Opposition to cutting vasectomies and IVF for men in Bath & North East Somerset

08/11/17 . News

The Men's Health Forum has condemned the proposals to cut reproductive health services for men and women by Bath and North East Somerset CCG - including, for what we believe to be the first time, a proposal to cut access to IVF for couples where the man has a BMI > 30.

The proposals include:

  1. Stopping funding male vasectomies and female sterilisations except in exceptional circumstances.
  2. Changing access to fertility treatment so that couples where the man is over 55 or has a BMI of over 30 don’t qualify

Details are available via http://www.bathandnortheastsomersetccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/project/fertility-treatment-sterilisation-consultation

Chief Executive, Martin Tod, commented:

We’re strongly opposed to these proposals.  It’s a false economy to cut the options available to men to support their family planning and reproductive health.

When weight management services in the Bath & North East Somerset areas are working so poorly for men, we’re particularly strongly opposed to the proposal to require men to lose weight before couples are supported for IVF.  Even though men are the majority of people who are overweight or obese, the way local weight management services are designed means that men are less than a quarter of those using them.

It's also unacceptable that the full range of family planning options will only become available to families who are better off and can afford to go privately.  The problems of unwanted pregnancy and the sadness of involuntary childlessness don’t just affect people with money: everyone needs to have access to the choices they need - not just the young, slim or rich.

The Health Survey for England estimated that in 2015 around 24% of men in the South West had a BMI of over 30.

In a 2017 FOI request by the Men's Health Forum, Bath & North East Somerset Council reported that, in 2016/17, approximately 16% of 632 participants in council sponsored weight management programmes with Slimming World and Weight Watchers were men. In 2015/16, 25% of the 130 people referred to their GP Counterweight programme were men - with a similar proportion reported for 2016/17.  The gender split on the Counterweight programme delivered by Girona Healthcare was not measured.

The Men's Health Forum guide 'How to make weight management services work for men' is available online for free download.