Is IVF right for you?

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is the best-known treatment for fertility problems, but it isn’t always the solution. Your GP or fertility clinic can help you decide if it's right for you.

In many cases of infertility, medicines or surgery can give you a better chance of getting pregnant.

If IVF is the best treatment for you, you’ll have to decide whether you want to go ahead with it. Before you do, try to find out as much as you can about the treatment, the risks associated with it and the chance of success.

IVF is both physically and emotionally demanding. It can present psychological challenges, including the risk of disappointment if IVF is not successful.

Your fertility clinic can help you learn more about IVF and come to the decision that's right for you.

Who is IVF for?

IVF is the best treatment to deal with a range of fertility problems. These include:

Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes

Problems with the fallopian tubes can prevent eggs released by the ovaries from reaching the uterus. In IVF, eggs are taken from the ovary, fertilised and implanted straight into the uterus (womb).

Low sperm count or poor sperm movement

Problems with sperm quality or sperm count can prevent sperm reaching the egg or fertilising the egg in the fallopian tube. In IVF, a sperm sample is provided by the male partner and, in a laboratory, mixed with eggs taken from the female partner.

Unexplained infertility

No cause can be found for about one in five cases of infertility. Couples or women with unexplained infertility who haven't had success with other fertility treatments may have success with IVF.

For more information, see the Health A-Z topic on IVF.

Can I have IVF?

Access to IVF on the NHS varies throughout England.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that suitable couples receive up to three cycles of IVF on the NHS if the woman is between 23 and 39 and the couple have had a problem with fertility for three years.

The rate at which primary care trusts (PCTs) across England are implementing the NICE guidance varies. The number of IVF cycles funded by different PCTs still varies, as does the waiting time for treatment. If you have a child or children from your current relationship or a previous relationship, some PCTs will not fund NHS IVF treatment.

Your GP can tell you more about the IVF options open to you. Some women or couples opt for private IVF treatment. You can learn more about access to IVF in the section called Do I have to pay for IVF?

How does IVF feel?

IVF will make big demands on your time, body and emotions.

Clare Brown, chief executive of Infertility Network UK, which helps people living with fertility problems, says: “IVF is such a long treatment, and it's often stressful. One cycle can go on for seven weeks, and you’ll be in and out of the fertility clinic.

“People having IVF can become depressed or anxious. Fertility problems can come to dominate your life with your partner, so it may be hard to switch off from the stress.”

But help is out there, says Brown. “All fertility clinics are obliged to offer counselling for people having IVF." 

Additionally, Infertility Network UK and other organisations can provide valuable support during IVF, including the chance to contact other people who are experiencing the same thing.

Useful resources

EA is committed to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and with dignity and...
This Teachers' Maternity Leave Scheme has been updated to reflect the rules concerning...
We are delighted to provide this FREE digital toolkit. Designed in partnership with the...
Affected by breast cancer? Join this group to share experiences and ask questions to...
Cancer Focus NI can provide a wide range of presentations to meet the needs of your...
Sometimes when faced with an unplanned or crisis pregnancy it is difficult to discuss it...
This programme is a six week training programme for groups of adults and focuses on...
The Menopause Project is an education and research project between Informing Choices NI...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
There are a number of health campaigns throughout the year to raise awareness of...
Around one in five women will experience a mental health issue during pregnancy or within...
Cancer Focus NI, Keeping Well vans are mobile drop-in units which bring health checks,...
This includes: Raising awareness of depression and Aware NI services at a wide range of...
It’s an easy to follow programme known the world over, and perfect for those new to...
Guided meditations
Handle stress and anxiety on the go
Support for breast cancer
Guided meditations
Learn to manage negative thoughts and look at problems differently
Food diary, exercise tracker and diet coach
Support hub for mothers
Track your treatment and wellbeing
Pregnancy and guidance for after birth
The availability of free period products in public spaces has been increasing owing to...
Active 10 is a free and easy to use walking app that tracks your walking and shows you...
This short test will help you understand how heavy your periods are, and point you in the right direction for treatment options.
Your Mind Plan offers practical ideas and advice to help you boost and maintain your mental wellbeing. Answer the quick 5-question quiz and the Every Mind Matters widget will give you 5 tailored actions to help you feel more in control, improve your sleep, deal with stress and anxiety, and boost your mood – as well as the option to easily swap any actions and to save the whole plan via email.

Articles & Videos

Helplines & Web Chats

Informing Choices NI - Helpline
Royal Osteoporosis Society - Helpline
Macmillan - Forum
Macmillan - Ask an expert
Women's Aid - Forum
Association for Post-Natal Illness Helpline
Women's Aid - Domestic abuse helpline