IVF patients are vulnerable – is enough being done to protect them?

Some clinics are putting women at risk by purposefully upping patients’ hormone dosage to collect more eggs for IVF, reports Jessica Brown

<p>Hormone injections increase the number of eggs a woman produces </p>

Hormone injections increase the number of eggs a woman produces

During IVF, patients are given a series of hormone injections to boost the number of eggs their ovaries release, which are then surgically removed to be fertilised. In some patients, too many eggs develop in response to the fertility medication. This leads to a mild case of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) in around a third of patients, while some develop severe OHSS, which can be life-threatening.

But some clinics are purposefully upping patients’ hormone dosage to collect more than 15 eggs, and putting women at risk of OHSS, says Gulam Bahadur, senior andrologist at North Middlesex University.

The chances of a live birth plateau after 15 eggs are collected, research has found, and the risk of OHSS “significantly” increases. When Bahadur looked at all non-donor fertility treatment between 2015 and 2018 at every IVF clinic in the UK, he found that 16 to 25 eggs were collected in 13 per cent of treatments. Although an average of 11 eggs was collected per patient, in two per cent of cases, between 26 and 59 eggs were collected, and 28 patients had more than 50 eggs retrieved.

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