Record numbers of Brits are having IVF with the rise fuelled by surrogates and same-sex couples

RECORD numbers of Brits are having IVF with the rise fuelled by same-sex couples, single women and surrogates, figures show.

Treatment in the UK is also safer and more successful than ever, with fewer multiple births and higher pregnancy rates.

Some 54,760 patients had 75,425 fertility treatments in 2017, including egg freezing, IVF and donor sperm insemination.

The fertility regulator said women in heterosexual relationships accounted for 68,380 of these – up 2 per cent on the year before.

But the rise among surrogates was 22 per cent, female same-sex relationships 12 per cent and single women 4 per cent.

Egg freezing, which is used by women wanting to delay having a child or due to cancer treatment, is the fastest growing treatment type.

There was a 10 per cent jump in these cycles over the year, with the process most common among women aged over 35.


The number of IVF cycles alone increased by 2.5 per cent between 2016 and 2017 and resulted in 20,500 babies being born.

The average age of an IVF patient has risen from 33.5 in 1991 to 35.5 in 2017, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority said.

Success rates continue to improve, with the average birth rate for women of all ages using their own eggs reaching 22 per cent.

And frozen eggs are now just as effective fresh, giving hope to those women who hope to preserve their fertility.

Multiple births– the single biggest health risk from IVF– have reached an all-time low of 10 per cent, a sharp decline from 24 per cent in 2008.


HFEA chair Sally Cheshire said: “We are seeing a gradual change in the reasons why people use fertility treatments, which were originally developed to help heterosexual couples with infertility problems.

“While the increases in same-sex couples, single women and surrogates having fertility treatment are small, this reflects society’s changing attitudes towards family creation, lifestyles and relationships and highlights the need for the sector to continue to evolve and adapt.”

The NHS funded 62 per cent of fertility treatment cycles in Scotland but just 35 per cent in England, the HFEA annual trends report shows.

Dr Jane Stewart, chair of the British Fertility Society, said: “While uptake rises, the availability of NHS funding continues to fall.

“Infertility is a real disease, recognised by the World Health Organisation, and it should be treated just the same as any other.

“The reality is that infertility has been side-lined and that represents a false economy.

“The costs to the NHS of not treating infertility are significant, particularly in regard to the impact of infertility on mental health.”

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