Are there independent, impartial statistics available?
There is an independent regulator in the UK called The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) which is responsible for overseeing the use of embryos, eggs and sperm in all UK fertility clinics. All cycles of In Vitro Fertilisation and Intra-Uterine Insemination from all clinics are reported to them within a few days of the cycle starting. They Inspect clinics and compile statistics and only if they are satisfied do they issue clinics with the Licences that the clinics are obliged to hold to offer treatments. Nevertheless, they are still subject to the vagaries that statistics produce. In the past the HFEA published detailed success rates for clinics but patients used these to produce misleading ranking tables for clinics so the HFEA now publishes statistics with wider ranges and with caveats. The following are excerpts from their web page, www.hfea.gov.uk/fertility-clinics-success-rates.html
What does the HFEA say?
“It is not meaningful to directly compare clinics’ success rates or create ‘league tables’ of clinics’ performance because:
- Clinics treat patients with different diagnoses and this will affect the average success rates we show for clinics
- Most clinics carry out too few cycles each year to reliably predict a patient’s future chance of success
- The success rates relate to a period of treatment from about two years ago and may not be a good indication of success rates at the particular clinic today
The majority of clinics perform around the national average.
Success rates can be affected by:
- the type of patients a clinic treats eg, their age, diagnosis and length of infertility
- the type of treatment a clinic carries out
- a clinic’s treatment practices
A clinic that treats proportionately more patients with complicated diagnoses may have a lower average success rate than clinics that treat more patients with common fertility issues. Clinics may have higher success rates for treatment if they treat women who are not infertile but who have no male partner and are using donated sperm in their treatment.
- Overall, it is important to not overly rely solely on published success rates because they do not reflect the possible difference in the patients who go to different clinics (case mix)
- They do not reflect the fact that different clinics choose to treat some patients, but not others (this is called selection criteria)
- And they do not reflect your individual circumstances and all the possible factors that might affect your treatment prospects
You should therefore make up your own mind about what clinics claim”
At Concept Fertility we fully support these views, strongly recommend that patients take all statistics with a pinch of salt, and trust their own judgement.