At the South West Centre for Reproductive Medicine (SWCRM), we know that it can be a challenging and stressful time when you experience problems with fertility. Whatever your circumstances, there is a range of treatment options that we can explore with you, and it is your choice as to how you would like to proceed.
Support is also available to you from the moment of your referral and you will have access and dedicated support from counsellors, consultants, specialist nurses and expertly trained fertility scientists, who will place you at the heart of your treatment. We offer a large array of treatments and services at SWCRM. Below lists brief descriptions of the treatments available.
IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) is when the patient is given follicle stimulating drugs which increase the number of eggs that are developed. Once the follicles have reached the right size, you will attend the clinic for an egg collection. IVF involves the mixing of the patients eggs and partners sperm in the laboratory outside the body. The embryos created are then developed for a few days under the care of the IVF lab until the day of embryo transfer where the best embryo(s) will be replaced in the womb. IVF is useful for treating tubal infertility, endometriosis and certain male infertility issues. If there are remaining surplus embryos, which are of suitable quality, they may be frozen. The frozen embryos can be thawed and replaced at a future time.
ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) is a technique used for male factor causes of infertility such as a very low sperm count. The process is very similar to that of IVF, but the difference is that a sperm is injected directly inside each egg. By placing the sperm inside the egg it gives an opportunity for fertilisation to occur where it is not possible naturally due to poor sperm quality or previous failed fertilisation with IVF.
Natural cycle IUI
Intra-uterine insemination (IUI) is the process of injecting processed sperm into the womb either from a partner or donor, timed to your natural ovulation. Sperm are then closer to the egg and will hopefully have a better chance of fertilizing.
Couples having super ovulation (SO) and IUI will be those who have an adequate sperm count (normal or close to normal) or donor sperm and have open fallopian tubes, so that the egg and sperm can meet. Such conditions as unexplained infertility, mild male factor and mild endometriosis could benefit from this treatment. This differs to just IUI on its own as it involves mildly stimulating the ovaries to develop 1 or 2 follicles. We can then time the release of the egg and the placement of a prepared sperm sample in the womb accurately using ultrasound scanning.
Surgical Sperm Retrieval
For some patients that do not have any sperm in their ejaculate, surgical sperm retrieval may be an option. A fine needle can be passed into the testis (epididymis) to try and retrieve sperm, with sometimes a biopsy being taken. We undertake percutaneous epididymal sperm aspiration (PESA), testicular sperm extraction (TESA) and microsurgical epididymal sperm aspiration (MESA). Any sperm recovered can either be used in a fresh ICSI treatment cycle or frozen for future use.
Egg, Sperm & Embryo Freezing
- Embryo Cryopreservation: if extra embryos are available following an IVF or ICSI cycle, they can be cryopreserved and stored for future use.
- Semen Freezing: we offer semen cryopreservation to a number of patients undergoing cancer treatments, for patients who are transgender as well as patients with other conditions which require fertility preservation. We also offer sperm freezing for men with very low sperm count prior to fertility treatment as a back-up. Furthermore, if a patient is absent/away during treatment time, we can freeze samples prior to this time.
- Egg Freezing: the ability to freeze and store gametes are an important part of assisted conception and allows women's eggs to be preserved until they are ready to conceive. This method is particularly useful for cancer patients, women at risk of premature ovarian failure, single women wishing to preserve fertility and ethical or religious reasons.
Frozen Embryo Replacement (FET)
FETs are the thawing and replacement of frozen embryos. This involves preparing the lining of the uterus until it is optimal for implantation. The embryos will then be thawed out and replaced.
SEMEN ANALYSIS – PRIVATE AND NHS
Patients undergoing investigations for infertility require a recent detailed basic semen analysis (BSA) performed within the last year. The semen analysis provides valuable information enabling the clinician to develop a treatment plan for infertile couples. A BSA involves examining the count (number of sperm), motility (number swimming) and morphology (number with normal shape) of the sperm. We perform NHS funded BSAs (after being referred by your GP) however if you want a greater choice of dates and times, you can also pay for this privately.
TIME LAPSE MONITORING
The EmbryoScope™ is a type of incubator that has a built-in camera, capable of taking pictures of your embryos several times an hour. These pictures are then combined to create a time-lapse video showing the embryo's development over several days. This video can be viewed at any time. We can use all of the information available from this technology to pin point the strongest embryos with the best implantation potential. In addition, this also means that the embryos do not have to be taken out of the incubator to evaluate their development thus they benefit from being in an undisturbed culture environment. We are able to offer this to the vast majority of IVF/ICSI patients and is currently free of charge.