Your clinic may offer you additional treatments on top of your main treatment such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF). or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). This page will explain what some of the most common treatment add-ons are and how effective they are. For more detailed information, you may want to contact a clinic to discuss this further with a specialist.
What are add-ons?
Add-ons are optional extras that you may be offered on top of your normal fertility treatment, often at an additional cost.
They’re sometimes emerging techniques that may have shown some promising results in initial studies, or they may have been around for a number of years, but haven’t necessarily been proven to improve pregnancy or birth rates.
Some clinics may include certain add-ons with their treatment packages as standard whilst others charge separately.
To make it easier to identify which add-ons have been shown to be effective, we’ve developed a traffic light rating system.
What do the ratings mean?
The only way to be confident that a treatment is effective enough to be used routinely is to carry out a randomised controlled trial (RCT). In an RCT, patients are assigned randomly to two groups: a treatment group, given the new treatment and a control group, given either a well-tried treatment or a placebo. The number of patients included is very important, with more patients giving more accurate results.
Ideally, several different groups of researchers or scientists should have performed high-quality RCTs and follow-up studies to be sure a new procedure is effective and safe. We give a green symbol where there is more than one good quality RCT which shows that the procedure is effective and safe.
We use an amber symbol where there is a small or conflicting body of evidence, which means further research is still required and the technique cannot be recommended for routine use.
A treatment is red if there is no evidence to show that it is effective and safe.
Currently none of the treatment add-ons we have assessed have been rated green. This means that we don’t think any of these techniques should be used routinely.
Additional information - Sperm DNA damage
What is sperm DNA damage?
Half of the genetic information to make us is delivered by the sperm to the egg. It takes around two months for a mature sperm to be made and during this time the DNA of the sperm may become damaged.
A number of different tests might be used by your clinic to assess the level of DNA damage in your sperm. There is some evidence for a relationship between sperm DNA damage and the outcome of fertility treatment. However, the evidence is conflicting and depends on the type of test used by the clinic. The results of a sperm DNA damage test are unlikely to impact on the management of your treatment.
There is currently no traffic light rating for treatments relating to sperm DNA damage.
Are there any risks?
Sperm DNA damage testing is a non-invasive procedure performed on a semen sample, usually before treatment as an additional diagnostic test. There are no significant additional risks to the patient.
Review date: 18 January 2021