Egg Donation and the Multiple Birth Rate

The Times newspaper on Friday, 22 November 2013 reported an increase by a quarter of the Multiple Birth rate for women over 45, between 2011-2012. We are aware that most of these women would have conceived through IVF, and that probably almost all of them would have had egg donation treatment as the success rate of women using their own eggs through IVF after the age of 45 is only a few per cent, according to national data from the HFEA.

The increase reported may sound quite alarming but in fact is only an increase from 9.9% to 11.6%, which is significantly lower than 25% which was the Multiple Birth rate following IVF across the board until just three years ago. This level is gradually coming down as a result of the HFEA’s policy of forcing clinics to reduce multiple birth rates as a condition of their licence. This policy, as you may have read in the media, has recently been overturned in court.

The Times article also mentioned that the shortage of egg donors in the UK has forced women to travel abroad for treatment, to clinics where there is less control on the number of embryos transferred, thereby exposing these women to the risks associated with multiple birth.

The Herts & Essex Fertility Centre in Cheshunt is one of the two largest egg donation clinics in the UK. We do not have a waiting list for Caucasian donors and a comparatively short waiting list for ethnic donors.

Thirteen years ago we pioneered the use of Blastocyst Transfer in the UK, which has dramatically decreased the multiple birth rate. Under normal circumstances we only replace one blastocyst in women undergoing Egg Donation treatment. We have one of the most successful Single Embryo Transfer (SET) programmes in the country and the third highest in the UK in terms of the percentage number of SETs carried out.

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