Official figures released by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has shown that fewer twins and triplets are being born through IVF.
Why? In 2007 the fertility authority introduced new guidelines for fertility clinics aimed at reducing the number of IVF multiple births, with a target of just 15% by April 2012. New figures show it continues to fall, with the biggest decrease in multiple pregnancies in women under 35 years of age.
Fertility clinics, both NHS and private, have actively been working to achieve the target by transferring only one embryo per cycle in good IVF prognosis patients, known as Single Embryo Transfer (SET).
From the HFEA results, SET is working – and crucially, without affecting the overall success rate for IVF treatment.
This is great news. Multiple births present a great deal of serious health risks for both mother and baby, including prematurity and a higher chance of miscarriage. The HFEA was right to act to reduce twin and triplet numbers from IVF.
Because IVF isn’t designed to be the golden ticket to a large family in one go. Our aim is always a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby at the end of it, not twins or triplets.
Whether this is achieved through SET or multiple embryo transfer depends on a number of factors, such as your age, medical history and embryo quality.
For example, if you’re a younger woman, and there’s a good chance of IVF working, then SET is the right choice. But if you’re an older woman, multiple embryo transfer is still the best option because your age affects your chances of getting pregnant.
What you must always remember is that dependent on your age and medical history, transferring one embryo does not limit your chances of success if the embryo is of high quality. Under the new SET guidelines, the HFEA has confirmed that overall success rates for IVF have been maintained.
And if there are multiple good quality embryos, these can be frozen and stored for future use so you can try and have more children, meaning there would be no need to go through ovarian stimulation and egg collection again.
Your fertility consultant should always discuss your options with you.