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Vote results: NHS IVF debate

A review of NHS IVF treatment suggested that overweight women should be made to lose weight before qualifying. We wanted to know what you thought.

Posted: 17 October 2006
by Laura Lee Davies

Thanks to everyone who voted in our latest poll. We had the biggest number of replies ever, and the results changed dramatically over the past month.

We asked you
In a recent review, it was recommended that IVF treatment on the NHS should not be offered to fat women until they had lost weight. What do you think?

You said
At first, the 'I agree' response was overwhelmingly in the majority, but as hundreds more of you replied, the final outcome was that this opinion gained just over a quarter of the votes (26 per cent).
It is true that IVF is expensive, and that being overweight can affect many medical outcomes. However, being stressed or overworked can too, whatever weight you are.
Interestingly, 19 per cent of you did vote for 'Smoking etc, should also be factors in the access to NHS IVF', which acknowledges more than just the current trend to come down heavily on women who are overweight.
Eventually, the 'I agree' vote was shared with two very different views. The 'NHS should be equal for all' voters came in with 25 per cent of the votes, and 'It should be offered on a case by case basis' got 27 per cent of the vote.
Only 3 per cent felt that there should be no IVF treatment on the NHS.

In the forums over the past few months, we have noticed an increasing number of women who feel very down about their size when they are pregnant. (Women who got pregnant naturally, but who were large to begin with.) We have heard about women having to put up with barbed comments about their weight from midwives, at a time in a woman's life when she should be encouraged to feel strong and positive.
There are health issues to do with weight, but there are other lifestyle concerns which can affect conception, pregnancy and birth. If we narrowed down everything to statistics to calculate the optimum birth experience, perhaps we would only be left with women aged 21 having babies! There is an argument for reducing further IVF treatment currently given to women who simply 'put motherhood on hold' until their 30s. Once you start ruling people out, where do you stop?
However, whilst the language of the NHS has become increasingly 'nanny state', all men and women do have to buy into the collective future health of the UK.

Thanks for your comments on this subject, and do get in touch with us if you want to raise more comments on this or other issues.

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