17/11/2011 08:11 GMT

UK FertilityTreatments Rise 6% In A Year As More Women Turn To Donor Insemination

There has been a rise in the number of fertility treatments carried out in the UK, possibly due to an increasing number of women using donor insemination in a bid to conceive.

The number of women opting for sperm donors has risen during the last two years. In 2009, 1,615 cycles of IVF with donated sperm, resulted in 585 babies being born. By 2010, the numbers increased by 21% to 1,963 cycles.

The data, from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), reveals there were 57,652 cycles in 2010, an increase of 5.9% on the number in 2009.

Overall, 3% of cycles involved donor eggs and 6% donor insemination. Frozen transfers overall are less successful than fresh ones, but this trend is reversed in older women.

The treatments cover both IVF and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), which involves injecting a single sperm into an egg to fertilise it.

In 2010, 45,264 women were treated with either IVF or ICSI. Some 74% of treatments involve women using their own fresh eggs, while 17% involve using a woman's own frozen eggs.

Of all IVF cycles, women were aged 35.1 years on average when they underwent treatment, up from 33.6 in 1991.

A breakdown shows 42% of cycles were to women aged 18 to 34, 23% were to women aged 35 to 37, 16% were to women aged 38 and 39 and 14% were to those aged 40 to 42. Just under 4% of cycles were to women aged 43 to 44 and 2% were to those aged 45 and over.

A total of 12,386 pregnancies were reported as a result of fresh IVF or ICSI treatment which started in 2009 and 13,015 pregnancies followed treatment started in 2010.

The pregnancy rate per embryo transfer stood at 33.4% - a figure which remained steady from 2009 and 2010 - but the multiple pregnancy rate fell slightly.

Clare Lewis-Jones, chief executive of Infertility Network UK, said: "The fact that only a minority of treatment cycles in 2010 were funded by the NHS continues to highlight the difficulties faced by many patients in trying to access NHS treatment.

"The recent suspension of funding by many PCTs means that the number of NHS-funded cycles will no doubt decrease in 2011 and we are also concerned that, if responsibility for commissioning of fertility services is passed to GPs, there will be even more variations in access to treatment."