Cost and access issues driving interest in IVF alternatives

Research published today by fertility start-up Béa Fertility has found that people are looking for alternatives to traditional fertility treatments in the face of high costs and lack of access to NHS provision.

The company, which provides lower cost fertility treatment that can be used at home, surveyed over 4,000 UK adults who are currently trying to conceive and who registered interest in alternative fertility on its website.

Almost half (46%) of respondents said they were actively ‘looking for something new to try’ while 51% wanted access to treatments they can carry out at home.

More than half (58%) of respondents had already been trying to conceive for more than two years before exploring new treatment options. Two-fifths (40.9%) had undergone fertility investigations on the NHS and 14% had tried IVF.

When asked why they were considering different methods or treatments, one-third (36%) cited long waiting lists. Others said they had failed to meet NHS eligibility criteria. Two-fifths of the people surveyed also said they wanted access to cheaper fertility treatment options.

Béa Fertility launched its at-home fertility treatment in the UK earlier this year following a £2.5m fundraise led by Octopus Ventures.

Its clinical grade fertility treatment kit, Intracervical Insemination (ICI), can be used at home and involves placing a small cervical cap containing semen at the cervix using a clinically-approved applicator.

The company said its product will widen access for LGBTQ families and groups excluded from existing fertility provision, such as those experiencing secondary infertility.

Same-sex female couples are currently required to self-fund at least six rounds of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) before they can qualify for IVF on the NHS.

Tess Cosad, CEO and co-founder at Béa Fertility, said: ‘While up to 1 in 6 of us will experience problems with our fertility, seeking effective and affordable treatment in the UK remains a minefield for many. Inhibitive costs, lengthy wait lists and an NHS postcode lottery are making traditional treatments like IVF increasingly difficult to access. Around 55,000 people in the UK underwent IVF or donor insemination in 2021, according to the HFEA – yet 3.5 million people are estimated to be struggling with fertility across the country. We desperately need safe and effective alternative treatments for those struggling to access IVF, or for when it’s not a viable option.’