Sixty-two percent of private IVF patients paid 'more than they expected' for treatment, according to the first national patient survey by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
The UK fertility regulator released annual statistics showing that 60 percent of IVF cycles are now privately funded and that 74 percent of patients over the past two years paid for one or more 'add-on' treatments, up from 66 percent in the previous two years.
'Patients often feel pressure to opt for add-ons and many are understandably keen to explore every option to improve their chances of having a baby, but such treatments should only be offered where there is proof they work' said the HFEA's Chair, Sally Cheshire.
Add-ons can vary from so-called 'embryo glue', or scratching the uterine lining to encourage implantation, to alternative therapies such as acupuncture.
Over 1000 patients were surveyed across the UK and including those whose treatment was NHS funded, and those paying privately.
The proportion of privately-funded cycles is rising as Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) cut funding for IVF on the NHS (see BioNews 973). Only 11 percent of CCGs now offer the three cycles recommended by NICE (the figure was 16 percent a year ago).
Overall, 75 percent of patients said they were satisfied with their treatment, meaning one quarter felt they had had an unsatisfactory treatment experience. These figures were similar whether treatment was NHS-funded or when the patients themselves were paying.