IVF treatment

Within this section, you can find information explaining everything about IVF, including what it is, how it works, fertility challenges it can overcome, success rates and costs.

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 can help. Whilst it is not a cure for infertility, IVF can overcome issues that obstruct natural conception and help people to have a baby.

What is IVF?

IVF (in vitro fertilization) is a fertility treatment where fertilization occurs outside of the body. It is one of several techniques available to help people with fertility problems have a baby.

How long does IVF take?

Whilst individual cases can vary, depending on the issues that are affecting fertility, it is typical for IVF to take approximately 7 weeks seven weeks from when you take your first drug, until your pregnancy test.

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 collected at the optimum time which we identify through regular monitoring

3. The eggs are then fertilised with sperm from a partner or a donor in the embryology lab.

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

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

What happens at each stage of IVF? (Infographic)

Your IVF journey with CARE Fertility

Your IVF journey with CARE Fertility

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 IVF success rates in the UK. Read about them here.

Professor Adam Balen

One of The World’s Leading Reproductive Medicine Specialists

Additional IVF treatments

Whatever your fertility diagnosis we will focus on designing a tailored treatment plan to meet your needs and can offer a range of additional treatments, as required, to give you your best chance of having a baby

IUI Treatment

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


ICSI Treatment

ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) 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

This type of IVF treatment requires less fertility drugs and is when 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.


What are the success rates of IVF?

According to the HFEA, birth rates from IVF in the UK have steadily increased over time with the average birth rate per embryo transferred standing at 24% in 2018, compared with just 7% in 1991.

In 2019, the years of study in HFEA Statistical release published in 2021, they found:

  • Birth rates for patients under 35 were 32% per embryo transferred
  • Birth rates for patients aged 35-37 were 25% 
  • Birth rates for patients aged 38-39 were 19%
  • For women 43+ birth rates were below 5% 

Of course, the likelihood of success with IVF varies person to person as everyone’s needs are individual. One thing you can be sure of is that our teams at CARE Fertility will do everything we can to give your best chance of having a baby. You can find out more about IVF success rates at CARE here.

Are there any potential risks associated with IVF?

As with any medical procedure, there is an element of risk with IVF. These risks include:

  • Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (when ovaries become swollen and painful)
  • Stress
  • Egg-retrieval procedure complications
  • Multiple births (the likelihood of having twins is higher with IVF)

At CARE the health and comfort of our patients is of the utmost importance to us. We do everything we can to minimise risk during IVF, and we offer support throughout your fertility journey. 


Potential side effects of IVF

Patients undergoing IVF are required to take a few different medications throughout the treatment process; these drugs are associated with some potential side effects. However, for most, the chances of starting a family through IVF far outweigh the possible side effects. Some possible side effects include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Mild bloating and/or cramping
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Mood swings

How much does IVF cost? 

For more detailed information on costs at CARE Fertility, visit our IVF and fertility treatment costs page, where you can find fee schedules for our different clinics. Or read our cost of IVF blog for more information.

Your treatment plan and associated costs will be discussed at your consultation, book a consultation with one of our doctors here.


Does the NHS offer IVF treatment?

IVF is available on the NHS, however criteria vary across different Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). You can read more about the process of getting IVF on the NHS, and NHS Funding for IVF here.

The History of IVF

When was IVF first successful?

The first successful IVF procedure was carried out in 1978 and Professor Simon Fishel, who founded CARE Fertility was part of the UK team who pioneered IVF, since then over 5 million babies have been born worldwide.

IVF science has advanced very rapidly in recent years and our teams at CARE Fertility have been at the forefront of these developments, helping to pioneer ever more effective treatments.

There are more than 50,000 CARE babies in the world today.