After U.K. laws were changed to prevent women from donating eggs anonymously, waiting lists for fertility treatment involving donated eggs have risen in Britain. New English research shows that the national shortage is the main reason why couples go abroad for fertility treatment. Almost 50% of British “fertility tourists” go to Spain, where anonymity is still allowed, and donors are given generous compensation.
The study was lead by De Montfort University, and carried out on the behalf of the Economic and Social Research Council in England. The findings show that women leave Britain for IVF treatment due to the long waiting lists in England for donor eggs. Cheaper costs of fertility treatment in some countries shows to be a less significant factor. The in-depth study also dispelled another popular conception; that most infertile women goes abroad for treatment because they are too old to be allowed IVF in England. The average age of the women that partook in the study was 38, and most of them had already had fertility treatment in the UK, either privately or funded by the NHS.
Almost half of the women in the study went to Spain. This is due to the fact that Spain has policies that pay women up to 1,000 EUR to donate eggs, while remaining anonymous. The second most popular country was the Czech Republic, which also allows anonymous donation and more generous payments than England, where clinics are only allowed to provide 250 pounds to those who donate eggs. Other popular countries were the U.S., South Africa, Barbados, Russia and the Ukraine, and the majority of the patients who went abroad where “very positive” about the assistance that they received abroad. Most of the women actually claimed that the treatment abroad was better than the care they received in the U.K.
Principal investigator, Professor Lorraine Culley says: “Quite frequently they said the experience had been better than in the U.K.; they felt the care in some of the clinics abroad was more personalized, whereas in this country some of them felt they were treated as a number, rather than a person.”
The main difficulties the women encountered once returning home were the accessing scans and tests.
Research collaborator Dr Allan Pacey, working at Sheffield University as a fertility expert, said that the findings suggested more should be done to encourage egg donation in Britain, including more generous compensation payments for those who underwent the procedure. When the legislation was passed in 2004, ending donor anonymity, the number of egg donors fell for three years. Currently, there is a huge shortage of donations in England, and experts believe that more than double of the current number of donations (1,084 eggs in 2009) would be required to meet the current demand. Dr Pacey believes that the shortage of donors in Britain has more to do with the small amount of compensation women are given rather than the lack of anonymity. “Egg donation is a pretty horrendous thing to go through, so I think you could easily argue that 250 pounds (the limit set in Britain) is not sufficient.”
Another expert on infertility; Prof Lisa Jardine, chairman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, has said that a rise in payment levels could encourage more women to donate eggs, meaning fewer infertile women would feel forced to seek treatment abroad.
Would you ever consider going abroad for IVF treatment, and in that case; which country should you choose to go to? Comment below or on the Novasans Facebook page”Desperate hunt for donor eggs forces couples to seek IVF abroad