How Long Does IVF Take from Start to Finish?
When considering fertility treatment in the UK, you may be concerned about how long any one particular treatment will take. We understand this entirely; after all, you do have a life and responsibilities outside of receiving your treatment! But we also understand that getting treatment such as IVF will be high (or even first) on your list of priorities, and that knowing how long it will take may inform a number of other decisions and plans you may be making.
This is why we have provided a guide for you, answering how long IVF is likely to take at most clinics in the UK – including our own. Read on to learn more, or get in touch with us right away if you would like to discuss our IVF processes with a friendly, understanding professional.
How Long Does an IVF Cycle Take in the UK?
According to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), most IVF cycles in the UK will take between 4 and 6 weeks. However, this will not simply be them receiving the treatment required. It will also involve a series of appointments with a doctor or specialist, and may also include a range of tests and investigations before someone is able to move forward. The treatment itself will also involve a number of individual stages that may vary depending on the patient. As a result, how long any one cycle of IVF treatment will take depends on the patient’s individual treatment plan.
For medical reasons, it is possible that some patients won’t need the first stage of treatment (suppressing hormone production). This brings their treatment time down to around 3 weeks per cycle.
The IVF Treatment Process at GENNET City Fertility
Every treatment at our private clinic in London will begin with the same free, straightforward introductory mini consultation. This allows our patients to start to get to know the team members that they will be working with, and to speak to a discreet and understanding fertility specialist about the fertility issues that they have been experiencing. They will also be able to spend some time with one of our professional coordinators, who will go over the options that will be available to them for their treatment plan.
Once this stage has ended and you have decided that we are the clinic and team you would like to take your fertility journey with, the timeline for your treatment process will begin in full. We’ve set this timeline out below from start to finish in a series of steps, so that you can feel confident in understanding what will happen over the time that you spend with us. It may also help you to think of any questions you may want to ask our specialist in advance, meaning you can get these answered when you come for your first consultation.
If you haven’t had any previous tests, assessments, or investigations carried out in relation to your fertility, we would strongly recommend that you begin with either a Male or Female Fertility Assessment, or a cost-effective Couples’ Initial Consultation Package if you are forming your family with a partner. These assessments include specific physical examinations (semen analysis, uterine ultrasound scans, and AMH blood tests) and an Initial Consultation. Your results will then be explained to you by one of our specialists over the phone or via an email.
Step One: The Initial Consultation
The first step in a patient’s IVF journey will be the initial consultation, which is separate to the mini-consultation offered as an introduction to our clinic and to our services. In this step, a fertility specialist will talk to the patient about their medical and fertility history, and will be able to review any previous investigations or treatments that they have undergone.
The fertility specialist may also request further investigations, or recommend specific treatment options, at this time.
Step Two: The Follow-Up Appointment
After the initial consultation, a follow-up appointment will be arranged between the patient and the specialist. The results of any tests the patient has had so far will be explained at this point. Their treatment plan will also be finalised, and arrangements will be made for screening blood tests to be carried out.
Before an IVF cycle can begin, the patient and their partner (if they have a partner) will need to attend a consultation meeting with a fertility nurse as well. These experienced nurses will go through the patient’s treatment pathway with them and assist them with the completion of the necessary consent forms. They will also:
- Help patients finalise and pre-book their treatment dates
- Make arrangements for the fertility drugs and medications required
- Provide the patient with a teaching session on injecting Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
The patient will also have the opportunity to meet with an embryologist to discuss GENNET City Fertility’s laboratory services. They will explain these services to them in more depth and tell them more about how these services might benefit their fertility treatment.
Step Three: The Start of Treatment
A patient’s treatment will begin with ovarian stimulation. This involves the patient taking the FSH injections they will have been taught to inject by their nurse, and should result in their ovaries being stimulated to recruit a large number of follicles. This increases the chances of eggs being retrieved during the egg collection process.
After approximately 10 to 14 days of this fertility medication, the patient will then receive a final injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) or the gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRHa). This is known as the trigger injection and it should take place between 35 and 36 hours before egg collection.
The patient will also be invited to come to our clinic for monitoring ultrasound scans between the first and fourteenth days of their cycle. There will normally be three of these, and each should take around half an hour to complete. The patient may also be asked to have some blood tests carried out at this time.
Patients will be updated on their progress at each of these appointments and our specialist will provide instructions on the next step in the process.
Step Four: Egg Collection
About 14 days after treatment has started, the patient will be invited to come back to the clinic for egg collection, or egg retrieval. This should take place under mild sedation anaesthesia, and the procedure should last between 15 minutes and half an hour. A number of eggs will be collected at this time by aspirating the follicles using a vaginal ultrasound probe.
Once the patient’s eggs have been collected, they will be mixed with the sperm of the patient’s partner or donor sperm of their choice. The morning after the sperm and egg cells have been mixed, our embryologists will assess the eggs for any sign of fertilisation.
This will be seen to be happening when it’s evident that the cells are dividing; this means the cells should be noticeably splitting into two, then four, then eight, and so on until they reach the blastocyst stage. Our experts will also be able to provide patients with regular updates on the development of their embryos in the days leading up to the transfer.
Step Five: Embryo Transfer
Two to six days after the patient’s embryos have been declared viable, one or more of them will be transferred back into the patient’s womb, their partner’s womb, or the womb of a chosen surrogate. This procedure will be performed using a catheter, which is passed into the patient’s vagina and through the cervix. The embryo is then released in the middle of the cavity of the womb.
Often, the number of embryos that will be transferred depends on the patient’s age. This step will be discussed with you in greater detail if you decide to take your IVF journey with us – long before any embryos are transferred.
If any good-quality embryos are left over once the IVF cycle is complete, we will ensure that these are cryopreserved (frozen) for future use. This future use may be if the patient’s first cycle is unsuccessful, or if they decide they would like to give their first child a sibling.
Step Six: The Pregnancy Blood Test
10 days after the embryo transfer, the patient will be invited back to the clinic again in order to have a pregnancy blood test carried out. This should help our team to determine if the IVF cycle has been successful.
Step Seven: The Pregnancy Confirmation Scan
The final step in the process at our clinic will be to have a final ultrasound scan, which confirms the results of the patient’s pregnancy test.
How Long Do IVF Processes Take at GENNET City Fertility?
One cycle of IVF at our clinic will take around 28 or 29 days (about four weeks) from start to finish in the timeline of processes we have set out above. The egg maturation and stimulation phase, or the monitoring of a patient’s natural cycle, should take between 10 and 14 days.
The egg collection state of the procedure will take about half an hour to complete, but you can expect to be in the clinic for about 2 hours in total. We usually count this part of the procedure as a whole day, as you can expect to need to rest and relax after the collection has taken place.
It will take between 2 and 6 days after this for embryos made from the eggs and sperm collected to be ready for transfer. Once this is done, it will take a further 10 days to find out if the embryo transfer has resulted in pregnancy.
Success Rates of IVF Treatment Cycles
The success rates of IVF can vary greatly, depending on a number of different factors. These factors will normally include the patient’s age and their general health, as well as the cause of infertility that the patient is experiencing. Success rates decrease significantly once a patient reaches a certain age, so patients aged between 42 and 43 may find that the chances of success stand at around 5%. Meanwhile, patients aged under 35 may find that the average success rate is much higher, standing at around 32%.
We should also note that these statistics are only guidelines; while success rates do fall over time and as a patient ages, this does not necessarily mean that your own IVF treatment will not work. It is entirely possible that one or more cycles of your chosen treatment will work exactly as you have been hoping, and that you will be able to have the baby that you have always wanted.
To learn more about IVF success rates, please see our advice and information on the topic.
How Long Does it Take to Get Pregnant with IVF?
Unfortunately, this question has no one straightforward answer because IVF treatment will take different lengths of time for different people to result in a successful pregnancy. One patient may get pregnant from the first cycle, for instance, while another patient may not get pregnant until their third. Studies have shown that having cumulative cycles of IVF increases the chances of it working, however, so even if you don’t get pregnant on your first attempt there is a greater chance of success on your second try. This chance of success is then even greater on third attempts.
Booking a Consultation
If you know you are ready to take the next step on the road to parenthood and have been considering IVF treatments to get there, contact GENNET City Fertility today. Our team will be glad to arrange a tour of our facilities and your free, 30-minute mini consultation. After this, our specialists will then be fully prepared to take you through your options for treatment, to help you form a bespoke fertility treatment plan that suits your needs and comfort entirely.
You may also rest assured that you will never be pressured into services you don’t want, and your time and budget will always be taken into account when forming the plan that works for you. Speak to us on the phone or send us an email and be welcomed through our doors as soon as possible – we can start exploring your options for expanding your family as soon as possible.