In the following article, Dr Cathy Allen speaks about how lifestyle changes have affected our reproduction in the last 50 years.
Changes in health, lifestyle and society have impacted greatly on human reproduction, particularly in females, over the past 50 years. But there is more we can do to help infertility, advises Dr. Allen.
MFC is delighted to share that our clinical research fellow Dr. Lucia Hartigan recently received research funding from the National Maternity Hospital Medical Fund.
In collaboration with UCD School of Medicine, Dr. Hartigan will use this funding to investigate new biomarkers that may help predict the developmental potential of an oocyte, and improve ART outcomes.
As a not-for-profit clinic, we at Merrion Fertility Clinic and the National Maternity Hospital are passionate about fairness and making our treatment as affordable as possible for all our patients. An Irish IVF Clinic group has recently advertised an IVF refund scheme and other payment incentives for treatment. In the past, we have carefully explored such schemes whereby patients only pay for their IVF treatment if they are successful and have a baby. While some people will be lucky with such an arrangement, others will end up paying more than they need to. It is our considered opinion that such schemes do not reduce costs overall for the majority of patients and that they may even be unethical. We are not aware of any other branch of medicine where patients are asked to pay up front for several episodes of treatment – in case the first treatment does not work.
In 2017 in Merrion Fertility Clinic, for couples undergoing IVF where the woman was under 35 years, 45% had a livebirth on their first cycle of treatment and 79% of those also had embryos to freeze for the future. They paid for one cycle of treatment. If they had opted for a ‘no baby no fee’ scheme, each couple would effectively have paid an unnecessary €6,000-€7,000 for two fresh cycles they never needed and the clinic would have made a nice profit. Incentive schemes are subject to medical review such that only patients with a good prognosis for success are deemed eligible and there is little transparency about the kind of clinical criteria that need to be met. The schemes also discriminate against couples who do not have €10,000 to €17,000 to spend. There are many other cost considerations also – for instance, Merrion Fertility Clinic does not charge for embryoscope or for sedation administered by Consultant Anesthetists. These services which are included in our base fee are not included in incentive schemes.
In multi-cycle fixed schemes, patients who do very poorly on their first cycle (e.g. get no eggs) will be locked into paying for two cycles, with no refund if they do not conceive. With a pay-as-you-go policy such as ours, such patients may decide to stop after one treatment and will only pay for that one treatment.
It is important to note that the companies offering these incentive schemes are commercial companies with shareholders who want to see a return on their investment. Their investment in fertility clinics reflects the sad but increasing commercialization of fertility treatment, with fertility care (in particular IVF) now being recognized internationally as ‘big business’ offering attractive financial returns. We are not alone in raising questions about incentive schemes for treatment. This recent article from Prof Nicky Hudson (Centre for Reproduction Research) discusses the growing commercialisation of fertility treatment in the UK and internationally, and what this means for the potential exploitation of patients.
We urge patients and the general public to carefully consider how they choose to pay for fertility treatment. And we encourage you to write to the Minister for Health advocating for public funding of IVF for all Irish patients.
Endometriosis is a debilitating gynaecological disorder that leads to painful periods, chronic pelvic pain and in some cases, infertility. While up to two-thirds of women with endometriosis will have no issue conceiving, it is one of the most common causes of reduced fertility in women seeking help to conceive.
To mark the start of Endometriosis Awareness Month, the support charity Endometriosis UK recently launched new education tools with the Royal College of General Practitioners to help GPs to identify the early signs and symptoms of endometriosis. As it currently takes on average 7.5 years to diagnose endometriosis, reducing this time is an important first step in facilitating quicker access to treatment and support for patients.
Here at MFC, your doctor can provide you with more information about your endometriosis treatment options:
We at MFC are celebrating International Women’s Day! This year the campaign theme is #BalanceforBetter, and what better way to achieve this goal for our patients than to advocate for public funding of fertility treatment.
Infertility affects women of all ethnicities and all social backgrounds, it does not discriminate.
That is why we pledge today to always be an advocate for our patients, to strive for a better balance in access to fertility care, and to ensure that everyone has the chance to achieve their dream of parenthood.
As Ireland’s only Fertility Clinic with ‘Guaranteed Irish’ membership, we were delighted to attend this morning’s briefing “Ireland’s Winning Business Teams” which hosted an expert panel of guest speakers including Ms. Helen McEntee T.D. Minister for European Affairs. The main discussion was on Brexit and what Irish businesses across the board need as the necessary outcome of the Brexit deal.
MFC take great pride in reflecting the Guaranteed Irish beliefs of Provenance, Quality and Trust. Our policy for evidence based care and patient focused services reflect the Guaranteed Irish belief in maximum quality of Irish services.
The Fertility Forum will take place on Saturday 30th March 2019 in the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London, U.K. This meeting aims to bring specialists and members of the public together for a full day of evidence-based information to support those affected by fertility problems.
For more information, and to see the full agenda, please follow the link below:
Fertility specialists are advocating for a change in existing U.K. laws that require women who freeze their eggs to use them within 10 years. This time limit does not take into account the remarkable technological advances that have been made in the field, including the introduction of a greatly improved egg-freezing technique called vitrification. As a growing number of women pursue egg freezing in order to preserve their fertility, advocates argue that there is a growing need to update the current legislation around fertility.
To read more, please follow the link below:
We were delighted to attend the Guaranteed Irish “Better Your Business” workshop at the InterContinental Dublin this morning. As Ireland’s only Fertility Clinic with ‘Guaranteed Irish’ membership, we take great pride in reflecting the Guaranteed Irish beliefs of Provenance, Quality and Trust. To read more about our partnership please follow the link below:
Technology aimed at women and in particular their health looks set to become big business.
Prof Mary Wingfield, who set up the Merrion Fertility Clinic, is seeing an increasing number of patients arriving armed with the information they have been tracking on these apps.
Using apps to record information can be useful – having exact dates, for example, which can be helpful for scheduling tests and planning treatments – but there are issues.
To read more please follow the link below: