Would you be willing to share your story?

 

ivf_science-300x168Have you had fertility treatment? Do you want to help others who are going through it too? The body which regulates fertility treatment in the UK, the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) is looking for people who might be willing to share their story on the authority’s new website.

Fertility treatment can feel like the loneliest place on earth, but by sharing your story you can help thousands of other people who are struggling with fertility problems. It doesn’t matter what treatment you had, if you’re a man or a woman, how old you are or whether you were successful or not: the HFEA want a wide range of stories that truly represent the diverse experiences of people having fertility treatment in the UK.

To share your story please email nadia.huq@hfea.gov.uk

New IVF statistics released today

logo-hfeaThe latest statistics for fertility treatment from the HFEA show an increase in the number of IVF cycles, with more than 52,0000 women having more than 67,000 cycles of treatment – a 5% increase on the previous year. The overall success rate has gone up very slightly too, to 26% and the number of higher risk multiple pregnancies is continuing to fall

For the first time ever, the statistics include success rates for frozen eggs but despite all the publicity about egg freezing, in fact the numbers of women opting to do this are still very small – there were only 102 treatment cycles using frozen eggs and average success rate was just 14%. There are geographical differences in treatment with far more fertility patients being treated in London than in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined. The postcode lottery means that just 41% of cycles are funded by the NHS.

You can find the full report from the HFEA here 

Could you help test the new HFEA website?

logo-hfeaThe Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is looking for fertility patients who might be willing to help test the new HFEA website and the search tool which helps you to find information about choosing a clinic.

 

The site will include patient feedback for the first time, and aims to be easier to use and understand. Before it is launched, the HFEA needs the views of people who might be using the new site. Testing can be done in London or Manchester, or even via Skype. If you are interested you can find out more about how to take part here 

 

BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire covers unlicensed sperm donation

I don’t need to say anything about this feature with an unlicensed sperm donor who is joined by Laura Witjens of the National Gamete Donation Trust and Peter Thompson of the HFEA on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme. If you’ve thought of using an online donor, please just watch it….

 

Reproductive immunology

Natural_killer_cellIf you look on fertility websites, you’ll often find people discussing reproductive immunology or their NK cell tests and results. What’s often not clear from the discussions is the fact that the reason many fertility specialists don’t offer this kind of treatment is because they don’t believe there is any scientific evidence to back up the theories.

This picture above is apparently an NK cell – I can’t imagine they are quite that purple in colour, but it gives them just the kind of slightly sinister look that the name conjures up. In fact, as Dr Norman Shreeve from Cambridge University explains in the latest edition of the BioNews online newsletter, the name is misleading as the cells play a key role in early pregnancy,

If you’re thinking of looking into having your NK cells tested, or taking some of the treatments currently offered in this field, you should first read the information on the HFEA website and a scientific impact paper on the subject from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists which is more complex but also concludes that there is little evidence to support the use of these treatments and that their use should be restricted to research trials.

Professor Lisa Jardine

Professor Lisa Jardine, who very sadly died last week at the age of 71, was Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority from 2008 to 2014. I will always remember how, soon after her appointment to the HFEA, she arrived like a whirlwind at National Infertility Day, an event organised by Infertility Network UK, and whizzed around chatting to everyone in her wake. She was a truly dynamic woman who had achieved so much in so many different fields. Reading her obituaries, the incredible breadth and range of her appointments and interests is extraordinary, and she had been a leading academic, historian, biographer and broadcaster.  She will be very much missed.

Report on incidents in fertility clinics

images-6If you’re having treatment at a fertility clinic, you may be interested in a new report from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority which looks at the number of incidents or mistakes that happen in the UK’s fertility clinics. It may sound alarming, but sometimes things don’t go exactly to plan and encouraging clinics to report to the HFEA when this happens can help them to prevent problems occurring in the future and to share experiences so that others can learn from what has happened too.

The new report shows that the number of incidents at fertility clinics is going down, and that they occur in less than one percent of treatment cycles.  However, that does mean a total of 465 occasions when something went wrong, and it can be distressing if this happens to you. Only two of these were in the most serious grade A category, and the largest group were in category C, the lowest grade, which might sometimes mean an administrative error, for example a patient being sent a letter meant for someone else.

The HFEA Chair Sally Cheshire urged clinics to use the practical help available from the HFEA to that we can offer to do more to improve patient care: “Whilst every incident that takes place is one too many, I particularly want clinics to concentrate on reducing their grade B and C incidents. Such mistakes are often distressing to patients, largely avoidable and frankly shouldn’t happen. The small reduction in incidents is a step in the right direction but more can and must be done by clinics, and we can help. Since our last report, we have worked with clinics to improve their systems and practices. For example, where clinics are struggling to recognise what changes need to be made to avoid future incidents, our clinical governance team offers bespoke incident training to individual centres. It is for clinics now to step up and make the necessary changes so that everyone affected by assisted reproduction receives the best possible care. I want to see these improvements realised by the time of our next annual report.”

You can download the report itself here 

Who will you find at this year’s Fertility Show?

logoIt’s here at last – the seminar details for this year’s Fertility Show are now available online for you to browse! Once again, there are a really great array of speakers covering pretty much everything you might want to find out about fertility problems, tests and treatments.

Starting with the basics, there are talks from Zita West, nutritionist Marilyn Glenville and IVF Hammersmith’s Stuart Lavery. There are talks on ovarian reserve (from  James Nicopoullos, Consultant Gynaecologist at the Lister Fertility Clinic) and on the causes of infertility, and Infertility Network UK trustee Jessica Hepburn will be talking about the patient experience. Leading consultant Yacoub Khalaf will explain how to improve your chances of success, Professor Geeta Nargund, Medical Director of CREATE Fertility,will be looking at natural cycle and mild IVF, the HFEA’s Juliet Tizzard will discuss making sense of success rates and I will be talking about choosing a clinic.

There are some interesting debates on new techniques in IVF and on dealing with particular problems. Professor Lesley Regan will be covering recurrent miscarriage, Dimitrios Nikolaou, lead clinician at Chelsea and Westminster NHS Hospital, will talk about treatment for over 40s while Dr Melanie Davies, consultant in the Reproductive Medicine Unit at London’s NHS University College Hospital will talk about how to deal with the diagnosis of unexplained infertility. Sam Abdalla, Director of the Lister Fertility Clinic, will ask whether anyone is too difficult to treat with a low ovarian reserve, Professor Adam Balen, Chair of the British Fertility Society, will talk about PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and Tarek El-Toukhy will discuss treatment for older women.

There will also be some interesting discussions on donor treatment with Laura Witjens of the National Gamete Donation Trust and Kamal Ahuja of the London Women’s Clinic as well as a variety of talks on different aspects of fertility treatment overseas.  Complementary therapies such as acupuncture, hypnosis and massage will be covered in  a number of seminars. There will be four sessions for single women and lesbian couples and separate sessions on surrogacy. Male fertility issues will be covered by Professor Allan Pacey of Sheffield University, who will be talking on both the Saturday and Sunday so that no one needs to miss his sessions.

Fertility counsellors Jennie Hunt and Tracey Sainsbury will look at emotional issues and coping with treatment, along with Anya Sizer who is the support co-ordinator at London Women’s Clinic. The difficult issue of whether to try again after unsuccessful treatment will be covered by Tim Child who is Associate Professor and Subspecialist in Reproductive Medicine at the University of Oxford and and Honorary Consultant Gynaecologist at John Radcliffe Hospital. Finally, there will also be three sessions over the weekend looking at different aspects of adoption.

This year’s Fertility Show will be on November 7 and 8 and London’s Olympia and you can find the full seminar list here 

 

 

Fewer multiple births, more healthy babies

77px-Anefo_911-0586_Mevrouw_VanAlthough the idea of twins or even triplets may seem a great outcome from your fertility treatment, multiple birth is the biggest risk of IVF and here in the UK clinics have been actively trying to reduce their multiple birth rates.  Now a new report from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) shows that the percentage of multiple births has dropped from one in 4 in 2008 to one in 6 without any decrease in success rates.

More and more patients are opting to have just one embryo transferred, and the best clinics have a very good pregnancy rate with a low multiple rate. Some clinics in the UK now have multiple rates below 10% although nationally the figure is around 15%.

 

You can read more in the report from the HFEA and you can find a link and press release on the HFEA website. If you are in the process of choosing a clinic, it is important to look at the multiple rate as well as success rates as a low rate will give an indication that the clinic is thinking about the future health of you and your baby.

Tripadvisor for fertility clinics?

If you missed the debate organised by Progress Educational Trust on the HFEA’s plans to include some patient feedback on clinics on the website, you can catch up with the podcast here.

You can hear the HFEA’s Juliet Tizzard, Infertility Network UK’s Susan Seenan, Yacoub Khalaf director of the fertility clinic at Guy’s and St Thomas and Antonia Foster, a media litigation specialist discuss the issue in a debate chaired by Adam Balen, the chair of the British Fertility Society.  It was an interesting and lively evening – and that link is at –http://www.progress.org.uk/tripadvisor