Types of fertility treatment

Here is some basic information about different fertility treatments. We also have more detailed information for men and women that you may find helpful.

IVF, or in vitro fertilisation

During this treatment, in the lab, the collected eggs and sperm are mixed together in a dish. Some eggs may be fertilised and grow into embryos.

Embryos can be placed in the woman’s womb to see whether a pregnancy develops. This is done by gently placing a fine tube through the woman’s cervix, into the womb. The tube is used to put one or more embryos into the womb.

ICSI, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection

During this treatment, in the lab, a fine needle is used to inject a single sperm into an egg. This is done under a microscope.

If the egg is fertilised, it grows into an embryo. Embryos can then be placed into the womb to see whether a pregnancy develops. This is done by gently placing a fine tube through the woman’s cervix, into the womb. The tube is used to put one or more embryos into the womb.

IUI, or intrauterine insemination

During this treatment, the collected sperm are placed directly into the woman’s womb. This is done when an ovary is most likely to be releasing an egg. A fine tube is gently placed through the woman’s cervix, into the womb. The tube is used to put the sperm into the womb. If an egg is fertilised, a pregnancy may develop.

Fertility treatment using a donor

Some people have these treatments using donor sperm, eggs or embryos. But this can be more complicated and it won’t suit everyone. It is not always funded by the NHS and it can be difficult to find a donor. Also, some religions don’t agree with using donors.

The fertility clinic will offer you and your partner (if you have one) counselling before you decide to use a donor. You may also want to talk to your family, friends or religious adviser.