Back in June last year I blogged about the scary statistic (quoted by Dr Marilyn Glanville in a presentation at a McCarrison Society conference) that at least 25% of couples trying to have a baby will have difficulty in conceiving. (Dr Glanville went on to outline pre-conceptual lifestyle and nutritional measures that could dramaticallty reduce this number – see a brief report on her presentation here.)
But although the fertility crisis appears to be getting worse, pre-conceptual care is not new. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Nim Barnes, the redoubtable founder of the charity Foresight which has, since 1978 been helping couples who were having difficulty in conceiving. (Foresight’s programme of of lifestyle changes and nutritional supplementation is very similar to that recommended by Dr Glanville.)
However, to emphasise how greatly needed these programmes are, Foresight have just completed and published a survey of the experience of those couples who consulted them between 2002 and 2009. I reproduce some of the results below, not so much as a paen of praise to Foresight – although it is – but as scary window on how low the success rates for IVF (In vitro fertilisation), IUI (Intrauterine insemination) and ICSI (Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection) are, despite the fairly horrendous procedures the treatments require.
General estimates of the success of IVF and IUI procedures population wide:
IVF & ICSI: Women under 35 – approximately 33% achieve live births but the success rate drops to 1.9% over 45.
IUI: Women under 35 – approximately 16% achieve live births with the success rate dropping to nil over 45.
Of the 3,411 couples who had tried IVF and subsequently consulted Foresight (between 2002 and 2009), 3,004 had failed and 407 had managed to conceive.
Of the 2,545 couples who had tried IUI and subsequently consulted Foresight (between 2002 and 2009), 2,383 had failed and 162 had managed to conceive.
Of the 1,292 couples who had tried ICSI and subsequently consulted Foresight (between 2002 and 2009), 1,081 had failed and 211 had managed to conceive.
Between them they had suffered 8,939 miscarriages (over one per couple); the national rate for miscarriage is 25%.
Couples who completed the full Foresight programme:
Of the 1,578 couples who completed the full programme , 1,427 (89%) had successful live births including 37 sets of twins and 3 sets of triplets. There were only 42 (2.96%) miscarriages and only 2 babies were premature.
Couples who did part of the Foresight programme but did not complete it:
Of the 518 couples who did part of the programme but did not complete it, 358 (69%) had successful live births including 52 sets of twins. There were 39 (7.53%) miscarriages.