Whether you are at the point of considering IVF or have already had some treatment, you will be aware of the wide range of additional treatments which some fertility clinics offer on top of the standard treatment cycle. The idea is that these will improve your chances of success, and as people inevitably want to do all they can to boost the likelihood of a positive outcome, it can be very tempting to pay for at least some of these.
It is clear that they will certainly add to the cost of your treatment, but whether they will add any benefits in terms of outcomes is still very much up for debate. Few of these add-ons have a reliable base of scientific evidence to prove that they are likely to work, yet patients are often paying for them believing that without them there is a lower chance of a successful cycle.
Yacoub Khalaf who is Director of the Assisted Conception Unit a Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London, spoke on the subject at The Fertility Show at the weekend. If you missed it, you may be interested in his article on the Huffington Post about this.
The fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, has just published its report on the number of incidents in fertility clinics. These incidents can be all kinds of things going wrong in a clinic from a patient suffering from hyperstimulation to a letter sent to the wrong person by mistake.
Incidents in fertility clinics are rare – they occur in less than one percent of the treatments performed in the UK fertility clinics – but each incident is one too many.
The HFEA’s annual report on fertility clinic incidents shows that the total number of incidents increased slightly but for the first time since the HFEA began publishing incidents reports, there were no A grade (the most serious) incidents reported at all.
HFEA Chair Sally Cheshire called on fertility clinics to substantially reduce the rate of incidents next year. She said “The UK’s fertility sector is one of the most developed in the world, and the high level of professionalism in the sector is highlighted by both the fact that fewer than 600 incidents were reported out of more than 72,000 treatments, and that no ‘grade A’ incidents were reported in the last year. We want to ensure clinics give patients the best possible treatment, so that they have the best chances of having the families they so dearly want. So, while incidents are already occurring infrequently, we want to see them reduce even further. I’m setting the challenge to all clinics in the UK to make sure that the overall number of incidents has decreased by this time next year. It’s not only ‘grade A’ incidents that can have an adverse effect on patients. All incidents, whether it’s a letter sent to the wrong address, or a case of ovarian hyper-stimulation, can have serious consequences for patients, and more has got to be done to make sure that fewer people are affected in the future.”
What a sorry state of affairs in Bedfordshire where the CCG was recommended to continue funding one cycle of IVF treatment, but instead delayed making a decision until November. Anyone needing IVF in the region was only ever getting one of the three full cycles recommended as being clinically effective and cost effective by NICE, and their consultation on cutting all IVF had led to the recommendation to continue instead.
A spokeswoman for the Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group told Bedfordshire on Sunday that the evidence base and associated research was “complex”. It is really not cost effective for the Clinical Commissioning Group to spend time trying to make sense of this when NICE has already looked into this in very great depth making use of the knowledge of some of the country’s leading experts in the field and also using skilled health economists to work out what would be most cost effective. Let’s hope that Bedfordshire CCG use this evidence when they make their decision in November, and rather than considering cutting the one cycle they currently offer, instead start funding what NICE recommends.
Secondary infertility – which happens when you are having trouble conceiving after getting pregnant before either naturally or with treatment – is something that is often overlooked. There is often an assumption that you must be able to get pregnant again if you’ve done so in the past – and that once you have a child, you ought to be satisfied with that anyway.
The topic has been covered in the press today, which reminded me that Fertility Network UK do have a special group for parents who are experiencing fertility problems. It can be incredibly helpful to get together with others who are going through similar things, and if you’d like to join the group you can contact the group by emailing email@example.com
If you’re fed up with “helpful” comments, advice and suggestions from friends and family about your fertility problem, you should read this article and consider passing it on to those around you. I thought the list of things NOT to say to someone with fertility problems was excellent – and sadly I’m sure we’ve all heard more than one of them more than once..
Have a look, see what you think – maybe you have some more of your own?
New research suggests that ethnicity may affect the chances of ending up with a baby after fertility treatment. A team from The University of Nottingham and the fertility unit at Royal Derby Hospital analysed data from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to see whether ethnicity had an impact on treatment outcomes, and found that there were some significant differences. According to the data, White British women are more likely to get pregnant with IVF or ICSI than women from a number of other ethnic groups.
This is the biggest study to look at the outcomes for individual ethnic groups in this way, and it considered the number of eggs collected and fertilised and the number of embryos produced as well as the pregnancy and live birth rate. The researchers also considered potential reasons for the differences in outcomes for the different ethnic groups and discuss factors such as genetic background, environment, diet, socio-economic and cultural factors and attitudes to medical care and accessing fertility treatment. They also discuss the fact that South Asian women are at higher risk of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which can affect egg quality and success rates.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) have launched the beta (draft) version of their new website to the public and it is aimed at people like you – fertility patients. They want to know what you think of it. Have they got it right?
They have put together a survey so you can give your feedback about the new site. This includes a number of questions about how the information on clinics is presented – including their birth statistics in the Choose a Fertility Clinic section. The HFEA are keen to hear your views about how they have chosen to present these.
The beta service is a work in progress, with new information and features planned for the next weeks and months. You can give your views by completing the beta survey that can be found on the website. Please take a look at https://beta.hfea.gov.uk
Fertility Network UK have a number of media requests for people to talk about how the cuts to NHS fertility services that are happening across England are affecting them. They really need people who are willing to talk about it as the situation is only reported on when the media can give an insight into how this affects those who need treatment.
In particular, they are looking for people who are unable to access any NHS IVF services because they live in South Norfolk, mid-Essex or north-east Essex where funding has been cut completely. They also need people who live in areas where NHS IVF could be cut completely in the near future: Basildon & Brentwood, Bedfordshire, Ipswich and East Suffolk, and West Suffolk. Other areas where cuts have occurred include Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, North East Lincolnshire and Somerset.
ITV news have been looking for people affected by the postcode lottery anywhere in the UK. They are keen to speak to people who have moved house to try to access NHS treatment, who are going overseas because they can’t access NHS treatment or are embarking on treatment in the private sector because they can’t get NHS treatment.
This is your chance to have your voice heard. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07469-660845.
I’ve just been reading a few comments about Infertility Network UK’s new brand and logo, and it seems that some people have misunderstood what the new brand is about. Fertility Network isn’t going to be focusing on people who are pregnant or who are having babies – it’s still a charity for those who are having difficulty conceiving.
The word “infertility” is a negative one – and you may have noticed that it is very rarely used in fertility clinics any more. Most people who visit clinics aren’t technically “infertile” anyway but are experiencing fertility problems. Changing the name of the charity isn’t about forgetting people who are having trouble conceiving or about offering support instead to people who can conceive easily, it’s about being more positive and upbeat in the way the issue is dealt with.
It’s always difficult when things change – but I really think this is a positive step forward. I remember reading articles in the past which talked about people with fertility problems as “infertiles” or “barren”. Personally, I welcome the fact that Fertility Network UK is moving away from negative labelling, although it is a great shame if some people haven’t appreciated what the rebrand is about and feel that they are being excluded in some way – it’s really not the case at all.