Why I Decided to Join Béa Fertility
After a wonderful 3 and a half years as an investor at Forward Partners, I’ve decided to move on to Béa Fertility where I will be joining as Chief Medical Officer. I’ve loved my time at Forward dearly and will be staying close to the fund as I transition to a role as Health Tech Advisor. (Founders you can still reach me at email@example.com).
As well as being incredibly excited to join the team at Béa I wanted to share 6 reasons why I’m obsessed with solving this problem (although there are many more).
From the Patients’ Perspective
1. It’s harder to get pregnant than sex education makes you think
Sex education makes you think little more than a wry glance at a member of the opposite sex will result in pregnancy. This is certainly not the case! In fact, couples are often surprised when they start trying for a family that it doesn’t happen straight away. Unfortunately infertility (not being able to conceive within 1 year — WHO definition) is extremely common:
- 1 in 7 couples will experience infertility, which equates to an estimated:
- 3.5m people in the UK currently experiencing infertility (1)
- 48m people globally currently experiencing infertility (2)
2. It’s expensive to get pregnant if you need to pay for it
Unfortunately, the cost of fertility treatment is still prohibitively high for most people. For people in the UK, the NHS doesn’t fund the majority of IVF treatment cycles and in the US most private insurers don’t cover fertility treatments. This leaves families in a difficult emotional and financial position:
- In England, the NHS only funds a third of IVF cycles (3)
- The average cost of fertility tests and treatments in the UK is almost £12k (4)
- The average cost of having a baby via IVF in the US is $61k (5)
3. Waiting for fertility treatments makes infertility worse
For women fertility rates decline rapidly with age as they reach their mid-30s. However, to be eligible for NHS-funded treatment couples must prove they have been trying to conceive naturally for a required amount of time. This means women use up valuable time while the (biological) clock is ticking:
- 70% of CCGs require couples to have been trying to conceive for over 2 years
- 13% of CCGs require couples to have been trying to conceive for 3 years
4. If you experience it, infertility may be ‘the most upsetting event’ of your life
Startup rhetoric tells you to solve painful problems. Infertility may be the most painful problem there is for women who experience it and a number of men.
- 50% of women with infertility describe it as the most upsetting experience of their lives (6)
- 15% of men described infertility to be the most upsetting experience of their lives (6)
From a Societal Perspective
5. Societal trends mean infertility will likely continue to rise
Millennials and Gen-Z are delaying family planning partly as more women look to build their careers before having kids. However for women fertility declines rapidly with advancing age.
- The average age of first-time mothers has gone from 21 to 26. (7)
6. Sub replacement fertility rates have serious global economic impacts*
Sub replacement fertility rates, which is defined as each woman having less than an average of 2.1 children, cause changes to population demographics. This creates problems, including slow economic growth, a bigger proportion of old people for the state to support and a shrinking labour workforce.
- Half of the world’s people live in countries with sub-replacement fertility rates (8)
- Sub replacement fertility rates reduce the labour workforce and cause an aging population (9)
Béa provides an evidence-based at-home fertility treatment called intracervical insemination (ICI). It is available at a more affordable price point than fertility clinics and doesn’t require a referral from a doctor which means women may choose to use it while waiting to qualify for NHS treatments.
- The efficacy of ICI has been shown to be comparable to intrauterine insemination (IUI)
- Béa costs £300 per cycle which includes two treatments vs nearly £2000 for a single cycle of IUI
- Is delivered in the comfort and privacy of your own home
- Gives couples another option while waiting to qualify for NHS treatments
Alongside the Béa device we support women on their fertility journey through the Béa app. This includes expert-approved fertility information and education to help you optimise your chances of conceiving as well as access to specialist care and advice.
If you’d like to help us create Béa you can trial the app or product here. If you’re interested in working for Béa or are interested in the space you can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Fertility Network UK. https://fertilitynetworkuk.org/
- Infertility Fact Sheet, WHO. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/infertility
- Fertility treatment 2018: trends and figures, HFEA https://www.hfea.gov.uk/about-us/publications/research-and-data/fertility-treatment-2018-trends-and-figures/
- Costs of infertility treatment: Results from an 18-month prospective cohort study. Patricia Katz, PhD et al. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3043157/pdf/nihms253376.pdf
- Psychological evaluation and support in a program of in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer. E W Freeman et al. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3965315/
- The Economist. https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2021/04/29/how-can-countries-such-as-china-tackle-falling-birth-rates
- The Economist. https://www.economist.com/asia/2013/11/18/from-baby-boom-to-bust
*A reduction in the fertility rate from a high number, such as in 1960 when Asia’s average fertility was 5.8, is associated with higher standards of education; higher living standards; and somewhat greater female autonomy (women can go to work rather than spend all their time nurturing children). However, problems emerge when populations fall below replacement rates as discussed above.