England 12/08/2013 – Despite increased awareness of the need for egg and sperm donors, it seems that many in the UK are still reluctant to make a donation.
In the UK, there has always been considerable disparity between the number of people who are willing to donate their eggs and sperm and the number of people who are waiting for a donation. A recent report by the HFEA showed that many couples have to wait between three and five years for fertility treatment simply because there are not enough donors.
Long waiting times for suitable donors are causing many desperate couples to go abroad for treatment. The report does not explain the reason behind the shortages. However, many involved in fertility treatment in UK believe that changes in legislation may be largely to blame.
In 2005, the law was changed so that the donor could no longer ask for anonymity, which many believe is putting off potential UK donors. However, some figures indicate that this may not actually be the case. In 2005, just before donor anonymity was removed, 251 men registered as sperm donors and 921 women became egg donors. By 2008, those numbers have risen to 396 sperm donors and 1,150 egg donors. Despite the fact that there were more donors, fewer couples actually received treatment.
In 2005, 825 patients were treated with donor sperm by 2008 that number had dropped to 651. For egg donation, the figures were 1,635 patients treated in 2005, but only 1,306 were treated in 2008. The reason why treatment rates have dropped off so drastically despite there being more donors is mystifying.
More UK couples are choosing to find foreign donors
Whatever the reasons behind the figures, many infertile couples, in the UK, are deciding to take action rather than wait 3 to 5 years for treatment. They are increasingly turning to organisations like the UKCFA, who can provide them with donations from women who are aged between 20 and 30, and who are healthy and free from genetic disease. Until UK health providers work out how to reduce waiting times, this is route more and more of the UK’s infertile couples will find themselves taking.