Older women are ‘being exploited’ by IVF clinics says fertility watchdog

IVF doctor

Older women who look to become pregnant using IVF treatment are being exploited by clinics, according to the fertility watchdog.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) say some clinics use ‘selective success rates’ when targeting older patients.

The number of women using fertility treatment has increased rapidly, with 10,835 attempting to get pregnant using IVF in 2017 – double the number from 2004.

However, IVF treatment becomes less successful as a woman gets older. In 2017, HFEA figures show that when sing their own eggs, only 75 women aged between 43-44 successfully had a baby. This figure was after a total of 2,265 embryo transfers.

The success rate for women over 44 was just 1% between 2004-2017.

Sally Cheshire, chairwoman HFEA, says clinics need to be transparent about both the chances of success and the potential costs involved. She also worries that many foreign clinics investing in the UK are using selective statistics.

She said: “If you have treatment in the UK, all those clinics are regulated by us – by and large it’s a good sector.

“What we’re concerned about are more of the foreign clinics who are coming to the UK who are investing here… who absolutely are not being honest.”

Women under 40 should be offered three full cycles of IVF, while those between40-42 should be offered one full cycle, according to the NHS guidelines.

Mrs Cheshire, who is 50-years-old, says that she was offered IVF treatment by staff a fertility show in Manchester who didn’t realise who she was.

She warned that some organisations within the sector use aggressive ‘sales tactics’ to entice women, with some clinics charging up to £20,000 for cycles – four times the amount it should cost.

She said: “We now see things like ‘guaranteed baby or your money back’.”

Mrs Cheshire believes watchdogs should be given more powers in order to regulate prices in order to protect vulnerable women.

Useful links

NHS guidelines on IVF treatment

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority