Some transgender people in Scotland are being denied the chance to preserve their fertility on the NHS due to a ‘postcode lottery’, a new study has claimed.
The joint study – partly carried out by Ninewells Hospital Medical School – found ‘patchy care’ for freezing eggs and sperm.
It also claimed young girls undergoing cancer treatment – and women who cannot delay chemotherapy – were also unlikely to be offered the option to preserve their ovarian tissue.
The study led by University College London Hospital and Oxford University Hospital is now calling for a standard UK policy for those needing to preserve their fertility.
It said that funding across the NHS is “variable”, meaning millions of people face unfair access to treatments such as the freezing of reproductive tissue, eggs, sperm or embryos.
The study, published in the journal Human Fertility, found that as well as transgender people, those with fertility issues caused by things like recurrent endometriosis or autoimmune conditions may also struggle to access services.
There were also restrictions across the board on how many cycles of egg retrieval could be carried out, plus some policies were strict on how fat people were, contrary to official guidance.
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The authors noted: “The number of referrals for fertility preservation has risen considerably in the last few years, including referrals for people with gender incongruence… Public consultation regarding funding provision is needed and we hope that the findings from this study form grounds for debate. ”
Sania Latif, from University College London Hospital, added: “Our study highlights the disparity in fertility preservation provision across the UK.
“Variation in provision creates a lack of parity between patients and affects the holistic care of the pathology being treated.
“Notably, funding for those undergoing treatment for gender incongruence and ovarian tissue cryopreservation is inconsistent and needs to be addressed.
“This national audit serves as a tool for all stakeholders … to appeal to their local commissioners for uniformity of policy, equal access to care for patients and implementation of standardized fertility preservation provision in the UK.”
Scotland came out top for care, with a national policy to fund freezing of all reproductive material including ovarian tissue, and for most patients.
The report can be found online here.
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