LISTEN & CHAT
When we first started thinking about applying for IVF I felt that choosing a clinic was such a daunting task and there was a lot of pressure to get it right. It felt like the beginning of a long path before we even started the final trip to our IVF journey.
I couldn’t find much information on how to choose a clinic, let alone where to start with the research needed to make such a big decision.
There were some key points that I knew I wanted from a clinic but even so… how on earth do you find this information?! Well, hopefully this post will help you if you’re in a similar situation.
Firstly, there are a few things to note:
If you’re paying privately for your IVF treatment, you have a wider choice of clinics but every consultant appointment you have comes with a price, so of course it’s not quite as simple as visiting a clinic until you find one you like. You also have the overall costing of treatment and medications to consider.
On the other hand, if you’re having NHS-funded IVF, you don’t have to worry so much about costing but will be given a small list of available clinics in your area to choose from. On the positive side, this does help narrow the search, but of course you still will want to make sure you choose the right one for you, even if the list is smaller.
The first thing to do is compile a list of the things most important to you.
For example, my list was…
– A clinic that has good contact options – I wanted to be able to easily speak to someone if I had any questions or concerns about treatment – this was an absolute must for us.
– Must have an understanding of my health issues and concerns (personally this included my endometriosis diagnosis and history of miscarriage).
– Must be easy to get to and have parking available – I wanted to be able to drive to appointments and not rely on public transport. I was also aware that sometimes you can have extra scans booked in, so didn’t want to worry about parking and/or trains.
– The clinic’s experience and history of IVF – I wanted a reliable clinic that had a good reputation within the industry and one that had good success rates!
Some other questions you might have could be:
– Cost of treatments and are there any extra costs?
– What type of treatments do the clinic cover?
– Is there counselling available?
– What are the current time frames to start treatment?
– What happens if the treatment doesn’t work?
Having a list like this makes it much easier to digest and I would suggest making this before you look into any clinics. Then, for each clinic you can make a note of all the things that are important to you.
Once you have this list ready, next up is…
Attend Open Events
Every clinic will have open evenings, this enables you to get a better feel for the clinic and the staff. Of course because of current times, a lot of these are now run online (which I actually found much easier). Most of the time you can find open event information on the clinics website (most clinics run the open evenings on the same day each week/month) but if you can’t, simply give them a call and ask for the information.
I watched every open evening for the clinics I was interested in and I found it really helpful. There’s usually a Q&A section at the end too, so you can ask your questions live (and anonymously) – this is where I would always ask about the things on my list – Endo/miscarriage concerns, contact info and on-site parking. If you’re worried about forgetting the info, simply screen record the event and you can re-watch as many times as you like.
Stress Free travel
One thing I wanted to keep to a minimum during my treatment was stress, and this is why travel and parking was on my must-have list. It may seem minor, but actually, this was a huge factor for me and something I’m so glad I looked into.
Personally I didn’t want to travel into London. My treatment would be over Christmas/Winter, so I knew trains could be delayed. We decided we would rather drive a bit further and be in the comfort of our own car (with a Starbucks drive through on the way!) Parking was a big factor because I hate worrying about finding a space – so this was also a must.
Also, because of Covid, I knew that there would be appointments that Chris wouldn’t be able to come into, so knowing that he would be waiting in the warm car just outside kept me happy. We decided to drive a bit further and travel to Bourn Hall in Cambridge because parking was great but also the grounds are wonderful. As soon as I saw the clinic on Google Maps, I knew it was perfect. You can park up and look out onto a beautiful traditional building, full of trees and grass. A few times we even took our dog along so he could enjoy a walk whilst I was in my appointment.
Of course, not everyone is able to drive to appointments so if you will be relying on public transport, I would advise to check all routes to each clinic and write down how long it will take you to travel there. Also worth noting which options are available if there are any issues with train lines or bus routes. Can you fit in appointments during your work lunch break? Will travel time be affected by rush hour? And so on.
The Clinic’s history & experience
New clinics are popping up all the time and whilst this doesn’t mean they have any less knowledge than the longer running clinics, I felt more secure choosing a clinic with more experience. I knew I wanted a clinic that was well-established and had a good history with IVF. When researching this, Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic came out tops.. it was the first ever IVF clinic and I really liked that it had been around for so long. For me, this meant that they had seen a wide-range of couples with different issues and I felt that they would be able to cater for me and my health needs – I was really pleased to see them on our NHS funding list too.
Reviews & Data
Obviously these days it’s so easy to find reviews for everything online and this is something I did delve into when it came to clinics. I didn’t look too deeply, but a quick once over for each clinic definitely eliminated some for me – especially when the issues were to do with anything on my “must have list” – contactable clinics was a big one.
The best place to check a clinic’s ratings is the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) website. This website is a foundation of knowledge when it comes to treatments and clinics, and this is where I based my main bulk of research.
It sounds cliche, but sometimes you do just get a feeling that a clinic is right (or wrong) for you, which usually means that it is!
We chose to go to Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic in Cambridge and I instantly had a good feeling from the clinic’s website and their answers to my questions on the open event. Also, whenever I phoned them for information I got a response to my question from someone who was always happy and willing to help. They also had an email address for the IVF nurses available which meant I would be able to contact them if I had any worries when starting treatment. This was a huge bonus for me and was also something I used so much during my treatment.
My experience with Bourn Hall has been so positive and I have felt looked after the entire journey – which is something that was important for the both of us when dipping our toes into this daunting journey.
All in all, it really is such a personal choice and totally depends on what is important to you in regards to your treatment and needs. It is something you should definitely take some time to think about, but of course try not to let the process get too stressful.
Remember that clinics are always able to help with any questions you have and the open events are really helpful when it comes to getting a feel for a clinic when you can’t visit them in person right now.
*This post is in collaboration with Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic. All thoughts and views in this post are my own and we completed our treatment prior to this collaboration.