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The cost of infertility

By Kate Davies, RN, BSc(Hons), FP Cert - Fertility Nurse

When faced with problems conceiving the furthest thought from your mind is money. Disappointment is most likely to be your initial feeling, followed quickly by anger, resentment and confusion. This is the emotional cost of infertility; an all-consuming state of utter despair. However after a while you pick yourself up, dust yourself down and begin to look at your options.
You probably think ‘We’ll do whatever it takes to have a baby’ but inevitably the reality of your situation creeps in and tough financial considerations have to be made. Have you considered how much you would be prepared to spend in order to conceive?

Many women start out using ovulation predictor kits (OPKs) to help them find out when they ovulate each month. However this can turn into a costly exercise. On average in the UK, OPKs cost anywhere from £15 to over £20 for 7-10 tests. However, you may need to use more per cycle. This is especially so if you are testing more than once a day, you have a long cycle, or you really have no idea when you are fertile.
Unfortunately many women find OPK’s unreliable. Clinical literature shows that OPK’s have a false-positive result of 1:10, indicating ovulation when none has occurred. (McGovern et al 2004). OPKs are particularly unreliable in women who suffer with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) (Robinson and Myers 2004). The hormone imbalance associated with PCOS means that OPK’s are unable to identify ovulation accurately.
Evidence also suggests that OPK’s have a false-negative rate of approximately 1:7. So in short, women may be attempting to conceive at the wrong time and then subsequently missing ovulation when it does actually occur.
To find out more about why I don’t recommend OPK’s to my patients have a read of my blog about OPK's.  There are other ways that you can accurately predict ovulation that are a great deal more cost effective.
For example, observing your temperature and your cervical secretions is a very effective way of determining your fertile window and when you ovulate. For optimum sperm health it is recommended that you have sex every 2-3 days, throughout the cycle. You will then be optimizing your chances of conceiving quickly and naturally during your fertile window.
As time progresses, and pregnancy has not occurred, you are likely to start thinking about infertility investigations and treatments. In the UK a woman is eligible for 3 cycles of IVF on the NHS, provided she is less than 40 yrs of age and has been actively trying to conceive for 2 years. If over 40, until reaching the age of 42 a woman is eligible for 1 cycle of IVF (NICE 2013).
However, we do know that NHS provision of IVF differs greatly depending on where you live, not all women will be offered the full provision and it is worth finding out beforehand what you local clinic offers. You can read the full NICE guidelines on Fertility here
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority latest national date for IVF success rates are (source HFEA 2011):
  • 32.2% for women under 35
  • 27.7% for women aged 35-37
  • 20.8% for women aged 38-39
  • 13.6% for women aged 40-42
  • 5.0% for women aged 43-44
  • 1.9% for women aged 45+

Whilst in recent years assisted conception has moved forward greatly, sadly many women will not be successful on achieving pregnancy on their NHS funded cycles. These women will then look to private clinics to continue their fertility journey. The cost of IVF from private clinics varies greatly from clinic to clinic, however on average a couple can expect to spend £5,000 per cycle. This often does not include the extras such as tests, medication and consultations.

Too often I see the heartbreak of women who have decided to delay motherhood only to then face difficulty in conceiving later in their fertile life. IVF cannot wave a magic wand and always be relied upon to fix the issue. As a woman ages, so does her eggs and there is no slowing of the ticking clock.
As a Fertility Nurse and Coach, I advise my patients is to get empowered and proactive before they get to the stage that they need to be spending their savings or money on realizing their dreams. There is so much a couple can do in the 2 years before they are eligible for IVF funding that will optimize their ability to conceive.
If this is you now, spend some time considering what changes you could make to your lifestyle. Limiting alcohol, reducing your caffeine intake, stopping smoking, adding moderate exercise into your weekly routine, getting a health check and reducing your exposure to toxins are just a few of the simple steps you can take now to improve your general health and optimize your ability to conceive.
Contact me at kate.davies@fertility-focus.com to find out more about the recommended lifestyle changes to conceive.
Finally, I recommend that every woman gets to know her cycle by observing her temperature and cervical secretions to determine when she is fertile.
Research clearly demonstrates that time to conception is reduced if a woman has knowledge of her own fertility (Gnoth et al 2003).
A little knowledge is a powerful thing! 

Book your FREE consultation with the OvuSense Fertility Nurse, Kate -  to assess your fertility potential, answer your burning fertility questions, get recommendations on how to optimize your fertility and have your charts analysed.

If you are an OvuSense customer you are entitled to a FREE 1 hour consult, if you are not currently using OvuSense you book a FREE 15 minute consultation. Consultations are held by Skype or Telephone. Don't see a time that suits you? Email Kate on kate.davies@fertility-focus.com