Are all IVF treatments necessary?
Dr Kirsty Horsey
Progress Educational Trust13 September 2002
Speaking ahead of the publication of IVF success rates, which show that rates vary substantially from clinic to clinic, Suzi Leather, Chair of the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has said that some people need to be 'more realistic about conceiving'.
Women should not be 'panicked' into IVF by some clinics which, it has been suggested, unnecessarily recommend fertility treatments to couples who may well conceive given enough time to do so naturally.Some clinics have been accused of capitalising on the fear of declining fertility to increase their profits. While fertility does decline with age, commented Ms Leather, women still have a relatively high chance of conceiving naturally into their late thirties. Ms Leather said 'we're not only here to have children. It's one of the characteristics of our society that we feel able to control a lot of aspects of our lives and so we expect to become pregnant straight away but it's quite normal for it to take a while'.
Ms Leather made clear, however, that her comments were not a criticism of any particular clinic, nor should they be taken to indicate that she believes 'hard sell' tactics by treatment providers are common.
Also critical of the different levels of availability of IVF on the National Health Service in different regions, Ms Leather believes that IVF remains 'the preserve of the rich', and that 'much broader access to fertility treatment on the NHS' should be encouraged.
A major review of the current regulatory and inspection system is currently being undertaken. The HFEA believes that new regulation is necessary, and that this should allow clinics to keep pace with technical developments. They should be judged on a number of criteria, including the levels of counselling offered to prospective patients and whether treatment is appropriate for particular patients.
Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.