More than 300,000 children in total have now been born in the UK from licensed fertility treatment since 1991. This significant milestone, which includes combined figures for IVF and donor insemination (DI), follows a year-on-year growth in the number of babies born. Fertility treatment has grown markedly since 2010, with almost a third of all IVF and DI babies since 1991 arriving in the last six recorded years (2010 to 2015).
The total number of treatment cycles carried out in UK clinics also passed a significant milestone in 2015 (the most recent data available), breaking through the million barrier. The overall number of treatments carried out since 1991 is 1,034,601.
The new data – drawn from The HFEA Register, the oldest and largest fertility database in the world – also reveals that fertility services are used mainly by younger women. The average age of women having fertility treatment is 35 years, which has remained largely static over recent years.
Treatments involving women aged 18-34 remain the largest single group, accounting for 43% of all treatments, while treatments for women aged 40 and over account for just 20% of all treatments (14,500), with very few treatments being provided to women over 45.
Looking at the different regions in the UK, the data shows that most treatments continue to take place in London and the South East of England, accounting for 42% of all cycles. However, there is a strong representation of large northern clinics in the figures, with the North West now providing more treatments per clinic than any other region, including London. Total clinic numbers vary according to region, ranging from three in Northern Ireland to 22 in London.
HFEA Chair Sally Cheshire CBE welcomed this new data as a sign of a thriving and successful fertility sector:
“The figures we have released today show that the UK’s fertility sector continues to be one of the most vibrant and successful in the world.
“Families using assisted reproduction services across the UK are better served than ever before, and we will continue to encourage all who work in the sector to offer the highest quality support for patients who are both successful and unsuccessful.”
Susan Seenan, chief executive of patient charity Fertility Network UK said:
“We welcome the publication during National Fertility Awareness Week of the new IVF milestones from the HFEA. The extraordinary growth of IVF in the last six years shows the pressing need for practical and emotional support and advice for the many people facing fertility issues.
It is also significant to note that this data underlines that fertility services are used mainly by younger women – aged under 35 – who will have been trying for a baby for at least two years and often more. National Fertility Awareness Week is about challenging perceptions and we hope this helps to dispel any misconceptions about IVF and female age.”