IVF - In vitro fertilisation


In natural conception, when an egg is ovulated each month, sufficient numbers of actively swimming sperm need to enter the cervix, work their way up the uterus and into the fallopian tubes. An egg must be released from the ovary and make its way down the tube to meet the sperm - the timing for all this needs to be right so that the egg and sperm can combine. Then, if the sperm successfully fertilises the egg, the dividing egg makes it way back down to the uterus to implant into the lining of the womb.

A problem with any of these steps in the reproductive process may result in difficulties in becoming pregnant. There are a number of reasons why this process may not work efficiently and this is where IVF (in vitro fertilisation) can help. Whilst it is not a treatment cure for infertility, IVF can overcome issues that obstruct natural conception and help people who can't conceive naturally to have a baby. The IVF procedure includes a number of steps:

1. A woman’s ovaries are stimulated with fertility drugs to produce multiple mature eggs

2. The eggs are then collected from her body

3. Her eggs are then fertilised with her partner’s sperm in the embryology lab.

4. The resulting embryos are cultured for three to five days

5. One of the embryos is transferred back into her uterus

A typical IVF treatment takes approximately seven weeks from when you take your first drug, until your pregnancy test.

The first successful IVF procedure was carried out in 1978 and Professor Simon Fishel, who founded CARE Fertility and is our Head of Research & Development, was part of the UK team who pioneered IVF. Since then over 5 million babies have been born worldwide, more than 50,000 of them are CARE babies.

IVF science has advanced very rapidly in recent years and CARE has been at the forefront of these developments, helping to pioneer ever more effective treatments and widening the range of people who can be helped.

How does IVF work?

IVF can overcome a range of fertility issues. Find out how.

IVF Process

An IVF treatment cycle can be broken down into 7 main stages. Read more here. 

Is IVF treatment right for me?

Here are some of the most common reasons why people need IVF. Find out more.

Success rates

CARE has some of the best success rates in the UK. Read about them here.

Additional IVF treatments

Not everyone needs IVF, you may become pregnant with an IUI treatment. Other fertility issues may require additional treatments to give you your best chance of having a baby.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)

IUI is a simple form of treatment, it involves putting prepared sperm into the uterus.


Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

ICSI can significantly improve fertilisation if there is a low quality sperm issue. 

IVF using donor eggs

If you need donor eggs to start your family, we have donors available.

Surgical sperm retrieval

For some sperm issues surgical sperm retrieval is a successful way to collect sperm.

Blastocyst transfer

Blastocysts are thought to be a more "select" group of embryos giving improved success.


IVF using a surrogate

For people who are unable to carry a child themselves, surrogacy is a good option.

Natural cycle IVF

One egg is collected from your ovary during your natural cycle.

Endometrial scratch

We scratch the lining of your womb to initiate a repair process to improve implantation.