With investment in the very latest technologies, we give couples their very best chance of a successful pregnancy. Our success rates are as good as the very best in the world, and certainly the best in the North West. You’re not alone in your dream to create a family, and at The Hewitt Fertility Centre, we’re using our dedication to help make your dreams a reality
The new year always presents a time for reflection, planning and resolutions. Whether you’re continuing your fertility journey into the new year or you’re just thinking about starting a family, there’s a lot to take on and you’re going to need the right mental attitude and physicality to support you.
Our e-magazine acts as a helpful guide to support anyone who is currently on, or about to embark on their fertility journey. From the more fertility treatment focussed information such as choosing the right fertility provider and the 5 steps to take leading up to fertility treatment, to simple lifestyle questions such as should you exercise to get pregnant and what foods should you eat to get pregnant - you’ll learn everything there is to know about pregnancy and your fertility.
To get your year off to the right start, take a look at some of our helpful hints and tips on how to deal with stress and managing a healthier lifestyle...
Balance your BMI
Your weight can have an impact on your ability to conceive, so in the new year, it makes sense to get it under control. Especially after the festive period, most people tend to notice their clothes feeling a little tighter… Excess body fat can disrupt your ovulation cycle and make it less regular, or if you have too little body fat you may not produce enough hormones to ovulate each month. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy by the NHS. But whatever you do, don’t crash diet – read more about a healthy, balanced diet.
Make sleep a priority
Deep sleep helps replenish the body and preserve energy levels, which you need to boost your overall wellbeing and give yourself the best chance at conceiving. From 10pm until 2am is when our bodies repair themselves, whilst The Sleep Foundation recommends between seven and nine hours for the average adult. Figure out a routine that works best for you and try to stick to it, even on weekends. Sleep is one of the most important elements of a healthy lifestyle, so don’t treat it as just what you do once you’ve finished everything else.
Accept your feelings, good and bad
For many, the fertility journey can be long, tough and testing. Particularly when undergoing fertility treatment, stress and disappointment can make you feel sad, angry and guilty, to name just a few. Accept that these feelings are completely normal and, most importantly, don’t beat yourself up about how you feel. Try to remember that you’re not alone, which leads onto the next point…
Talk about it, if you want
Again, there’s no right or wrong choice when it comes to how you choose to deal with your fertility journey. You may have a close support network with your friends and family, or some find that it’s too difficult to talk about with people you know. In which case, there are other ways to get the support you need. Consider joining a fertility support group either in person or on an online forum, or find a fertility-specialist therapist. Sharing your struggles will help you to understand and deal with them.
Find different distractions to help you relax
Whether it’s through regular yoga or meditation sessions, or simply turning off your phone for a designated period of time, try to turn down all of the background noise/chatter as much as possible so that you can focus on your wellness needs.
Simple lifestyle changes can have a big impact on your chances of conception. Drink at least eight cups of water a day (about 2 litres), which will help the kidneys to flush out waste products from the body more effectively and boost the fertile quality of cervical fluid.
Focus on fertility rather than infertility
If things aren’t going well, it can be difficult to stay positive. But it’s vital that you view each day as a new opportunity to focus on aspects of your fertility journey that are going well – whether that’s attending a yoga class or meeting with a facility to discuss your situation, having a positive mindset will help you to see options as opposed to roadblocks.
Know your own body
Take the time to think about how your body works and what’s normal for you. A menstrual calendar is a great way to get to grips with your period, keeping a note of when it starts and how many days it usually lasts for. No one knows your own body better than you, so if you think something’s not quite right, go and see your GP for advice. If you’ve been trying to conceive for a year without success and are under 35, or you’ve been trying for six months and are over 35, get in touch with a fertility specialist.
For loads more information about your fertility journey, download our free e-magazine, The Fertility Way.
Here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre we’re proud of our record as one of the most successful and efficient fertility clinics in the UK. Our successful birth rate for women under 35 is comfortably above the national average and our occurrences of multiple pregnancies (something not ideal in IVF treatment as it increases the chances of complications in pregnancy and birth) have recently been announced as the lowest of any fertility clinic in the UK.
With that being said, the very nature of fertility treatment means that it is not a sure thing. While we do everything within our power to ensure that all of our patients have the very best chance of success, not everybody will be able to overcome their fertility issues and achieve their dream of having a baby.
If you unfortunately find yourself in that position, then all is not lost. There are multiple options available for those who have been unsuccessful in their fertility treatment but wish to continue their pursuit of building a family.
Your lack of success in fertility treatment will most likely be due to problems with your own, your partners or perhaps even both your gametes (general term for your genetic materials, i.e Sperm and Eggs). If this is the case, using those gametes in fertility treatment could either greatly reduce your chance of a successful pregnancy, or make it impossible altogether.
In this scenario we would recommend the possibility of using donor gametes. We can take the sperm and eggs from a donor - perhaps a member of your family or via the national donor network - fertilise them in our Embryology lab and then implant them inside your uterus to hopefully develop into a baby. While this child would not be a product of your own genetic material, you would be given the opportunity to carry a child through a full term of pregnancy and undergo a natural birth. Previous patient testimonials speak of how this method can give the parents a true sense of connection to their child and many fathers even speak of their feeling of paternal connection to the child being no different than if the process had involved their own genetic material.
For more information on using donor gametes, follow the links below or click here.
Adoption has been an option for women unable to carry a child of their own since being passed into law in the 1920’s.
Most commonly, adoption takes place when a step-child is adopted by a new parent. But the process is frequently exercised by many people, as well as a growing number of same sex couples and single women.
Thousands of children are adopted every year, supported by a network of government and charity funded support networks who can ensure that children are safely partnered with a suitable family as well as offering support to that family to ensure that the process of integration for the child is as smooth as possible.
If you’ve been through numerous cycles of fertility treatment and are still unable to conceive, then adoption could offer you the chance to not only achieve your dream of having a family, but also give a child who is sadly without the special care and attention of a parent, the chance to be a part of a stable and loving household.
For more information on adoption, follow the links below.
Surrogacy figures in the UK have skyrocketed recently, with as much as a three-fold increase in the amount of parental orders (the process of legally taking guardianship of a child born through surrogacy) in the past three years.
Surrogacy provides a vital option for couples and single parents in all manner of circumstances. Same sex couples, single men and women, women who have needed to have their uterus removed and couples struggling with fertility issues are all turning to surrogacy as a viable pathway toward building a family.
In regards to those who have been unsuccessful in fertility treatment, the surrogacy options are numerous. If you are part of an opposite sex couple and your inability to conceive is due to an inhospitable or absent uterus, a surrogate could carry an embryo fertilised using both you and your partners genetic material; ensuring the child would share as many physical and genetic attributes with you as would be the case if the child was conceived naturally.
If you are a member of a same sex couple unable to carry a child of your own, surrogacy offers you a unique ability to not only build your family, but have an intimate connection with the person carrying your child, as well as enabling you to be a physical presence throughout the pregnancy and birth.
The donor bank here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre can provide same sex couples with access to donor sperm and eggs to be used by a surrogate of your choosing. If your inability to conceive is as a result of unsuitable gametes (sperm or eggs) then surrogacy can be followed via three different paths:
If it is solely a female fertility issue - arising from the lack of, or substandard quality of eggs, that is permitting you from conceiving - then a surrogate can not only carry the child, but also potentially donate their own eggs for fertilisation with the male partner’s sperm. This affords you the opportunity to hand pick the origin of the donor egg to be used. A luxury not available to couples who acquire a donor egg via a clinic’s donor bank.
If the female partner cannot carry a child but does have eggs available and the male genetic material or reproductive organs are causing an inability to conceive, then surrogacy via IVF with donor sperm is another option available to patients. We would access our bank of donated sperm, select a sperm sample that came from a man with similar physical attributes to that of yourself or your partner and then use that to fertilise an egg extracted from the uterus of a female member of the couple. It would then be transferred into the surrogate where it would hopefully develop into a foetus.
Finally, if both yours and your partner’s genetic material is absent or unsuitable, donor sperm and eggs can be acquired, fertilised, and transferred into the surrogate’s uterus for development.
For more information on Surrogacy, follow the links below or click here.
Here at The Hewitt fertility Centre, whilst it will be our immediate priority to treat the physical symptoms of your fertility issues, we consider the mental health of our patients to be of equally critical importance. All of our patients - whether they are coming to us as a single parent, a same sex couple or an opposite sex couple - are entitled to spend some time with one of our counsellors. This may be before, during or after treatment, when considering surrogacy or discussing the option of preserving their fertility.
If you have been given a diagnosis of low fertility and, after multiple rounds of IVF/ICSI, are still unable to conceive, counselling can be the perfect way to not only deal with any feelings of sorrow or anxiety that you may be experiencing; but also understand what your options are as you consider your next steps.
For more information on receiving counselling here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre, click here.
Are you a transgender man or woman that would like to understand more about your fertility options? Of course, many of the same issues that affect cisgender (people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth) also affect transgender people. But there are some more specific things that trans men or women need to know about fertility and pregnancy - we go through eight of them below.
I’m about to transition. What are my options to have genetic children in the future?
At this stage, your physician will recommend that you look into preserving your future fertility to allow you the option of children at a later point in your life. This is prior to you beginning any hormone therapy treatment, as we do not know the long-term effects of these on egg production or ovarian function.
To preserve your fertility, you need to freeze your eggs or sperm. A trans woman can use banked sperm with an IUI conception method if she is in a relationship with a woman, or she can use an egg donor or gestational carrier if she is single or in a relationship with a man. A trans man who has frozen eggs can use a donor or partner sperm if they are in a relationship with a man, or if they are with a woman, they can use reciprocal IVF where the woman is inseminated with an embryo from donor sperm and the frozen eggs.
What if I have already started hormone therapy and did not freeze my eggs or sperm prior?
If you have already begun taking hormone therapy treatment, this can be paused to potentially allow for natural conception. There is no guarantee that fertility will be restored, however there have been cases of conception whilst still on hormonal therapy, therefore it is not an effective birth control method either.
Although it can be psychologically distressing to stop hormonal therapy, the chance of conception is much higher when not taken. If you are a trans man and would like to carry a baby, you can in theory, as long as you still have a uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.
I’ve had surgery to remove my ovaries or testicles. Can I still have biological children?
If you have had genital reconstruction surgery and did not have your eggs or sperm frozen, the short answer is no. If you have had your ovaries removed, you’ll no longer produce eggs, and if you have had your testicles removed, you’ll no longer produce sperm. You can look into using a surrogate with egg and sperm donation as alternative ways to start your family, read more about how we can help you here.
If I transition under the age of 18, what can I do to preserve fertility?
Transition during adolescence can be difficult, however, it’s important that fertility options are considered even though it might not be what you want to think about at such a young age. Most cases will have to be reviewed on an individual basis due to issues with consent of a minor. If a child is post-puberty, they can have their eggs or sperm frozen. However, if they have begun taking puberty suppressing medication and then straight to hormone replacement therapy, this may render them infertile as they have never undergone a natural puberty.
Do other fertility issues still apply?
Yes - from age-related factors to lifestyle choices, all the same issues can affect a transgender person’s fertility. Egg quantity and quality declines with age, smoking will still harm your egg. So it’s still just as important to maintain a healthy diet and weight to maximise your chances of conception.
If me or my partner are trans, is it guaranteed that we will have infertility issues?
It’s important to remember that just because you or your partner are trans, this does not mean you will necessarily have infertility issues or need to use advanced reproductive technology such as IVF. Most commonly, the issue tends to be a lack of access to a uterus, eggs or sperm, rather than infertility for either partner involved, so donors and surrogates are an alternative solution.
Am I entitled to NHS funding for fertility preservation?
There is no distinct answer to this as it can depend on where you live and individual Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). There are funding options available, but it is advisable that you speak directly to a practitioner as every case is different. Currently, there are no guidelines around fertility preservation for people with gender dysphoria. There are calls from the British Fertility Society to review the guidelines around NHS funding specifically for transgender people whose fertility is effectively destroyed through the gender reassignment process.
Where can I find transgender-friendly fertility doctors?
Referrals from trusted sources are a great place to start, as it’s important that you find a centre that is culturally sensitive to your situation. Treatment can be a challenging and emotional experience for anyone, making it vital that you get the right support during and after treatment. Gendered Intelligence work with young trans people in particular to raise awareness and offer support, while the British Infertility Counselling Association provides counselling to people of all ages looking into fertility treatment.
Here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre, we treat a number of transgender patients and other members of the LGBT community, with success rates among the best in the UK. Whatever your situation, we’ll work with you to find the best possible solution to help you reach your dreams of starting a family.
IVF. Three little letters with a lot of meaning to those who experience it. Our encounter with IVF began in 2012. We weren’t old and we didn’t have any health problems. IVF was a huge surprise and not in our life plan at all. Here, I will talk about some of our experiences and discuss what we learnt through the highs and lows of treatment (yes, there were some highs). My husband, Paul, will also add a male perspective. After all, it’s not just about us females is it?
A waiting game
Paul and I decided to start trying for a family pretty much as soon as we got married. I am naturally impatient but after six months of trying, I had a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right. However, I also knew that we needed to wait for twelve months before seeking medical advice. Every month our bin was filled with negative pregnancy tests. We couldn’t understand it. Why weren’t we getting pregnant?
So, not long after our first wedding anniversary we took a trip to the doctors. Various tests took place and we were referred to a specialist at our local hospital.
The thought that we might need IVF had never crossed our minds. IVF wasn’t for people like us who were fairly fit, apart from our habitual takeaway and wine habits. We were so convinced that we were simply experiencing a small conception hiccup that I went to my follow up appointment alone.
I will never forget that appointment. That day, I was told: “your best option for now is IVF”. It turned out that we had unexplained infertility. Basically one of my hormone levels was not high enough and this was preventing us from getting pregnant.
I stumbled out of the hospital. I held it together all the way back, but as soon as I got home the tears rolled and a new feeling crept in. The feeling was an overwhelming fear that I might never get pregnant. It was funny how until the term IVF was introduced that the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. I just expected it would happen naturally eventually.
Hard done to
If IVF was a person, they should be fuming. There is such a negative connotation surrounding the term. To me, IVF was like a death sentence to my idea of a family and it meant that we would have an awful struggle ahead to achieve what is every person’s biological right. But actually it should have been the other way around. IVF should have given me hope and encouragement because IVF did give us our first child.
What will it do to me?
All I knew about IVF before it entered our lives was what I had witnessed from films or TV. It was some dramatic Coronation Street storyline or the portrayal of some comedic, hormone induced sex pest woman as seen in so many films. Oh God. I’m going to become a hormone induced sex pest. At least Paul would be pleased.
In reality, the hardest part of IVF was the waiting; waiting for the next available intake at the fertility centre, waiting for treatment, waiting, worrying, and obsessing.
Although it felt like a lifetime, we actually only had to wait for around 3 months after our referral from the Consultant to be admitted to the Hewitt Centre in Liverpool.
And so, in May 2013 our IVF treatment began. We took our bag of drugs and syringes on a holiday to Cornwall where we kicked it all off. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I didn’t feel any crazed effects, I wasn’t sobbing uncontrollably one minute and laughing hysterically the next. I felt OK.
Making light of IVF
Right towards the end of our treatment one of our best friends was getting married. We were staying in cabins with friends and the wedding was in a huge barn. Oh, and I was a bridesmaid. In my head I was panicking. How are we going to do my injections? How am I going to act normal staying with my friends?
The worry was unnecessary, it was all fine. There was a comedy moment of sneaking out to the car and hitching up my long bridesmaid dress up so Paul could stick the needle in. Just reading it sounds risqué, just think how it looked! As I say, there are funny times that come out of the process. The treatment certainly brought us closer as a couple.
The end game
And then, just like that we were reaching the end of our treatment. Eggs were retrieved, sperm was retrieved (another funny story but not really appropriate!) and it was time to wait and see if we had a viable embryo.
It’s important to me here to acknowledge that I know how lucky we are to have had an embryo at the end of this process. I know couples who have not been able to proceed at this stage. I also know each of these couples didn’t give up there but that’s not my story to tell.
So, we had completed IVF, we met our successful embryo and it was implanted. It was a bit weird meeting our baby as an embryo but how many people can say they’ve done that?
Following the implantation, we had a two week wait before we could take a pregnancy test.
When that penultimate day finally arrived I couldn’t contain myself. I have never been so quick to get up and pee as I did that day and happily I can say that IVF was now my best friend. IVF had made us a baby. We were pregnant!!
A happy nine months passed and in March 2014, we welcomed Isla May Malone in to the world.
There are no words to express the joy you feel when you meet your baby for the first time. But the gratitude towards the people who made this possible is enormous. Without the Hewitt Centre, quite simply Isla wouldn’t be here today.
Four years on and we are bounding through life. However there is a silent daily acknowledgement from me that I owe so much to the medical profession.
If you are beginning your encounter with IVF be kind towards it and to yourself. The unknown is the hardest. I know that IVF won’t work for everyone and each battle is different, but stay positive. Know that you are not alone and know that it is ok if you become the sex pest.
Before beginning IVF and knowing that we were facing problems with our fertility, I knew that Lisa was finding not getting pregnant hard. I remember her being upset every time another friend or family member announced their pregnancy.
I so wanted to support her, but I just didn’t know what to say a lot of the time. Like Lisa, I had not really thought much about IVF. All I really knew about it was what I had encountered as a child. Having grown up in Wallasey and living near the Walton family, all I knew about IVF was that it was successful for the Waltons who had produced the world’s first sextuplets. So I knew a little bit about how it worked, but not the finer details or the statistics. And I wasn’t sure I wanted six babies all in one go!
In relation to the process of IVF, unlike Lisa, I didn’t feel too negative about it. I just didn’t understand the process at first and being a Project Manager that was hard. However, as time went on and we attended our appointments, I began to understand and I did see it as a great opportunity for us. I was just worried about how I could be supportive to Lisa throughout. There was no-one to relate to as none of our family or friends had been down this route.
I tried to support Lisa as much as possible and administered her injections for her. Giving Lisa the injections was fine at first, but towards the end I found them hard to do and felt so sorry for her having to go through it all. I did try to stay positive knowing that the steps we were taking would give us a chance to finally have a baby.
I still remember finding out that the IVF had worked. I was ecstatic, but also very worried that we may not get to the magic ’12 weeks’. On week 6 we got to see a scan of the foetus which was amazing. I remember seeing the fast beating heart when having that scan. Wow, I am welling up just thinking about it.
It was an incredible day when, in March 2014 our baby girl, Isla, was born. We are so grateful to the whole IVF process. The staff at the Hewitt Centre were totally amazing throughout.
Following Isla’s birth, we popped in to take some goodies as a thank you. That was nowhere near enough. To be honest I still don’t know how to thank them enough for what they did. They helped us to bring our wonderful little girl into this world.
This year not only marks 70 years since the foundation of the NHS, but also 40 years since the first successful IVF treatment was carried out. In the spirit of marking these momentous milestones, we thought we would take the opportunity to look back at our own history.
For almost 30 years, The Hewitt Fertility Centre has been at the forefront of fertility treatment in the North West of England and beyond.
In that time, thousands of babies have been born as a result of our care as well as countless couples overcoming fertility concerns they may have been suffering with at our centres in Liverpool, Knutsford or Wigan.
We are immensely proud of our achievements, from humble beginnings to becoming one of the largest and most successful clinics in all of Europe. We treat patients from all over the world as well as revolutionising treatment of same sex couples, viral positive patients and transitioning individuals.
We look forward to a bright and promising future as we look to develop new processes, cutting edge technologies, and consistently deliver the very best care and remarkable success rates.
Here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre we are passionate about ensuring that our patients are provided with all of the support and information that they may need. It is for this reason that we put together a series of podcasts to help give you a greater insight into what it is we do here at the centre, as well as a greater understanding of what you might expect to experience if you are about to, or currently in the process of, undergoing fertility treatment.
This month, we're joined by Patricia Lambert and John Lippett as we discuss the counselling team and the work that they do here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre.
Our counselling team are able to offer a range of supplementary treatments and equip all of our patients with the tools that they may need to mentally deal with the stresses and anxieties that can sometimes accompany fertility treatment.
In this episode, we discuss how men are sometimes marginalised in the fertility treatment process, how our group sessions are invaluable to many of our patients and how mindfulness can offer patients the ability to categorise and deal with the concerns they may be having.
Listen to the podcast
You can listen to the counselling podcast via searching in your iTunes podcast library for ‘Hewitt Fertility’ or via SoundCloud here:
Counselling Podcast - Fertility treatment isn't all physical - SoundCloud (1613 secs long, 10 plays)Play in SoundCloud
When the topic of fertility treatment is discussed, many people may start to worry what financial burden may accompany the process. IVF/ICSI, egg freezing, sperm donor treatment etc. are all vital lifelines for those unable to conceive naturally and, here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre, we believe that everyone should be able to receive the treatment that they deserve - no matter what their financial situation may be.
Clinical Commissioning Groups
With budgetary restraints on the NHS forcing numerous hospitals and trusts to re-evaluate their funding priorities, access to NHS funded fertility treatment has become increasingly difficult for many people.
The Clinical Commissioning Groups, or CCGs, are the governing bodies responsible for setting the regional NHS budget. A large number of these CCGs have significantly tightened the criteria and entitlements surrounding fertility treatment in England.
In previous years, what is now considered to be “The Gold Standard” of fertility treatment – 3 full cycles of NHS funded IVF treatment – was commonplace. Today it is offered by only 24 of the 239 individual CCGs in England; a figure which has halved since 2013. Some CCGs, such as Croydon and Essex have terminated NHS funding for fertility treatment altogether, meaning that those who may be in dire need of the miraculous treatment will have no option but to try to find the money to fund their own treatment.
Thankfully, as it stands, CCGs in the North West of England are continuing to offer NHS funded fertility treatment for those who may be suffering with the pain of fertility problems but have no means to pursue private treatment.
15 of the 22 CCGs in the North West of England offer 2 or more cycles of IVF. In fact, 9 of the 24 UK CCGs that offer the “Gold Standard” are in the North West.
While increasingly restricted, thankfully NHS funding is still available for many of those who need it. However, many people have the financial capabilities to privately fund their own treatment, giving them the opportunity to have greater control over how many IVF cycles they pursue, their appointment times, and their choice of consultant.
Here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre, an increasing amount of patients visit us to pursue private treatment. With treatment facilities amongst the most advanced in the UK and competitive prices, we are just as capable and effective – if not more so – than many specialist private clinics.
Finance options – Access Fertility
If you are one of the many people who do not qualify for NHS funded treatment and are unable to afford privately funding your own treatment, then there are still options available to you. As previously mentioned, here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre, we are committed to ensuring that as many people as possible can gain access to the treatment that they need, and it is in that spirit that we recently teamed up with the amazing people at Access Fertility. Access Fertility have established themselves as one of the market leaders in offering funding packages and refund programs for those undergoing IVF and other fertility treatments.
Access Fertility gives people an invaluable peace of mind when undergoing an uncertain procedure like IVF. Especially for those who may not have the financial capabilities to undergo multiple cycles.
With the UK average success rate for Live Birth per cycle initiated at 23% across all age groups (source HFEA) it is likely that most patients will need multiple IVF cycles in order to have a baby. Their aim is to give you peace of mind that you have a plan in place to help you achieve your dream.
They have refund programme options for all patients aged under 40 years old. The acceptance rate for the Access Fertility IVF Refund Programme is 90% and they do not ask patients to undertake any unnecessary or costly additional testing for any of their programmes.
Fertility issues are often exclusively focused around the woman, but did you know that male factors are responsible for an estimated 30% of infertility cases? As more awareness is raised about male fertility, and technology is ever-evolving, male-centric fertility apps are now available to help you learn more about the quality of sperm you have, their mobility and the modifiable risk factors that can have an impact on fertility.
Sitting in a clinic to take a test can be nerve-wracking and awkward - these new at-home apps offer a discreet insight into some of the things that a fertility doctor would assess, such as sperm concentration and movement. But can they really replace a trip to your health practitioner?
YO is an FDA-approved kit and app combined, which work together to analyse the motility (movement) of sperm. It provides everything you need for two separate samples, including the ‘YO Clip’ that attaches to your phone to transform your camera into a miniature microscope (rest assured that your sample won’t come into contact with your phone thanks to the integrated plastic cover!). It produces a live video of your sperm, with the USP that it is 97% effective at testing how many moving sperm cells are in each 1ml of your sample, with the process taking less than 30 minutes.
The people behind the kit are industry leaders in Medical Electronic Systems, who have been producing commercial-grade semen analysers for over 20 years with 4,000 units installed across research and fertility clinics worldwide. The app is free to download but the required kit will cost you £46.95.
Glow claims to be the world’s leading fertility and ovulation tracker for women and they now want to address the other half. This fertility tracking app is less specific as it focuses on lifestyle choices and offers recommendations and advice on how to boost male fertility rates without any physical test.
Users can log daily activities and stats including sexual habits, diet and weight, which the app then deciphers to provide relevant tips. The data can be shared with their partner who also uses Glow to provide further insight. It’s available for both Android and iPhone users and is free to download, so of the apps currently around, it’s one of the best options for general information about male fertility.
Trak is one of the most expensive male fertility tracking options available, coming in at just over £140. Powered by clinical research, it’s arguably the most comprehensive at-home test and the only FDA-cleared test that measures sperm concentration into three categories - low, moderate and optimal.
It uses a unique microfluidic system to provide a precise sperm count measurement, with the Trak Engine utilising centrifugal force to isolate and quantify sperm cells. The free-to-download app then captures health and lifestyle data alongside your sperm count results (100% anonymously) with a proprietary algorithm to generate a Trak score and give recommendations on healthy changes you can make to improve your sperm count.
Are they worth it?
Ultimately, the emergence of male fertility apps are a positive development in the industry as they’re providing an opportunity to learn more about gender-specific issues. They don’t provide enough information to be used as a stand-alone fertility diagnosis - one of the biggest things that fertility doctors will look at is ‘morphology’ (the shape of each sperm), which no app-based test currently offers. However, they are great for helping you start to understand your sperm health and pinpoint potential issues before your first visit to the clinic.
Our team of consultants are responsible for the decisions about your fertility journey - what fertility issues you may be having, what treatment is best suited to you and what medication may be needed.
As well as diagnosis and prescription, your consultant will likely be the person carrying out the more invasive procedures involved in your treatment process. In the case of IVF treatment, your egg collection and transfer (implanting the fertilised egg back into your uterus) may be carried out by the skilled hands of one of our expert consultants.
Surgical procedures for both men and women, such as treatment for Ovarian Cysts in women, or surgical sperm retrieval in men, will also be the responsibility of one of our consultant team.
The Hewitt Fertility Centre houses a state of the art Embryology laboratory in which the miracle workers behind the scenes are based! Embryologists specialise in working with gametes (the catch-all term for both sperm and eggs), and the fertilisation and subsequent care of human embryos. Our embryologists are responsible for ensuring the embryos are given the best environment in which to grow whilst they are outside a human body. The Hewitt Fertility Centre is one of only a handful of UK clinics that have the luxury of offering the very latest in time lapse technology incubators to 100% of patients. The embryos are cared for in the lab for a number of days before either being transferred back into a patient or frozen for future use. Our freezing facility is one of the largest and most well-equipped in the UK and our Embryologists use years of knowledge and experience to ensure that all of our patients who choose to store their gametes and embryos with us can be rest assured that they will be safe and healthy when the time comes for them to be thawed for use.
Andrology is the study and treatment of conditions that solely effect men. Often when discussing fertility treatment the focus is placed primarily on the woman. However, in the UK, almost half of all infertility issues occur in men. For this reason, the Hewitt Fertility Centre operates one of the most advanced Andrology laboratories in the UK. Our Andrologists specialise in treating men with a low sperm count or low motility, those about to undergo fertility damaging procedures such as chemotherapy, men who may have had their fertility damaged by injury and also viral positive patients who suffer from HIV or Hepatitis B and C.
Our Andrology team are also responsible for running our donor bank. Male sperm donors who make the amazing decision to donate their sperm help thousands of families across the UK overcome their own fertility issues and achieve their dreams of having a baby. Our Andrology lab is able to grade, catalogue and freeze the sperm of our donors, ready to be used by those patients who may need it. If you would like to learn more about possibly donating your sperm, then please click here.
Our team of dedicated and compassionate nurses are likely to be the people you will have most contact with whilst undergoing treatment at The Hewitt Fertility Centre. They work tirelessly to ensure the comfort of our patients, as well as carrying out the necessary blood tests, drug administering and minor medical procedures that may be needed during the course of treatment. The nurses work hard to ensure that all of our patients travel through their fertility journey in the most stress free and successful way possible. Some members of our nursing team here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre have been part of the team since the Centre’s conception back in 1989.
Our counselling team is made up of a number of a number of highly trained experts, with years of experience in dealing with people suffering with fertility concerns and undergoing treatment.
They are able to provide all of our patients with the option of support throughout their treatment. Equipping people with the tools that they may need to deal with the stresses and anxieties of diagnosis and treatment, as well as preparing them for the future and the next steps.
As well as counselling sessions, our team deal with supplementary treatments – such as acupuncture and meditation – as well as support groups.
Scientific Administration Team
While our Embryologists are working away in the lab, our Scientific Administration Team are responsible for ensuring that the centre is not just meeting, but exceeding the expectations of our Governing body, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). They are responsible for organising, tracking and archiving patient files and the scientific data needed by the Embryology team. The Scientific Administration team act as facilitators to ensure that our Embryologists can focus their attentions on the success of the fertility treatments we carry out for our patients.
Here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre, we cater for both NHS funded and privately funded patients. With recent and ongoing changes to the eligibility criteria for NHS funding, an increasing amount of patients need to pursue privately funded treatment; this is why our finance team are of increasing importance. If you are undergoing treatment here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre, your interactions with the finance team will likely involve the processing of payment for treatment or courses of drugs. However, their responsibilities stretch much further. Here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre, we are committed to ensuring that, even in the face of diminishing central NHS funding for fertility treatment, as many people as possible are able to gain access to the fertility treatment that they need. It is our finance team that will work with our patients to find a way to ensure that no matter what their financial situation, we can come to a solution that will suit them. Liaising with external finance partners and organising refund schemes for patients via our friends at Access Fertility are just some of the ways in which our finance team work to help you.
Administrative Assistance Team
With the thousands of patients who walk through our doors every year, our consultants need to ensure that they are given the support that they need in preparing and organising their clinics. Our Administrative Assistant Team are charged with ensuring that the scheduling of the Centre, the organisation of patient information and the distribution of our consultant’s time is as streamlined and efficient as possible. We feel it is of the utmost importance that our patients feel their needs are catered for and that their consultant has the time to discuss and carry out their treatment without interruption and with ample time to do so; the Administrative Assistant Team are crucial in ensuring that this is the case.
After being diagnosed with fertility issues your next task is to find the clinic that would be best for you. You may think that all clinics can broadly offer the same services and therefore the same likelihood of positive outcomes. Alternatively you may think that there are far too many factors to consider and that choosing the right clinic is an almost impossible task.
What many patients do not realise is that they have the right to choose where they receive treatment no matter where it is that they live. Here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre, we treat patients from all over the UK and Europe. Patients have the right to, and frequently exercise the right to, visit us for treatment or even to switch their care from another fertility clinic.
For more information on how to register with the Hewitt Fertility centre or to switch your treatment to us from another clinic, visit our website.
We have prepared this blog to give you a guide of things to look out for when making your decision and hopefully give you the information you need as well as making the process less stressful.
With recent changes to NHS funding, an increasing amount of people have to carry the burden of funding for fertility treatments themselves. This can add an additional level of stress to what can be an already worrying situation.
Current NHS guidelines require patients to adhere to age, weight and lifestyle criteria to qualify for funding of IVF treatment. For an increasing amount of people, privately funded care is the only option. This is why cost of treatment will be one of your prime concerns when choosing a clinic.
Here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre, we are passionate about ensuring that as many people as possible have access to the care that they need and we will endure to do everything we can to ensure that finances are not a stumbling block on your path to pregnancy.
When you set out to choose the clinic where you will be undergoing treatment, it’s important that you understand what costs may be involved. A clinic’s advertised costs should be inclusive of everything for the IVF cycle apart from drugs. You need to be informed of any additional charges that you may incur throughout your treatment journey; therefore you will be able to make the right decision when choosing what clinic will offer you the best value for money.
You may think that the successful birth rates of a clinic would be the best way to make the decision on where to undergo treatment. Not necessarily so…Due to the nature of measuring clinics success rates there are numerous mitigating factors that can skew outcomes. For instance - smaller clinics with a low level of patients may have very high success rates compared to larger clinics that treat many times more patients. For the smaller clinic to establish 60% success rates it may only need to create a handful of successful pregnancies. In contrast, the larger clinic may need to produce hundreds of successful pregnancies to achieve the same rates.
There are however, some specific statistics that can be helpful in gaining an understanding of how reliable and successful a clinic may be:
Multiple birth rate – Multiple births is the biggest threat to successful pregnancies, try to find a clinic with low levels of multiple births.
Success rates in older women – if you are over 35, your chances of conceiving naturally are drastically lower than they would be if you were in your 20’s. A proven track record with older women is a good sign.
Patient Ratings – The HFEA have recently added a patient review section to their site which allows those who have been treated in a clinic to tell you how they found their experience.
The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) have a detailed list of all of the fertility clinics in the UK and the clinical standards of those clinics. Visit their site to find out more.
In the 40 years since the advent of IVF treatment the technologies, equipment and techniques used have advanced greatly. While the process itself – extraction, fertilisation and transfer – is the same as it was all those years ago; advances in incubation, fertilisation equipment and egg and sperm freezing techniques have seen success rates and quality of care rise.
When choosing a clinic, understanding what technologies are available to help you is more important than you may think. For instance, since installing EmbryoScope technologies (analysing the development of embryos while in incubation), The Hewitt Fertility Centre’s success rates have risen considerably. This means that, without any additional costs being incurred, you have a markedly better chance of a successful pregnancy as a result of better technologies.
We recommend you visit the websites or read the blogs of different clinics, and see what advanced technologies they use to give you the best chance of a successful pregnancy.
Level of care and comfort
While almost all fertility treatments will not require you to stay in the clinic overnight; with frequent visits for consultations, drug appointments and scans, you will want to ensure that you feel comfortable at your clinic of choice. If you have time, it may be worth lining up visits to a handful of clinics to get a feeling for how suitable you feel it is for you. When first visiting, or doing preliminary research about treatment centres, ascertain how many treatment rooms, recovery suites and clinical staff each clinic has. All of these factors will help you make the right choice.
On average, you will likely be visiting your clinic of choice more than 5 times per cycle of treatment so for your own convenience, choosing a clinic located within a reasonable distance and with good transport links is very important.
The HFEA has a very handy location guide of clinics which, after entering your postcode, will show you a list of local clinics.
Getting your diagnosis right is arguably the most important part of your fertility journey. You may choose a clinic that you think is ideal, but if their diagnostic procedures are below par, you could end up spending a lot of time, money and stress to be left with unresolved issues.
It is important that you establish the range of tests that a clinic can offer as well as the cost of testing and how those tests can benefit you. For instance, here at The Hewitt Fertility Centre we offer a full range of testing including Preimplantation Genetic Screening, which allows us to test for genetic abnormalities in your embryos before they are transferred. These tests can help to give you all of the information you and your clinician will need to make the right decision for you.
We recommend that you find a clinic that offers the following diagnosis procedures as standard:
Ovarian Reserve Testing
While overcoming fertility issues and becoming pregnant is your primary concern when choosing a fertility clinic, doing so successfully is not solely down to physical procedures. Stress and anxiety can play a crucial role in your ability to become pregnant with recent studies showing that a woman’s fertility can reduce by almost 16% if she is under stress.
A range of counselling and support services is therefore a key consideration when choosing a clinic. When investigating which clinic is right for you, we recommend you establish whether a clinic offers a range of counselling services including one-on-one sessions, group counselling as well as alternative therapies such as mindfulness or acupuncture.
Range of treatments offered
When first understanding that you are struggling with fertility issues, it will be unknown what manner of treatment you may need. After consultation and diagnosis, you will hope that your clinic can offer you the best range of treatments to ensure that you receive not only the most effective treatment but also the most cost effective and least invasive. A lot of clinics may only offer IVF treatment as it may be convenient for them, but this could be an unnecessarily lengthy and expensive procedure when simpler methods may be just as effective in overcoming your fertility issues.
We would recommend that you try to find a clinic that offers a full range of testing and treatment options. IVF may be the answer but if unsuccessful or not financially viable, ICSI, Donor Insemination or drug based remedies may help. Find a clinic that offers you the widest range of treatments and therefore the widest range of solutions to your problem.