Infertility

What happens at the fertility clinic

By the time they reach the clinic, many people will have had a long wait. Expectations of their early consultations are therefore often high. Here we discuss their early consultations and investigations at the fertility clinic. 

Fiona had to wait a long time before she was given an appointment at her local hospital. She was called into a group meeting organised by the clinic, which she thought was the start of treatment. She was therefore disappointed that there was still another six months of waiting. 

Early visits to the clinic often involved various blood and sperm tests. These were to establish whether there were identifiable problems, either with the woman’s hormones or ovulation or with the man’s sperm. Sometimes couples were also asked to complete a post-coital test. Catherine said she found this humiliating; “Just such a ridiculously embarrassing thing to have to do and so kind of humiliating”. Women might have investigations for blocked fallopian tubes, including being referred for a laparoscopy (an internal examination with a camera, gas and dye) under general anaesthetic.

As we have shown in ‘Funding fertility treatment and choosing a clinic’, the overall feel of a clinic and the friendliness of the staff were very important to many couples. Several women described their relationship with NHS or private clinic staff very positively. Sandra found the staff helpful throughout her treatment, always on the end of a phone if she had a question. She dealt mostly with nurses during the scans and explanation of treatment, with the consultants doing the egg collection and transfer. 

Janine said the staff were “absolutely lovely” at the assisted conception clinic she and her husband attended, offering them support and encouragement. Karen, who had had a bad experience at her first, private, clinic, was delighted that the staff at the next clinic took the time to explain things clearly to her.

However, some people found their visits to the clinic disappointing or unpleasant. Carol found it distressing that every time she went to the clinic she saw a different member of staff who would sometimes express a different opinion. She would then go home and worry about whether they really knew what they were doing.

Several women described long waits and crowded waiting rooms. Some found waiting with lots of other people in the same situation distressing. However, Michelle said that the busy waiting room meant that, “You don’t feel so lonely”. Although she did find the investigations were exhausting and degrading. 

Lulu found it frustrating that the unit was closed over the weekend which meant that some months, during her IUI treatment, she could not attend when she was ovulating. Others were disappointed by their clinics not giving them enough information about their treatment or having enough time to explain the purpose of the different procedures to them. 

Michelle was disappointed that the staff at her private clinic, who had seemed so caring during treatment, did not seem interested in her after it failed. She was told she could come back to the clinic when she had the money for more treatment.

​Last reviewed July 2017.

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