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National IVF access criticised

Couples desperate for a baby are being forced abroad due to a lack of sperm and egg donors in the UK, researchers say.

A new study found the most popular destinations for treatment are Spain and the Czech Republic, followed by the US.

Major reasons for seeking fertility treatment abroad are a lack of donors in the UK, long waiting times for NHS treatment, high costs and a postcode lottery in gaining access to IVF.

Some couples want the chance to have two embryos transferred in one cycle, contrary to guidance from UK regulators that most cycles should only involve one embryo.

The latest available figures show 396 men registered with UK regulators to donate sperm in 2008, alongside 1,150 women who registered as egg donors.

In 2008, 39,879 women had IVF treatment in the UK, of which 1,306 were treated with donor eggs.

However, the demand for egg and sperm donors far outstrips supply and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is examining how to boost numbers.

Copyright © Press Association 2011