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Women are leaving childbirth even later
For the first time ever the average at which women give birth in Britain has reached 30, a further reminder that more and more couples (and single women) are putting off family life, hoping first to establish their homes, finances and careers before embarking on children.
The pattern of delayed childbirth is also apparent in Britain's fertility clinics, where the average female patient is now well into her 30s. Many cases of infertility today are explained simply because the female partner has left conception too late.
This "age-related" infertility is now one of the most common diagnoses, and is usually caused by the ovaries simply running out of eggs. Women are born with a fixed store of eggs, and once gone - through monthly ovulation and natural loss - they can never be replaced. By the mid-forties, most women have very little chance of natural or assisted conception, except with donor eggs.
The latest UK birth figures, reported annually by the Office for National Statistics, also show that fertility rates in general are lower than previous years, although the decline was smallest among women over 35. The average family size also shrank, from 1.94 children to 1.85.
The chance of a baby with freeze-storage egg donation
The likelihood of having a baby using eggs from a freeze-storage egg banking scheme increases with the number of eggs the recipient is able to use, according to results of a study from Europe's largest egg banking programme.
The study analysed the experience of more than 3400 patients using an egg bank for egg donation treatment (and more than 40,000 frozen eggs) and found that cumulative live birth rates were high and increased progressively according to the number of eggs used in the treatments.
Thus, cumulative live birth rate (after one or more treatments) was found to be 39.4% when a total of ten frozen eggs were used in the treatments, and 75.9% when a total of 20 eggs were used. But this rapid rate of increase slowed when 30 eggs were used, to 88.7%, and thereafter reached a peak with the use of 40 vitrified eggs at 97.3%.
The rapid freezing technique of vitrification has revolutionised egg banking such that the viability of vitrified eggs is now similar to that of fresh eggs. However, as in any fertility treatment, not all eggs will fertilise to become embryos, and not every embryo will implant as a pregnancy - which is why so many are needed to ensure reasonable delivery rates.
The study, which was reported at the Annual Meeting of ESHRE in Munich in June, provides the first everyday guide to how patients may benefit from egg donation treatments using a freeze-storage egg bank.
The quality of donor sperm is more important than the sperm donor’s age
An analysis of every first fertility treatment cycle performed in the UK using sperm donation shows that outcome in terms of live birth is not affected by the age of the sperm donor. Results from the study, said its principal investigator Dr Meenakshi Choudhary, from the Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, Newcastle upon Tyne, reaffirm the observation that a couple's fertility appears significantly more dependent on the age of the female partner than on that of the male.
Results of the study, which analysed almost 40,000 first sperm donation treatments registered with the HFEA since 1991, showed a difference according to the age of the female recipient, both in IVF and the donor insemination treatments. Thus, the live birth rate from IVF with donated sperm was around 29% in the 18-34 recipient age group, but only around 14% in the over-37 age group.
However, there was no such difference when the age of the sperm donor was analysed. Thus:
- in the younger IVF patients the live birth rate was 28.3% with a sperm donor aged under 20 and 30.4% with a donor aged 41-45
- in the younger donor insemination patients birth rate was 9.7% with a donor aged under 20 and 12% with a donor aged 41-45.
With such clear results from such a large cohort study, Dr Choudhary was confident that the age of the sperm donor was of little significance in couples having sperm donation for fertility treatment. "It's sperm quality rather than male age that matters," she said.
The results were presented at the Annual Meeting of ESHRE, held in Munich in June.
How lifestyle factors may or may not affect the quality of sperm
It takes two to tango and the shape, swimm-ability and genetic composition of a man's sperm cells is considered as important as the female's egg in determining a couple's likelihood of pregnancy.
It's for this reason that researchers have long offered advice to men on how to protect their sperm quality, warning against tight jeans and underwear, over consumption of alcohol, smoking and excess weight.
Now, however, despite the long list of warnings, the world’s largest study to investigate how common lifestyle factors influence the size and shape of sperm appears to show that smoking and alcohol have little effect on the viability of sperm.
There was, however, an effect of heat found in the study - though not necessarily in the pelvic region. Men who produced sperm samples with less than 4% normal sperm cells (a marker of very poor sperm quality) were nearly twice as likely to have produced the sample in the summer months of June to August. These poor samples were also associated with men under 30 and those who used cannabis.
Lead author of the study, Dr Allan Pacey of the University of Sheffield, said: “It is reassuring to find that there are very few identifiable risks [to sperm quality], although our data suggests that cannabis users might be advised to stop using the drug if they are planning to try and start a family.”
The cannabis effect was found to be more pronounced in younger men, which the investigators proposed as a "dose effect". "Younger men may be more inclined to smoke cannabis more frequently and in higher doses than older men," said Dr Pacey.
The study was published in the leading medical journal Human Reproduction and based on an investigation of couples attending 14 fertility clinics in the UK.
The Want To Be A Parent Show
The London Women’s Clinic is proud to announce it’s sponsorship of The Want To Be A Parent Show which will take place at the Mercure Hotel in Cardiff on 8th June. This is the first time that such an event has been staged outside London and promises to draw a lively and interested audience from Wales, the West and beyond.
The show combines a traditional expo format with a stream of informative seminars produced by Square Peg Media the organisers of London's successful Alternative Parenting Show. Concentrating on starting or growing a family in the non-traditional way, the show will cover fertility treatments, fostering, adoption, and the legal and practical issues involved in starting a family. Exhibitors will include fertility services from the UK and abroad, such as the European Sperm Bank, London Sperm Bank, London Women's Clinic and The Bridge Centre.
Landmark High Court ruling on sperm donation and same sex parenting
A landmark ruling from the High Court in London has granted two civilly partnered sperm donors the right to apply for contact with their biological children (against the wishes of the children’s respective lesbian mothers). The ruling received much press attention, with both the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and British Fertility Society making formal comment. Natalie Gamble Associates, a legal firm involved in the case, has provided us with the following summary of what the ruling means:
· The ruling only gave the two sperm donors the right to argue their case in court. It is not yet known whether they will be given any rights of contact with the children
· The reason for the decision was very fact-specific - that the donors were known to the lesbian mothers and had contact with the children in their early months before relationships broke down
· The ruling is therefore unlikely to apply to donors who have had no contact with any children conceived from their donation – for example, unknown donors through licensed clinics
· However, the ruling could apply to other types of donors, including known sperm or egg donors who have donated through a licensed clinic provided they can demonstrate sufficient connection wit the child
· The ruling does not in any way affect donors’ responsibilities – it does not make it possible to hold a donor legally or financially responsible for a child they help conceive.
As a result, Natalie Gamble Associates have suggested some significant lessons for same-sex parents (and anyone conceiving though known donation):
1) Lesbian mothers need to understand that being named on the birth certificate does not give absolute protection
2) Gay fathers who act as known donors need to understand that their legal position may be more fragile and uncertain than they think
3) Everyone going into known donation or co-parenting arrangements should be quite clear about their expectations from the outset.
If you are considering conception through a known donor relationship, we would suggest that you seek the appropriate legal advice before starting any treatment. For more information, please visit www.nataliegambleassociates.com
A new flagship for Wales
The LWC’s regional hub for Wales and the West of England is a brand new state-of-the art clinic in the heart of Cardiff. The new service, which will offer a whole range of progressive fertility treatments, including IVF, ICSI, donor insemination and egg sharing, brings hightechnology treatment and many years of experience to the Welsh capital, and an expectation that the centre will become a flagship for fertility in Wales. Located near Cardiff castle and the bus and railway stations, the newly named London Women’s Clinic Wales will also provide a convenient service for its patients.
‘We can now offer all types of fertility treatment in the new centre,’ says the clinic’s medical director Peter Bowen-Simpkins, ‘so we can investigate the problem and provide the most appropriate treatment.’ This, he adds, is a natural progression of the LWC’s services in South Wales, which began 20 years ago at Singleton hospital in Swansea. ‘Now,’ says Bowen-Simpkins, ‘with a highly skilled team, government approvals in place and very sophisticated facilities, we are ready to save Cardiff patients a journey down the M4 to Swansea or indeed across the bridge to Bristol and London.’
The Swansea clinic will continue to provide a satellite service for Cardiff, offering local fertility patients initial investigations and diagnosis, counselling and some work-up to treatment, but the main fertilisation and laboratory services, as well as embryo transfers, will be conducted in Cardiff.
Alternative Parenting Show 2012
The London Women’s Clinic is very excited to be sponsoring this year’s biggest event for same sex couples and single women thinking about starting a family, The Alternative Parenting Show, which is taking place at the Grand Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden on Saturday 15th September.
Our sponsorship of the Alternative Parenting Show shows how much we care about patients being empowered with knowledge and information; we can share facts, stats and provide you with your success rate for each treatment option available to you, but ultimately the decisions made are yours.
The London Women’s Clinic will have two INSEMINAR information sessions during the day looking at treatment options using donor sperm, whether through a London Sperm Bank donor, imported sperm or a known donor, all options are available at the clinic.
We will guide you through how to select your sperm donor, the regulation of sperm banks in place to keep you safe. In the UK we work backwards, we look at research in to the well rounded adult born through donor conception and put regulations in place to give you the best chance of a successful, happy, family life in the future.
Having a sense of how and why the safeguards are in place, not just for your treatment, but for your future family life also, can hopefully help you feel relaxed about your decisions.
We recommend the seminars as a way not just to hear about the clinic, but also to share through hearing other people’s questions, as well as asking your own.
If you'd like to attend the Alternative Parenting Show you can book your tickets via their website www.alternativeparenting.co.uk.
The Changing Price of Gamete Donation
On the 1st April 2012, the issue of egg and sperm donation once again hit the headlines. This time, publicity surrounded the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s (HFEA) review of policies relating to the payment of donors. It was decided that contrary to established practise, these payments would no longer be related to ‘out-of pocket’ expenses, capped at £250. Instead, the new donation policies would allow clinics to offer donors compensation which better reflects their expenses.
In 2011, following an extensive public consultation, entitled ‘Donating sperm and eggs: have your say.’ Public opinion in the UK and research done worldwide highlighted the importance of treating donors fairly and actively showing the real value of their contributions. As a direct result of this consultation and the numerous meetings that ensued, the HFEA have once again reviewed the policies on expenses and compensation.
It is of course difficult to put a figure on the generous gift of a child for a family. Even so, it was also important that the level of compensation given would not be a financial inducement to donate. With these two issues in mind it was decided that as of April 1st, 2012, egg donors could be compensated up to £750 for each cycle of donation and sperm donors could receive £35 per clinic visit. It will be interesting to see the impact on the number of donors coming forward and whether these changes will ensure that donors feel valued and appreciated.
LWC wins g3 Reader’s Award for Gay Initiative of the Year
The London Women's Clinic has won the g3 Reader's Award for Gay Initiative of the Year. The awards, voted for by lesbian and bisexual women readers of g3 magazine, vary in category from bars and clubs to websites, travel and charities.
To view the list of winners and full article about the awards visit g3 magazine
The Two Week Wait: A new fiction book exploring egg-sharing
In a new novel, The Two Week Wait brings to life the highs and lows of fertility treatment and the altruistic nature and emotions behind egg-sharing. The author, Sarah Rayner, hopes to raise awareness of egg-sharing in her new novel out in early 2012, a sequel to her best selling book "One Moment, One Morning":
After a health scare, Lou is forced to consider that the time to have a family is running out. The problem is that even though her eggs are viable, she doesn't have enough money for the necessary fertility treatment.
Meanwhile, up in Yorkshire, Cath who is a little older than Lou, is longing to start her own family with her husband, Rich. But she's recovering from cancer, and as a result of chemotherapy is infertile.
Lou and Cath, brought together by a fertility clinic, end up egg-sharing - a process where a woman who has good eggs can donate them to another woman who needs them, in return for free IVF. As both women simultaneously try to conceive, with the same woman's eggs, the novel follows their parallel journeys to have a child - and as the foetuses grow, so does the novel.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: why the HFEA should leave the gamete donation process alone
Dr Kamal Ahuja, the LWC's Scientific and Managing Director, comments on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's public consultation and review of gamete donation in the UK.
Article from Bio News
The Alternative Families Show 2011: Another great success
With over 40 exhibition stands and 20 seminars this year, The Alternative Families Show at the Grand Connaught Rooms on 17th September was another great success. As headline sponsors the London Women's Clinic featured three exhibition stands at the show and a wide programme of seminars for over 3,000 visitors.
The London Women's Clinic was once again privileged to be the headline sponsor of the Alternative Families Show 2011. Fertility for "alternative" families continues to be a special interest of ours, with new treatment developments in 2011 allowing us to meet even better the needs of same-sex couples and single women.
At the Alternative Families Show 2011 we spoke of the shortage of sperm donors in the UK. This had left thousands of women denied the chance of conception, or with the only option of travelling overseas for treatment. It was thus a great pleasure for us to launch at the Alternative Families Show 2011 a new website, londonspermbankdonors.com, which lists more than 100 sperm donors who are available online for search and selection for treatment at our dedicated London Women's Clinic centres. Both Toyin Jegede's seminar and the London Sperm Bank exhibition stand were well received with hundreds of women queuing up to view the catalogue on the big screen available.
The LWC's two INSEMINAR events were both full of women listening to Zeynep Gurtin-Broadbent from the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge talk about her recent egg-sharing study. The three LWC exhibition stands proved to be popular with visitors taking advantage of the medical staff available to talk about various treatment options. Staff from all four LWC centres were available to discuss treatment across the UK.
Also at the show were the British Surrogacy Centre which proved very popular among the male gay visitors; Stonewall, who provided useful information to gay parents to be; and a number of law firms including a seminar by Natalie Gamble regarding the legal aspects surrounding alternative families.
Next year's show, to be known as the Alternative Parenting Show, will take place on Saturday 15th September 2012 at the Grand Connaught Rooms, Covent Garden.
For more information please visit www.alternativefamiliesshow.com
The family, but not as we knew it
A new show celebrates single, adoptive, gay and blended families, we meet the parents
Article from The Times
The London Women's Clinic are the headline sponsors of the Alternative Families Show 2011. For more information visit their website www.alternativefamiliesshow.com
LWC North East launches Male Infertility Day
On 15th October, the London Women's Clinic North East will be hosting their first Male Infertility Day for couples to find out more about male infertility and alternative options to vasectomy reversals. The qualified team has over 20 years experience managing male infertility problems with the chance to speak to a specialist on the day to discuss invidual cases. To book your place, please contact LWC North East
LWC North East has the shortest egg donor waiting list in the UK!
The London Women's Clinic North East currently has the shortest waiting list for donor eggs in the UK. The waiting list is now only 2-3 months long compared to 1-2 years at other UK clinics. To find out more and to get onto the waiting list, please contact LWC North East.
Sperm sample, GSOH, softly spoken, would like to make a baby
British sperm bank is set to launch a catalogue listing the attributes of donors in an attempt to give couples more information.
Article from The Times
LWC nominated as shortlist finalist for European Diversity Awards
The London Women's Clinic has reached the final shortlist of the European Diversity Awards, a competitive programme set up this year to recognise those organisations and individuals who have shown innovation, creativity and commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion during 2011. The awards thus recognise excellence in the areas of gender, disability, sexual orientation, race, age, culture and religion across Europe.
The LWC's nomination recognised that for many years the clinic has championed fertility treatment for same-sex couples and single women. Treatment has always been offered and undertaken without distinction or discrimination, often in the face of hostile public opinion and restrictive legislation. Today, thanks in no small part to the pioneering efforts of the LWC, fertility treatment for single and lesbian women is fully intergrated into the legislation of the Human Fertilisation Act and widely accepted by the public.
The short lists for the awards have been launched by Time Out
LWC North East offers FREE consultation and IVF to eligible egg-sharers
For a limited period, the London Women's Clinic North East is offering free initial consultation, blood tests, medication, IVF, ICSI and blastocyst culture to eligible women through the egg-sharing programme. Egg-sharers must be under 35 and meet a number of criteria before being accepted onto the programme. Egg-sharers donate half of their eggs produced during an IVF cycle to an anonymous recipient in order to receive free IVF treatment. To find out more please contact LWC North East.
My father, donor 150
JoEllen Marsh always wondered about her biological father - a sperm donor. Was he famous? A tycoon? After turning 18, she found out
Article from The Guardian
Sex with a sperm donor - the latest “fertility” treatment
How far would you go to have a baby? Despite the risks, single women are bypassing clinics and seeking donors online.
Article from The Times
Banking on the Future
A pioneering scheme to store tissue from breast cancer patients could give research a vital boost and save thousands of lives.
Article from The Times
Fertile Ground for Abolition
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is set to close. Will IVF patients suffer as a result?
Article from The Times
LWC gains National Quality Accreditation
The London Women’s Clinic (LWC) and London Sperm Bank (LSB) are proud to announce they have achieved the ISO 9001:2008 accreditation through British Standards Institution (BSI), a world authority of management systems.
This significant stamp of approval shows that the systems and processes in place, are dedicated to improving the patient experience. This means that patients will benefit from a high standard of quality and care throughout all of the LWC clinics and the LSB.
The accreditation took months of hard work and dedication by the teams in London, Cardiff, Swansea and Darlington to ensure best practice was met and that all processes are geared towards improving both customer experience and organisational effectiveness. The LWC and LSB will continue to work on maintaining this accreditation through continuous review and optimisation of processes and systems.
The ISO 9001:2008 awarded by BSI is a significant achievement, with few other clinics holding this accreditation.
Are you my sister?
This woman had 15 half-siblings she had never met. The Sunday Times explores the new rules that allow donor-conceived children to trace their brothers and sisters.
Article from The Sunday Times