A central London fertility clinic is offering an IVF treatment package in return for patients signing up to a health and lifestyle improvement programme, which will require patients to stop smoking, drinking, and lose weight if necessary prior to commencing IVF treatment.
The treatment package - 'IVF Plus' - offered by Bridge clinic in turn will include all tests, scans and drugs, four months of folic acid supplements, counselling and stress relief, optional acupuncture, and a free second cycle of treatment should the first fail. IVF Plus costs just £4500. Furthermore, this package will include IVF treatment via the ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) method, where an individual sperm is actually injected into the egg cell, rather than being mixed with the egg in a dish. ICSI is more expensive and is generally only used when the male partner has fertility problems.
At present, only patients with a good chance of success are being offered this treatment package. In order to be eligible for IVF Plus patients must be under 36 and of a healthy weight, not have experienced a failed IVF cycle or miscarriage, and both partners must be free of infectious diseases. However, after analysing the results of the first 50 treatments, Bridge clinic intends to revise and extend the programme to include those with a lower chance of success, such as older patients and patients facing other fertility problems
The medical director of the Bridge clinic, Dr Mohamed Menabawey, commented that IVF Plus 'is a contract between the patient and us. The technology can go so far but the patient has to play their part.' He added: 'They have to agree to improve their lifestyle, stop smoking, stop drinking and lose weight if they need to and to undergo stress management. It is to make sure they are in the best shape they can be mentally and physically. We are very confident we will see good results.'
This approach is encouraged by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), in particular as it outlines the total cost to patients at the beginning of embarking on treatment. The cost of a cycle of IVF treatment can begin at £4000 and exceed £8000 and statistics show that between one in four and one in five cycles are successful. Bridge clinic's initiative in developing this package goes some way to addressing the issue of cost, as well as previous concerns over the lower chances of successful IVF treatment for women who are overweight.