Fertility in the news
29th April 2019
Every month we’ll bring you a round up of the most important fertility news from the UK and around the world.
The latest news about fertility – April 2019
Fertility Fest 2019
The worlds of art and fertility are once again colliding for Fertility Fest 2019. This Spring, The Barbican plays host to this unique art festival, the brainchild of Gabby Vautier and Jessica Hepburn. Art producers Gabby and Jessica have both experienced fertility issues. The festival is their way of helping people navigate this difficult topic through creative exploration. From film screenings to art exhibitions, the festival’s diverse program is all aimed at opening up the conversation around fertility. The May events schedule includes panel discussions on career and motherhood and a modern families workshop. You can also catch the incredible Maxine Peake in Avalanche, a play that explores one woman’s journey through IVF treatment.
Transgender fertility rules
The NHS has finally made a decision surrounding the new rules on transgender fertility services. However, the longstanding battle between the NHS and equality watchdog reached somewhat of a stalemate in victory. Following a long campaign by trans rights activists, there are now new rules to protect trans people from discrimination. Refusal to offer fertility treatments to people transitioning will be now need to be strongly justified. Failure to do this could lead to the decision being challenged in court. However, campaigners for trans rights are still left disappointed as it was ruled that offering these services is not compulsory. Trans people often decide to extract and store their eggs and sperm before they begin their transition. This means they can have their own biological children later in life. The ruling has shed a light on an important issue and is an extension of the conversation surrounding fertility fairness.
An uplifting fertility news story: Presenter pregnant after battle with endometriosis
Sky Sports presenter Hayley McQueen has announced she is pregnant following a long struggle with endometriosis. The reporter, 39 , believed she would never conceive naturally. However, on the day she was due to start IVF treatment she found out she was pregnant! Hayley will welcome her baby with partner Kirk Newmann this Spring. She shared on her Instagram:
‘I hope me and my one working ovary, declining follicles and hormones can be of some hope for others who are struggling.
Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women in the UK and is one of the key issues behind female infertility. The condition leads to womb tissue growing outside the uterus which causes scar tissue that can affect reproductive organs. As the severity of the scar tissue increases, the chances of a detrimental effect on natural conception also get higher. However, as Hayley’s story proves, there is room for optimism, even for those suffering from extreme cases of endometriosis. Congratulations Hayley and Kirk!
Latest Developments and news about fertility treatments
Breakthrough in Male Infertility
There has been a breakthrough in research surrounding the complex area of male infertility. Scientists at Newcastle University have discovered a gene that holds the key to understanding why some men can’t conceive. The 10 year international study has discovered the role of the RBMXL2 gene. The previously unexplained gene is responsible for effective sperm production, so men lacking it would have difficulty having children naturally.
Male infertility is a poorly understood topic, and this study helps us to understand why some men might become infertile.
said Professor David Elliott who led the research. The discovery marks important progress that could aid future fertility treatments, and help many couples suffering from unexplained fertility.
Three Person Baby Born in Greece
A baby boy was born in Greece earlier this month, following a controversial IVF treatment. The experimental procedure involves the combination of sperm with two eggs from different women. Whilst the baby is primarily genetically linked to both the mother and the father, the donor egg is brought in to negate the effects of mitochondrial diseases. Mitochondria are tiny parts of each cell responsible for converting food to energy. This part of the cell is rendered defective in people who suffer from mitochondrial diseases. This can lead to difficulties in pregnancy – the mother of the baby had previously had four failed rounds of IVF. The success of the procedure will no doubt give hope to other women struggling with mitochondrial diseases. However, there are some groups that question the ethics of a baby created with three people’s DNA. .
AI optimises IVF Treatments
Artificial intelligence is fast becoming part of our everyday lives. Our phones can read our minds and our emails can reply of their own accord. Now AI is making its mark in fertility treatments. The revolutionary approach by Weill Cornell Medicine investigators takes time lapse photos of 5 day old in vitro fertilized embryos. An AI algorithm is then trained to analyse the pictures and differentiate between poor and good embryo quality. With sufficient, training the algorithm, aptly named Stork, is able to predict whether an embryo is viable with 97% accuracy. The breakthrough in reproductive technology will be able to improve the chances of successful IVF treatment and reduce the risk of multiple pregnancies.