Deciding which fertility clinic to use is hard. There are lots of things to consider alongside limited or conflicting information available to help you. In addition, each individual's fertility journey is unique.
All of this makes it hard to compare and select a clinic and in the end, many people pick a clinic based on what they can find on Google or a recommendation from a friend or colleague.
We are here to help you understand the key things to look for when selecting a clinic and to provide you with the information you need to make a shortlist and ultimately, a final choice. There are three important parameters to consider when selecting your clinic: experience, cost and location.
Fertility treatment is emotionally draining, time consuming and expensive. The experience you have with a clinic can have a big impact on how you feel and your level of stress going through the process - in some cases, it can even impact your outcomes. We think of experience in three ways: communication, care and respect, and a seamless joined-up experience.
Good communication is critical to a good experience and the provision of high-quality care. You want to be working with a clinic and doctor that gives you time to ask questions and provides considered answers, clearly explains your diagnosis and treatment and is available and responds when you need them.
Care and respect can sometimes be hard to define but put simply the atmosphere at the clinic should be warm and friendly, you should be able to trust the clinic and its staff, and they should respect your dignity and privacy.
You often don't know when you are receiving a joined-up and seamless experience - it's so good it's invisible. A good joined-up experience is when your medication arrives on time when you see a doctor and they have access to all the relevant information they need when you have a point of contact when you need help, (even if that's out of hours), and you are always clear what the next steps are on your journey.
Measuring experience is difficult when you find someone to ask and when you do, their feedback is subjective. That's why at Fertility Mapper we are collecting structured information from as many women who have been through treatment as we can. We ask very specific questions about the experience to provide you with information you can use. You will find this information by the clinic in our 'Find a Clinic' section.
If you want to contribute and feedback on your clinic experience, please leave a review.
When shortlisting or selecting a clinic, you need to think about cost in two ways: actual cost and cost transparency.
HFEA, the fertility market regulator, has requested that clinics make their pricing information available to the public. However, clinics all have a slightly different approach to pricing their services with some providing packages and others pricing everything individually. In addition, everyone's fertility journey is unique so some people might need more medication than others or additional scans or procedures which impacts the price you will pay.
To help make the understanding of cost easier we have a guide on 'Understanding the cost of fertility treatments' here.
In addition to the actual cost, it is also important to consider how transparent a clinic is with its pricing, terms and conditions and refund policies so you are clear about your liabilities from day one and there are no stressful surprises during or at the end of your treatment. As part of our clinic review, we have asked women to feedback on clinic cost transparency, you will find this information by the clinic in our 'Find a Clinic' section.
The location of your clinic is important. Throughout the course of your treatment, you will have to visit your clinic multiple times for scans, check-ups and to pick up medication. You won't always have control over the timing of your clinic visits and many people are fitting trips in around work and other commitments. With this in mind, picking a clinic that is near to your home or office, where possible, will have a big impact on your experience and your level of stress throughout the process.
Many of you will be asking why we have not yet talked about outcomes or success rates. Whilst outcomes and success are important, they are difficult to measure and can be misleading.
Clinics do not all use the same criteria when measuring success rates, making it hard to compare between clinics. In addition, everybody is unique, with different chances of success. Some clinics only treat patients with a high likelihood of success due to age or other factors meaning that they have higher success rates compared to other clinics which treat more complex cases. Finally, success rates vary by treatment type and by the clinic. So, while a clinic might have a good success rate with one type of treatment it doesn't mean it has a good success rate with another type of treatment.
Whilst the fertility market regulator recommends picking a clinic with success rates that are in line with the national average, given the challenges of reliable data availability, we have not covered them in our clinic reviews.
Now you have an idea of what information to look for to create a clinic shortlist, have a read through the 'Find a clinic' page on our site to find out more about the clinics in your area and save your shortlisted clinics. For those of you who want to find out more about cost visit the guide on to 'Understanding the cost of fertility treatment'. And for more information on outcomes or success rates, visit the HFEA.