Your IVF homework on evidence
Has the doctor recommeded IVF? in-fertility gives you the advice to do some homework beforehand. Many of the clinics offer additional treatment, such as genetic screening tests, additional drugs, blood tests to measure the immune system and special devices to house an embryo. They can cost from hundreds of Euros to thousands, of course on top of the costs of IVF. Are they medically proven though? Are these even safe? And how about the evidence they really increase your chances to have a baby?
The findings of research commissioned by BBC Panorama and conducted by Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, world experts in assessing medical studies are truly shocking as 26 of the 27 “add-ons” are not backed up by good scientific evidence and as Prof Carl Heneghan, director of the centre and who led the research team says: “It was one of the worst examples I’ve ever seen in healthcare. Some of these treatments are of no benefit to you whatsoever and some of them are harmful.”
Long-standing industry critic and fertility pioneer Professor Robert Winston told Panorama that he thinks most add-ons are unnecessary and not justified. “They think they’re giving the patient hope and in my view that’s completely the wrong way to do this.” he said.
So are patients being adequately protected? According to the information from Deborah Cohen a spokesman for the HFEA – Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the UK’s fertility clinic regulator told BBC Panorama that it was “concerned about the recent step change in the use of treatment add-ons”.
But, he added, the regulator had “limited powers to stop clinics offering them, or to control pricing”. He said the HFEA published information directly for patients so they could have the facts before they went to a clinic.
The point of in-fertility was precisely defined by one patient, who told the programme: “I think if someone said if you cut off your hand you’ll have a baby, I think I would have done it.”
in-fertility will closely follow the effects of the research and we are also getting in touch with HFEA in order to provide future clients the most appropriate information on safe, medically proven and effective treatments and their real chances as currently on average, only one in four cycles of IVF (in vitro fertilisation) across all age groups results in a live birth.