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Assisted Conception Service

All treatments we provide are NHS services and are individually tailored to meet your needs.

In addition, in partnership with the Glasgow Royal Fertility Clinic (GRFC) of Glasgow University, we provide services for those who wish to consider paying for their treatment. For more details, please visit: https://glasgowroyalfertilityclinic.co.uk/

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

The website of the regulator of assisted conception services in the UK. Contains a comprehensive range of information covering all aspects of assisted conception treatment.

Infertility Network UK

A leading, UK wide, support network that offers information and support to anyone affected by fertility problems.

Fertility Friends
Endometriosis
Surrogacy UK
Male Fertility UK
Donor Conception Network
National Gamete Donation Trust
More to Life

ACS is licensed by the UK’s regulator of assisted conception treatment (the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) to provide the following services:

  • ovulation induction
  • intrauterine insemination
  • in vitro fertilisation
  • intracytoplasmic sperm injection
  • pre implantation genetic diagnosis
  • donor insemination
  • egg donation
  • semen analysis
  • surgical sperm retrieval
  • sperm storage
  • embryo storage
  • egg storage

For more information about individual topics, please use the links below:

Add info here….

Suggestions

We are constantly striving to improve the quality of our service to you and value your opinions about how we could do that. Your comments and suggestions can be delivered in one of several ways:

  • While you are at the clinic, ask for a suggestion sheet, fill it in and put it into the suggestions box located in the waiting room.
  • Speak to a member of staff whilst you are at the clinic.
  • Write to the Assisted Conception Service, Ground Floor, Queen Elizabeth Building, Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Alexandra Parade Glasgow G31 2ER.

Clinic Feedback

We would appreciate if anyone who has recently completed treatment with us could review the service they received by completing the short questionnaire on the HFEA website (link below). It will ask you 5 short questions and take no more than 5 minutes to complete.

https://www.hfea.gov.uk/choose-a-clinic/clinic-search/results/37/patient-rating/

How to Complain

Please ask to speak to the ACS Senior Charge Nurse if you are not happy with your treatment, or the treatment of someone you care about.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can contact the NHSGGC Complaints Dept:

NHSGGC Complaints Department
North East Sector Offices,
Stobhill Hospital
300 Balgrayhill Road
Glasgow
G21 3UR
Phone us: 0141 201 4500
Email us: complaints@ggc.scot.nhs.uk

Information for who is eligible for NHS Funded Treatment in Scotland

Eligible patients who are new referrals from 1st April 2017 may be offered up to three cycles of IVF/ICSI where there is a reasonable expectation of a live birth. Eligible Patients referred before the 1st April 2017 may be offered up to two cycles of IVF/ICSI where there is a reasonable expectation of a live birth.

Referral for treatment can only be made if all access criteria are fulfilled, as noted below. Should the first cycle of treatment be unsuccessful all access criteria must be met before a subsequent cycle can commence.

Definition of infertility for couples
  • Infertility with an appropriate cause, of any duration

OR

  • Unexplained infertility of two years – heterosexual couples
  • Unexplained infertility following six cycles of donor insemination
Sterilisation

Neither partner to have undergone voluntary sterilisation or who have undertaken reversal of sterilisation.

Stable Relationship

Couples must have been cohabiting in a stable relationship for a minimum of two years.

Legal Parenthood
  • Couples where only one partner has legal parenthood of a child (or a biological child) can access NHS funded treatment as long as all other access criteria are met in full.
  • Same sex couples will not be eligible if they already have a child in the home and both have consented to legal parenthood of that child.
Lifestyle

There is a responsibility on patients to fulfil the following access criteria in the interests of the welfare of the child and the effectiveness of treatment. The clinic may conduct tests to ensure that patients adhere to these criteria and, in the event of a positive result, patients will be advised that treatment cannot be started.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

The female partner must have a BMI above 18.5 and below 30. Couples should be aware that a normal BMI is best for both partners.

Smoking

Smoking status must be assessed prior to referral for treatment.

Both partners must be non-smoking for at least three months before treatment and couples must continue to be non-smoking during treatment.

Alcohol and Drugs

  • Both partners must abstain from illegal and abusive substances
  • Both partners must be Methadone free for at least one year prior to treatment
  • Neither partner should drink alcohol prior to or during the period of treatment
NHS Funding for IVF/ ICSI treatment
Definition of One Full Cycle of NHS Funded Treatment

One full cycle includes ovulation induction, egg retrieval, fertilisation, transfer of fresh embryos followed by the freezing of suitable embryos and the subsequent replacement of these, provided the couple still fulfil the access criteria. If suitable embryos are frozen these should be transferred before the next stimulated treatment cycle.

No individual (male or female) can access more than the number of NHS funded IVF treatment cycles supported by NHS Scotland under any circumstances, even if they are in a new relationship.

Number of Cycles initiated by the date of the female’s 40th Birthday

Up to three cycles of IVF/ICSI may be undertaken where there is a reasonable expectation of a live birth. Clinical judgement should be applied to determine this, using an assessment of ovarian reserve before the first cycle. If there has been no or a poor response to ovarian stimulation (<3 eggs retrieved) in the first cycle no further IVF/ICSI treatment will be funded.

Fresh treatment cycles must be initiated by the date of the female partner’s 40th birthday and all subsequent frozen embryo transfers must be completed before the woman’s 41st birthday.

Patients should not be placed at the end of the waiting list following an unsuccessful treatment cycle. There could be a gap of 6-11 months between fresh cycles of IVF for patients who remain eligible.

Number of Cycles if aged 40 to 42 years old

One cycle of treatment may be funded for couples if the female has never previously had IVF treatment, if there is no evidence of poor ovarian reserve and if in the treating clinician’s view it is in the patients’ interest.

Discussion regarding the additional implications of IVF and pregnancy at this age should be undertaken.

  • Eligible patients must be screened before the female partners 42nd birthday.
  • Eligible patients must have reached the top of the IVF waiting list (which should not exceed 12 months).
  • Eligible patients should be consented and a cycle of treatment initiated before their 42nd birthday.
NHS Funding for Frozen Embryos

Should circumstances change and couples no longer meet the NHS eligibility criteria self funding for any future transfers will be required.

Number of Cycles For Those That Have Previously Self Funded

NHS funding may be given to those patients who have previously paid for IVF treatment, if in the treating clinician’s view, the individual clinical circumstances warrant further treatment.

Please also see Access Criteria for NHS Funded IVF Treatments – links below

National Infertility Group Report 2016

NHS Funding for Fertility Treatment in Scotland

Reasons for not offering treatment
  • BMI less than 18.5 or greater than 30
  • smoking
  • we are obliged by law to take into account the welfare of any child likely to be born after fertility treatment. In order to assess this, we may ask your permission to contact other professionals. There may be circumstances where treatment cannot be offered if concerns are raised with respect to the welfare of any child born as a result of treatment.
  • certain complex medical issues where pregnancy would carry significant risks
  • Same sex couples will not be eligible if they already have a child in the home and both have consented to legal parenthood of that child.
How is an ‘AMH’ test result used?
  • an AMH test result is used to decide which treatment protocol to use
  • a blood sample will be taken from you to measure the amount of a hormone called AMH
  • the result of that test will help us decide which drug stimulation protocol is best for you during your treatment. Please note that your AMH test result will not be used to decide whether you are offered treatment or not
  • a high AMH level raises the possibility that you may over-respond to your treatment (i.e. too many eggs will be produced), increasing the risk of ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome
  • a low AMH level raises the possibility that you may respond poorly to your treatment, i.e. only a few eggs are produced
How to refer a patient

All patients should be referred by their GP or Doctor at their local hospital. We ask that a number of tests are performed before you are referred. For the female partner these are, an up to date smear (within the last 3 years), a vaginal swab for Chlamydia, a progesterone check for ovulation and for the female to provide evidence of 2 MMR immunisations (German measles). For the male partner this is at least one sperm count. Under certain circumstances 2 sperm counts may be required.

Once we have received the referral letter and the results from the investigations required, an appointment will be made for you to attend the ACS Unit to see a Doctor or a Nurse.


Referral to Glasgow Royal Infirmary ACS Unit – self funding patients (Glasgow Royal Fertility Clinic)

Patients may make an appointment to see Professor Nelson or Dr Lyall by contacting the administrator Ruth Simpson on 0141 201 0851. Please bring as much information with you as possible relating to any investigations you may have had performed or any treatment you may have had.

If appropriate, arrangements may be made for a blood test to assess Anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) and a sperm count prior to your appointment.

2021 News
23rd December – Festive period operational hours

The ACS will be closed from the 25th of December, reopening on the 28th of December and from the 1st of January, reopening on the 3rd of January. 

6th January – COVID Vaccine Update

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published updated advice on 30 December 2020 to advise that women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.

Getting vaccinated before pregnancy will help prevent COVID-19 infection and its serious consequences. In some cases, women will need to make a decision about whether to delay pregnancy until after the vaccine becomes available to them. There is no evidence to suggest these type of vaccines cause issues with fertility. 

Further information can be found on the following websites should you require.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19—vaccine-letter-from-the-chief-medical-officer-updating-on-the-vaccination-programme—1-january-2021/

https://www.rcm.org.uk/news-views/news/2020/december/updated-advice-on-covid-19-vaccination-in-pregnancy-and-women-who-are-breastfeeding/

6th January – COVID Update

Following the recent announcement made by the Scottish Government on the 4th of January we can confirm our clinic remains open and we are continuing to offer treatment in a safe environment for all patients.

Government guidance also states that individuals can leave home for medical appointments however if you have any questions please contact us.

January – Measles, Mumps & Rubella Vaccinations

We require all patients starting a cycle of treatment to have 2 MMR (Measles, Mumps & Rubella) vaccinations. If you have already provided us with paperwork to confirm this, you do not need to do so in subsequent cycles. If you are unsure if you have had 2 MMR vaccines please check with your GP in the first instance.

2020 News
29th June COVID-19 Update

Thank you for your continued understanding and patience during such difficult circumstances and while awaiting the gradual re-introduction of fertility services. We are delighted that we have been able resume frozen embryo transfers for patients who were unable to proceed with a fresh transfer and those who had their frozen embryo transfers cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

We are now ready to expand treatment for any patients with frozen embryos and invite patients who wish to initiate a cycle of treatment to contact us from the 6th of July. Please remember that in order to provide treatment that is safe for patients and staff and to allow physical distancing, we are running at a reduced capacity. While we will endeavour to provide your treatment as soon as possible, we may not be able to accommodate patients with their subsequent cycle and there may be a wait for treatment.

We are also ready to begin arranging treatment for patients who had a fresh cycle of IVF or ICSI booked and had their treatment paused before egg collection. We will start contacting these patients from Tuesday the 30th of June and where appropriate, make a plan for treatment. If you do not receive a call from us straight away, please do not worry, we will contact you as soon as we can.
      
Patients who wish to book a cycle of unstimulated IUI can book treatment from the 13th of July. Unfortunately, we are not yet able to resume IUI treatments that require ovulation induction with gonadotrophin  injections. As soon as we are able to offer this treatment, we will update our website to advise.

Please remember that in order to provide treatment that is safe for patients and staff and to allow physical distancing, we are running at a reduced capacity. While we will endeavour to provide your treatment as soon as possible, we may not be able to accommodate patients with their subsequent cycle and there may be a wait for treatment.

We recognise and understand that the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the deferral of treatment is a very difficult and unsettling time for you. You may feel a sense of loss at not being able to proceed with your treatment at this time, feelings of being alone and uncertain about the future. We therefore, wish to continue to prioritise and support you at this time by offering video conferencing and telephone support with the fertility counsellors. 

In order to make a video conferencing or telephone appointment for counselling please contact us, copying us both into the email addresses. Please provide us with brief details about yourself along with your mobile number, so that we can call you to arrange a suitable appointment.

22nd May COVID-19 Update

Glasgow Royal Infirmary Assisted Conception Service has been permitted by the HFEA to restart treatment.

We are delighted to be able to confirm that Glasgow Royal Infirmary ACS has been given permission by the HFEA to recommence fertility treatments. We are aware many of our patients are keen to commence their treatment and have already been in touch to find out when they can start.
To provide safe and effective treatments in combination with minimising patient and staff risk of Covid 19 we have introduced many changes to our environment and ways of working.
We understand patients are very keen to have specific dates for starting treatment cycles however we need to put processes in place to keep everyone safe.  While we will do all we can to begin your treatment as promptly as possible, the restrictions under which all fertility clinics are now operating mean we will have to monitor the number of cycles carefully which will reduce capacity at this time.
We plan to start treatment with frozen embryo transfers, firstly prioritising patients who were unable to have a fresh embryo transfer and secondly those patients who had a frozen embryo cycle cancelled. We will start contacting these patients from Tuesday 26th of May and where appropriate, make a treatment plan. The next group of patient to be contacted will be those who had a fresh cycle of IVF or ICSI treatment booked and had their treatment paused before egg collection.

We will make contact with you as soon as possible 

If we had to postpone your treatment and you do not receive a call from us straight away, please do not worry, we will contact you as soon as we can.
As we re-commence our services from next week our phone lines will be extremely busy so we would ask for your patience so our teams can speak to as many patients as possible.
We have been working closely with Fertility Network Scotland who you can contact for support, advice or further information.  Telephone: 01294 279162  Mobile: 07411752688
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding.

15th May COVID-19 Update

We understand this has been a challenging and distressing time for our patients and would like to reassure you that the clinic is working to ensure all the necessary protocols and procedures are in place to resume services as soon as possible.  

On Monday 18th May 2020 we will submit our application to the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) to restart our services.  Following approval from the HFEA clinic staff will begin to contact patients.  Please be assured we will be in touch as soon as possible.

6th May COVID-19 Update

Following the HFEA announcement that IVF clinics can apply to reopen from week commencing 11th May and we would like to update our patients on our current position.
To enable us, and all UK clinics, to satisfy the HFEA criteria for safe opening, we must review and revise our current procedures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and infection while ensuring the safety of our patients and staff. We are working hard with the Scottish Government and local NHS Health Board to have detailed plans in place for resuming treatment as safely and as timely as we possibly can.    
We appreciate that all patients are very keen to restart their treatment and that this wait is very difficult for you. If we had to postpone your treatment due to the COVID-19 closure, we will contact you directly as soon as we can to provide a timeline and treatment plan.

Please note: currently, we are unable to provide specific dates and timescales for resuming fertility treatments. When we have this information we will update our website immediately with further details.
Further information can be found on the HFEA website www.hfea.gov.uk

21st April COVID-19 Update

Many of the GRI ACS staff (Doctors, Nurses, Scientific Staff & Admin) have been redeployed within NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde to support critical areas during this COVID19 pandemic.
However there is a small number of core staff available to answer queries, please contact us on 0141 211 5673 if required. Due to the lower level of staff on hand please leave a message with your details and we will contact you as soon as we can.
In light of the dynamic and changing nature of the situation and the guidance from government, unfortunately, we are unable to provide details or dates as to when we will be able to restart treatment cycles. There may be further changes to our service provision and if so we will let you know about these as soon as possible. 
We are closely monitoring the situation, taking guidance and working together with the HFEA, BFS (British Fertility Society) and ARCS (Association of Reproduction Clinical Scientists) to enable us to provide treatment as soon as it is safe to do so.
A core team of staff within the unit are currently working to ensure the clinic will be ready to reopen and offer treatment as soon we are permitted.
We recognise and understand that the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the deferral of treatment is a very difficult and unsettling time for you. You may feel a sense of loss at not being able to proceed with your treatment at this time, feelings of being alone and uncertain about the future. We therefore, wish to continue to prioritise and support you at this time by offering video conferencing and telephone support. 

In order to make a video conferencing or telephone appointment please contact us, copying us both into the email addresses. Please provide us with brief details about yourself along with your mobile number, so that we can call you to arrange a suitable appointment.

COVID-19

Unfortunately due to the current COVID19 pandemic we have taken the difficult decision to stop assisted conception treatment with immediate effect at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Guidance has been taken from NHS GGC Scotland, Scottish Government & European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) to postpone treatment and ensure patient safety.

Those due to have treatment at our unit will be personally contacted by telephone and advised next steps, due to the high volumes of calls this may take some time, please accept our apologies.

Updates regarding resumption of the ACS services will be published on the website or you may receive a telephone call in due course.

Please be aware waiting lists positions will not be affected and all patients will resume treatment from the point of cancellation.

Please be aware that it is likely we will not be fully staffed at all times and may be deployed to other critical areas within the NHS due to resourcing pressures.

If you need to speak to a member of staff please call 0141 211 5673 and leave a voicemail, we will contact you as soon as possible.

Please do not attend unless you have been asked to or an appointment has been pre-arranged and we ask you attend alone.

For support throughout this period please access ACS counselling service who have moved to using video conferencing and telephone support or use services offered by Fertility Network at www.fertilitynetworkuk.org

As per Public Health Guidelines please self isolate for 7 days:

  • if you have an acute respiratory infection (with at least one of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath);
  • or you have been in the previous 14 days in a country with community transmission of the virus according to the CDC;
  • or you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19;
  • or you have been in a  hospital where COVID19 patients are hospitalized,If you have symptoms of COVID-19: Phone your GP or NHS 24 (111) if your symptoms:
  • If you’ve developed a new continuous cough and/or a fever/high temperature in the last 7 days, stay at home for 7 days from the start of your symptoms even if you think your symptoms are mild.
  • YOU SHOULD NOT COME TO THE ANY APPOINTMENTS IN A CLINICAL SETTING
  • are severe or you have shortness of breath
  • worsen during home isolation
  • have not improved after 7 days
  • You should also phone your GP or NHS 24 (111) if you develop breathlessness or it worsens, especially if you:
  • are 60 years old or over
  • have underlying poor health
  • have heart or lung problems
  • have a weakened immune system, including cancer
  • have diabetes
  • If you have a medical emergency, phone 999 and tell them you have COVID-19 symptoms.
Brexit

The clinic is working with the HFEA to plan for Brexit.  These plans are updated as new information comes to light.

Please also find below link to NHSGGC Patient information related to Brexit.

https://www.nhsggc.org.uk/patients-and-visitors/eu-exit-brexit-what-you-need-to-know/

2017 News
Technology and Innovation

GRI ACS is looking forward to introducing further new innovative equipment into the ACS laboratories in July 2017.

Additional investment from NHSGGC and the Scottish Government continues to enable the ACS laboratories to remain at the forefront of new technology, ensuring that only state of the art equipment is used for patient treatment.  

To enable introduction of this new equipment, we have planned a routine laboratory closure for three weeks between Wednesday 5th – Friday 21st July to allow the new equipment to be installed and tested.  Existing equipment will also undertake  mandatory annually servicing during this essential shutdown period.

We look forward to continuing to further improve the service we provide. 

Patient Experience Survey Report

In May 2017, we invited 70 patients approaching the end of their fertility treatment to participate in an experience survey to evaluate the standard of service they received during their treatment with us.

We had a 100% response rate with 94.2% of respondents reporting that they’d had a positive experience during their treatment at Glasgow Royal Infirmary ACS. Whilst this overwhelmingly positive response is very encouraging, we are constantly striving to make further improvements to the service we provide, and therefore all feedback has been noted to allow us to develop our service further. 

Please take a moment to look at the ‘Patient Feedback’ display in the ACS waiting room to see areas of your treatment where we aim to deliver further improvement and some positive feedback from patients that have already received treatment with us.    

Poster Winner 2017

The ACS is proud to announce that one of our Embryologists [Catherine Beaton] won the Association of Clinical Embryologists (ACE) Pre-registrant Poster prize at the Fertility 2017 conference held in Edinburgh in January. The poster was entitled “Pregnancy outcomes following fresh or vitrified embryo transfer of non-top quality embryos. Should we change what we freeze?”

The prize is paid registration to the Fertility 2018 conference which will be held in Liverpool.

Well done Cathy! Another proud moment for the ACS scientific team.

New Consultant Gynaecologist

The ACS is delighted to announce the appointment of our new consultant gynaecologist, Claire Banks. Claire trained at Glasgow University and worked as a consultant within Clyde. Claire will start her post here at the ACS in January 2017.

Waiting List Targets

The ACS is pleased to inform couples who are being referred from their GP that the current average waiting time from GP referral to the first ART clinic appointment at the ACS is 6-7 months.

Poster Abstracts

The ACS is proud to announce that four poster abstracts, submitted by the scientific staff, have successfully been accepted for the Fertility 2017 conference, to be held in Edinburgh in January 2017.

  • Determining a sample size for storage tank audit – Daniel M Collins
  • Pregnancy outcomes following fresh or vitrified embryo transfer of non-top quality embryos. Should we change what we freeze? – Catherine Beaton
  • Patient specific dissociation of zona pellucida observed in time-lapse culture – Susan A. Moran
  • The challenges with legal parenthood consent: Can we remove the risk? – Linsey White

2016 News
Counselling Survey Results

In July/August 2016 the ACS invited patients attending the counselling service to participate in a satisfaction survey. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with 100% of respondents reporting that they’d use the service again and 100% reporting that they’d recommend to others to use the service. Our counsellor Isobel O’Neill received extremely positive feedback, and she is now joined by our second counsellor Alison Elliot. In respect of this, waiting times for counselling appointments are now down to approximately two weeks.

Patient Survey Results

In June 2016, the ACS invited patients receiving embryo transfer to participate in a satisfaction survey. The response was good with over 90% of respondents reporting that they’d had a positive experience at the suite. Whilst the response was so encouraging, we are constantly striving for improvement and all comments have been noted for ongoing service development.

Poster Winner 2016

The ACS is proud to announce that one of our Embryologists [George Hughes] won the Pre-registrant Poster prize at the Association of Clinical Embryologists (ACE) conference held in Newcastle in January 2016. The poster entitled ‘Volatile organic compounds in CE marked consumables in a clinical IVF laboratory’ explored the levels of volatile compounds given off when opening laboratory plasticware and the implications for use in an assisted conception unit.] The prize was a paid registration to the Fertility 2017 conference, held in Edinburgh in January 2017.

2015 News
Facing the Future Together, Chairman’s Award Winners 2015

Facing the Future Together, Chairman’s Award winners 2015

In late 2015, a series of awards were made to departments across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, celebrating the dedication and success of the hard work of the staff. The ACS staff members were honoured as the winners in the ‘Our People’ category for the Acute Services, Women and Children’s. This award was made for teamwork and notably the successful achievement of the new waiting times targets throughout the relocation of clinical services back to the refurbished Royal Infirmary site.

Press Release October 2015

The refurbished Assisted Conception Service (ACS) is achieving its highest ever success rates since moving back to Glasgow Royal Infirmary a year ago.

The state-of-the-art facility treats patients from across the West of Scotland and beyond and is seeing a 54% positive pregnancy test rate for all fresh embryo transfers – the highest rate unit has ever recorded.

The service now offers seven day access which means all patients are offered individualised treatment which meets their own clinical need.

Patients also now benefit from the use of time-lapse technology which allows continuous assessment of their IVF embryos, whilst enabling them to remain undisturbed in optimal conditions in the incubator. This has the advantage of allowing embryos to develop in culture for longer and thereby improves the ability to select the best embryo for transfer with the highest chance of achieving a pregnancy.

Dr Helen Lyall, Lead Consultant, said: “I am delighted that the unit is seeing such an increase in success rates and we hope this continues to grow.

“One of the main benefits of the newly refurbished unit is that all functions are now located within the one area. Prior to the refurbishment, services were spread across the Glasgow Royal Infirmary site.

“The investment in the facility and state of the art equipment has increased capacity at this new facility and has also enabled us to treat patients within the 12 months target.”

Dr Helen Lyall and Isabel Traynor, Senior Charge Nurse, have made a massive contribution to the National Infertility Group established by Scottish Government Ministers in 2010.

Their input, along with that of the wider team of doctors, nurses, embryologists and administrative staff has been instrumental in achieving equity of access across Scotland for patients requiring assisted conception treatment.

July 2015

Dr Helen Lyall (Consultant) and Isabel Traynor (Senior Charge Nurse) from the Assisted Conception Unit were invited to attend the Queen’s Garden Party at the Palace of Holyrood on Wednesday 1st July. This was in recognition of the work both have done for the Scottish Government as part of the National Infertility Group.

This work has been instrumental in achieving equity of access across Scotland for patients needing assisted conception treatment. This followed an exciting year for the assisted conception services in Glasgow with a new ‘state of the art’ facility in Glasgow Royal Infirmary, opened by the Minister for Health Shona Robison in February 2015.

The ACS laboratory had 2 additional EmbryoScopes installed in July which now means we have a total of 6 in place. This is the highest number of EmbryoScopes in any clinic in Scotland, reflecting the high number of patients we treat. We can now ensure that all patients have their embryos incubated in time-lapsed imaging systems. This helps us to select the best embryo to transfer and thereby give the highest chance of pregnancy.

We have also had approval for a new laser system to continue our improvements to our Pre Genetic Diagnostic service whereby genetic diseases can be screened for to ensure non- affected embryos are replaced and children are born healthy.

It is important for you to appreciate that there are several lifestyle choices that you can take to improve the chances of successful treatment.

These include:

Smoking

Women who smoke (including e-cigarettes) have a 50% lower chance of successful IVF treatment than those who don’t smoke. Smoking also reduces the ability of sperm to function normally. So if either or both of you are smokers, it is important to stop since the effects of smoking on reproductive health are fairly long lasting, you will not be able to access IVF treatment if either you or your partner smoke.

Alcohol Consumption

Best practice and medical advice is to abstain from alcohol consumption completely when trying to fall pregnant.

Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index (BMI) is an estimate of the amount of fat in your body. You can calculate your BMI here. If your BMI is greater than 30 or less than 18.5, it might take longer than usual for you to become pregnant, or reduce your chances of becoming pregnant. You might also require more drugs during your treatment and during any ensuing pregnancy the potential for the following risks rise:

  • miscarriage rate
  • high blood pressure during pregnancy
  • the baby having spina bifida and/or heart conditions
  • complications after delivery of the baby

At ACS we offer treatment to women with a BMI of 30 or less. However, for the reasons described above, we encourage all those embarking on assisted conception treatment to achieve a BMI of 20 – 25.

A balanced diet (i.e. one which includes plenty of fruit and vegetables) is, along with moderate exercise, fundamental to a healthy lifestyle. As well as helping to achieve an ideal body weight, it also reduces the likelihood of complications during any pregnancy.

Folic Acid

Taking folic acid tablets (400 micrograms) every day can help reduce the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect such as spina bifida. If you have diabetes or epilepsy or have had a baby with a neural tube defect you should take 5 milligrams of folic acid per day. To gain the most benefit, it is important that you take the folic acid for at least three months before you become pregnant and continue to do so for the first 12 weeks of any pregnancy.

Caffeine

People who are concerned about their fertility should be informed that there is no consistent evidence of an association between consumption of caffeinated beverages (tea, coffee and colas) and fertility problems. However, many experts in the field of assisted conception recommend limiting caffeine consumption to no more than 3 cups of coffee, tea or cola per day.

“We are entrusted with the most precious thing in the world – which is why we use the most advanced technology we can”.

As part of IVF or ICSI treatment we keep your embryos in our laboratory for up to 5 days. During this time we monitor your embryos to check how well they are developing. 

Embryo development is dynamic and they need continuous monitoring to allow us to watch their pattern of development and to ensure we select the ‘best’ embryo(s) for transfer. Until now, a wealth of information about embryo development has gone unseen.

EmbryoScope gives us a new way of looking after and looking at your embryos. It provides a safe, undisturbed and controlled environment for your embryos and allows us to look at your embryos whenever we wish, and to constantly record their development from the moment the egg fertilises to the moment the embryo is transferred. We can look and observe the embryo within the incubator using ‘real-time’ footage whenever we like without disturbing them. A large screen provides a continuous overview of all embryos within the incubator. In addition, continuous 4D images are stored automatically with the patient file for review at any time during the embryo’s development. This means we can go back and view what has been happening in their development day and night. We can see things that we might have missed before because it didn’t happen at a time when we would be examining them under the microscope.

Most importantly, there is evidence to suggest that using EmbryoScope may increase your chances of your treatment working. It may well be possible to now observe key events in your embryos development to help us select which embryos will turn into babies.

Here is an example of what we see… 

Here is an example of what Embryoscope allows us to see…

Please ask to speak to a member of the scientific team if you would like any more information regarding the EmbryoScope and your treatment.

Egg and Sperm Donation Campaign

Hundreds of people in Scotland need the help of egg or sperm donors to give them the chance to become parents and the gift of starting a family.

The Scottish Government and NHS Scotland have launched the first national campaign of its kind to encourage people to become egg and sperm donors, with the four NHS tertiary Fertility Centres in Scotland (Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow).

Donating your eggs or sperm is something that requires careful consideration, but if it’s right for you then you have the potential to give the joy of starting a family to those people in Scotland, who need the help of donors to become parents.

Visit www.eggsandsperm.scot to find out more

Why?

The experience of fertility difficulties is almost always distressing and disruptive for any individual or couple.  Powerful feelings can emerge – shock, anger, sadness, envy, guilt, anxiety, isolation, sense of worthlessness and, particularly, fear for the future.  The situation can also put a great strain on relationships which are normally loving and comfortable whether with a partner, family members or friendships.  It is not always easy for others to fully understand how such a profound life crisis feels or how it affects so many aspects of day to day living.  The experience of fertility problems is unique and complex and is often described as an “emotional rollercoaster.”

When?

Counselling is available before, during and after treatment.  Meeting with our counsellors can offer you a safe, discreet and quiet place where you can explore difficult feelings and find ways of making the situation more manageable.  You may want to talk through your options, prepare for treatment or have support during or after treatment.

For those who are considering treatment using donor eggs, sperm or embryos or who may be considering surrogacy, it is an HFEA requirement to meet with the counsellors to look at the implications of such treatment both in the short and longer term for both the adults and for the potential children who may be born through donor conception.   For those considering becoming a donor either to help known recipients or as an altruistic donor, it is also an HFEA requirement to meet with one of the counsellors to explore the implication of donation.   For both donors and recipients, this is a confidential and supportive service and can greatly help in making a positive decision for your own future and reduce some of the fears and more difficult feelings which may arise. 

Coping with stress during fertility treatment 

How?

When you have been referred to the ACS Unit and have been accepted as a patient of the service (including being on the waiting list for treatment), you can either ask to be referred to the counsellors by a member of clinical or nursing staff or you can directly refer yourself (see below).  The counselling service is independent and confidential.  There is no payment for counselling.  You may need only one session of counselling or you may decide, with the counsellors, that further sessions would be helpful.

If you are considering treatment with donor eggs, sperm or embryos, or thinking of becoming a donor, you will be referred by a member of staff to the counselling service prior to moving forward to treatment.

Who?

Our counsellors are accredited members of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy(BACP) and accredited members of British Infertility Counselling Association (BICA). The counsellors have had many years of specialist experience providing counselling for people affected by infertility and who are seeking treatment for many different reasons.  This includes single women, heterosexual and same sex couples and those planning / in the process of gender reassignment.   The counsellors are aware that the challenges of fertility issues can arouse feelings about other difficult aspects of life and of past events which have not been fully resolved.  It can be very helpful and liberating to have an opportunity to say some of this out loud in a neutral and non-judgmental setting and to recognise how other events or people might be making it harder to cope.  Finding tools and strategies to do so may help your resilience.   

Contact

Once you are accepted as a patient of the ACS Unit, you can contact our counsellors directly or you can ask a member of nursing or clinical staff to make a referral.

To contact the counsellors directly, please include both emails to ensure you get a faster response:

Alison Elliot- 0141 211 8214 (direct) – Wed, Thurs, Fri

Email:Alison.elliot@ggc.scot.nhs.uk

Lesley Miller- 0141 211 8213 (admin) – Mon, Tues, Wed

Email:Lesley.miller@ggc.scot.nhs.uk

Clinical FAQs

Before Treatment
Will I be tested for smoking at anytime?

Yes you will be tested for carbon monoxide at certain intervals during your each treatment cycle. Both partners must be smoke free before and during treatment.

Will my BMI be checked at anytime?

Yes we will check your BMI at regular intervals throughout each treatment cycle.

What times can I phone to ask advice?

You can call at anytime during the department’s opening times, however there may not always be someone available to speak to you at this time, please leave a message on the voicemail and someone will return your call.

Do I need to attend the department every day for injections?

The daily injection is easy to administer and a nurse will teach you how to do them. We will also provide details of how to access further instructions on injection techniques electronically such as you tube.

Are the injections painful? 

Patients do not complain that the injections are at all painful.

Is the egg retrieval procedure painful?

Patients are given sedation by anaesthetists prior to the egg retrieval procedure and should therefore be very comfortable throughout the procedure.

Do I need to take time off work? 

 You will require the day of your egg retrieval off work and some time to have your embryo transfer. However, if you feel well you can go to work normally at any other time.

I have started my period and want to book treatment.

Phone 0141 201 3478 during normal working hours to speak to the admin team

Do I need proof of my MMR (Measles, Mumps & Rubella) vaccinations before starting treatment?

We require all patients starting a cycle of treatment to have 2 MMR (Measles, Mumps & Rubella) vaccinations. If you have already provided us with paperwork to confirm this, you do not need to do so in subsequent cycles. If you need to check if you have had 2 MMR vaccines please check with your GP in the first instance. 

During Treatment
Should I contact you if I have a period after my Prostap injection?

No, this is normal and should be expected.

Should I contact you if I do not have a period after my Prostap injection? 

No, attend your next appointment as arranged and you will have an ultrasound scan and blood test to check your hormone levels. You may need some further medication prescribed.

Can I take medication for pain?

You should not experience pain prior to egg retrieval and if you do you should contact the department for advice.

I have dropped/smashed/wasted some of my medication, what should I do?

If you have enough of the medication to last until the next ACS working day keep taking it as instructed and phone the ACS (0141 211 8545) and leave your name, number and brief message.

If you do not have enough please phone 0141 211 8545 before 6pm. 
If it is after 6pm and you need to take the medication that night please phone Ward 56 (0141 211 4433) and ask if they have a supply of the medication. Please have the name & dose of the drug prescribed.

If I miss a dose of my nasal spray what do I do?

Take a dose of your spray as soon as you remember then continue as instructed. Read leaflet given.
Nasal spray instructions are: one spray at 7am, 12pm, 6pm and 11pm daily.

Can I continue to have intercourse? 

Yes, however it is advised to avoid intercourse for around 48hours prior to egg collection in order for your partner to provide a good quality sperm sample if required.

Can I fly?

Yes, there is not any evidence that flying affects any aspect of your treatment.

Can I have a dental X-ray? 

You should inform your dentist you are having fertility treatment and he will advise you accordingly?

Can I colour my hair? 

Yes, there is not any evidence that colouring your hair affects any aspect of your treatment.

After Treatment
Is bed rest recommended following embryo transfer?

No, there is not any evidence to suggest that bed rest following embryo transfer improves pregnancy rates.

Can I fly? 

Yes, there is not any evidence that flying affects pregnancy rates following embryo transfer.

Can I have a dental X-ray? 

You should inform your dentist you are having fertility treatment and he will advise you accordingly.

Can I colour my hair?

Yes, there is not any evidence that colouring your hair affects pregnancy rates following embryo transfer.

If I bleed before my pregnancy test should I contact the department? 

No, continue with the medication you have been prescribed and perform your pregnancy test on the recommended date. If you have a positive test, then contact the department as we may wish to assess you further.

If I experience any symptoms of Ovarian Hyperstimulation syndrome should I seek medical assistance? 

Yes, if you have any symptoms of OHSS you should contact the department and we will provide you with advice or arrange for you to attend the department for assessment by one of our doctors.

If I have had a positive pregnancy test do I continue on my medication? 

If you had a fresh embryo transfer you do not need to continue on any medication, unless prescribed by a consultant.

If you have had a frozen embryo transfer you should continue on Progynova tablets & vaginal progesterone until the 12th week of pregnancy.

If you were having IUI and were on nasal spray you should stop your nasal spray.

I have had a positive pregnancy test but have had some bleeding/spotting/discharge, what should I do?

If the bleeding is not heavy, please phone 0141 211 8545 and leave your name, phone number and brief message and a nurse will phone you on or before the next working day. However if the bleeding gets heavier or you start to become unwell attend your nearest A&E.

Laboratory FAQs

Semen Analysis

What will a semen analysis test tell me about the quality of my sperm?

A semen analysis is carried out to estimate the number of sperm, their movement (motility) and shape (morphology).

When will I get the results from my semen analysis?

Your results will be given to you by your doctor at your next clinic appointment. Unfortunately we cannot give you these results over the telephone.

Where do I produce my semen sample?

We have dedicated rooms on-site for sample production. We recommend semen samples to be produced on-site, however if you are unable to use our rooms you may produce at home as long as you can get the sample to the ACS within 60 minutes. You must use a sample pot provided by the ACS.

Sperm Freeze

I will be away on the day of my partner’s IUI /egg collection. How can I provide a sperm sample for treatment?

If you are aware that you are unable to attend the unit on the day of treatment, you may be able to make an appointment for back-up sperm storage. You would need to attend an appointment for bloods and consents to be taken and then make a second appointment before the treatment day to ensure we can freeze a sperm sample to use on the day of treatment.

Sperm Preparation
What does “sperm washing” mean?

Before the sperm is used for treatment, the sample is washed to separate the sperm from the ejaculate. The washing procedure can also help to isolate the sperm with more movement.

IUI (Intrauterine Insemination)

What can I expect from an IUI procedure?

The procedure is very similar to a smear test. A speculum is inserted into the vagina in order to pass a catheter through the cervix. Attached to the catheter is a syringe containing prepared (‘washed’) sperm. When the catheter is in the correct position the operator will depress the syringe and the sperm will be deposited into the uterus. The catheter is very fine and is normally not felt by the patient.

Embryology Laboratory Timeline

Below is a general overview of the laboratory work and what can be expected at each stage of the journey
Oocyte retrieval

Will I find out how many eggs were collected on the day of treatment?

Yes, the doctor performing your egg collection will meet with you after the procedure to discuss the number of eggs that were collected. 

IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation)

What is IVF?

IVF involves the collection of eggs directly from the ovaries using a needle. Washed sperm are added to a dish containing the eggs and the sperm are left to swim to the eggs on their own. The ‘best’ sperm that reaches the egg first should hopefully enter the egg and fertilise it.

The sperm and eggs are left in the dish together overnight and the eggs checked for fertilisation the following morning.

ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection)

What is ICSI?

ICSI involves the collection of eggs directly from the ovaries using a needle, then the injection of a single sperm into each mature egg to create embryos. ICSI is often recommended to patients if the sperm quality is not high enough to fertilise your eggs using IVF. ICSI can also be recommended to patients with previously low or complete failure of fertilisation in previous treatment.

I have a normal sperm count, why is ICSI still recommended for our treatment?

We currently find a higher success rate with ICSI rather than IVF so we recommend this method of treatment for all of our patients. The risks of both IVF and ICSI will be explained to you at your first clinic appointment. We are happy to perform IVF if this is your preferred treatment. If you wish to talk about treatment using IVF you can discuss this with your clinician and our scientific team.  

Why aren’t all of my eggs suitable for ICSI?

Only mature eggs have the capacity to fertilise, so before an ICSI procedure your eggs will be assessed for maturity. Only the mature eggs will be used for ICSI.

Fertilisation Check

How many of my eggs should I expect to fertilise?

Our average fertilisation rate with ICSI is around 70%. Some people may have a higher fertilisation rate and some people may have a lower rate.

When will I find out how many of my eggs have fertilised?

The embryologist will carry out a fertilisation check on your eggs the morning after your egg collection. You will receive a call on the same morning of the fertilisation check and the embryologist will inform you of your fertilisation results. You should expect the call to be before 12 noon from and this may be from an 0800 number.

Embryo Grading

What is a blastocyst?

A blastocyst is an embryo that has reached the stage with two distinct cell types, the inner cell mass and trophectoderm, with a fluid filled space in the middle. Embryos are expected to reach blastocyst stage on day 5 of development.

How will you assess my embryos?

Embryo grading is carried out on day 3 and day 5 after your egg collection. On day 3 the embryologist will count the cell numbers and will take into account any fragmentation and unevenness of the cells. On day 5 blastocysts are graded by how expanded they are and the appearance of two cell types, the inner cell mass and the trophectoderm.

We are currently developing information leaflets to help us describe your embryo development in more detail. These should be available in the ACS waiting room and the consultation rooms in the very near future.

Embryo Transfer

What should I expect during an embryo transfer procedure?

The embryo transfer is very similar to a smear test. A speculum is inserted into the vagina in order to pass a catheter through the cervix. The embryo/s are deposited from the catheter into the uterus. The catheter is very fine and is normally not felt by the patient. An abdominal scan is used for guidance during the embryo transfer procedure.

What is the difference between a day 3 or day 5 transfer?

Transfer days are based upon assessment of your embryo/s in the laboratory, which occur on day 3 and day 5. If there are a group of embryos on day 3 that have a similar appearance and embryo selection for transfer cannot be made, then a day 5 transfer will be arranged with you. If the embryologists can identify an embryo on day 3 that will be suitable for transfer, then they will arrange a day 3 transfer with you.

Can I take a picture of my embryo?

We do not allow any photography in any areas of the ACS, therefore you will be unable to take a picture of your embryo.

Embryo Freezing (vitrification)
I didn’t have any embryos frozen, what does this mean?

For an embryo to survive the freezing and thawing process it must be at the correct stage of development and be a suitable quality. Your embryologist will meet with you before your transfer and they will discuss your embryo quality with you. If any surplus embryo/s meet our criteria we will freeze (vitrify) and store the embryo/s for you.  Some embryos may not make it to the correct stage of development or they may not meet the criteria for quality, which is why we are unable to freeze/vitrify them.

When will I find out how many embryos I have frozen?

You will find out if any of your embryos have been frozen (vitrified) the day after your embryo transfer. We ask you to call the scientific team and an embryologist will tell you this information.

How many embryos will I have frozen?

Embryo freezing is dependant on embryo quality. The embryologist will assess your embryos on the morning of your embryo transfer and will assess whether any surplus embryos are suitable for freezing. 

Frozen Embryo Transfer (warm/thaw)

How many embryos are likely to survive the freezing and thawing procedures?

Currently, our average our survival rate for blastocysts (day 5 embryos) is around 99% and our thawing survival rate for early (day 1 embryos) is around 90%.

Embryo Biopsy

When will I get my results from the biopsy?

Biopsies that are carried out on Day 3 will have results returned the following morning if FISH has been used, or up to two days later if PCR has been used.

COVID-19

General
Is there a set timeframe for the clinic to return your call when you leave a message?

The clinic staff are often carryout procedures or seeing patients in appointments throughout the day, however, we endeavor to return all phone calls on the same day up until 6pm. Calls after 6pm will be responded to the following day. If you are leaving a message on our answering machine please can you leave your full name, date of birth and contact number.

To help us with this, please can we ask that when patients have called the clinic, they keep their mobile phones with them and answer when called. Call from the hospital will show up on your phone as 0800.

What number should I be calling to enquire about treatment/appointments?

For NHS patients:

For treatment bookings please call 0141 201 3478
For appointment enquiries please call reception on 0141 211 8535

For self funded patients, please contact 0141 201 0509/08 for all enquiries

After a failed cycle how long will I wait till I start a new fresh cycle or FET transfer?

For frozen transfers, after a failed cycle we encourage patients to have one normal period and if they feel ready, book another cycle. Whilst we try to accommodate all bookings, there are times that numbers wishing to book exceed our capacity. In such cases we advise patient to call with their next period when every endeavour with be made to accommodate your treatment.

Due to Covid-19 do you recommend that patients should shield before and after transfer?

We do not recommend patients should shield before and after treatment. We advise that patients follow Scottish Government guidance to reduce the risk of infection and transmission.

Do you test for Covid 19 before embryo transfer?

No. We only test for Covid-19 if administration of anaesthetic is required.

Are there restrictions on a partner attending appointments?

Unfortunately due to the covid pandemic we need to restrict the footfall of patients through the department. By doing this, we are able to provide more treatments than we otherwise would. Partners are invited to attend for early pregnancy scanning.

What is the current wait times from referral to starting first cycle?

Current waiting times are approximately 10-11 months.

Are all services now fully up and running?

All services within the ACS have resumed.

What is the best home pregnancy test to use?

We are unable to recommend specific tests but individual product information will be able to advise on sensitivities.

Are the clinic accepting new private patients yet?

We are accepting new private patients but due to covid we are operating at reduced capacity.

How do you arrange a FET appointment if I have been previously been successful and now want to use my frozen embryos?

See question 3.