If you’d like to help support the charity working for all those touched by fertility problems, there’s a new and totally effortless way to raise cash for Infertility Network UK. Be Social is a unique new campaign run by Eeva where you can help raise money with a simple click – either by following one of the clinics in the campaign on Twitter, or by liking them on Facebook.
You can find details of all the clinics on the Be Social page on the Eeva website – you just have to click on the icons next to the names to like or follow them and for each new person to do this, Eeva will donate a pound to Infertility Network UK.
The clinics taking part are Bourn Hall Clinic, Wessex Fertility, GCRM Belfast, GCRM Glasgow, Reproductive Health Group Cheshire, Birmingham Women’s Fertility Centre, The Hewitt Fertility Centre and The London Women’s Clinic Cardiff.
Please help – Infertility Network UK needs funds to be able to help you, and it won’t take more than a couple of minutes to make a real difference.
Louise Brown, the world’s first IVF baby, and her sister Natalie planted a tree today at the home of IVF – Bourn Hall Clinic – in memory of their parents.
IVF has become such a routine treatment today that we forget how incredible it was when Lesley Brown became pregnant with Louise – and how brave she was to undergo what was at the time an unproven and uncertain treatment to try to have the family she desired.
Both Louise and Natalie now have children of their own, conceived naturally, and for Lesley it was this continuation of the family that was so important as she explained in 2008. She said then: “Being a grandparent was part of our dream. That’s the reason we wanted children, because we wanted a family. There would be no family without IVF. Now I have children and grandchildren and it’s wonderful. When I look at my grandchildren I just think how lucky I was that I was able to get the treatment.”
Louise, who was 35 this summer, had her second son this year and named him Aiden Patrick Robert after the men who made her life possible; gynaecologist Patrick Steptoe and physiologist Robert Edwards. Louise said: “When I was born many people said it shouldn’t be done and that it was messing with nature, but it worked and I think it was meant to be. Mum had to have IVF to have me but I didn’t need IVF to have my sons. It is just the beginning of life that’s a little bit different, the rest is just the same. Now IVF is well-established and the pioneers should be recognized for the way they have changed the world.”
Lesley Brown and her husband John had been trying to conceive for nine years when she was told by her doctor in Bristol that nothing more could be done for her. There was however a doctor in Oldham that might be able to help and that is when she first met Patrick Steptoe. Following the birth of the first couple of IVF babies, Steptoe and Edwards struggled to continue their groundbreaking work within the NHS and decided to set up their own clinic at Bourn Hall. Lesley came for further treatment and became pregnant on her first attempt with Natalie who was born in 1982.
There has been a lot of discussion in the last week or so about how successful IVF really is after the Chair of the HFEA Professor Lisa Jardine talked about the “discouragingly low” success rates in an industry which “trades in hope”, pointing out that for each cycle of IVF, fewer than a third of women over the age of 35 would emerge with a baby. In the wider discussion of the issue, it has since been repeated that IVF is only successful for this relatively small percentage of women with none of the necessary caveats.
In reality, most women who have a baby after IVF don’t get pregnant after their first cycle. The reason the NICE fertility guideline recommends three cycles of treatment is because that has been shown to be clinically effective. Cumulative success rates for IVF are often hard to come by, but a recent study at Bourn Hall Clinic in Cambridge has shown a success rate of more than 70% over three cycles of treatment – and cumulative success rates are key if you are considering IVF success.
The chances of getting pregnant with IVF depend very much on who is having the treatment. The likelihood of a positive outcome may be high for a woman of 28, but a 43 year old having fertility treatment is far less likely to succeed – and this is the balance that needs to be taken into account when considering IVF success rates as they are so dependent on the patient.
Of course, Professor Jardine is right that we need to think more about what happens when IVF doesn’t work and whether we are preparing people for this possibility – but we also need to acknowledge that one of the main problems we see today is women who are still assuming that IVF will be able to help if they leave it until their late thirties or early forties to start trying to have a child.