Fertility treatment is also
called assisted conception.
It is medical treatment used
to help people who have difficulty getting pregnant naturally.
The term ‘fertility treatment’ covers a lot of different treatments. The main ones are discussed in our information about fertility treatment for men, or fertility treatment for women.
Getting fertility treatment
You usually start by seeing your GP. They may arrange for you to have some tests. They will then refer you to an NHS doctor specialising in fertility issues. You can ask to be referred to a private doctor if you’d like.
If you want to have treatment as a couple rather than on your own, your partner may need to have some basic fertility tests. These tests are free for NHS patients.
At the fertility clinic
The fertility clinic may be called the ‘department of reproductive medicine’ or the ‘assisted conception unit’.
If you’ve already had fertility tests, the results will be sent to the fertility specialist at the clinic.
At the clinic, the specialist will discuss your situation with you. They will answer any questions you have, arrange for some further tests and discuss any suitable treatments with you.
Which fertility clinic will I go to?
This depends on whether you’re an NHS patient or you want to pay for private treatment. If you’re an NHS patient, your GP will usually suggest a particular clinic. If you’ve already been in contact with a fertility clinic for sperm, egg or embryo storage, or to have your fertility checked, it may be possible for you to go back to the same clinic.
If you want to have private treatment, you can choose which clinic to go to, but you may need a referral letter from your GP. You can get details of all the fertility clinics in the UK by contacting the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). The HFEA has a free patients’ guide with advice about how to choose a clinic and questions to ask about the treatments.
Will I have to pay for fertility treatment?
Your GP or fertility specialist will let you know whether you’re able to have fertility treatment free on the NHS. Although there are national guidelines about providing fertility treatment, there are still local differences. It’s best to check with the clinic you’ve been referred to about this.
If you’re not eligible for NHS treatment or are worried that you may have to wait a long time for treatment in your area, you might consider private treatment. There are no standard charges for private treatment, so you’ll need to contact clinics directly to find out how much they charge. Clinics should be able to give you information about treatments, including the success rates and costs. You can then make an appointment to discuss the treatment more.
Fertility treatment for people who are single or in
a same-sex relationship
Being single or in a same-sex relationship does not exclude you from treatment, but it may affect your eligibility for free NHS treatment.
Staff in fertility clinics will need to know if you’re single or in a same-sex relationship. This is so they can advise you about certain legal aspects of becoming a parent.
If you’re a man who’s single or in a gay relationship
There are currently no fertility treatments available in the UK for single men and same-sex couples.
The only way for single men or gay couples to become legal parents is through adopting a child or, if they’re in a civil partnership or married, using a surrogate and then applying for a Parental Order.
Advice and support if you’re single or in a gay or lesbian relationship
If you’re single or in a same-sex relationship, you can ask your GP to refer you to a specialist who can advise you about local fertility treatment services. You could contact a national support group for confidential advice, such as Infertility Network UK. If you’re in a same-sex relationship, you may want to contact a support organisations for the LGBT community.