Vapers Denied IVF

Posted 3rd April 2018 by Dave Cross
Couples in certain regions of the UK who are desperate to have a baby have been hit with a blow if they are trying to give up smoking. Users of electronic cigarettes and nicotine patches are now denied In Vitro Fertilisation treatment (IVF) by sixteen NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

CCGs are groups made up of GPs, nurses, secondary care consultants and lay members. These groups are responsible for the management of 2/3s of the NHS England budget.

Milton Keynes CCG says: “Fertility problems are common in the UK and it is estimated that they affect one in seven couples. 84% of couples in the general population will conceive within one year if they do not use contraception and have regular sexual intercourse. Of those who do not conceive in the first year, about half will do so in the second year (cumulative pregnancy rate 92%). In 30% of infertility cases the cause cannot be identified.”

IVF is a process of fertilisation carried out by extracting eggs from an ovary, retrieving a sample of sperm, then manually combining the eggs and sperm in a laboratory dish. Any resulting embryos are then transferred to the uterus.

The NHS CCGs that have barred treatment to vapers and nicotine patch users:

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  • All ten CCGs across Greater Manchester
  • Crawley
  • Horsham and Mid-Sussex
  • Ipswich and East Sussex
  • West Suffolk
  • Milton Keynes
  • Nene in Northamptonshire

This leaves 101 other CCGs that stated they do not discriminate against those attempting to quit smoking because of a lack of definitive evidence. The Mail quotes two CCGs in Devon saying: “there was insufficient evidence currently to suggest nicotine replacement therapies or electronic cigarettes have a negative effect on fertility treatment so patients who use them should not be excluded from NHS treatment.”

Many forums, including Planet of the Vapes, include questions from propsective IVF candidates asking about the use of NRT and vape products.

Some are calling it that start of another “NHS postcode lottery”, and that the move is just a smoke screen excuse for cost cutting. Aileen Feeney, from the Fertility Network charity, said: “This is another example of how health bosses are trying to ration NHS fertility services by introducing arbitrary access criteria.”

Professor Peter Hajek is quoted as saying: “vapers use e-cigarettes to stop smoking”, and he warned that treating vapers as smokers risked sending pregnant women the wrong message that there is no point trying to switch to vaping.

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 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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