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Find answers to the most frequently asked questions of our patients here.

General information

What are the most challenging parts of the IVF journey for patients?

Watch our video about the most challenging parts of the IVF journey for patients.

What happens when a patient first starts their fertility journey with TFP?

Watch our video on what happens when a patient first starts their fertility journey with TFP.

We are struggling to conceive. What do we do first?

If you have been trying to concieve for a year and have been unable to conceive naturally, don’t delay any longer and book an appointment for a fertility assement with your GP or private fertility clinic. These tests help you to get to the bottom of why you might be struggling to conceive, as there could be an underlying issue.

What changes to my lifestyle can I make to increase my chances?

Your lifestyle can impact your fertility. Some small changes that can make a difference to your fertility are:

·        Maintaining a balanced diet and a healthy weight

·        Regularly exercising

·        Taking supplements, e.g.  ‘well man’, ‘well woman’ and vitamin D

·        Not smoking or taking recreational drugs

·        Minimising alcohol consumption

·        Getting plenty of sleep

·        Reducing and managing your stress levels

Will a donor be able to trace my child?

A donor is not issued with any personal information that could be used to identify a child born as a result of their donation. A donor can request to know the number of babies who were produced as a result of their donation, the year of birth and the child’s gender.

We need fertility treatment, why do I need counselling?

We strongly advise all of our TFP IVF patients seek counselling during their IVF treatment. Sessions are confidential and are available before, during and after treatment. These counselling sessions offer patients additional emotional support during what might be an incredibly important and emotional journey. 

What treatments exist for male infertility?

Treatment for male infertility are always tailored to an individual but treatments that may be required include:

· Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): As part of the IVF process, sperm is injected straight into the egg to help overcome low sperm motility or count.

· Surgical Sperm Retrieval (SSR): If suitable, prior to Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) men can have sperm surgically retrieved if no sperm is present in the ejaculate.

· Donor sperm: Altruistic donations can be used to achieve a pregnancy. Special counselling sessions are available At TFP, all of our fertility clinics offer counselling for individuals and couples to discuss their feelings and the implications of using donor sperm.

How are fibromyalgia and endometriosis related?

As endometriosis is a painful condition and can last many years, women with endometriosis may develop fibromyalgia over time.

How can we improve the quality of our sperm and eggs?

A number of factors have been shown to reduce the quality of eggs and sperm, so there are a number of things you can do to minimise this risk and provide the best conditions possible for the development of your reproductive cells. These types of cells are created over a prolonged period of time, so the modification of lifestyle must be considered as a long term investment. You can find out more in our Lifestyle Advice section.

What causes infertility?

“Infertility” is defined as the failure to get pregnant after one year of having regular, unprotected intercourse.

Around 1 in 7 couples have difficulty in conceiving, and this proportion is increasing, largely because women are starting their families later in life and because sperm counts are falling. However, with the appropriate help, the vast majority of couples can realise their dream.

There are many reasons why you might be having difficulty getting pregnant.

Common female fertility (egg or fallopian tube) problems:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

  • High or low BMI

  • Medications that affect ovulation

  • Egg quality

  • Past pelvic infection

  • Past pelvic surgery

Common male fertility (sperm) problems:

  • Too few sperm

  • Not enough motile (active) sperm

  • Minor genetic problems that affect sperm counts and quality

  • Genetic problems or past infection


Endometriosis is a common condition where the cells that line the womb (and bleed each month with a menstrual period) occur outside the womb. Even mild endometriosis can have a negative effect on fertility.

Unexplained infertility

In a proportion of couples, we can’t find an obvious cause and this is termed “unexplained infertility”. It doesn’t mean that there is nothing wrong, it just reflects our current state of knowledge and it might be due to a subtle problem with one of the hundreds of things that are required for successful conception and implantation.

I have a low anti-mullerian-hormone (AMH) level. How might this affect my cyle?

Your level of AMH helps to predict how well your ovaries will respond to stimulation during an IVF cycle. It can be used to tailor the stimulation drugs to an individual patient and can predict which patients may expect low or high egg numbers and which patients are at a higher risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).

Patients with a low AMH  do have lower pregnancy rates but the degree of this reduction is more age-related, with patients 39 years old and older having lower chance of pregnancy than patients with the same AMH who are less than 39 years old. Pregnancies have been reported in patients with very low or barely detectable AMH levels but patients with a low AMH (less than 3.1 pmol/l) also have an increased risk of failed fertilisation across all age groups.

How is sperm produced?

Sperm is produced in the testes. Sperm develop inside very small tubules in testicular tissue (seminiferous tubules) and then move along a network of tubes to a holding place (the epididymis) before ejaculation.

In the average man, the testes produce thousands of sperm every second, but it takes three months for these to become mature and be ready to be ejaculated.

What fertility tests are there for men?

There are several ways to test male fertility, but these depend on the outcome of the initial semen analysis.

For men with normal numbers of sperm with good motility, we don’t typically offer further tests, as their results don’t influence treatment or treatment outcomes. For men with abnormal sperm results, we will advise on the options on a case by case basis. The semen analysis is the most important test and is the place to start.

What happens if my sample is poorer quality than it had been previously?

We will speak to every couple on the day of treatment about their sperm quality and discuss the best treatment option. If the sample is poorer than expected, we may need to use a procedure called ICSI. This is where we inject a single sperm into each egg to help maximise fertilisation rates, and can be done with very small numbers of sperm. If numbers are extremely low or we fail to find sperm on the day of treatment, we may be able to do a surgical procedure (SSR) to recover sperm for treatment.

What happens if I can’t produce a sperm sample on the day of treatment?

If you are concerned that you may struggle to produce a sample on the day of treatment please speak to an embryologist about freezing (vitrifying) a sample prior to treatment. This can help to alleviate stress on the day of. If we do not have a semen sample on the day of egg collection, we may be able to extract sperm surgically or vitrify the eggs to commence treatment at a later date.

Can I produce a sperm sample at home?

If producing a sample at the clinic is unsuitable or unsuccessful, or if you are concerned that you may have difficulties, please speak to a member of staff about alternative arrangements. It may be possible to produce a sample at home. You will be provided with an appropriately labelled sterile pot and a sealable plastic specimen bag for transport. You must ensure that the sample can be transported at a temperature between 20C – 37C (we suggest close to your body/inside jacket pocket) and within 1 hour of production. You will also need a form to state that the sample is your own. You must inform a member of staff if the whole sample was not collected. Spillage of the sample can affect the results and subsequent treatment plans.

Where and how do I produce the sperm sample?

It is best to produce the semen sample on-site at the clinic. A discreet and quiet room is provided, away from any footfall. Your sample is placed in the hatch on the wall, and from there it goes straight into our lab and is prepared for treatment.

Please contact us if you wish to have your partner with you, and where possible we will accommodate this.

Can we have sex during treatment?

Many couples remain intimate during treatment and this is perfectly fine in most cases. There are times when unprotected intercourse is best avoided and this will be clarified during treatment as it is different for different patients.

How long will the whole IVF process take?

The standard course of drugs for an antagonist cycle is 14 days. If it is necessary to have a long cycle, the drug course lasts around 4 weeks. After this you will have your egg collection procedure. 5 days after your egg collection you will generally have your embryo transfer. This is the standard time taken for IVF cycles but individual circumstances may alter these timings slightly.

What is the difference between IVF and ICSI?

IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) is where a high number of (prepared) sperm are added to a dish containing the collected eggs. The sperm & eggs are left together overnight and checked for fertilisation the following morning.

ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) is where a single sperm in injected into an egg by an embryologist. This technique may be used if the sperm concentration or motility are low or if poor fertilisation had been achieved previously with IVF.

What is blastocyst culture?

‘Blastocyst culture’ is the term commonly used to describe the culture of embryos until they are 5 days old. A blastocyst has a large number of cells and consists of two distinct cell types.

What is my chance of success?

Success in IVF treatment is determined by a large range of factors. Your doctor is the best person to advise you about your chances of success, as they have all the information about your treatment programme.

Will I be able to freeze my spare embryos?

Embryos which are not transferred can be frozen if they are of a suitable quality. At the time of embryo transfer the Embryologist will discuss with you the quality of the embryos for transfer and any remaining embryos and will advise you if these meet the criteria for freezing.

Do frozen embryos deteriorate over time in storage?

Frozen embryos are stored in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196°C. This means they are held in a suspended state while in storage.

Do you have an egg/embryo donation programme?

Yes, please contact your local clinic for more details.

Will I be accepted as a patient?

All UK fertility clinics must adhere to HFEA guidelines. Please contact your local clinic for more information or to book a consultation.

If after the initial consultation we do not feel that it would be in the best interests of your own health to proceed with IVF we will talk this through and provide full counselling and support to help you decide on the next step.

How much will it cost?

The cost of treatment will depend on your circumstances and treatments that are best for you.

Find out more about IVF costs and ways to pay for fertility treatment.

Fertility treatment is a big financial commitment.

We make our IVF pricing clear and easy to follow, so you can be confident in understanding your treatment plan and journey before you start.

The best way to do this is to contact us and we can discuss your needs and the next best steps for you.

Do donors have any parental responsibility for donor-conceived children?

Donors will not have any rights over how a donor-conceived child will be raised, nor will they have any financial obligations towards a child conceived from their donation.

How common is secondary infertility?

Secondary infertility is thought to be as common as primary infertility. 1 in 7 to 1 in 8 couples will need to see a doctor about secondary infertility. At the TFP Fertility Group, we see similar ratios in patients seeking help for secondary infertility.

Why can secondary infertility occur?

There are many causes of secondary subfertility which become apparent when investigating a delay. Some instances include male factor infertility, i.e. impaired sperm production and female factors such as anovulation (skipping ovulation) and tubal disease. As women get older the chances of conception also decrease, so individuals do need to be mindful as to when to start trying to conceive again.

If someone is struggling to conceive after having previously had a child, what would you advise?

In the first instance, speak to your GP as they can give you advice and can also arrange some baseline tests. If you have any concerns or have results from baseline tests then speak to a reliable fertility specialist. At the TFP Fertility Group, our teams are on hand to answer your questions and support you. No one should feel they are alone, and there is always someone you can turn to.


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