Frequently asked questions

If you have a question you might find an answer below. 

When you’re considering or having fertility treatment, you’re bound to have lots of questions. We’ve answered some of our most frequently asked questions below, but if you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, get in touch  – we’ll do what we can to help.

If you have endometriosis and are having trouble starting or growing your family, then we might be able to help. For more advice, arrange an appointment with one of our consultants – they’ll be happy to talk more about any problems you’re having.

If you’re looking for treatment for endometriosis but you aren’t hoping to conceive, you’ll need to ask your GP for a referral to a gynaecologist specialising in endometriosis.

To look more closely at the quality of your sperm, we can carry out tests that analyse it for DNA damage or chromosomal problems. For both tests, you’ll need to produce a sperm sample that we’ll then send away for analysis. The results of these tests will help us to learn more about your sperm quality. 

The best way to learn more about your next steps is to book an appointment with one of our consultants. We’ll then undertake a thorough review of the medical history of you and your partner and talk you through your options. 

Our donation teams will guide you through finding a sperm donor. We have a selection of sperm donors in our own bank as well as the facility to direct you to other sperm donor banks with different physical characteristics to choose from. 

In most of our clinics you’ll have egg collection under mild sedation, so unfortunately your partner won’t be able to join you in the operating theatre. However, it’s a really short process and nothing to feel nervous about; you can find out more about what collection involves in our quick guide to IVF.

Of course, and we’d be glad to help. If you and your partner are UK residents, we’ll just need you to go through a few screenings to check that you’re eligible, after which we can put you in touch with non-profit surrogate agencies to help you search for the right person. Once you have your surrogate, you can then have treatment at CARE.

You can find out more about surrogacy here or, if you’d like to talk to somebody, contact your local clinic. You can find the contact details for all of our clinics under ‘Our Clinics’ at the top of this page.

Unfortunately, if you’re in the perimenopause it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to have treatment with your own eggs, though of course we can talk to you more about this at a consultation.

If you can’t use your own eggs, we can still help you to start or grow your family. At CARE we have a fantastic egg donor programme, and can help you find your very best donor match to use in treatment; find out more about using an egg donor here. To get started, contact us to book an appointment, and on your first visit bring any test results so we can help you explore your options.

We’re experts in time-lapse imaging, and so far we’ve had more than two thousand births using this technology. As a result, we’re now able to compare the timelines of embryo development in embryos that have resulted in the birth of a baby, to those that haven’t. From this we’ve learnt that, even if embryos look similar, there will be subtle differences in their development that can help us to see which are most likely to lead to successful treatment.

CAREmaps was created using this information. CAREmaps is a form of time-lapse imaging that incorporates a unique algorithm based on the ideal times that an embryo should reach certain key stages of development. With CAREmaps all of your embryos will be compared to this timeline, and this information will be used to select the embryos for transfer that have the highest chance of becoming a baby.

Using CAREmaps we’ve had a clear uplift in pregnancy and birth rates compared with standard methods in all age groups. You can find out more about CAREmaps here.

We’re really sorry that you’re feeling anxious. Going through fertility treatment can be a stressful time, and we’ll do whatever we can to make your journey as smooth as possible. Read through our tips on stress management here and remember that if you’re really struggling, our counsellors are always here to help – you can find out more about our counselling service here.

Also, we want you to know that you’re not the only one feeling this way. If you’d like to talk to other patients anonymously about your experiences, visit our bulletin board.

Overall, 5,000 babies have been born worldwide after treatment using frozen eggs. At CARE, in 2015 86% of eggs thawed survived the freeze-thaw process, and of those eggs that were fertilised and went on to blastocyst transfer, 48% implanted successfully.

There are all kinds of aspects that will affect your chances of success, from your age and the quality of your eggs to the number of eggs you freeze. If you’re looking to preserve as many eggs as possible, you might also be interested in our EggSafe package, where we’ll aim to gather and freeze 20 eggs over up to four egg collection procedures. Alternatively, you can find out about our regular egg freezing service here.

Good quality embryos, remaining from your fresh treatment cycle, may be frozen for possible future use. Only about 98 in 100 embryos frozen with our current best practice survive the freeze thaw process and are suitable for transfer. Pregnancy rates vary depending on the embryo quality and female age at the time of freeze, but are close to those achieved with fresh embryos.

We can freeze embryos up to the statutory storage consent period of 10 years.  There are regulations for extending storage periods up to a maximum of 55 years. 

Several options exist if you do not wish to use your frozen embryos for your treatment. You may decide to donate them for embryology training, for research or you may choose to allow them to perish.

PGS stands for pre-implantation genetic screening. It’s an innovative technique that we use at CARE to screen embryos’ chromosomes, and it can help us to choose only the very best embryos for transfer. You can find out all about it here.

If you choose to have PGS, you’ll firstly go through an IVF cycle to create embryos. We’ll then take a small number of cells from each embryo for testing. 

An embryo biopsy is when one of our highly skilled embryologists removes a small number of cells from the outer layer of a five or six-day-old embryo. At this stage, the embryo is called a blastocyst, so you might have heard it referred to as a blastocyst biopsy instead.

Biopsies form part of our pre-implantation genetic screening and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis procedures.

You really don’t need to worry about damage to your embryos. Embryo biopsy and micro-manipulation of embryos have been carried out in laboratories across the world, and have been used in genetic cases for more than 25 years. Studies so far have shown these procedures are perfectly safe, and don’t cause any increased risk to children born as a result.

We hope this sets your mind at rest, but if you’re still unsure or have further questions, speak to your local clinic or contact us.

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is a technique that allows genetic testing of an embryo before it’s transferred. If your family is affected by an inherited disease, we can use PGD during IVF treatment to choose embryos without this condition for transfer, reducing the risk of passing on to your children.

You can find out more about PGD here.


After you’ve had a cycle of IVF treatment we’ll take cells from the embryos and test them for the specific genetic illness or condition. If we’re able to identify embryos without the condition, these can be transferred.

It’s extremely unlikely that donating your eggs will have any negative effects on your own fertility. In a normal donation cycle you’ll only donate as many eggs as you’d lose naturally in that month, which is usually around 10 - that means you’ll still have thousands of eggs left.

If you’d like to talk properly to someone about the implications of egg donation, book a consultation.

You’ll have to have daily injections that mimic the action of the body’s natural hormones and stimulate egg production; these injections are really straightforward, and we’ll teach you how to do them at home. How much medication you’ll need to take will depend on factors like your age, medical history, and size, and we’ll give you a plan that’s individual to you.

You’ll need to come into the clinic between seven and ten times. Your first visit will be for an initial appointment with our Donation Coordinator, at which you will give a blood sample. Normally, you’ll then have an appointment with a counsellor, followed by a consultation with the doctor and a scan. You’ll usually have three or four monitoring appointments and then one visit for egg collection.

We’ll do whatever we can to make sure your donation isn’t too disruptive. During the short monitoring stage we’ll need you to attend the clinic on specific days, but the appointments won’t take long and can be scheduled to suit you – you can come in any time from first thing in the morning.

In reality, you should only have between three and five days of inconvenience in the form of attending the clinic, but we’ll give you as much support as possible to make sure your visits are convenient and stress free.

After the procedure you’ll need to rest in the clinic for a minimum of two hours, and then you’ll be able to go home. During the post-operative period you might experience a little abdominal discomfort similar to period pain, but this should subside in two to three days and can easily be controlled with paracetamol. 

No, egg collections are usually carried out under mild sedation or local anaesthetic. 

Yes, of course.