IVF Treatment - do you see this as a one off cycle or a course of treatment?

If you are currently having IVF treatment or about to embark on your first cycle, how do you view your IVF treatment. Do you see it as a ‘one-cycle’ treatment or are you going in to this preparing for the fact that you might need more?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend that women under the age of 40 are offered up to three complete cycles of IVF/ICSI. A complete cycle includes egg stimulation plus any frozen embryo transfer(s).

The reason for this recommendation is that undergoing up to three complete cycles of IVF treatment gives couples a reasonably good chance of reaching the goal of parenthood. The chances of success with the first round of IVF is as low as 20-25% but the cumulative effect of three full cycles of IVF treatment increases the success rates to 45-53% (NICE 2014).

However more than 80% of clinical commissioning groups (CCG’S) in England fail to offer 3 cycles of IVF treatment, with some offering 1-2 and some offering none. This postcode lottery has been greatly criticised and charities such as Fertility Network UK are campaigning to put an end to this disparity and make IVF treatment provision fair for all.

Researchers at Cardiff University, who are embarking on some pretty incredible research, have recently contacted me and they need our help. When you start thinking about IVF, understandably you want to find out as much information as you can. It’s likely that you would want to know the number of cycles that “doing IVF/ICSI” might involve. Yet the researchers have found that very little is known about peoples experiences of how they are prepared for that before starting IVF/ICSI or even after they have had an unsuccessful cycle. Did you doctor talk to you about this?

Some people think patients should plan in advance for the possibility of doing up to three complete cycles of IVF treatment when they first discuss doing IVF/ICSI with their doctor. This way people make a more realistic plan about what their treatment is likely to involve. Others think that people should go through treatment one cycle at a time and decide after each unsuccessful cycle what to do next. This way people have all the information they need about their experience to help them decide.

For this study the researchers are recruiting women (age 18 to 42 years) or men (age 18 or older)
who have had in the past EIGHT WEEKS:

A consultation to start IVF/ICSI treatment for the first time


A consultation after an unsuccessful IVF/ICSI cycle to start a new stimulated IVF/ICSI cyclE

Please DO NOT complete this survey if:

  • you have been advised to stop IVF/ICSI by your medical team, or 
  • you have had more than two complete cycles of IVF/ICSI treatment, or 
  • your consultation was for a frozen embryo transfer, or
  • you are undergoing IVF/ICSI for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis because of an inheritable condition, or 
  • you are undergoing IVF/ICSI for fertility preservation (e.g., egg freezing), or 
  • you are undergoing IVF/ICSI for surrogacy, or 
  • you are using donated gametes (egg or sperm), or 
  • you cannot read/understand English.  

The different sections of the survey ask about your:

  • Section 1: Background
  • Section 2: Most recent consultation 
  • Section 3: Decision-making and planning for the possibility of doing up to three complete cycles of IVF/ICSI 
  • Section 4: challenges and benefits of planning in advance for the possibility of doing up to three complete IVF/ICSI cycles 
  • Section 5: Previous treatment experience (if applicable)
  • Section 5/6: Attitudes, thoughts and feelings towards planning for the possibility of doing up to three complete cycles of IVF/ICSI

Completing the survey will take approximately 20-30 minutes of your time. This does make it a long survey but to date not much is known about how IVF treatment is planned and your answers will be very helpful to better understand and deliver IVF/ICSI treatment plans in the future.

Here’s the link to the survey

If you have any questions please contact the Lead Researcher Dr China Harrison (harrisonc14@cardiff.ac.uk)

Thank you so much for you help with this research. It is so important to have your say!

NICE (2013) https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg156/chapter/Recommendations#access-criteria-for-ivf

NICE (2014) https://www.nice.org.uk/news/blog/the-importance-of-3-full-cycles-of-ivf last accessed 25/11/19