Fifteen embryos are made for every woman conceiving through in vitro fertilisation, and almost half of them are discarded during or after the process, new figures have revealed.
According to the shocking revelation, over 1.7million embryos prepared with the aim of helping women become pregnant have been thrown away since records began 21 years ago.
The figures on the use of human embryos were gathered by the fertility industry regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which has recorded IVF processes since 1991, the Daily Mail reported.
Embryos are created from female eggs and male sperm during the IVF process. Some are then introduced into the womb of the prospective mother. Others, however, are put into storage, discarded as unwanted, or, in some cases, used in scientific experiments.
The figures released by Health Minister Lord Howe show that 3,546,818 human embryos have been created since August 1991. These have produced only 235,480 'gestational sacs' – evidence of successful implantation.
As a result, 93 per cent of all embryos created – more than 3.3 million in all – are never used to generate a pregnancy.
Of the embryos created, 839,325 were put into storage for future use and 2,071 were stored for donation to others. A further 5,876 were set aside for scientific research.
In all, 1,388,443 embryos were implanted in the hope of beginning pregnancies. Just under one in six resulted in a pregnancy.
Of the rest, 1,691,090 were discarded unused and a further 23,480 were discarded after being taken out of storage.
The figures do not show how many of the successful implants resulted in pregnancies that went to term.