Couples seek IVF treatment abroad

Couples desperate for a baby are being forced abroad because of 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 were a lack of donors in the UK, long waiting times for NHS treatment, high costs and a "postcode lottery" in accessing IVF.

The research, published in the journal Human Reproduction, also found that some of those going abroad for treatment were attracted by the anonymity of donors in other countries, and by the option of having more than one embryo transferred during a treatment cycle, which is not common practice in the UK.

The latest available figures show 396 men registered with UK regulators to donate sperm in 2008, while 1,150 women registered as egg donors. In 2008, 39,879 women had IVF treatment in the UK, of whom 1,306 were treated with donor eggs.