The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is the independent regulator of fertility treatment in the UK. The HFEA is committed to working with fertility centres and patients to reduce the health risks of multiple pregnancies from IVF treatment.
The aim of all fertility treatment should be the birth of a healthy, singleton baby. It is now no longer necessary to always transfer more than one embryo to achieve this.
For some patients having one embryo transferred will give you the best chance of having a healthy singleton pregnancy and dramatically reduce the risks of having a multiple pregnancy.
What is the HFEA policy?
In January 2009, following an expert group report and public consultation, the HFEA introduced the following policy to minimise the risk of multiple pregnancies:
The HFEA policy is supported by a wider national strategy, involving professional bodies, patient groups and NHS-funding bodies, to reduce the risk of multiple births from all fertility treatment.
What does this mean for me?
Your centre will discuss the risk of multiple births with you before you begin treatment. They will look at how likely you are to have a successful pregnancy and therefore how at risk you are from having a multiple pregnancy.
They will use criteria such as your age, whether you have had previous treatment or previous pregnancies, and the number and quality of embryos you have available to transfer.
If your centre thinks there is a high chance of you becoming pregnant, and therefore are most at risk of having a multiple pregnancy, they are likely to recommend you have a single embryo transferred.
The HFEA policy is not a ‘one-size-fits all’ approach. The HFEA does not set criteria for who should have single embryo transfer or make all patients have single embryo transfer. How many embryos to transfer is a clinical decision made on an individual basis by centres with each patient.
If you have further questions about the HFEA multiple births policy, please contact: Hannah Verdin, Senior Policy Manager firstname.lastname@example.org