The true cost of IVF in pandemic Britain

As fertility treatment in the UK is delayed for hopeful families, women struggle to weigh up the risks of getting pregnant by going private, or waiting too long to try. New research by Fertility Help Hub (FHH) has found two thirds of hopeful parents in suspended IVF treatment will risk putting themselves under financial pressure to go private, fearing delay will decrease their chances of conception, as the NHS struggle to cope with demand. Further research has found those people surveyed feel in the dark about the safety of pregnancy and childbirth since Covid, with 52% feeling uncertain about the risks and safety of fertility treatment.

The research was conducted on 108 women in the UK who have had their fertility services cancelled or postponed since March 2020. Many of who have had no indication of how long their wait will be until treatment resumes, with the fear that clinics will be forced to close once more.

Research has found that ALL of the women surveyed have been mentally affected by the trauma of having their IVF paused and 55% have said that they have received no clear guidance or support from their clinics during this distressing time.Added to that, nearly half of IVF patients (47%) are concerned that this could spell the end of an already long and stressful road to parenthood.

Dr Carole Gilling-Smith, Medical Director at Agora fertility clinic said “We know that in young women waiting is not likely to affect success rates significantly unless ovarian reserve is low but as women get older and approach their 40s, anything more than a 3 month wait will start to impact on chances of success”.

As women are usually in their 30s or early 40s when they seek treatment, a large proportion of the 68,000 patients who have IVF every year can’t afford to delay. Now thousands of hopeful families across the world face a dilemma.

Founder of Fertility Help Hub (FHH) Eloise Edington launched the site following her own personal fertility struggle after her husband was diagnosed with Klinefelter Syndrome, something that affects approximately 1 in 660 men which made him infertile. The site aims to guide, support and connect the fertility community during their journey to parenthood, and demystify the complexities that arise along the way.

Eloise Edington says “We know from our community that Covid has taken away from many the hope of becoming parents. At Fertility Help Hub, we are making it our mission to give that hope back. The ‘Fertility Clinics Vs Covid” initiative is about going one step further and providing a bridge during a very difficult time. Having worked closely with fertility clinics across the country, I am very happy to announce that we can offer up to 5 couples or solo parents in the UK the opportunity to receive a free round of IVF or donor sperm for their fertility treatment.

Dr Saab, Clinical Director, CRGH in London commenting on the safety of IVF during COVID said ” We are continuously learning something new about the virus: its mode of transmission, its behavior and its impact on various body systems including fertility and miscarriage. Recommendations from several international authorities are continuously updated ( the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, The British Fertility Society and the HFEA) and have been very helpful in guiding the medical practices in the field of fertility to meet the highest standards of health and safety. So far apart from special considerations , fertility treatments are considered safe to continue during the pandemic.”

IVF Coach and Freedom Fertility Formula Specialist, Caroline Tanner from Avocado Fertility said “What I have seen in my clients is an exacerbated level of worry, stress and anxiety. Their fertility journey already feels out of control. So, the impact of Covid-19 only deepens this sense of helplessness. Fertility struggles feel deeply and personally unfair.

Dr Carole Gilling-Smith added “Far too many have been cruelly hit by this pandemic, through losing loved ones, their health, their livelihoods and now potentially their chances of a having a much wanted family. Being involved with fertility help Hub in Fertility Clinics Vs Covid is hugely important to us at The Agora as firstly this gives us an opportunity to help a couple or solo mother have a child who might not otherwise be able to afford treatment, and secondly we have a chance to speak out and raise awareness of the immense pressures right now faced by the TTC community as the effects of the pandemic continue to roll on”.

FHH is committed to providing support and community resources to thousands of women, men, couples and solo parents seeking fertility advice. To show further support, it is launching a global initiative on January 21stth to provide a total of 8 couples or solo parents (up to 5 in the UK), the opportunity to receive fertility treatment at no cost. To apply for this opportunity, simply submit your application, with the story of your own personal journey so far, before 10th March 2021 via www.fertilityhelphub.com/fertility-clinics-vs-covid. Those who have been successful, will be contacted individually during w/c 22nd March 2021.

At Fertility Help Hub, no story is more deserving than another and therefore recipients will be selected at random.

During this 8-week initiative, Eloise will be running a series of live video interviews with the 8 fertility partners involved in the campaign, as well as multiple ambassadors who have been affected by infertility. These live Q&As will cover a wide range of fertility issues, including the impact of Covid. They will be available across social channels and on the website.

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