reduce our probability of success). I'm not sure whether ARGC would have been as generous. But I don't think that there is necessarily anything wrong in their approach.
I'd be tempted to start with Lister and then view the ARGC as a back-up.

extremelychocolateymilkroll Mon 06-Apr-09 23:45:42

Thanks for posting LadyMuck. We have our appointment at the Lister at the end of April and waiting to hear back from ARGC. That could be a long wait but we have been told that they do get cancellations.

FanoftheLister Mon 06-Apr-09 23:56:21

I don't have any views about changing clinics but (as my name suggests) I cannot praise the Lister enough. We owe our beautiful daughter to them.

extremelychocolateymilkroll Tue 07-Apr-09 11:53:21

Thanks for your feedback FanoftheLister. Glad to hear you were successful.

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