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Offer transgender patients egg freezing, experts say

From BBC - January 4, 2018

Women and girls in the UK transitioning to become men should be able to have their eggs frozen by the NHS, the British Fertility Society has said.

Current guidance says cancer patients should be given the chance to preserve their fertility before undergoing treatment that can make them infertile.

But the BFS said transgender patients and women whose medicines can make them infertile should also be included.

The provision of fertility preservation treatment was "patchy", it said.

Fertility preservation for those transitioning to a different sex is routinely paid for by the NHS in Wales and Scotland.

But in England there is a postcode lottery over who receives it because it is funded locally by clinical commissioning groups, which have different rules over who is eligible to receive it.

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 - where a person experiences discomfort or distress because of their biological sex - had increased "rapidly" over the past decade.

But he said NHS funding for fertility preservation for this group had "yet to catch up" and they were not always able to self-fund for the treatment.

Hormone therapy and surgery for those with gender dysphoria often leaves them infertile.

"We are in a peculiar position in that a proportion of the trans people in the country - Wales and Scotland for example - will routinely have preservation funded, whereas some patients in England will have it funded by the NHS and others will not," Dr Barrett said.

"The question on whether to fund it at all to some extent is a kind of social and political question."

Freezing eggs, embryos, or ovarian tissue can give transgender people the opportunity to have a child who is biologically related to them through pregnancy or surrogacy.

'Only hope'

The BFS's new guidelines, published in the journal Human Fertility, cover fertility preservation treatment for medical reasons for women in the UK.

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