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Brexit: Information for Patients

Will a no-deal Brexit affect my fertility treatment or my stored eggs, sperm or embryos?

We understand that some of our patients may have concerns about the UK leaving the European Union without a deal (a no-deal Brexit) and whether this will have an impact on their fertility treatment or their stored eggs, sperm or embryos.  There is still uncertainty about how a no-deal Brexit will affect many everyday tasks that we take for granted.  Although the government have said that a no-deal outcome is unlikely, we want to provide reassurance to our patients.

The London Women’s Clinic and its subsidiary brands the London Sperm Bank and London Egg Bank are taking the necessary steps to ensure that our patients’ treatment runs as smoothly as possible and that any eggs, sperm or embryos stored at any of our clinics continue to remain secure and safe.

The supply of goods from the EU

The main concern for fertility clinics in the event of a no-deal Brexit is the impact that this will have on the supply of goods from the EU. EU member states may exercise control over the checks at the UK border.  This could potentially lead to delays which could endure for up to six months.  The London Women’s Clinic relies on suppliers from the EU for goods such as liquid nitrogen, media, consumables and medication. All these supplies are routinely used in the day to day running of the clinic.

There are several scenarios where a no-deal Brexit may affect you as a patient at the London Women’s Clinic and if you are accessing services via the London Egg Bank or London Sperm Bank:

Liquid nitrogen

If you are a patient planning to freeze embryos in an IVF cycle; to freeze your eggs or use frozen donor eggs; or to freeze sperm or use frozen donor sperm, then liquid nitrogen will be required for your treatment. If you are a patient who already has embryos, eggs or sperm in storage at the LWC then liquid nitrogen is used in the storage process.

Once frozen, they are stored securely in tanks kept at a very low temperature (-196C).  The tanks are monitored 24 hours a day to ensure that the levels remain constant.  We have been told by our liquid nitrogen suppliers that a no-deal Brexit will not impact on the clinics’ deliveries.  Therefore, you should be reassured that your frozen and stored embryos, eggs and sperm will remain safe and secure for the future.

Media

If you are a patient planning to have IVF or freeze and thaw embryos, eggs and sperm then the media used in the laboratory will be a part of your treatment.  Media is a substance that contains nutrients, vitamins and growth factors which is used in the laboratory to culture embryos and to help freeze and thaw embryos, eggs and sperm.  Media has been carefully developed to create the same environment as the uterus of the human body.  The development of media over the last decades has improved the success of fertility treatment.

During IVF an experienced embryologist will mix the eggs and sperm in a dish with media to allow fertilisation to occur.  Over the next five days the embryos will develop to blastocyst stage at which point they can be transferred back to the patient’s uterus during an embryo transfer procedure or frozen and stored for the future. A media solution is also used for the freezing and thawing of eggs and sperm. 

Media is created and supplied to all our clinics on a regular basis.  We have been told by our suppliers that a no-deal Brexit will not influence the supply of media to our clinics.  Therefore, you should feel reassured that your treatment will continue as normal. 

Consumables

If you are a patient planning to have any kind of fertility treatment, then consumables will be used during your treatment cycle.  Consumables are disposable products for example catheters that are used for Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) or embryo transfer procedures, dishes that are used for eggs, sperm and embryos in the laboratory or syringes used to administer medication.  The London Women’s Clinic uses multiple suppliers to deliver consumables to all our clinics on a regular basis.  This means that even if one of our suppliers is unable to deliver the goods we need in a timely manner, then other suppliers will be able to do this.  Patients having any kind of fertility treatment should feel reassured that there will be enough consumable for their treatment to take place without any issues.

Medication

If you are a patient planning to have fertility treatment, then in most cases medication will be used during your treatment.  There are several different types of medication that can be prescribed for you depending on what treatment you are undergoing.  If you are planning Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), a fresh cycle of IVF or egg freezing then you are most likely to be given medication to stimulate your ovaries.  This medication may be in the form of tablets or injections.  Over a couple of weeks, you will take medication which will be monitored by scans to see how the follicles in your ovaries are growing.  When they reach the correct stage, you will be given a “trigger” injection to mature your eggs ready for either the IUI or egg collection procedure. 

Following your IUI procedure or ahead of an embryo transfer you will be given different medication to prepare your womb for the implantation of the embryo.  This is often a combination of tablets or pessaries and sometimes injections.  There are also many other cases where your fertility specialist will recommend medication to help you achieve the best possible outcome.     The LWC uses a company called Stork to supply medication directly to your home address for your treatment.  We have been told by Stork that there will be no problems for patients receiving medication.  The LWC also stores medication in its various clinics if you need additional supplies for example if we need to up your dosages.  Anyone planning treatment at the LWC should be reassured that there will be enough supplies of medication for their treatment. 

Support

We understand that fertility treatment can be stressful and that possible concerns over a no-deal Brexit affecting your treatment can add to your worries.  If you have any questions about your treatment you can contact your local nursing team.  Counselling and support is always available at all of our clinics should you require some extra support at this time.

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