Thames Valley Fertility vs Embryolab/Serum

(19 Posts)
ttcrainbowbabypatel Tue 04-Sep-18 22:00:31

Hi ladies, I'm hoping you can help

After our first round of ivf at the Lister clinic this summer, we have decided not to move forward with them again. Although I know it's a highly rated clinic, they are not only expensive but made a fundamental error that we can't overlook.

We are patients of Jonathan Ramsay (London based urologist) who has helped us narrow down our options for the next clinic as we've spent the last few weeks researching, focusing on ivf clinics abroad. He suggested Thames Valley Fertility and more specifically, Dr George Christopoulos. He believes Dr George and his clinic have an individualised approach and the expertise we need to be a good clinic for us. He also highly praises their approach to male fertility and their lab. He did say Embryolab and Serum (both in Greece) are his first two recommendations but that Thames Valley is worth a look.

The trouble is I can't find anything on it. I know the clinic is probably around one year old and that he doctor, while very experienced, is quite young as well. I don't know anyone who has been there and I am worried about putting another £5-£10k in the hands of a clinic when I have no other information to go on.

Have any of you ladies been patients there? Do you have any reviews? Is there a place where I can find more information?

We are aiming to see them this month but the rush is on - my husband's recent semen anlysis and culture tell us he no longer has antibodies in his sperm and the quality is the best it's been in a year so we'd like to freeze a sample wherever we go.

Can anyone help us? I'd really appreciate some guidance. I know his youth shouldn't be a reason to discount him but I think the decision to choose this second clinic is even more stressful than the first.

Thank you in advance!

OP’s posts: |
ttcrainbowbabypatel Wed 05-Sep-18 13:30:04


OP’s posts: |
AniSL Wed 05-Sep-18 14:57:10


I live near the Thames Valley fertility clinic and my NHS Gynae also works there. She was very insistent that we try her private clinic as we couldnt get NHS funding, however, the way in which she treated me and DH we immediately decided it wasn't for us. We have heard some really good things about it but when the trust is gone, its gone. We decided to look at Serum but we lost faith in them when they focussed on me rather than DH as having the problem, despite all other clinics advising it wad DH. We were told not long after that Serum was really good with working with female factor but not male factor.
We opted for a clinic that is actually across the road from embryolab, Newlife. Cannot fault them. They found good quality sperm when DH had been written off by others

EarlGreyT Wed 05-Sep-18 15:45:38

We’ve had treatment at embryolab for male and female factor. I can really recommend them and thought they were very thorough. Happy to answer any specific questions. They definitely freeze sperm there normally, but if high sperm DFI is an issue which they can’t resolve with medication they may choose to do a testicular sperm extraction.

ttcrainbowbabypatel Wed 05-Sep-18 18:48:47

AniSl, thanks for your message.

We haven't been to see Thames Valley yet and I don't know if we will. I just found out the 'lead consultant', George Christopoulous is now working there part time. Thursdays and Fridays only. That doesn't seem like a good sign, especially given the clinic has been there a year. I suspect he's working between clinics.

As for Serum, they were very receptive to it being male factor for us given our previous issues with dna fragmentation. Our first call with them was a bit challenging due communication problems but we are speaking to Peny tomorrow to see what she recommends. I'm glad Serum hasn't told us they'd blast me full of drugs or change the protocol too much from what our former clinic suggested for round two.

We have an appointment with Newlife soon. How is it so far? Have you been there? How far along are you in your ivf round? We speak to them next week. Thank you again.

OP’s posts: |
ttcrainbowbabypatel Wed 05-Sep-18 18:53:05

EarlGreyT, thanks so much for coming back to me about Embryolab. I don't see much feedback about them online but I know they made Global Clinic Report's top ten European IVF clinics for 2018. They work really closely / well with Jonathan Ramsay which is a huge comfort. We spoke to Anna and Dr Mikalis last time. Can I message you, please?

OP’s posts: |
AniSL Wed 05-Sep-18 22:52:42

We had a cycle in May, unfortunately blasts did not make it to day 5, it was our first cycle. We are due for cycle 2 in 10 days.

Even though the cycle failed, I cannot fault them, good decent honest advice, explained everything simply and had lots of time for us, cannot praise Dr Dovas or Chrysa enough. They have never made me feel bad about my age or my weight, unlike other clinics. We had TESE and we have a couple of vials ice, amazing news for DH who was told he would never have a biological child.
They are state of the art and do not make us spend money on unnecessary tests or procedures.

I am glad your experience with Serum was better than ours, they were really quite unpleasant to us.

Bottom line is choose a clinic you trust and feel comfortable with


Scottishgirl85 Thu 06-Sep-18 09:38:24

My friend went to Thames Valley a few months ago and from fifteen eggs only one fertilised and didn't make it to transfer. No idea why the cycle was so bad, probably nothing to do with the clinic but people's reviews will usually be based on whether it worked or not.
We have severe mfi and went to reprofit in Czech republic. The fertilisation rate was amazing considering my husband's atrocious sperm. We got 12 out of 15 and my husband has only a hundred thousand sperm per sample, of which none of them move and most are deformed. I would highly recommend that clinic. Good luck.

ttcrainbowbabypatel Fri 07-Sep-18 11:40:33

Hi Scottishgirl85, thanks for the information. I don't know anyone at Thames Valley and not sure this is the place for us. We have heard the consultant we wanted to see is now only there part time. Not sure how much sense that makes for a couple who would be driving an hour each way to go there for treatment. I wonder why he hasn't stayed or how committed he could be if he's there two days a week - potentially, he's working at another clinic as they're all associated with Hammersmith.

I'm glad you had success in Reprofit. I am afraid my husband doesn't want us to go so far. It seems Greece is where we're going to be going.

OP’s posts: |
twinkledag Fri 07-Sep-18 12:59:05

I went to Serum for ivf number 3. Had my best ever results from them - 5 blastos. Had 3 transferred which ended in miscarriage wsad. Then the FET failed. We're now going to try Reprofit as Serum don't do PGS testing.

Lipsticktraces Sat 08-Sep-18 11:51:52

I had a hyseroscopy at Serum, but don’t recommend them. They gave me false hope regarding my premature ovarian failure, trying to tell me I’d been misdiagnosed and then changing their minds later on.

I then went to New Life for ED IVF. It worked first time and I’m currently sitting with my three week old twins while typing this. I can’t recommend NL highly enough. They are fantasticsmile

AniSL Sat 08-Sep-18 12:06:25

Lipsticktraces I second that, they are absolutely amazing and wont make you do unnecessary testing

Lipsticktraces Sat 08-Sep-18 12:48:04

As opposed to Serum. They throw all the neighbours kitchen sinks at you as well as their own!

ttcrainbowbabypatel Sun 09-Sep-18 11:28:44

Thanks, ladies. We have a call with New Life this week. I am really unsure Serum is for us.

During my call with Peny this week, she told me that by looking at me I don't need to worry about my weight - if she bothered to look at my chart, she'd see that I am technically overweight and put on a ton of weight during my first round of IVF. Embryolab asked me to get healthy and fit, not to crash diet or lose a ton of weight, so that I could have a long and healthy pregnancy. That meant a lot to us. How can Peny tell by a skype call that I am in great shape? I'm over 15 pounds overweight.

I am also really unsure about the hidden c tests and prolonged use of antibiotics at Serum. Our London urologist is uneasy about my husband taking 40 days of antibiotics. I know taking antibiotics long term has impacts on your health. What if I am tested positive for hidden c? I guess I'd be asked by Serum to take 20+ days of antibiotics too, something I've been asked to avoid (antibiotics generally) by my GP who I doubt would even dare write me a prescription for it.

I know Serum seems to be the popular choice but there are too many questions for us. For now it seems Embryolab is our first choice. Who knows what New Life will say should we proceed to go ahead with the consult. I know our urologist is a fan (but not too pushy about it) of Embryolab.

OP’s posts: |
AniSL Sun 09-Sep-18 13:07:57

ttcrainbowbabypatel yes they prescribe a long dose of antibiotics and from research I have done, its quite bad for your health to be on anti's for that long, also I have noted that about 90% of the reviews I have seen about Serum all say they tested positive.
I had a urine test for C on day 2 of AF and came back negative but they insisted I have one of theirs instead.
Newlife have a nutrtionalist that is on hand to help with losing weight, I have more than 15 pounds to lose, they dont make you feel bad (the way NHS consultant did) but support you. We had donor sperm shipped in just in case they didn't find any during TESE, we had to ship in as they had no indian donors.
Chrysa and Dr Dovas keep regular contact and frequently come to the UK too.

Pumpkin18 Fri 14-Sep-18 20:53:44

We went to the open evening at Thames Valley Fertility last night and it was brilliant. Unfortunately I don't think we can afford treatment there but if we had the funds we would consider it

twinkledag Fri 14-Sep-18 22:07:04

Just for balance, I tested negative on all the hidden tests.

AniSL Wed 19-Sep-18 07:59:42

ttcrainbowbabypatel how did you get on with Newlife

Belle82 Thu 18-Mar-21 15:13:54

I am writing this post because I truly wish there was an honest post about this clinic I could have found before I transferred my embryos to them.

There may be some patients who feel completely differently and have not experienced the same as what I have. However I believe anyone looking for an IVF clinic should hear both sides to what clinic can be like in order to make an informed decision.

We were at a clinic called Care Fertility Woking and we changed to the Thames Valley Fertility clinic in Maidenhead due to the fact that they were a lot closer, we have since transferred our last embryo back to Care Fertility Woking due to the experience we have had with Thames Valley Fertility.

Initially when we spoke to Tvf we had a consultant appointment over the phone, then a follow-up nurses appointment. This was all fine, however when it came to transferring the embryo they delayed the process by up to 3 weeks by not prioritising any information they received from the last clinic. There were times when I called that I would have to wait 3 to 4 days for a callback. I raised this before we transferred the embryo and I was assured it would never happen once we were a patient and going through the cycle.

On the consultant phone call, he told us I shall be the one to do the transfer I will see you on the transfer day.
We asked if there was anything we should be taking or doing to increase our chances and the answer was, no just the meds for the cycle.

We went in to see the nurse for the scan who was very nice, albeit a bit abrupt.
On the day of the transfer it was a completely different consultant we were not made aware of it until he came into the room I asked him purely out of curiosity about a specific to do with the lubion injection. And he looked at me like a piece of dirt and snapped his answer back at me (My question: i’m just curious why lubion instead of cyclogest, because I forgot to ask on the last consultant call? I have no problem with the injections I’m just curious)

After the transfer I made a call into the clinic which took days to be returned again. I finally made a complaint and asked if I could please have the same consultant who we speak to, as the person who does the transfer as it would be nice to build up some trust and consistency, we were assured this would be the case.

We had the follow-up conversation with the original consultant and was told again he would be doing the transfer, I will see you at the transfer day. When we came in for the scan it was a different nurse and my experience with her was awful, to the point where I had to follow up on are specifically not to be seen by her on the transfer day which was again ignored and she was the nurse on the transfer day.
During the pelvic scan (Which I have had probably 20+ by now and have only taken a few minutes at most) this lady took over 10 minutes and the entire time she looked as though she had no idea what she was looking for. When I asked roughly when the transfer day would be, her response was it doesn’t really matter as you’re on a medicated cycle it might be this Thursday or next Tuesday or later we’ll let you know.
After two unsuccessful rounds I asked a simple question as to whether or not it would be worth considering putting two embryos back, they weren’t great quality.
She kept asking do you really want twins in a very abrupt tone you’ve got a 50% chance, I answered I’m not sure, and her response was “be careful what you wish for fate has a funny way of giving you what you don’t want”. It’s still something that has upset me as obviously when you’re at an IVF clinic the one thing you don’t want is for not to get pregnant.

It wasn’t just the nurse that was changed for this round the consultant and the embryologist were both different even though I had been assured there would be some consistency.
He was meant to be the director of the clinic however I had terrible cramping after that transfer, which was not successful.
I was in a lot of pain when having the transfer done and the nurse (I had asked not to be there) was almost shouting at me to relax my muscles over and over again. I eventually had to raise my voice and tell her to stop saying that I was in pain because of scar tissue from a previous operation.
I called the day after the transfer to speak to the embryology team about the Embryo and it took five days for them to return my call, when they eventually did there was zero apology. And when we told them we would be transferring the last embryo back to our original clinic the embryologist said “good”.

They didn’t have their success rates on their website when I first spoke with the consultant, Who initially told me their success rates were around 50% for frozen cycles, their true success rates have been put up on the website now and the rates are around 18%.
We moved our embryos to them due to the higher success rates and the location, had we known the real success rates then we would have never changed from our previous clinic.

The whole time I was at Tvf I felt like a number and felt like all they wanted was our money and they had no intention of making us feel cared for or taking any of our wishes into consideration.

Finding out about the success rates and having the embryologist speak to me like that was the last blow we were willing to accept. We have since moved our last embryo back to our original clinic and even if it does not work then we know we are in better hands if we need to go for another fresh cycle.
We were Given a call with our original consultant Within three days of contacting them, when I speak with the nurses they are kind and caring and you don’t feel like a number.
The consultant gave us a list vitamins and other things we should be doing to help our chances.

I feel sick thinking there is even a slight possibility that we may have been successful with the last two embryos had we stayed with our original clinic.

If you like this clinic then please just make an informed decision because I don’t want anyone to have to go through what we went through. IVF is hard enough without having the support of the team at your clinic.

Good luck to anyone out there going through ivf this is now our 5th round I am coming up to, I know how hard it can be. We have had one success with one of our embryos in the original clinic so miracles can happen ❤️

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