On 30 June 2020, the HFEA released the data set for the year ended 31 December 2018.
All treatment cycles, irrespective of the outcome, are reported to the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA). This means that the regulators of the fertility industry are able to provide insights into success rates, treatment numbers and everything in between.
The full report for 2018 can be found here.
- IVF birth rates have increased for patients under 43 years
Birth rates from IVF have continued to increase year on year since IVF was first invented. Currently, around 1 in 4 patients will conceive on their first treatment cycle. For those under 35, this rises to nearly 1 in 3 patients.
- Birth rates were above 20% per embryo transferred on average in the first three cycles
The average patient will have three IVF cycles. Cumulative success rates play an important role in live birth rates. Indeed, many of the leading IVF clinics are aware of this and offer 3-cycle packages (or equivalent).
- Using donor eggs can result in high birth rates for older patients, but they are not widely used
Donor eggs provide significantly better success rates – especially for those over the age of 40 (c.30% birth rate vs. c.10% using own eggs). The fact they are not widely used is due to a variety of reasons – both legal, social and economic. In the UK, there is also a shortage of altruistic donors and donor egg banks.
- The multiple birth rate decreased further to 8% in 2018
- Transferring more than one embryo could result in a multiple birth rate over 30%
The HFEA continues to stipulate that the multiple birth rate should be below 10%. Multiple birth rate (twins) are the main risk to IVF and the transfer of one embryo per cycle has helped to significantly reduce the risk of complication. Further analysis shows that transferring more than one embryo does not significantly increase the chance of success – and quality of embryo (rather than quantity) is becoming the focus.
- Embryo and egg storage have increased as freezing becomes more common
Changes in social trends has led to an increase in ‘social egg freezing’ – women are becoming more proactive with their fertility and planning for families later in life. Freezing techniques (vitrification) have also improved significantly – and freezing success rates have also improved. Indeed, some clinics are moving towards a ‘freeze all’ approach, giving women flexibility to have the embryo transfer whenever they want without compromising on success rates.
- NHS-funded cycles decreased in many English regions
- Fewer patients had their first IVF cycle funded by the NHS
In 2018 in Scotland, 60% of treatment was NHS-funded, compared to 45% in Northern Ireland, 41% in Wales and 35% in England. Given NICE guidance states that 3 cycles should be offered as standard, this is disappointing news. Infertility is a serious medical condition and while the government showed awareness during COVID-19, NHS funding does not appear to match this.
What does this mean for employers?
- The number of treatment cycles continues to increase. Fertility treatment is becoming more common – especially for single women and LGBT+ couples, but a lot more needs to be done around awareness, education and accessibility at the workplace.
- In England, the reduction in NHS funding continues to happen today – despite the seriousness of infertility. Many individuals are unable to afford treatment privately and this has a significant impact on wellbeing – both financially and mentally. Ensure that your staff have the appropriate support.
- Social egg freezing is becoming increasingly popular. Women are taking control of their fertility in their late 20s / early 30s and starting families later in life while they thrive at work. In the interim, they freeze their eggs.
1 in 6 couples face fertility issues. All LGBT+ employees that want to conceive will require fertility treatment. Social egg freezing is becoming increasingly commonplace in single women in their 30s. 1 in 4 women experience a miscarriage during pregnancy. Menopause affects every woman. No one prepares you for parenthood.
Every fertility journey is unique. Fertifa are here to support your workforce today.