July 4, 2022

Retiring head of UK fertility watchdog warns of IVF pain

The retiring head of the UK’s fertility watchdog has painted a bleak picture of the world of IVF in a column in the BBC

The retiring head of the UK’s fertility watchdog has painted a bleak picture of the world of IVF in a column in the BBC. Lisa Jardine, the chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, says that she regrets not having conveyed the pain of IVF failure. “The world of IVF is a market, a market in hope. Those who enter it deserve to be fully informed of its potential to deliver grief and a sense of failure, as well as success.”

“The success rates for IVF remain discouragingly low. The last figures we have show that for every cycle of IVF, fewer than a third of patients will emerge with a baby (the figures are somewhat higher for women under 35). That leaves two thirds of would-be mothers and fathers with the heartbreak of “failure”. And the costs are high – 60% of IVF treatment in Britain is carried out in private clinics, but the HFEA has no control over the prices charged. A couple – and nowadays that means same-sex couples as well as traditional partnerships – is likely to have spent something of the order of £15,000 for the three cycles it is likely to have taken should they be fortunate enough to become pregnant…

But newspapers today want banner headlines and excitement. Public information is nowhere on their agenda. Try as I might, I have not been able to talk at length to all those families out there who are about to enter the world of IVF, or who are undergoing treatment and being persuaded to try again and again when it fails, or who are entering their 40s and hoping IVF will allow them to start a late family.”



Michael Cook
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HFEA
IVF
UK