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The Changing Scope of Fertility

Every year there are incredible new advancements within the field of fertility, bringing greater hope to those wishing to become pregnant – no matter what the family structure might be. Same sex couples, as well as older mums are seeing great opportunity and possibility to create the family they want and deserve.

The considered steps of IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) treatment.

The considered steps of IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) treatment.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) have released new figures on fertility treatment within the UK in the report, ‘Fertility treatment 2013: trends and figures’. 2013 saw a steady rise in the total number of IVF cycles in the UK, with more undertaken than ever before.

Fertilisation of a human embryo in the laboratory through IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) treatment.

Fertilisation of a human embryo in the laboratory through IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) treatment.

In 2013, 49,636 women had a total of 64,600 cycles of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and 2,379 women had a total of 4,611 cycles of donor insemination (DI). In 2012, 62,158 cycles of IVF or ICSI and 4,452 of DI were performed. Therefore, 2013 saw an increase of 3.9% in the number of treatment cycles and an increase of 3.6% in the number of DI cycles, respectively. Overall, success rates have remained a steady constant at around 25%.

 Embryologist Performing Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

Embryologist Performing Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).

Women of all ages are represented within the findings. Those over 40 represent the minority of patients treated, with women over 45 accounting for just 2.2% of treatments. More than two-thirds of women undergoing IVF treatment are aged 37 and under, while the average age for treatment continues to be at around 35.

Percentage of all IVF cycles performed by age group (2013)

Percentage of all IVF cycles performed by age group (2013).
Source: HFEA – Fertility treatment: trends and figures (2013).

The average length of time patients reported trying to conceive with IVF was 4.5 years. Women having DI treatment were on average 35 years old and had, on average, been trying to conceive for 3.7 years.

For the year, around 75% of IVF treatment cycles, utilised the woman’s own freshly collected eggs. A smaller number of women used embryos which had been frozen previously and subsequently thawed before transfer. These embryos may have been created using their own eggs or donated. Around 5% of IVF cycles used donated eggs. It should be noted that patients over 45 years old were using donor eggs more often than their own – actually in about 60% of cycles.

The bar graph represents the distribution of the different treatment types by patient age. 
Source: HFEA – Fertility treatment: trends and figures (2013).

The bar graph represents the distribution of the different treatment types by patient age.
Source: HFEA – Fertility treatment: trends and figures (2013).

The number of IVF treatment cycles involving same-sex female couples has increased by 17.8%, rising from 766 treatments in 2011 to 902 in 2012. The number of donor insemination cycles involving same-sex couples rose as well, by nearly 15%.

The report also shows that multiple births have decreased, occurring in 16.5% of treatment cycles in 2013, down from 18.8% in 2012. Interestingly, the number of IVF treatment cycles using both donor eggs and donor sperm has doubled over the last five years, and the use of frozen embryos is now applicable in more than 20% of treatments.

The table represents the percentage of multiple pregnancy rates for treatment cycles using patient’s fresh eggs.
Source: HFEA – Fertility treatment: trends and figures (2013).

The table represents the percentage of multiple pregnancy rates for treatment cycles using patient’s fresh eggs.
Source: HFEA – Fertility treatment: trends and figures (2013).


sally_cheshireSally Cheshire, Chair of the HFEA is pleased with the outcome of the report, explaining that it’s a welcomed glimpse into the world of IVF, bringing insight into the future of the field. “…these reports offer us a unique insight into the changing nature of social norms, whether that is same-sex parenting or older mums. In that sense they have become a resource not just for patients and clinicians, but for everyone.”

Related Articles: IVF Success Rates in the UK

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