How diverse is UK fertility treatment?
Written by Francesca Steyn, Co-founder, Fertility Nurse & Clinical Lead
This month the HFEA (the UK’s fertility regulator) released a report looking into ethnic diversity and fertility treatment carried out in the UK. In 2018 over 54,000 people had fertility treatment through a fertility clinic in the UK. This number includes those having IVF, having Insemination with donor sperm and those using donor eggs in their treatment and surrogacy arrangements. The numbers were broken down into 5 categories that represent ethnic groups – Asian, black, mixed, other and white.
Unfortunately the report is a little disheartening. It shows that there is a lot of work to be done to support and raise awareness for black and ethnic minority groups when accessing fertility treatment. Some the key findings of the report show that;
- Black patients had lower IVF birth rates. Meaning their chances of a successful outcome were a lot lower than those from white or mixed backgrounds.
- Black patients had a higher multiple birth rate. Meaning the rate of twins or more was much higher and therefore they experienced a higher rate of ‘high risk’ pregnancies.
- Asian and other ethnic group patients had treatment with eggs from a white egg donor. The number of donors from other ethnic backgrounds were very low.
- Patients needing donor sperm from non white donors were more likely to be using a donor sample that had been imported from overseas. Highlighting the low number of sperm donors the UK from other ethnic backgrounds.
- Black patients also reported higher numbers of tubal factor infertility. Meaning they had blocked or damaged Fallopian tubes making it much harder for ovulation occur.
So what will happen following this report?
The HFEA will work with patients and clinics to look at the findings. From here they will look at where we can improve patient experience and care across the different ethnic groups. More research needs to take place to look at what everyone can do to support patients from different ethnic groups. As a community we need to ensure that they receive fair access to information about their fertility journey and fair access to treatment.
A focus is also required on education and providing resources at an earlier stage so that people are aware of their own fertility and can make an informed choice about their route to parenthood. At My Surrogacy Journey we will continue to provide information and resource to our members across different ethnic groups. We want to ensure that they have accurate information and access to fertility care in order to create or grow their family.
To find out more about the report and the work that the HFEA will be doing, you can visit this link