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Eight in ten Brits consider stopping IVF treatment due to costs, research reveals

The study found that two thirds of people in the UK expect their employer to cover IVF



Brits are struggling to cope with the costs of IVF and expect more support from their employers, a new study has shown.

The virtual fertility clinic Apricity conducted a survey of 500 people in the UK who are either undergoing fertility treatment (40 per cent) or preparing for fertility treatments (60 per cent).

It found that 84 per cent of the patients surveyed funded their treatment themselves, with the NHS covering only about 20 per cent of treatments.

One cycle of IVF with medication costs upwards of £7,000 and at least three cycles are recommended for success.

This put huge financial pressure on patients who struggled to pay for their treatment, despite the average income of respondents was £31,400.

The waiting time is between one and two years in England, and whether you are able to access NHS fertility treatment depends on your GP’s postcode, with different regions offering different levels of access to NHS IVF and some offering none at all.

Women can be eligible for three rounds of NHS-funded IVF treatment if they have been trying unsuccessfully to start a family for two or more years, or if they have had 12 or more unsuccessful rounds of artificial insemination.

Approximately 81 per cent of participants surveyed by Apricity considered giving up treatment while 39 per cent only went through two of the three cycles needed for full treatment due to financial pressure.

The study also showed that 57 per cent of patients did not understand the true financial costs at stake before starting treatment.

Almost two thirds said they would expect their employer to cover these costs, either in full or part, and 82 per cent said they would only consider working for an employer that offered fertility benefits if they were looking to do IVF again. 

Fertility treatment is a significant time commitment, which can take up months of a patient’s life.

While 84 per cent of respondents had to take time off during treatment, more than a third (38 per cent) took this time off under annual leave and a further 16 per cent took no time off at all.

Additionally, 62 per cent of UK responders found fertility treatment just as, if not more stressful than losing their job, with half of them finding it just as if not more stressful than the bereavement of a close loved one.

“With the private sector taking up the vast majority of the UK fertility market and the NHS under massive strain, more people are looking to their employers to step up and support them on their fertility journey both financially and with flexible working,” said Caroline Noublanche, founder and CEO of Apricity.

“This is currently much more common in the US, where 81 per cent of the best workplaces are providing reimbursement for fertility treatments compared to just 17 per cent already in place in the UK.

“At Apricity we’re working to make the fertility journey as smooth and stress-free as possible, and have already partnered with some of the largest UK employers, insurers and employee benefit platforms including Axa PPP, Reward Gateway and Mercer Marsh, and we expect more to join us offering fertility benefits.

“We try to remove a lot of the disruption for patients and employers alike by significantly reducing the number of visits to the clinic.”

She added: “If more employers supported the process and more clinics used new technology solutions, we’d be able to collectively better manage the process and reduce the stigma.”

The study also found that fertility treatment is likely to have negative consequences for both romantic and personal relationships, with 80 per cent of couples saying it caused friction in their relationship.

Half  of respondents chose no to tell friends/family about their IVF treatments, with shame and embarrassment cited as the main reason.


Labcorp launches screening test to identify preeclampsia risk sooner

The new screening tool is capable of assessing the risk of preeclampsia sooner, the test maker says



Labcorp has launched a screening test that can assess the risk of preeclampsia before 34 weeks of pregnancy.

Preeclampsia is a high blood pressure disorder that can develop during pregnancy or postpartum and is a leading cause of maternal morbidity and mortality worldwide.

Roughly one in 25 pregnancies in the US is affected by preeclampsia, which poses an even greater risk for non-Hispanic black women, who experience the condition at a 60 per cent higher rate compared to white women.

In January, Labcorp announced the launch and availability of an FDA-cleared blood test for risk assessment and clinical management of severe preeclampsia during the second and third trimesters.

The first trimester test uses four early pregnancy biomarkers to provide a risk assessment with up to 90 per cent sensitivity, nearly twice the sensitivity of assessing typical maternal history or biophysical factors alone.

According to Labcorp, the test results provide risk identification earlier than traditional symptoms, such as hypertension or protein in the urine, which tend to develop around 20 weeks gestation.

Eleni Tsigas, chief executive officer of the Preeclampsia Foundation, said: “Our organisation celebrates this innovative new test offering.

“Research shows that patients and providers want access to more tools that better predict progression to preeclampsia, especially for those patients with low- to average-risk or those with first-time pregnancies for whom there is some uncertainty.”

Dr Brian Caveney, chief medical and scientific officer at Labcorp, added: “Labcorp is committed to advancing maternal and foetal health through innovative diagnostic and screening solutions.

“This new first trimester blood test is another significant milestone in our mission to improve health and improve lives. By giving healthcare providers another tool to assess preeclampsia risk in their pregnant patients with objective biomarkers, we’re helping to advance prenatal care and improve outcomes for mothers and their babies.”

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People with HIV can be sperm and egg donors

A change in law will allow people with non-transmissible HIV in the UK to donate gametes to partners



Same-sex couples with non-transmissible HIV will now be able to donate eggs or sperm and become parents.

People with HIV will able to donate their sperm or eggs to their partners, as the law in the UK is updated.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act will be amended via a statutory instrument to allow people with non-transmissible HIV – with a viral load low enough not to pass on – to donate eggs or sperm, known as gametes, as part of fertility treatment to their partners.

Under current rules on IVF, only a male partner with HIV can give their sperm to their female partner and not to anyone else.

The law change will also eliminate extra screening costs for female same-sex couples undertaking reciprocal IVF treatment.

The government says this is part of wider work to improve access to IVF for everyone and ensure same-sex couples have the same rights as a man and woman when trying to conceive.

“These changes will allow more people to fulfil their dream of becoming parents,” said UK health minister, Maria Caulfield.

“We have changed the law to ensure equality for people living with HIV when accessing IVF, allowing them to donate their eggs and sperm.

“In addition, the change will allow female same-sex couples to access IVF with no extra screening costs, the same as heterosexual couples.”

She added: “These changes will help create a fairer system by removing barriers to accessing fertility care as we have set out in the Women’s Health Strategy.”

The changes to the law will allow people with HIV to donate their gametes to family, friends and known recipients.

The regulations include an updated definition of partner donation to enable female same-sex couples wishing to donate eggs to each other to undergo the same testing requirements as heterosexual couples.

Under current rules, female same-sex couples hoping to conceive via reciprocal IVF must first go through screening for syphilis and genetic screening, such as cystic fibrosis, which can cost over £1,000, while heterosexual couples do not need to undergo this screening.

Julia Chain, chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), said: “The HFEA welcomes the news that legislation regarding partner donation in relation to reciprocal IVF, and gamete donation from those who have HIV with an undetectable viral load, has now been proposed in Parliament.

“Fertility treatment is helping more people than ever to create their family, and everyone undergoing fertility treatment should be treated fairly.

“For known donation from individuals with undetectable HIV, we anticipate that the first clinics may be able to begin to offer this treatment around 3 months following a change in the law.

“We encourage any patients or donors who may be affected by these changes to visit the HFEA website to find out free and impartial information, including about how to choose a fertility clinic.”

Minister for equalities, Stuart Andrew MP, added: “Treatment for HIV has improved significantly, saving countless lives, but the stigma surrounding it persists – a stigma which often prevents people from getting tested and seeking treatment.

“These changes will help to reduce that stigma, making it clear that people with HIV can live full and happy lives. I am delighted by these changes which will enable more people to experience the joy of becoming parents.”

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Portfolia invests total of US$65m into women’s health companies

The platform has invested in 47 femtech start-ups to date



Trish Costello, founder and CEO of Portfolia

The US venture investing platform Portfolia has announced it has invested a total of US$65m into women’s health companies and solutions.

Portfolia aims to create, educate and support the largest community of women investors in the world.

The company says it was amongst the first to recognise the “immense” potential of women’s wealth, with women’s health at the forefront.

To date, Portfolia has made investments in 112 companies with 47 of those women’s health companies being femtech and active aging specific.

Some of these include Madison Reed, Maven, Everly Health, Bone Health, Veana, Your Choice, Future Family, Willow, Hey Jane, Lighthouse Pharma, L-Nutra and JoyLux.

The total companies Portfolia has invested in are estimated to serve over 102 million customers in 115 countries worldwide.

These companies have a combined value of over US$17bn, with over US$1bn in revenue and 10,000 employees worldwide.

According to Portfolia, almost 70 per cent of these businesses are led by female CEOs, and 49 per cent are led by BIPOC individuals.

“At Portfolia, we believe in the power of activating our wealth for returns and impact,” said Trish Costello, founder and CEO of Portfolia.

“Today, women in the United States have unprecedented access to wealth – with over US$25tn of wealth in the US and almost 50 per cent of it owned by women.

“This wealth is power – power to create financial change and invest in the companies and businesses that matter to us and meet our needs/desires.”

She added: “Our commitment goes beyond traditional venture capital – we’re pioneering change, saving lives, and creating opportunities for all, while creating the most powerful community of women investors globally, and the first to activate our wealth to shape the future of healthcare.”

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