Women 'put under pressure for IVF treatment'

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Too many infertile women are being pressurised to have the "blunderbuss" treatment of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) rather than simpler and cheaper surgery which could allow them to conceive naturally, the fertility pioneer, Lord Winston, said yesterday.

Too many infertile women are being pressurised to have the "blunderbuss" treatment of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) rather than simpler and cheaper surgery which could allow them to conceive naturally, the fertility pioneer, Lord Winston, said yesterday.

Women were having IVF because it was the only treatment on offer from fertility clinics which lacked the skills to carry out the surgery they needed, said the Labour peer, who is professor of fertility studies at Hammersmith hospital.

Lord Winston, who wasspeaking at the Millennium Festival of Medicine in London, called for a more "holistic" approach to the treatment of infertility. "We have to look very carefully at the overall picture. We should try to restore fertility first instead of immediately using the blunderbuss which IVF still sadly is," he said.

Over the past six years, he said he had operated on 76 women who had previously had IVF treatments, using surgery to unblock Fallopian tubes and restore fertility, 42 of whom had gone on to conceive naturally. Some of the women had had five or six attempts at IVF.

"These women were pressurised into IVF when a natural conception in the bed would have been possible," he said.

Lord Winston said: "IVF is being offered because it is the simplest treatment for clinics to offer, because they don't have expertise in tubal surgery. Yet surgery is cheaper than IVF, offers restoration of fertility and does not carry the risk of a multiple birth."

He said surgery was not suitable for all women with blocked tubes but there were a large number for whom it was "a much better option" than IVF.

Lord Winston also attacked the fertility clinic league tables giving success rates for IVF clinics as "fundamentally flawed and useless". Clinics were "doctoring" the figures,turning away older women because of fears that they would depress the success rates.

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