Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authorisation (HFEA) and your fertility journey

Published: 24/10/2022

How Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authorisation (HFEA) works and how it impacts your fertility journey.

HFEA and How it Impacts Your Fertility Journey

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authorisation (HFEA ) is the United Kingdom’s independent regulator on behalf of the government for fertility treatment and research using human embryos.

The HFE Act requires that all assisted conception treatment is completely confidential. Fertility clinics will not disclose any information about your treatment without your written consent. 

All data collected by the HFEA is for improvement of services rendered, and for decisions made on the best evidence for the public's best interest.

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authorisation (HFEA)

The goal of the HFEA is for every person who enters a fertility clinic, and every person who is born because of treatment, to receive high-quality care. 

They do this by licensing, monitoring, and inspecting fertility clinics, and providing free, unbiased information about fertility treatments, clinics, and the donation of eggs, sperm, and embryos. 

They also gather information on fertility treatments. This knowledge is essential for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it enables people who were created via a donor to identify more about their genetic heritage.

The HFEA ensures that all fertility clinics and research centres must comply with the regulations, and all clinics must have a licence to practice in the UK. With inspections every two years, fertility clinics need to fulfil all requirements to a very high standard to maintain a licence. 

This is good for the patients that walk through the door for fertility treatment since they are aware that the clinic adheres to strict policies and procedures. The HFEA also regulates consent for treatment, disclosure of information, storing of eggs, sperm and embryos, donation, and surrogacy; this also includes the withdrawal of consent.

Fertility statistics from all UK clinics are published on the HFEA website, with information on how to choose a clinic and how to prepare for each appointment. 

How HFEA protects those going through fertility treatment 

The HFEA also safeguard the individual undergoing fertility treatment to complain when things go wrong during treatment and have a rating system for all clinics. Because with feedback and complaints, clinics strive to do better, and this act makes patients feel safe whilst in treatment. 

The HFEA encourages all patients to undergo counselling before, during, or after fertility treatment. The emotional wellbeing of individuals is important because fertility treatment is such an emotional process.

The HFEA website discusses different fertility treatment options either IVF/IUI, including what the treatment entails, including fertility medication and laboratory processes.

The HFEA website also directs individuals that need surrogacy to organisations that assist in finding a surrogate, outlining costs and risks involved. Ensuring that the individual is aware of the legal issues faced with surrogacy. The HFEA partners with many organisations to establish a smoother pathway for individuals to consider surrogacy.

The HFEA ensures that all egg, sperm, and embryo recipients sign consent forms and advise potential parents that they may request non-identifying information about the donor. 

The HFEA encourages couples to tell children if they have been born as a result of egg, sperm, or embryo donation, as everyone has the right to know something of their biological origins. 

Children born as a result of egg/sperm or embryo donation can request non-identifying information when they reach the age of sixteen, and identifying information when they reach the age of eighteen from the HFEA.

HEFA and fertility clinics

The HFEA also outlines which clinics offer add-on’s/optional treatments. Alongside these, the HFEA publishes up-to-date data with randomised controlled trials showing whether these optional treatments give a person a higher chance of pregnancy. They also discuss the safety of add-ons and when it’s appropriate to use an add-on treatment. They advise no add-ons will be carried out if no consent form is signed.

Any research conducted by clinics needs to have permission from the HFEA which provides a very strong protection of the patient, donor, recipient, and offspring confidentiality

The HFEA needs to be informed about all babies born via fertility treatment, this is a legal requirement for all fertility clinics to fulfil. 

Overall the HFEA works in the best interest of the public, making sure all fertility clinics work within the law, safeguarding the patient, and maintaining a duty of care for that patient and offspring, assuring individuals that anonymity is guaranteed with research. 

All information on the HFEA website is free to access, and they are easily contactable via their contact page on the website.

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