Providing high precision fertility services at Guy’s Hospital Assisted Conception Unit
Known internationally as a leading provider of fertility treatments, the Assisted Conception Unit (ACU) at Guy’s Hospital treats over 2,000 patients a year. With available treatments covering fertility preservation, embryo implantation, and preimplantation genetic diagnosis, we are proud to offer evidence-based practice to our patients.
Comprehensive range of fertility treatment
“We offer various treatment options from ovulation monitoring and ovulation induction, up to the most sophisticated IVF treatment,” says Mr Tarek El-Toukhy, consultant gynaecologist and clinical lead for the ACU at Guy’s Hospital.
“This includes IUI, IVF, ICSI, and embryo freezing and storage,” he explains. “We also offer reproductive surgery – we don’t just do the medical side of fertility but also the surgical side, operating on patients who require surgical intervention to promote fertility.”
Additionally, our ACU offers preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), testing for over 300 genetic disorders. Patients with a family history of hereditary conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell or Huntington’s disease, may opt for this service to screen their embryos prior to implantation.
As the largest PGT centre in the UK, we perform over 50% of all PGT cycles in the country, minimising serious health risks in babies born to our patients.
Tailored treatments for all patients
With as many as 1 in 7 heterosexual couples affected by fertility issues, the range of treatment options at our ACU addresses several areas of infertility.
The most common causes of infertility in our patients are male-factor infertility – issues with sperm quality or mobility – and unexplained infertility. Unexplained fertility is the term for when there is no obvious cause as to why a couple cannot conceive. Our fertility investigations enable us to plan a personalised treatment path based on the causes of infertility for each couple or individual.
Our specialist ACU team also regularly sees same-sex couples and individuals seeking to use donor sperm or eggs to conceive. Additionally, we see patients wishing to use a surrogate, and we have strong relationships with a selection of donor organisations to provide additional support.
We are proud of our comprehensive donor and surrogacy service, which includes implications counselling sessions for all parties, providing end-to-end care for the entire fertility journey.
A final group of patients we see are those seeking fertility preservation treatment. These patients include those freezing their eggs while they are young, as they are not yet ready to have children, but wish to preserve good quality eggs.
Other patients who visit us for fertility preservation are those undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which can affect their fertility. They, therefore, seek to take precautions so they may explore having children in future.
Our team provides tailored treatment to couples and individuals.
Our team of specialists at the ACU clinic draw on evidence-based approaches to support patients with personalised care.
“Unfortunately, in IVF treatment generally, add-ons can be offered without evidence they are actually useful to the patient,” explains Mr El-Toukhy. “We only offer treatment options which are supported by sufficiently reliable evidence and are proven to improve the chance of pregnancy.”
The team at our ACU understands the toll of some fertility treatments on female patients’ bodies. They, therefore, seek to avoid unnecessarily adding to the burden of a patient’s treatment with unproven additional fertility treatment options.
Examples of these types of add-ons include immunology testing and chromosomal screening of embryos before transfer. These are not proven to increase the chance of pregnancy, so we do not encourage our patients to undergo these tests.
Innovative assisted conception techniques
We are proud to be pioneers in fertility treatment and to lead the way in advanced techniques for assisted conception.
“We have recently added the option of using an embryoscope,” reveals Mr El-Toukhy, “which is the videoing of embryos during the early development stages prior to implantation. This helps us with the selection of the best embryos with the greatest chance of implantation to establish a pregnancy.”
This technology is not something patients are charged additionally for, as our ACU team feel that every patient should benefit from this technology to increase their chance of a successful pregnancy.
Our advanced technology also extends to radio frequency identification tags to minimise human error in the laboratories. This system locks a patient’s identity to samples of eggs and sperm, as well as the resulting embryos, helping to safeguard each step of the IVF process and reinforce patients’ confidence.
Innovative techniques for assisted conception at Guy’s ACU.
Personalised care for emotional wellbeing
We understand patients’ emotional challenges associated with fertility treatment, often due to mental health and the toll that fertility treatment can take on the body. To this end, our ACU team is proud to offer patients access to counselling services, completely free of charge.
“We will maximise our patients’ potentials, but we do it in a compassionate and individualised way,” explains Mr El-Toukhy. “They’re not just treated as a number – there’s a much more personal element and we recognise that one-to-one care is very important.”
Counselling services are offered to individuals and couples, as well as to donors and surrogates.
When to refer to us
Some patients refer themselves to our ACU, and this is typically after they have been trying to conceive for a year or more. Referral by a GP can also take place around this time so we can begin investigations to assess any potential causes of infertility.
Patients undergoing treatments which would affect their fertility, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, can also be referred to us for fertility preservation services. We can speak to patients or their guardians from the age of 14 to discuss fertility preservation options.
Mr Tarek El-Toukhy
Consultant gynaecologist and sub-specialist in reproductive medicine and surgery
Mr Tarek El-Toukhy is the clinical lead of the Assisted Conception Unit and HFEA Person Responsible. He is an expert consultant in reproductive medicine and surgery and PGD at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals and an honorary senior lecturer at King’s College London, University of London.
He has a special interest in several areas including recurrent implantation failure, embryo freezing and PGT.
Get in touch
Contact our ACU customer services team to learn more about our fertility treatment options and how to start your journey with us.
Call 020 7188 2300 or email ACUPersonalisedCare@gstt.nhs.uk.