IVF is 40

IVF story miraculous but risks ahead around fair access for all

Aileen Feeney, chief executive of Fertility Network UK, said: ‘The IVF story over the last 40 years is miraculous: developments in IVF technologies coupled with improvements in IVF success rates mean an estimated 8 million babies have been born worldwide. But there is a dark, often unacknowledged, side to the IVF story: fertility treatment still fails more than it works and much more needs to be done to provide support for the emotional impact of infertility, and in recognising the trauma involuntary childlessness wreaks.

Sadly, IVF’s scientific advancements have gone hand-in-hand with an increase in rationing of medical treatment based on arbitrary and non-medical criteria such as where you live. If Louise Brown’s parents wanted to try NHS IVF today, they would be turned down by the vast majority (83%) of England’s clinical commissioning groups on social rationing grounds: although Mrs Brown was clinically infertile, Mr Brown had a child from a previous relationship.

England pioneered the development of IVF but that achievement means far less if the people who benefit from this amazing, life-creating technology are determined by their postcode or pay packet. Fertility Network urges the government to take action now – or we are creating a society where only the more affluent will have access to IVF.

Looking ahead to the next 40 years, Fertility Network also wants to see girls and boys being taught to value and protect their fertility; men being recognised as half the fertility equation, and a greater openness around talking about fertility problems.’

Full details of the press release are available here