If considering IVF, should you try on the NHS or go for private IVF treatment?


Here we explain some factors to consider when deciding on whether to have private or NHS fertility treatment:

Selection criteria and eligibility

If you want to try IVF on the NHS, the first thing you should consider is whether you are eligible for treatment. To qualify for fertility treatment funding on the NHS, in England, you must be referred by your GP after meeting the following criteria:

  • Be aged 23 - 39
  • Have an identifiable cause of infertility such as male factor infertility, blocked tubes or PCO/PCOS
  • Have had three years of unexplained infertility

It’s also important to understand that if you’ve been trying for many years, you may need more costly treatment and the NHS may not be able to cover this. Besides the NHS referral criteria above, each CCG will have their own eligibility criteria. These can include:

  • Limits on BMI
  • Limits on the number of cycles offered (over a half of CCGs in England fund only one cycle of IVF and only a few the recommended full three cycles)
  • Whether you or your partner already has children
  • The number of previous fertility treatment cycles taken

With this in mind, it’s easy to see why two of the main reasons people choose to go to a private IVF clinic are the restrictive NHS selection criteria and also the waiting times.

How we’re different

While the NHS and most private IVF clinics have strict selection criteria for their patients, often turning away older women, women with low AMH levels or high FSH results, at CREATE we take pride in not having any selection criteria. We are invested in equality for all patients and therefore have no cut-offs or selection criteria based on FSH, AMH etc.

If you are a patient from the East of England or from Merton, London, who is eligible for NHS-funding, you can now choose CREATE as your clinic and benefit from high-quality, private treatment on the NHS. If you would like to undergo your treatment with at CREATE Fertility, you can ask your Consultant or Nurse Practitioner to refer you for treatment here. Click here for more information on choosing CREATE.


  • Merton
  • Norfolk
  • Suffolk
  • Essex
  • Hertfordshire
  • Bedfordshire
  • Cambridgeshire

If you do not live in the above areas, but are eligible for NHS funding for fertility treatment and want to choose CREATE as your private clinic, you may be able to transfer your funding. Click here to find out more about transferring funding to CREATE fertility clinics.

Waiting times

The NHS’ fertility treatment offering depends heavily on where you live, which is often described as a ‘postcode lottery’. Depending on the area you live in, couples can wait between a few months to two-three years to begin fertility treatment.

In addition, once you start treatment there may also be long waiting times for appointment. This often adds unnecessary pressures on an already stressful experience, with some couples reporting that going for a scan can take a few hours out of their day.

In comparison to the NHS, private IVF treatment at CREATE is available as soon as two weeks before you can commence treatment.

How we’re different

At CREATE, we understand that when it comes to fertility, time is of the essence and we will see you right away; we do not have waiting lists and are open seven days a week (please note: some appointments can only take place during weekdays). At our fertility clinics, we will work around you and most women can begin treatment as soon as their next cycle.


Regardless if you choose to undergo treatment on the NHS or in a private IVF clinic, you should always understand all treatment options available. There are different types of IVF:

  • High stimulation IVF (also known as conventional IVF)
  • Mild stimulation IVF
  • Natural cycle IVF

Most NHS fertility centres are only able to offer conventional IVF and do not have the capacity to tailor their treatments to the individual. Furthermore, most private clinics, also mainly offer high stimulation IVF protocols.

High stimulation IVF involves overriding the natural menstrual cycle and boosting the ovaries to produce and mature more eggs than they naturally would (up to 15); all as a result of high doses of drugs and medicine. Fertility medication in high doses is known to cause menopausal symptoms, headaches and can cause serious problems such as Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (symptoms of which can include nausea, vomiting, free fluid, short breathing, and difficulty to pass urine). This type of protocol takes around 4 weeks to complete.

It’s important to be aware that there are milder IVF protocols, which use fewer drugs, cause fewer side effects, and take around half the time of conventional IVF whilst having the same rates of success.

Natural Cycle IVF and Modified Natural IVF are carried out with the aim to collect one egg that has been naturally selected and matured. With Mild IVF, low doses of stimulation is given in order to achieve a mild response, with the aim to collect a small cohort of high quality eggs.

Both Natural and Mild approaches focus on collecting healthy, high quality eggs rather than the quantity of eggs collected. Milder stimulation approaches are especially successful for those who have low ovarian reserve and would not be eligible for NHS IVF treatment and those with conditions such as PCOS where high doses of drugs are more likely to lead to complications such as OHSS.

How we’re different

CREATE’s approach to fertility treatment, is very different. We only offer Natural and Mild IVF and will always personalise our fertility treatment to your situation, using the least amount of medication necessary, whilst maintaining excellent results.

Clinical staff

Another factor in the decision making process is the clinical staff. When undergoing IVF treatment on the NHS, you will see a doctor for initial advice. In most cases a junior doctor or nurse will then carry out your treatment. This is also the case with most private clinics, where you will see a consultant initially and then your care will be led by the nursing team.

How we’re different

At CREATE, your treatment will be led throughout by our doctors. Our consultants are some of the top fertility experts in the world and they are at the heart of everything we do.

Meet the CREATE team.


Lastly, the main reason people choose to try for NHS funding when undergoing IVF treatment is the cost.

High stimulation IVF can be expensive, especially for those who have more complicated fertility issues. Milder approaches are more affordable, due to the low drug doses used, with a cycle of IVF starting at £2,550.

Please bear in mind that prices for private IVF treatment is not regulated by law and can vary quite a lot, also most prices do not include additional charges such as medication as these vary dependent on your body.

Whichever option you decide is right for you, please ask for a full breakdown of the costs and ensure you are aware of all treatment options available to you.

How we’re different

At CREATE, because we use lower stimulation protocols we are more affordable, we also try to be as upfront about costs as possible and all patients receive a financial talk before they commit to treatment to help understand our pricing and provide the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

If you would like to find out more about pricing we have a Prices page to give you an indication of costs.

Finding out more

If you would like to find out more about CREATE’s fertility clinics and our Natural and Mild IVF treatment options you can attend one of our free open evenings or alternatively calls us on 0333 240 7300 to book an initial consultation with one of our fertility experts.


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