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IVF treatment: How It Works, Costs and Eligibility

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a popular method to assist individuals experiencing fertility issues to conceive. In this blog, we’ll unpack the mechanics of IVF, discussing the process itself, associated costs, eligibility criteria, and success rates. Hopefully with a better understanding of the intricacies of IVF can help empower you those on this fertility journey, providing insights and support as they navigate the path to parenthood.


How Does IVF Treatment Work?

In the course of IVF, an egg is extracted from the ovaries of the woman and combined with sperm in a laboratory setting. Subsequently, the fertilized egg, referred to as an embryo, is reintroduced into the woman’s uterus to undergo growth and development. This procedure can employ either the individual’s eggs and their partner’s sperm or utilize eggs and sperm obtained from donors.

The IVF process encompasses six key stages, including the suppression of the natural menstrual cycle through medication, stimulation of the ovaries to produce multiple eggs, monitoring and maturation of eggs using ultrasound scans and medication, egg collection through a needle inserted into the ovaries, fertilization of eggs by mixing with sperm, and finally, the transfer of one or two fertilized eggs (embryos) into the womb. Following embryo transfer, a 2-week waiting period is required before conducting a pregnancy test to determine the treatment’s success.


Who’s Eligible for IVF on the NHS?

Determining eligibility for IVF is guided by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) fertility guidelines, which recommend offering IVF treatment on the NHS in England and Wales to women under the age of 43 who have been actively trying to conceive through regular unprotected intercourse for a duration of 2 years. Alternatively, eligibility extends to those who have undergone 12 cycles of artificial insemination, with at least 6 cycles involving intrauterine insemination (IUI). However, the final decision regarding NHS-funded IVF in England is at the discretion of local integrated care boards (ICBs), and their criteria may be more stringent than those suggested by NICE.


How Much Does IVF Cost?

For individuals ineligible for NHS treatment or opting to pay for IVF, private clinics are an option. Costs can vary, with a single cycle of treatment costing anywhere from £3,500 to £7,000 when using your own eggs, or up to £12,000 if you need donated eggs. This has encouraged Brits to look further afield for their treatment, with countries such as Greece, Czechia and Turkey all being popular destinations. You can read more about doing IVF abroad here.


What’s the Success Rate of IVF?

The success rate of IVF is influenced by the woman’s age and the identified cause of infertility. Higher success rates are typically observed in younger women, with IVF generally not recommended for those over the age of 42 due to lower chances of success. Success rates, based on live births per embryo transferred, were 32% for women under 35, 25% for women aged 35 to 37, 19% for women aged 38 to 39, 11% for women aged 40 to 42, 5% for women aged 43 to 44, and 4% for women aged over 44 in 2019.


Having Trouble Conceiving?

Initiating a conversation with your general practitioner (GP) is recommended if experiencing difficulties conceiving. The GP can provide guidance on enhancing the likelihood of conception. Getting a male fertility test early on can help pin point where the issues lie, and now with at-home sperm tests like this one us at ExSeed, it’s never been easier to check your sperm health without leaving the house. In cases where all measures prove ineffective, a referral to a fertility specialist, potentially for IVF, may be suggested.

It’s important to have understood the risks of IVF before commencing treatment. IVF doesn’t guarantee pregnancy and can be physically and emotionally demanding, so counseling is recommended to support individuals through the process. Health risks associated with IVF include side effects from the medications used, the potential for multiple births, ectopic pregnancy, and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).

Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding alcohol, smoking, and caffeine during treatment are suggested to improve the chances of a successful pregnancy with IVF.

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Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.


Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.


Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.


Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.


There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  


A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.


Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.