We all know that IVF treatment costs a lot. Information collated by Gaia Family Planning who interviewed 250 people last year showed that the average spend on IVF for heterosexual couples in the UK is £13,730. This jumps to £17,290 for those that experience an unsuccessful outcome on their journey.
70% of people experience financial trauma and 78% of people enter into debt to fund their IVF treatment.
So I set about on the tedious task of collating our statistics. I was interested to see how our patient spend stacks up to the cost of IVF compared with pregnancy outcomes. The full report can be seen here: https://www.verityallenacupuncture.com/birth-rates--statistics.html
Our results, based on women receiving 14 treatments and men just 4 treatments, not undergoing IVF, showed a 72% pregnancy success rate for women aged 35 - 42. This is an average spend of £970. The success rate of IVF alone for women in same age category is 21%. Our success rates jump higher to 89% if you combine acupuncture with IVF.
Therefore, in short, you can spend just shy of £1000 on acupuncture and you have a 72% chance of pregnancy. Spend £15,000 on IVF and you have a 21% chance of pregnancy. And spend £16,000 on IVF and acupuncture combined and you have a 89% chance of pregnancy.
We’re obviously enormously proud of what we do, but our statistics speak volumes. There are no studies of any real note that show acupuncture to be effective in fertility. There are studies showing the efficacy of acupuncture used alongside IVF. The results of which showed there to be a substantial benefit on pregnancy and live birth outcomes, yet acupuncture is not accepted by UK fertility clinics to be of any benefit to the patient. When has your consultant ever suggested you try acupuncture?
Why? I wonder? Well perhaps the data just isn’t there to support its use. Who would fund such research? And perhaps there are other reasons…
In our clinics we are unique in that we see a great many more patients than a sole practitioner might, thereby giving us a vantage point to be able to generate data in larger figures than other smaller operations. I wanted to share this with the fertility community and so, last month, I decided to write a lot of letters to IVF clinics across the country. There were three reasons for doing this. Firstly, I wanted to share our great work. Secondly, I wanted to test a hypothesis of mine. And thirdly, I had a bunch of stamps I needed to use up.
In the letter I talked about our statistics. I put it in terms I felt they might like to hear; that using acupuncturists to support their treatments could see their clinics overall statistics improving. I talked about the fact that clinics in America, Australia and Europe have in-house acupuncturists for the purpose of improving outcomes for their patients.
Enclosed in the letter was a print out of the recent systematic review of research to date showing the benefits of acupuncture used alongside IVF. And, some might say rather cheekily, I included our QR code for our Charitable Trust, set up to help our patients access our services who are facing financial difficulty. After all, 78% of their patients enter into debt.
So, did I hear back from any of the many clinics I contacted? Did we receive a donation? Of course not! It’s sad really. Especially when you consider that the UK fertility industry is worth about £320 million annually.
Unfortunately the lack of interest has helped to cement my hypothesis. It’s a belief I’ve held for some years about the state of our UK clinics, which is why I advocate going abroad for treatment. That IVF clinics in the UK are there to sell IVF - not to make babies. So in light of the title of this article - who are the real winners? Well I guess that depends on your objectives.
Just to end on a less depressing note, I was delighted to see Serum IVF in Athens hold a party for their founder to celebrate all the new families she’s helped to create over the years. It was open to all past patients and free to attend. Well done Serum... Highly regarded as one of the best clinics in the world, has some of the best birth statistics and still has its heart in the right place. A glowing example that you can have it all! Also one of the few clinics to have a female founder… I’m saying nothing! I’ve probably already said too much!!
Verity Allen - BSc, BA, MBAcC, Lic Ac