UK Fertility Regulator Introduces Ratings System for Treatment "Add-Ons"


A new ratings system from the UK fertility regulator aims to provide clarity on the effectiveness of optional "add-ons" offered to patients undergoing fertility treatment. This move comes in response to concerns that clinics are offering unproven treatments at significant costs.

Experts emphasize the importance of clinics offering transparent information regarding costs and success rates for such add-ons, in order to assist patients in making informed decisions about their private fertility treatment.

Support groups, including Fertility Network UK, welcome the introduction of the new Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) ratings system. This system employs five different colors to denote the level of evidence supporting the effectiveness of a particular add-on in increasing the likelihood of a successful pregnancy, ranging from green (high evidence) to red (low evidence).

Notable examples listed include:

- Pre-implantation genetic testing for aneuploidy (PGT-A), which involves testing a cell from the embryo for chromosomal abnormalities - rated red.

- Endometrial scratching, a procedure intended to stimulate the body's repair response at the scratch site, potentially enhancing the receptivity of the womb lining for embryo implantation - rated amber.

- Immunological tests - rated red.

Fertility Network UK advises patients to carefully review all provided information before making treatment decisions, noting that none of the listed add-ons on the regulator's website received a green rating.

Prof. Tim Child, Chair of the HFEA Scientific and Clinical Advances Advisory Committee, highlights that while certain treatment add-ons may hold potential benefits for specific patient groups, the majority may find more rounds of established treatment to be more effective.

Dr. Catherine Hill, Head of Policy at Fertility Network UK, acknowledges the challenging decisions patients face when considering costly fertility treatment add-ons and underscores the importance of informed choices.

The HFEA emphasizes that patients should not be kept in the dark about the potential benefits and risks of treatment add-ons. Add-ons lacking robust evidence of safety or efficacy should only be offered as part of research studies.

Peter Thompson, Chief Executive of the HFEA, stresses that clinics must provide patients with clear information about the nature of any treatment add-on, its likelihood of enhancing successful pregnancy outcomes, associated costs, and direct links to the HFEA ratings system.