Sunday 23 September 2018

NHS must offer transgender men egg storage, say experts

Many Clinical Commissioning Groups currently do not fund fertility preservation for transgender people, even though hormone therapy and surgery destroys the chance of having children. Stock photo.
Many Clinical Commissioning Groups currently do not fund fertility preservation for transgender people, even though hormone therapy and surgery destroys the chance of having children. Stock photo.

Sarah Knapton London

Women transitioning to men must be offered egg storage on Britain's healthcare system, because they have the right to become parents too, the British Fertility Society said as it published new guidance.

Gender reassignment surgery has been available on the NHS since 1999 and the numbers of people choosing to change sex has grown considerably in the last decade, with some London clinics now handling nearly 2,000 referrals a year.

However, many Clinical Commissioning Groups currently do not fund fertility preservation for transgender people, even though hormone therapy and surgery destroys the chance of having children.

In new guidelines presented at the Fertility 2018 meeting in Liverpool, healthcare experts called for 'equity' across the NHS, to allow 'transfolk' to freeze eggs, embryos or ovarian tissue.

Dr James Barrett, lead clinician at the Gender Identity Clinic at Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The number of people coming forward with gender dysphoria has increased rapidly over the past decade.

"But the consistent provision of NHS funding for fertility preservation for this group is yet to catch up.

"This is medical. It's people whose fertility is impaired as a result of actually NHS mandated treatment for a well-established condition."

Last year, 202 actual sex swap operations were carried out at a cost the NHS of £9m (€10.1m) - up 23pc on figures from five years ago. Although Wales and Scotland both allow fertility preservation for people who are transitioning to a different sex, experts said availability in England was still 'patchy.'

Egg storage costs around £3,000 (€3,370) to harvest eggs and £300 a year to store.

The new guidance was drawn up by fertility experts from University College London Hospitals, Imperial College, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Central Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, the Medical Research Council, and Leeds Beckett University.

However, critics said the NHS should be spending money on 'basic healthcare'.

Josephine Quintavalle, from Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: "The NHS should be concentrating on offering good basic healthcare to women or helping them beat their cancer, and not get side-tracked with these kinds of novelties." (© Daily Telegraph London)

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