Fertility experts are calling for IVF clinics to share Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) success rates with patients.
Chair of HFEA, Sally Cheshire recently said that older women are being exploited by IVF clinics, accusing them of using ‘very selective’ information to convince middle-aged women to undergo treatment despite the fact that women aged 44 and over have a very low success rate.
Cheshire urged clinics to be honest with patients looking to start a family and said some centres are charging four times as much as they should, at up to £20,000 per cycle, as she called for the regulator to be given powers to clamp down on profiteering, worried that the sector had become ‘incredibly commercial.’
Dr Geeta Nargund, medical director of UK fertility provider CREATE Fertility said: ‘It goes without saying that IVF clinics have a duty of care to present every patient with clear data and the facts to ensure that every person considering undergoing IVF is given an honest and realistic picture of their chance of success.’
Nargund went onto say there are a number of women over 40 who wish to try for a family and clinics must ensure that they share with them the HFEA success rates and explain the factors that will impact their individual chances of success, so that every woman can make an informed decision.
‘When it comes to add-treatments, unless their efficacy has been proven via clinical trials and the treatment has been given a green light via the HFEA’s traffic light system, then I don’t think add-ons should be offered by clinics,’ she continued. ‘Some add-ons are still being offered that are expensive, have no proven benefit and, in some instance can pose health risks for women and babies.’
Add-ons are optional extras that may be offered on top of normal fertility treatment, often at an additional cost. Add-on treatments can include embryo glue or endometrial scratches.
LaingBuisson’s 2018 IVF report stated that the UK fertility market was worth around £320m in 2016 and is growing by roughly 3% a year as more people delay starting a family.
Author of the report, Hugh Risebrow said: ‘Couples and women seeking IVF are clearly vulnerable and this increases the opportunity for clinics to exploit them. The HFEA website produces very detailed data on success rates by age, type of treatment and clinic. The success rates with own eggs drop dramatically after 40.’
Risebrow went onto say that while IVF clinics should remain honest about success rates, the patient should also be responsible for checking the HFEA data themselves: ‘People considering IVF should consult the HFEA website to inform their decision, but clinics also have a responsibility to advise them of likely success rates as part of informed consent.’