Campaigners hope to implement a new law that will mean women having IVF treatment can be protected from unnecessarily high drug protocols that can cause life threatening condition, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome(OHSS)
MP Siobhan McDonagh will bring the second reading of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Welfare of Women) Bill forward in Parliament on Friday as part of the Safer and Better IVF campaign.
Siobhan said: “As we mark 40 years of IVF, it is high time that we ensured the protection and welfare of tens of thousands of women each year.”
Campaigners, who include Professor Geeta Nargund, founder of CREATE Fertility, which practises mild and natural forms of IVF, want to ensure the impact on the drugs prescribed to women during IVF treatment is properly monitored, as at present there is no centralised way of collecting data, amend disclosure rules specific to fertility treatment and ensure routine data links between IVF treatment (data held by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) and hospital, cancer, birth and death registries.
Without these databases being permanently linked, it is very difficult to build accurate knowledge on the short and long-term impact IVF on the growing number of women undergoing treatment.
They also want added commitment in law to safeguard the welfare of women preparing for and undergoing IVF treatment.
Protecting women having future IVF treatment
One person who has been directly affected by a high drug protocol is Lee Cowden, who has started a petition to protect women in the future.
She had a horrific experience due to high doses of IVF drugs and almost died as a result.
Here she explains: “At 25 I had a heart attack as a result of a blood clot brought on by high doses of IVF drugs. I almost died. Thankfully I survived and now have two wonderful little girls as a result of IVF.
“Undergoing IVF treatment, in which I had four failed rounds and one successful, has given me the greatest joy in my life. But, a high drug dosage in my second treatment brought me close to death due to severe Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS). I am not alone. Last year, many other women undergoing IVF treatment suffered from moderate to severe OHSS.
“But, OHSS is wholly preventable. I want the government to better protect women undergoing IVF treatment. I want the process to be safer and for the sector to have better access to data – so that more women can be helped and succeed.”
What is OHSS?
OHSS occurs when the ovaries overstimulate and produce too many eggs due to the drugs protocol used during an IVF treatment cycle.
Symptoms in more mild cases include a swollen belly, nausea and pain in the abdomen, more several cases can require a stay in hospital as the extra fluid can cause problems in other organs, such as the kidney, liver and lungs.
IVF babble co-founder, Sara Marshall-Page suffered with severe OHSS with her final round of IVF, which resulted in the birth of her twins.
She said: “I still have vivid memories of when I had OHSS and I don’t think they will ever leave me. It really was sheer hell – I felt so poorly and was in hospital for several days.
“IVF babble fully support this campaign and Lee’s petition and we want all our readers and followers to get on board and get involved.”
Lee has created a petition and hopes to gain the 100,000 signatures needed for the matter to be debated in parliament.
To register your support on social media use the hashtag #SaferIVF and tag @Siobhan_MP
To sign the petition, click here
Have you suffered with OHSS? We’d love to tell your story, email us firstname.lastname@example.org