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28 MAR 2014

HFEA releases third report on fertility trends

Journals Manager & Online Editor


New figures on fertility treatment released today by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) show that IVF-conceived babies now account for 2% all babies born in the UK.

In 2012, 47,442 women had a total of 62,155 cycles of IVF or Intra-cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) and 2,265 women had a total of 4,452 cycles of donor insemination (DI).

The report also shows that, for the first time, women over 45 years of age are more likely to use donor eggs than their own in trying to conceive. In addition, the number of same-sex female couples receiving IVF treatment has increased by over a third in the last year, while number having donor insemination (DI) also increased for same-sex female couples by over 20%.

The trend of women over 45 using donor eggs rather than their own also aligns with the higher success rates of frozen embryo transfers for women in the oldest age groups who, unlike younger women, are less likely to conceive using fresh embryos. Women over 40 still represent the minority of patients, as the report shows that two-thirds of women undergoing treatment were aged 37 and under.

The figures also reveal that the number of IVF treatment cycles using donor sperm is on the increase both in relation to IVF and Donor Insemination (DI).

The report, 'Fertility treatment in 2012: Trends and Figures' brings together, in an accessible way, key statistics on fertility trends in the UK. It covers treatment cycles started in 2011, their outcomes in 2012, and how these coincide with short and long term trends. It is the third of its kind to be published by the HFEA.

The long-term trends data shows that the number of IVF cycles performed each year has increased steadily since 1991, although there was a slight decrease in the number of total cycles for IVF and Intra-cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) over the last 12 recorded months, and the overall live birth rate decreased very slightly. However, the rate of growth of DI cycles has increased.

The HFEA is also pleased to report that in successful partnership with the UK's fertility clinics, and in line with its influential 'One at a Time' campaign, the continual decline in multiple birth rates has been sustained.

Sally Cheshire, Interim Chair of the HFEA said:

'This report shows just how important the world's largest assisted reproduction Register has become. As well as providing key data relating to IVF and other fertility treatments - data which is invaluable for clinicians, scientists and researchers in their important work - we can now also gain valuable insights into the world around us.

It is important to remember that behind the facts and figures in this report lie the many human experiences - some joyous, some deeply sad - of people seeking a family of their own. If this data can not only help us improve fertility treatment for future patients, but also help others to better understand how society is changing, then the Register becomes a work of significance to us all.'

Other findings include:

  • The live birth rate after IVF has increased from 14% in 1991, to 25% in 2011.
  • Stimulated DI cycles tend to have a higher success rate than unstimulated DI.
  • Between 2008 and 2012, significant changes have been made in clinical practice; more embryos are being transferred at the blastocyst stage, as part of an active decision to only transfer one embryo even if more are available. As a result multiple pregnancy rates have decreased in the same period.
  • The age of women seeking fertility treatment increased after 1991, reflecting the wider trend in society for couples to start their families later, but has remained steady over the last five years.

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