IVF, ICSI, IDK, WTF?

Updated: Mar 27, 2020

What is actually going on with our IVF journey and what does it all mean?


So the good news is for us that all is not lost just yet. We are waiting for confirmation of funding to have ICSI with the NHS. This brings with it lots of questions, so to help me digest (and you if you're reading), here's some info on what I know so far.


What is IVF? Some magical wizardry that gives the infertile a second chance... In Vitro Fertilisation - a medical procedure whereby an egg is fertilized by sperm in a test tube or elsewhere outside the body. Generally speaking, egg and sperm meet in a dish and do their thing before being popped back into the lady.


What is ICSI?

We've been calling it ick-sy - another form of wizardry but more advanced if you have serious complications. Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection - so compared with IVF, the sperm is actually injected into the egg for more guaranteed* fertilisation. We're on the funding list for this one and we've been given this website to have a read through. It's got a little video of the injection happening in a petri dish.


If we're so desperate, why don't we just pay for IVF? It's a good question and something we have considered. It's also why we're cutting back on big purchases in case we do want to pay for ourselves. Let's be honest though, if the NHS offered to fund you any sort of treatment, you'd take it wouldn't you? We'd at least like to see what the outcome of the application is - mostly because they only apply for funding for couples if they see a good chance of success rate - so if we're declined funding then we might want to look at alternative options as it might mean it's unlikely to work. At BCRM we've also been told that private and NHS patients are treated no differently - nobody jumps any lists.


Where are we in the waiting?

Our last appointment was on 24th July (our two year wedding anniversary - what a way to spend it!) where they applied for funding. Funding was 'sent off' on 26th July and we have "between 2-3 weeks" for a letter to come back confirming the outcome either way. For the clever clogs in the room - 3 weeks is up today and no letter yet. Me being the impatient fiend that I am, called the fertility department at Southmead yesterday who was super helpful and said that due to the holidays they are experiencing some delay in funding being confirmed. All I could think of was how ironic it is that everyone is on holiday with their children in the Summer while we're waiting on a decision to see if we can have one! Selfish I know.


What happens if we get funding?

We will dance, drink all the wine in the house (maybe not) and then we select which clinic we want to attend for treatment. Apparently there are several, Bristol, Bath, London, Leeds, etc. We've already decided we will stay in Bristol for ease. We'll see a consultant as a first port of call and discuss it front to back, top to bottom and in our previous consultant's words "get counselled to within an inch of our lives." Can't wait for that bit! We were also told that this initial consultation will be within 2 weeks of us selecting our clinic and treatment will start within 2-3 weeks from there. So all in all sounds pretty fast. It's at this consultation that Tom and I have decided to discuss whether this route is what we want to pursue. Beyond consultancy, the process goes like this.


What happens if we don't get funding?

We'd like to get more information on the process, what we'll be going through, what it entails and maybe just pay for that initial consultation to see if it's for us. We're not just accepting that ICSI is the way forward - we want to make sure we consider everything properly first. But if it is the right thing, we will likely fund our own treatment, at least just the once.


How expensive is treatment?

We honestly have no idea, but have heard between £6-8K. So if we're successful, no University for this kid**! We'd need to see a consultant so they can give us a cost and no doubt be more specific about our own situation.


Does the waiting drive us crazy?

Yes. In short. As if we haven't waited long enough already! 2-3 years of trying, the IVF carrot is dangling all over the place and waiting for a letter is the worst. Tom sent me a photo of an envelope that had arrived from the hospital this morning and I'm sat at my desk in work like: 'Oh my god, this is it, the moment we find out.' Only to find it's a letter from gynae confirming the biospy of my womb from the recent op is 'normal'. hegberhbgergnbjergnbghvsgbfrhkjqjw!!!


Wait, what does a normal biospy mean?

I'm not 100% sure, I have a gynae follow up appointment in October to discuss the results of the operation more fully. At the moment, I'm translating it as - I have endometriosis which means I can't make a baby on my own, but my womb lining is normal enough to potentially carry one. Ever the optimist!


Have we considered other options besides IVF?

Yes, we've been approved by Adoption West to attend an information session about their process. We had to go through an initial telephone screening first. They have advised us that if we go ahead with IVF, we are unable to take this route at the same time and would advise us not to submit an adoption application until 6 months after a failed IVF process so that we have enough time to grieve. We're very early stages of exploring this route, but look forward to the information session in November so we can see if this would be for us too.


So hopefully that helps for anyone at the early stages of infertility like us. If there are more questions, more than happy to answer them!


*Nothing is guaranteed - obviously!

**This is a joke - just in case it wasn't clear.


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