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Is Funding Available for Fertility Treatment?

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 19 May 2013 | comments*Discuss
Fertility Fertile Infertile Infertility

Cost is one of the key questions at the forefront of people’s minds as they debate fertility treatment. But when it comes to funding it’s sadly not a simple and clear cut situation.

Renowned for the Expense

Fertility treatment is renowned for being expensive. Each single cycle of IVF costs between £4,000 and £8,000 and there’s no guarantee it will even be successful. The situation with funding, though, is harshly clear cut – either you’re eligible for funded treatment on the NHS or you have to go privately and pay your own way.

The situation isn’t made much better by the fact that the provision of funded NHS treatment in the UK varies considerably. There’s no set standard in action that covers the whole of the UK (as perhaps, some argue, there should be), but rather the funding situation varies from area to area, depending in part on demand for treatment.

In general, the NHS offers women between the ages of 23 and 39 years old one cycle of IVF, if they’ve been medically defined as having infertility problems and meet other necessary criteria. The medical definition of infertility is the inability to conceive after multiple sustained attempts of unprotected sex for at least 12 months. However, each region has there own specific criteria for accepting cases and your GP can provide you with more details of what this is. As a rough guide, for example, there may be restrictions in existence based on whether you already have children, whether fertility drugs might be more suitable for you or any other medical issues that may affect you.

Even when you do get through the strict restrictions, it’s still not always plain sailing. The waiting lists for NHS funded treatment vary considerably and in some areas they can be very long. If you’ve already spent some time unsuccessfully trying for a baby before being diagnosed as having fertility problems, it can then be frustrating having to wait even longer to get the opportunity to try treatment options.

Going Private

If you aren’t accepted by the NHS, then the only alternative option available to you is to go privately. With the huge cost of treatment, this is a daunting prospective for many people. Private clinics set their own prices for treatment, so you will notice variations from clinic to clinic and it’s worth shopping around for the best price for you. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the type of treatment affects the cost too. For example, a single attempt at IUI is much cheaper than one cycle of IVF.

Another way of reducing the cost, which is helpful if funds are tight, is to consider donating eggs to other infertile women whilst you’re undergoing a cycle of IVF. Not all clinics offer an egg donor sharing program, but where they do, it can help ease the financial burden.

Little help is available to those who need to fund their treatment themselves, although it’s of course always worth exploring if any grants or other funding sources are available in your local area. Otherwise it’s very much a case of saving up, getting a loan or borrowing finances from friends or family.

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