We can offer treatment which is funded by the NHS. In some
areas, waiting lists for treatment can be extensive. The criteria
you must meet in order to receive treatment can also vary. All
patients have the right to be referred by their GP to a Fertility
Specialist in an NHS clinic for their first investigation. Your GP
will be able to analyse whether or not you are eligible for NHS
As an alternative, you may wish to consider private treatment,
which the Countess of Chester can also offer. However it should be
taken into consideration that private treatment for infertility can
be very expensive, and as with NHS funded treatment, there is no
guarantee that it will be successful. As with our NHS treatment,
our private treatment is licensed by the Human Fertilisation and
Embryology Authority (HFEA).
Fertility medication can often be the initial treatment for
women who aren't successfully ovulating. The drugs work in a
similar way to the body's hormones, which encourages the ovaries to
release eggs. This type of treatment is known as Ovulation
Induction, and if the course of medication is successful, it can
result in conception after a few months without any further
These drugs - in addition to others that will help to control
the menstrual cycle or thicken the lining of the womb - are
sometimes also used as part of more complicated reproduction
treatments, such as In Vitro Fertilisation and Intrauterine
Premenstrual symptoms such as nausea, headaches and an increase
in weight, as well as hot flushes and swollen breasts, are among
the possible side effects associated with fertility drug
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
Intrauterine Insemination, also commonly referred to as
'artificial insemination', involves the womb being inserted with
sperm at the time of ovulation, using a catheter (thin soft hollow
tube). As mentioned earlier, in order to stimulate egg production,
the woman may also need to combine this treatment with drugs. The
sperm used can be either a partner's, or a donated sample.
Used to treat unexplained infertility, premature ejaculation,
and erection problems, Intrauterine Insemination has an approximate
success rate of fifteen per cent, per cycle.
In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
The embryo is transferred to the womb after the eggs and sperm
are collected and fertilised in the laboratory. Fertility drugs are
used to stimulate egg production. Once the eggs are mature, they
are collected by ultrasound guidance. The man's sperm and woman's
eggs are put into a Petri dish and left for a few days to allow
fertilisation to take place. If a healthy embryo is produced, it is
transferred into the womb using a catheter. Any remaining embryos
can be frozen for future use. The sperm and/or eggs can be the
couples, or a donation.
Used to treat unexplained infertility, blocked fallopian tubes,
endometriosis, and PCOS (an ovarian disease), In Vitro
Fertilisation has a success rate of approximately twenty-five per
cent, per cycle.
It is also possible that some of the remaining embryos may be
frozen/cyropreserved and stored for future use.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
For Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), a single sperm is
injected into the centre of the egg. This is then put into the
woman's womb using a catheter.
Used to treat male infertility, such as low sperm count, poor
sperm movement and abnormally shaped sperm, Intracytoplasmic Sperm
Injection has a success rate of approximately twenty-five per cent,
per cycle. ICSI may also be used as an alternative to previously
unsuccessful attempts at fertilisation using IVF.
Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT)
Using the same method as IVF, eggs and sperm - known as Garmetes
- are collected. Rather than mixing sperm and eggs, they are
transferred to one of the woman's fallopian tubes immediately, so
fertilisation takes place inside the body. Due to the need for
general anesthethsia and advances in IVF this technique is very
Used to treat unexplained infertility, GIFT has a success rate
of approximately twenty five per cent, per cycle.
This is a small operation that extracts sperm from the
epididymis - the tube where sperm matures in the man's body - or
the testicles, for use in ICSI or other treatments. There are a
number of sperm extraction methods. They are;
- Percutaneous Epididymal Sperm Aspiration (PESA) - Involves
using a small needle to draw out fluid containing sperm, from the
- Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE) - Uses the same method to
remove tissue from the testicles.
- Microsurgical Sperm Aspiration (MESA) - Uses a small needle to
extract mature sperm from the epididymis.
When the cause of no sperm in the ejaculate is due to a blockage
(obstructive azoospermia) such as that due to previous vasectomy
the success rates for retrieval are approx 100%. If the cause of no
sperm is due to a lack of production in the testis (non
obstructive) success rates are around 50%. The retrieved sperm can
then be used in IVF/ ICSI with no significant reduction in
pregnancy rates from these treatments.
The HFEA states that only two embryos may be transferred to the
womb at one time during fertility treatment. As IVF often creates
more embryos than can be transferred in a single cycle, any
remaining healthy embryos can be frozen for future IVF
Used to avoid the need for fresh IVF cycles involving multiple
egg collections, approximately sixty per cent of embryos survive
the freeze/thaw process. Embryos that do survive have only a very
slightly lower pregnancy rate than fresh embryos (see tables on
results), as the result of a slightly lower rate of
The Countess is continuously developing new and innovative
methods of fertility treatment. Two new techniques in particular
can enhance the chances of pregnancy in certain patients
Used following unsuccessful IVF treatment when the embryos fail
to implant in the womb, Blastocyst Transfer treatment consists of
the embryo being allowed to develop for around a week, before being
transferred into the womb.
This method draws on the fact that the embryo is more developed
and transfer occurs nearer to the time that implantation would
occur naturally. As a result, the pregnancy rate is usually higher.
However, as some embryos die in the laboratory, the number of
embryos available for transfer is reduced.
Due to the above, this treatment is only usually offered to
women who produce a significant number of healthy embryos.
An embryo has to break out from a gel-like membrane -known as
the Zona Pellucida - before attaching itself to the wall of the
womb. Some fertility experts think that the thickness of this
membrane may prevent implantation of the embryo in the womb. The
embryologist can make a small hole in the membrane before it's
transferred, which assists the hatching process.