Fertility treatments increase by almost six percent

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Fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injections (ICSI) have risen in the UK by almost six percent in t...

Fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injections (ICSI) have risen in the UK by almost six percent in the past year.

Statistics released by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HEFA) revealed the number of fertility cycles carried out in 2010 stood at 57,652 – a 5.9 percent increase on treatments in 2009.

It was also discovered that the age of women having such treatments is rising; within the last 20 years it has increased by 18 months.

The average age now stands at 35.1 years, compared to 33.6 years in 1991.

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Additionally, 19 percent of women having fertility treatments were found to be aged 40 plus, equating to one in five treatments. This figure has increased by nearly 10 percent since 1998.

Health experts believe the overall increase in fertility treatments and cycles is due to budget cuts that have affected the NHS.

As a result, the National Health Service in the UK has tightened treatment eligibility regulations, meaning it is more difficult for to people to qualify for NHS funded fertility procedures.

However, in spite of this and the fact that most of fertility treatments are carried out and funded privately, the HEFA figures revealed the number of NHS treatments increased last year.

The proportion of fertility cycles that were funded by the NHS reached 40.6 percent in 2010 compared to 38.5 percent in 2009.

The Chief Executive of Infertility Network UK, Clare Lewis-Jones, commented on the findings. She said: “The fact that only a minority of treatment cycles in 2010 were funded by the NHS continues to highlight the difficulties faced by many patients in trying to access NHS treatment.

“The recent suspension of funding by many PCTs means that the number of NHS-funded cycles will no doubt decrease in 2011 and we are also concerned that, if responsibility for commissioning of fertility services is passed to GPs, there will be even more variations in access to treatment.”

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