New Figures Show Extent of IVF and Donor Insemination

Priscilla Lynch 

June 01, 2021

More than 1.3 million in vitro fertilisation (IVF) cycles and more than 260,000 donor insemination cycles have been performed in the UK since 1991, resulting in the birth of 390,000 babies, new figures from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) show.

The fertility regulator’s annual  Fertility Trends  report, published in the organisation’s 30th anniversary year, highlights advances and changes in fertility treatment over the past three decades showing IVF cycles increased from 6700 in 1991 to more than 69,000 in 2019.

Advances in technology and treatment over the past three decades have resulted in more successful outcomes, with birth rates for all patients aged younger than 43 years improving year on year. In 1991, patients aged 35-37 years had a live birth rate per embryo transferred of 6 per cent, increasing to 25 per cent in 2019.

The report shows that the multiple birth rate was at its lowest ever at 6 per cent in 2019, exceeding the HFEA target of 10 per cent and representing a drop from 28 per cent in the early 1990s, lowering the risk for thousands of mothers and the babies born as a result of IVF treatment.

There has also been a gradual shift in the number of patients aged older than 40 years having IVF. In 1991, 58 per cent of IVF cycles involved patients younger than 35 years, falling to 40 per cent in 2019. At the same time, the proportion of IVF cycles undertaken by patients aged 40 years and older increased from 10 per cent (689 cycles) in 1991 to 21 per cent (14,761 cycles) in 2019.

Other key findings include:

  • The growth in IVF cycles has stabilised since 2017, but frozen embryo transfers continue to increase year on year, increasing 86 per cent from 2014 to 2019.

  • Single embryo transfer has become common practice, and in 2019, one embryo was put back in 75 per cent of IVF cycles compared with just 13 per cent in 1991.

  • An increasing number of cycles involves patients in female same-sex relationships or with no partner.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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