A recent investigation into vaping and IVF has revealed that access to free fertility treatment on the NHS is now being refused to those who vape or use nicotine patches. As more health authorities adopt this policy, couples are now finding it more difficult than ever before to receive fertility treatment.
Here, we’ll look at why couples are being refused fertility treatment on the NHS if they vape and what options are available.
Could it simply be a cost-cutting move?
The survey carried out for The Mail on Sunday, revealed 16 NHS authorities have started restricting fertility treatment for those who vape or use nicotine patches. These authorities are also referred to as Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).
The reason behind the restriction is said to be in place because any amount of nicotine can be harmful during pregnancy. However, some question whether it could simply be a cost-cutting move for the NHS. The results of the investigation come only days after GPs were advised to start informing their patients that vaping is healthier than smoking, by Public Health England.
The impact of vaping on fertility
As it stands, there is currently very little evidence to show whether or not vaping can impact fertility. However, some studies have shown that vaping can cause potential fertility issues in men. In a very small trial, samples were taken from 30 men and it showed those with high concentrations of flavourings had slower-moving sperm.
Some experts are also concerned the new policy could send out the wrong message to women. It could make them feel like switching from smoking to vaping isn’t a healthier option, when in fact it could be much healthier. The truth is, nobody really knows at this point, which is why restrictions are understandable.
It appears to be the lack of data available, which is causing somewhat of a postcode lottery when it comes to fertility policies. All 10 of the CCGs within Greater Manchester have adopted the policy, along with NHS West Suffolk, NHS Crawley, NHS Ipswich and North Sussex, NHS Horsham and Mid-Sussex, NHS Nene within Northamptonshire and NHS Milton Keynes.
Majority of CCGs have no plans to restrict treatment
A total of 117 CCGs were questioned in the survey and the majority (101) stated they had no e-cigarette restrictions in place. Many also had no plans to introduce them in the future. So, as it stands, the majority of couples will still be able to seek free treatment for the time being.
Those who no longer have access to NHS fertility treatment also have private fertility treatment options. IVF has advanced dramatically over the years, now boasting higher success rates than ever before.
Overall, these latest restrictions will no doubt impact many couples seeking fertility treatment. Of course, the healthiest thing to do is to quit smoking and vaping, but those who do vape do have private fertility treatment options available if they no longer qualify for free NHS treatment.