It has been well document that there are numerous benefits of having regular acupuncture in the lead up to and during the IVF process. Studies such as the Paulus Protocol in 2002 and the Mannheimer et al meta analysis in 2008 are examples of the benefits of using acupuncture during this time. The support and treatment you receive from your acupuncturist during the process is invaluable and most people do quite a bit of research in finding the right acupuncturist that can help them during this time.
Assisted Reproductive Technology has become big business and is increasing year on year. As of 31 March 2017 there were 132 licensed clinics in the UK and in the year 2016-2017, over 75,000 IVF cycles were conducted in 119 licensed clinics. Most of my patients do their homework before they choose a fertility clinic but it is useful for those who do not know where to start to have a guide to use when looking for the right one. It’s a stressful time in a person’s life so you want to make sure you have chosen a clinic that’s right for you.
- Success Rates – Pregnancy rates and live birth rates are two different things so please ensure you take this into consideration. Clinics must publish these results so please look on the clinic’s website for detailed information.
- Cost – Obviously cost will be an issue for most people, but its important to look at the factors surrounding the charges. As an average, clinics will start around £5,500 per cycle but this may not include freezing embryos or any screening you may require so please look carefully at the breakdown of charges.
- Location of the Clinic – this is crucial as you will have to be going to the clinic for scans on a regular basis and therefore location, opening hours and transportation routes will be a key factor.
- Blood Tests – you may have to visit a clinic on various occasions for regular blood tests. Do ensure that this is something that you are able to organise between your work and personal life and ensure it does not cause you a high level of stress.
- Packages Offered – some clinics will offer “add ons” such as Embryo Glue, Pre-Genetic Testing (PGS), tests for natural killer cells (NKC’s), endometrial scratch, etc. Please look at the costs of these treatments vs. the efficacy rates before you buy packages.
- Patient Satisfaction – ensure the clinic publishes their patient satisfaction statistics. While cost and success rates are easy to measure, patient satisfaction rates may be more difficult to gauge and a useful statistic. You are paying a lot of money for the services and therefore its important that you get the service that is right for you.
- Out of hours contact number. It is essential that someone from the clinic is available to contact you at any time you need it. There have been many times that patients need to speak to someone at a clinic, only to leave a message with no return phone call. Please ensure they have a way you can contact them when needed.
- Patient After-Care – see if the clinic offers an after-care service. The two weeks after embryo transfer is probably the hardest as you feel very much on your own and you may need to talk to a clinic employee about any symptoms you may be experiencing.
I hope you find this document useful when choosing your fertility clinic. As always, please ensure when you undertake Assisted Reproductive Technology that you combine it with an acupuncture programme to increase the success rates.
Acupuncturist and Chinese Massage Therapist
BSc (Hons) Lic. Ac. Tui na, MBAcC, AFN, MRTCM