Shattering myths about IVF, fertility and age

Fertility Network UK responds to the HFEA’s Fertility Trends report 2016

Commenting on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s (HFEA’s) Fertility Trends report 2014-2016, Aileen Feeney, chief executive of leading patient charity Fertility Network UK, said: ‘It is encouraging to see the HFEA’s Fertility Trends report (2014-2016) shattering myths about IVF, fertility and age. IVF is not the preserve of older women: according to the HFEA data, the average age of women having IVF in the UK is just 35.5 – considering couples will have been trying to conceive for several years prior to beginning IVF that means, on average, women having fertility treatment started trying for a baby in their early 30s.

It’s also clear that fertility is firmly a male issue too: this data reveals male fertility problems are the most common reason for couples to seek IVF (37 per cent), with female fertility problems and unexplained problems representing 31 per cent and 32 per cent, respectively. What we need to see now is a greater focus on men: both support for men experiencing infertility and research into male fertility.

The HFEA’s report highlights a pressing need for improved fertility education on issues around fertility and age, and egg freezing. Given that fertility clinics do not accept donated eggs from women older than 35, Fertility Network UK is concerned to see that in 2016 the majority of women freezing their own eggs (68 per cent) were over 35. Are women being informed correctly about the optimum age to freeze their eggs?

Fertility Network UK welcomes the news that, 40 years after the first IVF baby was born, the UK fertility sector is thriving, with over 20,000 babies born in 2016 following 68,000 IVF treatments. The average birth rate for women of all ages is 21 per cent, while women under 35 have a 29 per cent chance of a successful birth.

However, this latest Fertility Trends report again highlights that in the UK the majority of fertility treatment continues to be paid for privately (59 per cent); this will not change until the government steps in to stop disinvestment in NHS fertility services.’

A full copy of the report is available here