July 12th: General Scheme of the AHR Bill

Assisted Human Reproduction Bill

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health today published its report on the General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill. This proposed Bill aims to provide a legal framework for AHR treatments in Ireland and outline provisions for establishment of a national AHR regulatory authority.

As Clinical Director of MFC and an internationally-renowned fertility expert, Professor Mary Wingfield has been a vocal advocate over many years for patient rights in the context of this proposed legislation, and was an invited participant at a meeting of the Joint Committee in February 2018.

 

Concern as IVF funding still not in place

funding

Despite the official government announcement last year that €1 million would be allocated for public IVF funding, these funds have still not been released. Those awaiting the much-needed financial and legal supports around assisted reproduction, as promised by the then Health Minister Leo Varadkar three years ago, continue to face uncertainty about when these funds will be made available and what criteria will be required to qualify for assistance.

The Government approved the IVF financial aid plans in October 2017 and a specific €1m fund was then announced by the Taoiseach last December.

In a statement, the Department of Health said a model of care for infertility, tied to long-awaited assisted human reproduction (AHR) legislation and the provision of financial assistance, was still being worked on by officials.

MFC continue to advocate for public funding of IVF for all Irish patients.

To read the Irish Examiner article, please see below:

https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/concern-as-ivf-funding-still-not-in-place-922418.html

HFEA report (May 9th 2019): “IVF more popular, successful and safer than ever but reasons for treatment are changing”

HFEA

The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority has just released its latest report on trends and figures in fertility treatment. Their findings have been welcomed by the British Fertility Society, who highlight the increased uptake of fertility treatment, improved success rates and confirmation that “IVF remains a safe and effective approach to address fertility issues”. Figures in the report also show that multiple births, the single biggest health risk from IVF, has now reached an all-time low of 10%, a sharp decline from 24% in 2008.

Other key highlights from the report include:

  • in 2017, more than 54,000 patients underwent around 75,000 fertility treatments in the U.K, with IVF treatment cycles increasing by 2.5% since 2016 and resulting in over 20,500 babies being born.
  • the average birth rate for women of all ages using their own eggs reaching 22%, while women under 35 using their own eggs have the highest birth rates (30% – fresh embryo cycle, 27% – frozen embryo cycle.
  • the fastest growing fertility treatment type is egg freezing, which has increased by 10% since 2016 to 1,463 cycles in 2017.
  • frozen embryo treatment cycle success rates (23%) have overtaken fresh embryo cycle success rates (22%) for the first time since records began, indicating that freezing embryos can give as much chance of success as a fresh cycle.

To read the HFEA press release and access the report, please follow the link below:

https://www.hfea.gov.uk/about-us/news-and-press-releases/2019-news-and-press-releases/ivf-more-popular-successful-and-safer-than-ever-but-reasons-for-treatment-are-changing/

For the British Fertility Society response to the HFEA report on trends and figures in fertility treatment, please follow the link below:

https://www.britishfertilitysociety.org.uk/2019/05/09/bfs-welcomes-latest-hfea-trends-report/

 

HFEA rating system for expensive “add ons”

Expensive Add-ons

A recent article in the Sunday Times has revealed that expensive ‘add-on’ treatments are still being offered by a number of Irish fertility clinics.

Despite recommendations by the U.K. Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which highlights the alarming lack of evidence for benefit and safety of such treatments, some private fertility clinics have persisted in advertising and providing them to patients. To guide and inform fertility patients, the HFEA have developed a rating system for the most commonly offered add-ons: https://www.hfea.gov.uk/treatments/explore-all-treatments/treatment-add-ons/

The HFEA has also called for clinics to be more transparent about treatment costs and how likely these are to actually increase the chance of having a baby.

To read this Times article, please see below:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/ireland/ill-conceived-treatments-at-fertility-clinics-00ht3gf66

“Endometriosis Awareness Month” – March 2019

Endometriosis

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.

https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/news/endometriosis-awareness-month-launches-raise-importance-education-tackling-diagnosis-times

Here at MFC, your doctor can provide you with more information about your endometriosis treatment options:

https://merrionfertility.ie/patient-information/causes-of-female-infertility/endometriosis/

Friday, March 8th 2019 – International Women’s Day

International Women's Day

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.

#BalanceforBetter