Thousands of British women may miss their last chance at becoming mothers, while IVF treatment centers are closing this week due to the closure of the coronavirus.
The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has decided that the NHS and private clinics will stop treating women undergoing IVF treatment from Wednesday, April 15.
Patients who are in the middle of an IVF cycle will have their treatment suspended indefinitely, according to HFEA, the government body that regulates IVF clinics in the UK.
All new treatments have already been banned for security reasons related to the coronavirus.
Many of the 68,000 women who choose to undergo IVF each year in the UK are in their late 30s or early 40s and have little time to wait.
There are now concerns that women who were to undergo IVF are too old to do so following the lifting of the lock, which remains to be determined.
During in vitro fertilization (IVF), an egg is removed from a woman’s ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. IVF helps people with fertility problems to have a baby. Private clinics generally refuse to treat women 45 and older, while NHS clinical commissioning groups generally do not allow women to undergo a second cycle of IVF after the age of 40.
“You can’t rewind your biological clock,” Dr. Catherine Hill of the UK’s Reproductive Research Charity, Progress Educational Trust, told The Guardian.
WHAT IS IVF?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a technique to help people with fertility problems have a baby.
It is the process of fertilizing sperm by an egg outside the body.
During IVF, an egg is removed from a woman’s ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory.
The fertilized egg, called an embryo, is then returned to the woman’s uterus to grow and develop.
It can be done using your partner’s eggs and sperm, or donor eggs and sperm.
“Time is of the essence in fertility treatment.
“For some people, this decision means that they may never become parents.
“It was going to be their last chance and they can’t have it – it’s deeply painful and traumatic. “
The IVF success rate goes from 23% for women aged 35 to 37, to 15% for women aged 38 to 39 and to only 9% for women aged 40 to 42, according to the NHS.
Private clinics generally refuse to treat women aged 45 and older, while NHS clinical commissioning groups generally do not allow women a second cycle of IVF after the age of 40.
HFEA previously said in a statement last month that it had been advised by scientists and experts to stop IVF treatments over a three-week period until April 13.
The HFEA said that stopping IVF in clinics “is the only responsible course of action for the fertility industry and patients in these difficult times”
“Their advice is that clinics should plan to stop treatment within the next three weeks, allowing patients to complete the cycle they started,” he said at the time.
“We have written to all licensed clinics in the UK to let them know that we expect them to follow these guidelines.
“I recognize that it is very painful for many of you because it means that you already have or that your treatment will be stopped or delayed. “
The decision to ban all treatments is likely to prevent the birth of at least 20,000 babies, according to figures from the HFEA, if it were to remain in place for 12 months.
MailOnline spoke to a woman about to undergo IVF, who said that time was “not on our side” and that waiting just a few months “would dramatically reduce our chances”.
A few days before Natalie Williams, 40, a midwife from Formby, Merseyside, had to start taking her hormonal drugs to prepare her body for IVF, she learned that her treatment had been canceled.
Ms. Williams and her husband Shaun, 39, had previously taken out a loan to pay for IVF treatment, which they are still paying in installments.
“We fully understand why they do it, but I think couples should have had the choice and a warning given to sign with the risks,” she said.
Natalie Williams, 40, a midwife from Formby, is desperate to have a child with husband Shaun, 39
“Many women will naturally get pregnant in the next few months and no one is telling them that they cannot or should not. We don’t think it’s fair.
Meanwhile, calls to the Fertility Network, the UK’s hotline, have increased by 50% in the last three weeks since the implementation of the lockdowns.
Psychologists also warn that the arrest has a “devastating” impact on the mental health of IVF patients and puts a strain on the marriages of infertile couples.
Women have already been advised not to have IVF in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic, fearing that the virus may adversely affect pregnancy.
A statement issued by the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology says that all couples considering fertility treatment “should avoid becoming pregnant at this time.”
He advised those who already have IVF to consider freezing their eggs or the embryos they created for pregnancy until the pandemic ends.
Pregnant mothers are strongly advised to follow social distancing measures – although UK chief medical adviser Professor Chris Whitty said there is currently no evidence to suggest complications from coronavirus during pregnancy.
“Infections and pregnancy are not a good combination in general and that is why we have taken the very careful step while we try to find out more,” said Professor Whitty previously.
HOW DOES IVF WORK?
In vitro fertilization, known as IVF, is a medical procedure in which a woman has an already fertilized egg inserted into her womb to become pregnant.
It is used when couples are unable to conceive naturally and sperm and an egg are removed from their bodies and combined in the laboratory before the embryo is inserted into the woman.
Once the embryo is in the womb, pregnancy should continue normally.
The procedure can be performed using a couple’s or donors’ eggs and sperm.
National Institute for Excellence in Health and Care (NICE) guidelines recommend that IVF be offered on the NHS to women under the age of 43 who are trying to conceive through regular unprotected sex for two years.
People can also pay for IVF privately, which costs an average of £ 3,348 for a single cycle, according to figures released in January 2018, and there is no guarantee of success.
The NHS reports that success rates for women under the age of 35 are around 29%, with the chances of a cycle decreasing with age.
It is believed that about eight million babies have been born due to IVF since the birth of the very first case, Briton Louise Brown, in 1978.
Chances of success
The success rate of IVF depends on the age of the woman receiving treatment, as well as the cause of the infertility (if known).
Younger women are more likely to have a successful pregnancy.
IVF is generally not recommended for women over the age of 42, as the chances of a successful pregnancy are considered too low.
Between 2014 and 2016, the percentage of IVF treatments that resulted in a live birth was:
29% for women under 35
23% for women aged 35 to 37
15% for women aged 38 to 39
9% for women aged 40 to 42
3% for women aged 43 to 44
2% for women over 44