Page URL:

Recommendations on cross-border reproductive travel published

4 July 2011
Appeared in BioNews 614

The shortage of egg and sperm donors, and the cost of IVF in the UK, need to be addressed to reduce the number of people travelling abroad for fertility treatment, according to a report published this week.

The recommendations follow research undertaken as part of the Transnational Reproduction (Transrep) project, which aims to improve understanding of cross-border reproductive travel from the UK perspective.

Lead researcher, Professor Lorraine Culley said: 'The recommendations from the Transrep study are aimed at addressing concerns both with the current provision of fertility treatment in the UK, especially the shortage of donors, as well as making suggestions to help safe-guard those who decide to cross borders in their quest for a child'.

In their work Professor Culley and Dr Nicky Hudson from De Montfort University emphasise the need for a properly funded strategy to raise awareness of donor shortages, and to improve recruitment and supply. This could include an accessible central database, providing information about donor location and availability and the waiting times for particular clinics.

In their key findings, published in the journal Human Reproduction, they stress that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines should be fully implemented. These state that three full cycles of infertility treatment should be provided on the NHS, and costs should be kept down for those who have to pay.

The document also recommends measures to ensure good practice in the treatment of those who choose to go abroad. These included the provision of objective information on travelling abroad for treatment.

'Our research demonstrates that people have varied reasons for travelling abroad and that fertility travellers do not conform to media stereotypes', said Professor Culley. 'Most felt that the UK could not offer them either timely or affordable treatment and in some cases people were unhappy with treatment they had previously received in UK centres'.

Several of the patients in the study welcomed the idea of shared care between UK and overseas clinics, but found it difficult to find information about which UK clinics offered this service. The researchers therefore recommended that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Association (HFEA) should provide information about which clinics have overseas links.

The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) has a 'good practice guide' for centres treating foreign patients in the UK. To protect patients, families and donors from potential exploitation and inappropriate treatment the researchers recommended these be properly employed. It also suggests that, in the longer term, a system of benchmarking and accrediting clinics should be developed.

Couples seek IVF treatment abroad
The Independent |  30 June 2011
Crossing borders for fertility treatment: motivations, destinations and outcomes of UK fertility travellers
Human Reproduction |  29 June 2011
Donor crisis and IVF postcode lottery must be addressed to reduce fertility travel
De Montfort University press release |  30 June 2011
IVF couples forced to travel abroad by shortage of donors
The Scotsman |  30 June 2011
Transnational Reproduction: An exploratory study of UK residents who travel abroad for fertility treatment
Transnational Reproduction Summary Report |  30 June 2011
Transrep Project Overview
Transrep Project Overview |  26 May 2022
29 October 2012 - by Petra Nordqvist 
Assisted conception gives rise to some truly fascinating questions about human reproduction. Conception enabled through donated sperm, eggs, embryos and surrogacy, in particular, open up a vast number of new possibilities...
3 October 2011 - by Dr Rebecca Hill 
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued new guidelines saying that women pregnant with twins or triplets should be monitored more closely, receiving specialist care from a team of healthcare professionals...
1 August 2011 - by Harriet Vickers 
Scientists have increased the quality of embryos developed for IVF - by culturing them on a bed of pins. Currently, embryos are fertilised in a dish, and left there to culture for a few days before being implanted. However, Professor Gary Smith, a researcher on the project, says this doesn't mimic how embryos naturally gestate...
3 May 2011 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
A BBC Radio Scotland investigation examining examples of 'fertility tourism' has highlighted the emotional, physical and financial concerns faced by couples travelling abroad to seek fertility treatment...
20 December 2010 - by MacKenna Roberts 
European fertility clinics are being encouraged to collaborate and ensure fertility patients receive safe and fair access to treatment abroad, according to guidelines approved this month by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE)...
29 November 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper 
Are European airlines bursting with 'fertility tourists' risking their health by travelling abroad? Do most people seeking fertility treatment overseas fit the media stereotype - white, middle-class career women over 50? Does cross-border reproductive care (CBRC) include eggs imported from abroad? Dr Françoise Shenfield and Professor Lorraine Culley tried to answer these questions during the first session of last Wednesday's Progress Educational Trust (PET) annual conference...
5 July 2010 - by Seil Collins 
Expensive UK fertility treatment and long waiting times related to a shortage of egg and sperm donors are the major reasons people seek fertility treatment abroad, according to the first academic study into cross-border reproductive care....
22 March 2010 - by Dr Zeynep Gurtin 
Earlier this month, the Turkish Ministry of Health revised its regulations pertaining to assisted reproduction technologies (ARTs). The new regulatory structure considerably extends the specifications and requirements for the practice of ARTs in Turkey, and introduces a range of additional prohibitions. Two new developments are particularly striking. The first stipulates that all women in their first cycle of IVF can only have a single embryo transferred, with a maximum of two embryos for wom...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.