What is meant by the term ‘fertility treatment add-ons’?

Depending on your clinic, you might be offered additional treatments on top of your proven, routine fertility treatment. These procedures and techniques known as ‘add-ons’, claim to improve the chance of pregnancy and are often offered to patients at additional costs. 

They include technologies such as time-lapse imaging of the embryo, which aims to help the embryologist select the healthiest developing embryo without the need to remove the embryos from the incubator. Other treatment add-ons include assisted hatching, to help the embryo to implant into the womb by using lasers or other tools, or adding a hyaluronate-enriched medium to the solution containing the developing embryos. 

Further add-ons are technologies such as: 

-       Elective freeze all cycles 

-       Artificial egg activation calcium ionophore 

-       Immunological tests and treatments 

-       Endometrial scratching 

-       Preimplantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A) 

-       Intrauterine culture 

-       Intracytoplasmic morphologic sperm injection (IMSI) 

-       Physiological intracytoplasmic sperm injection (PICSI) 

Although all these options may seem to make sense, in fact, there is usually minimal high-quality evidence to prove these techniques increase your chances of having a baby. For most fertility patients, a routine cycle of standard fertility treatment is just as effective without any add-ons. 

You may feel that you want to try everything possible, but make sure you find out about the research data for these treatments before you agree to further costs as part of your treatment. 

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) have a traffic system in place to help understand which treatment add-ons have sufficient evidence for effective clinical use. 

Further reading - https://www.hfea.gov.uk/treatments/treatment-add-ons/