This is a topic I struggled to find any information about, so now that I’ve been through some of the process I though it would be informative to others to read about my experience so far.
In Wales, single women are extremely lucky to be entitled to fertility treatment. We can receive up to 6 IUI cycles, and 2 IVF cycles with donor sperm.
How do I get started?
Go see your GP, as they will need to refer you, in the first instance to your local hospital’s gynaecology department for initial tests (internal scan, blood tests, HSG to check if your tubes are clear, and to take down all your medical history). The consultant will then decide whether to refer you to the fertility department for IUI if you have no fertility issues, or IVF if they don’t believe that IUI will work (usually if your tubes are blocked)
Can I ask to go straight to IVF?
Usually no. IVF is purely for those with known fertility issues, or those for whom 6 IUI cycles have not worked. If you have already have 6 unstimulated IUIs which you have paid for privately then they may well allow you to skip forward to the IVF queue.
What are the requirements?
Currently, for single women the requirements are:
- Under 42 years of age
- Non-smoker/have given up
- BMI under 30 (although you will have 3 months to lose enough to get under BMI 30 after your first appointment)
- No children, living or adopted
- No more than 2 IVF attempts either privately or on the NHS (e.g. with a previous partner)*
How long does the process take?
I can only give a very rough guideline, but here it goes as of March 2017:
- GP referral
- Initial consultation at hospital/gynaecology unit – up to 6 months after referral (mine was 4 months)
- Second consultation at hospital/gynaecology unit for blood test/scan results – 3 months later
- Referral to fertilty unit (WFI in South Wales) – 1-3 months
- Board review of your case for funding – 1 month
- Either wait for IUI treatment – currently 8 months
- or wait for IVF treatment – currently 12 months
So from start to finish you’re looking at approximately 21-25 months so get started early! The longer you delay it (like me) the longer you’ll be waiting.
*What if I’m not honest about my private IVF attempts?
Not that I’m promoting lying, but they only know what you tell them. They cannot and do not access your private records.
So it’s really that simple! If you’re single, living in Wales and want to have a baby, your first stop should be your GP. If they aren’t very considerate and refuse to refer you, ask to see someone else. My GP is lovely and I’m so thankful that she referred me on the first attempt and has supported me along the way, however I am aware that other GPs may not be as caring or understanding.
For those living in other parts of the UK, I’m not sure about the requirements as they vary from area to area so much (with an increasing number of regions ceasing fertility treatment for all!) I know that most areas aren’t so lucky as to offer single women who want a child the same access to treatment for those who are in relationships, so I am incredibly grateful to the Welsh boards for allowing us treatment. If you live outside of Wales please check with your GP for referral criteria (not all regions seem to put it online) and good luck 🙂